There are very few board games that have had a profound effect on the gaming cultural iconography. Carcassonne’s meeples permeate gaming fan imagery. People have self-crafted life size meeples, made meeple cakes, and even taken photos of their meeples in France, the locale of game. Along with Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne helped refocus part of the gaming culture back towards board games.
Carcassonne is a fast-paced tile laying game that reinforces spatial awareness and finds a pleasant balance between strategy and luck.
Players take turns pulling and laying tiles that flesh out the countryside of Carcassonne. Tiles must match up when they are played down (roads to roads, cities to cities… etc.). When a tile is played, the player laying the tile may place one of their meeples on that tile in a variety of roles, depending on what is shown on the tile. Cities, abbeys, and roads allow for a play and in-game return on that investment. Players get points for the length of the road and can pick their meeple back up when the road has been completed to play again on a new tile. The same strategy goes for completed cities and surrounded abbeys.
Farmers require some additional thought. Once played, a farmer stays played and does not score until the end game. Points are awarded based on the number of completed cities that have access to a player’s farm. If more than one farm serves a city, the player with the greatest number of farmers takes the points in the end.
As other players lay tiles, this changes the landscape of the game and alters strategies. Players re-evaluate and re-formulate strategies in reaction to the ever changing tilescape. As they do, players must balance their scoring strategy, finding the best distribution of immediate vs. end game points.
An excellent choice for middle and high school libraries, Carcassonne is a light-strategy modular tile laying game with a high level of re-playability that will appeal to reluctant gamers. Along with Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Incan Gold; Carcassonne is part of a core group of Euro-games that make up a core library board game collection.