Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Carcassonne: A Piece-by-Piece Masterpiece

Some people complain about long set-up times for board games. However, with Carcassonne it could be argued that the entire game consists of setting up the board. Carcassonne presents a neat twist on the idea of a board game, as the board is built one tile at a time with each players’ turn consisting of choosing a new tile randomly and placing it somewhere on the board. Within this twist all sorts of possibilities spring up and a new world is formed.
Carcassonne is often considered the nest champion of Eurogames after Settlers of Catan and has garnered much popularity over the years. It combines a number of different concepts in the game; a map making aspect, worker placement, and a scoring race. The map making is where Carcassonne’s uniqueness shines through as an entire country of rich grasslands, winding country roads, lone monasteries, and sprawling cities of all shapes and sizes springs forth piece by piece, all starting from one simple square tile.

Each player chooses a random landscape tile and adds it to the board. That player has a choice where to put it insomuch as the piece will fit. For example, roads must line up with roads, cities with cities, grasslands with grasslands. Therefore each Carcassonne board created is unique for each game played.
Each player also has followers which can be placed on the tile they have just set down. Depending on where the follower is placed determines the role the follower takes. As the followers are laced, this rich, growing country is soon populated, with knights manning the city walls, farmers tending the widespread fields, monks hiding away in their cloisters, and thieves stalking the country roads.
Each follower scores points if their city, road or cloister is completed. Farmers score points at the end of the game, adding a suspenseful, fight-till-the-end facet to the point trace. Not only is it a struggle for points, but it is also a struggle to control these different cities and fields by having the most followers there. This is where the tile laying can provide a lot of strategy: you can use it to join fields, expand cities, and sometimes make it extremely hard to your opponents to complete their points, causing their follower to be stuck.

First we’ll talk about the tiles. There are many different tiles which allow for variability for how the tiles can join up with one another. The artwork on the tiles are great and add to the illusion, with tiny sheep grazing on the fields and tree groves lining the roads. It truly feels like a new world is expanding before your eyes.
And then there’s the Meeples. Ah yes, the Meeples! These wooden, chubby, star-shaped tokens which are used to denote the followers have become board game icons. In fact, their image has become so iconic that they are practically a symbol which encompasses the entire new wave of Eurogames. What more can you say? Carcassonne has been around for only ten years, but their Meeples are already legends in board game lore.

Carcassonne is a modern masterpiece which can provide a very different gaming experience for many out there who which to explore the hobby further. The tile-laying is a lot of fun and always provides variability which also providing neat strategies. You can use the tile you place to further your own cause, for your own defense, or as a way to attack others and put them in difficult spots.
This game allows for many different styles of playing. You can choose to throw down as many knights and thieves as you can to score many points immediately, or wait until the end and overtake everyone with your massive farms. Maybe you will play with a more cutthroat style and spend your energy blocking others, or perhaps you will try a little of everything. Either way, I am sure you will have fun. Carcassonne looks great and plays great and is truly a modern classic.



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