Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Life's a Game 10: Carcassonne by Rachel

This year we're sharing with you our game of the month. These are all favourites from our collection, or ones we play with our friends.

Octobers game is Carcassonne and is brought to you by Rachel, a good friend and a fellow lover of board games:

Chris and I have acquired a good cupboardful of games over the years but Carcassonne remains a firm favourite. I think one of the main reasons is that - whilst we thrive on having friends over for games evenings - on the odd occasion it’s just the two of us. Most of our preferred games fall at this hurdle, fortunately though Carcassonne is just as enjoyable and challenging with 2 players as it is with 6.

Chris likens Carcassonne to a big jigsaw puzzle, as you start the board with just one tile and build the rest as you go. On your turn you pick up a tile from a facedown pile and place it so it fits (city to city, road to road or field to field) orthogonally to another tile. You can then place your Meeple on the tile you have just placed (and not anywhere else!).  The options:

1. Place your Meeple into a city

2. Place your Meeple on a road


3. Place your Meeple on the field to make him a farmer.


4. Do nothing. A perfectly legitimate move as you have a limited number of Meeple. Once you’ve put them on the board they’re stuck there until you ‘complete’ the city or road. In the case of farmers they are stuck for the rest of the game!

The next person then picks up a tile and you keep going until you have run out of tiles. Now Meeple are quite protective of their property – so once you have claimed a city, road or field it is YOURS. Nobody else can just add a tile on and decide they want to join you. (unless they’re sneaky but we’ll get to that later).

So, how do you actually win this game? As usual, it’s about points.  There are 3 main ways to score points:

1. Complete a city that your Meeple is in. You get 2 points for each tile, so the blue Meeple has just finished a city and would normally get 2 points for 3 tiles = 6 points. Luckily for him he’s got a blue and white shield, so that gives him a bonus 2 extra points – making a total of 8. (The yellow city is still open as it doesn’t have a wall going all the way around it)


2. Complete a road that your Meeple is on. This is when both ends are closed. You get a mere 1 point for each tile, so it’s not as prestigious as a city.

3. Farming a field, which doesn’t happen right until the end of the game.  By the end the board will probably be split into 2 or more farms. The edge of a farm is marked by road, city walls and the edge of the board – see the board below. They can be notoriously difficult to spot, (especially on larger boards) and it takes a few times of playing to become adept at seeing them. Each complete city in your farm is worth 3 points.  If a city isn’t complete it’s worthless for a farmer. So here there are 3 points for 4 cities = 12 points. Farms can really swing the end of the game – adding some extra tension.

(If you have expansions, your board will be much, much bigger than this as you get more tiles with each expansion).

Now you’ve got the fairly mundane mechanics of the game, here comes the interesting part. Depending on your level of competitive-ness and mood you may wish to be sneaky and ‘join other Meeple’ in their ventures (ie steal from them!) You can join them indirectly by placing your Meeple into a new city, etc. and then placing a tile to join them together.

For example:

The yellow Meeple has just started their own city. It is not joined to the blue Meeple city at the moment (you can’t join diagonally) so they can get away with it.

However, a move later the yellow Meeple has put down a tile joining the two cities together.

This can happen for cities, roads and (is most common) for farms. When you end up sharing it’s fine – in fact a joint venture can even help you both get more points. However, it’s a tightrope to walk – can you trust your partner? For instance if yellow sneaks in another Meeple so there are 2 yellow Meeple and only 1 blue Meeple, blue gets nothing! How ruthless are you?

I have to confess I haven’t fully explained all the ins and outs or even more obscure ways of scoring points. But you’ve heard enough from me, the best thing is just to give it a go now. Honestly, it’s much easier to play than to explain! Besides where would be the incentive to play if I explained about the expansion when the Dragon gobbles Meeple and there are magic portals?

1 comment:

  1. We have some other friends who love this game but it sounds far too complicated for me! I do like the word Meeple though.


We love reading your comments, so feel free to leave lots of them!