- BOARD GAME CORNER: CARCASSONNE - by Lee Wood (Views: 1098)Thursday 14th April 2011
Carcassonne Rio Grande Games - £15.95 (RRP: £19.99)
Carcassonne is one of the best known and best selling board games of modern times, as it is a great entry level game for people moving into EuroGames and seasoned gamers alike. The game is based around building the surrounding countryside to the French town Carcassonne, famed for unique Roman and Medieval fortifications. The game is a strategy based tile laying game with no board as such, but as the tiles are laid the board is made.
The game begins with the starting tile in the centre of the table and then the starting player begins their turn. A players turn has 4 parts to it:
- Draw a tile
- Place the tile
- Place a worker (optional)
- Score any completed segments
A player draws a single tile on their turn and then places it on the board. The placement must be legal, meaning it must be next to an existing tile and must continue any fields, roads or cities. Once the tile has been laid the player then has the option to play one of his workers on the tile. Workers can be placed in one of four ways:
- On a road as a thief
- In a city as a knight
- In a field as a farmer
- In a cloister as a monk
A worker may only be placed on a road/city/farm that does not already have a worker placed on it, however this is checked at the time the worker is placed future tile placements may cause roads/cities/farms to become linked and thus have more than 1 players workers in them.
Roads, cities and cloisters are scored as soon as they are complete and all workers on the scoring sections are returned to the player(s). The exception is farms, these are only scored at the game end and whilst they score the most points the act of losing a worker for the whole game is a cost that needs to be weighed up. When scoring non-farms the numbers of tiles in the scoring segment is equivalent to how many points you earn:
- Roads and Cities 1 point per tile
- Cloisters 9 points (1 per tile around the cloister and 1 for the cloister itself)
Farms score at the end of the game and they score 3 points per city they supply, no matter how big the cities are.
The complications in scoring come when there are more than one players' workers in the scoring segment. The players with the most workers in the segment score all the points everyone else gets nothing. If there is a tie for the most workers in the segment then each player tied for first gets the full amount of points.
The mechanics of the game are very simple as there is a vast limitation on the number of actions each player can make but there is a real skill in making effective use of your tile lays. The key to the game is making sure you dont get outnumbered in the larger cities and fields and so gain no points from your tile lays. There is nothing worse in this game than spending multiple turns and tile lays expanding a city to then suddenly have it all taken away from you as one of your opponents has managed to wangle more knights in it than you! It is also important to know when to use a tile lay defensively you can lay a tile to close a city or road and cause its scoring potential to be limited or just lay one near the city to cause tile placement to close the city/road/cloister to become extremely difficult/impossible.
Carcassonne is a game I have played countless times and with its multiple expansions it creates a great variety of gaming experiences. Each one of the expansions adds in a few new rules and tweaks on game play, for example Builders and Traders adds support for another player, trade goods into towns and a tweak on the rules for building roads. I have found that the style of play I adopt in the game depends on the other players involved a wise player will judge the motives of other players, find it to their advantage to work with them when it benefits them and to make sure that they block when it is going to hurt their opponents more than themselves. I have seen games where one player has vindictively gone after one of the other players and sacrificed both their position in the game and the fun factor however the actions of the odd player should not detract from the enjoyment of the game at all.
When rating this game the fact It is easy to pick up and explain but has a level of complexity a seasoned EuroGamer can latch onto and enjoy whilst not totally blowing out their opponents makes this a great game for sharing the wonderful world of board gaming with people who have not strayed far from the comforts of monopoly.
All this in mind I would rate this game as...
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Lee Wood - Lee@xtremetrades.co.uk
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