Friday, April 15, 2011

Carcassonne

Photo via waltthewell.com

This is a great game for introducing casual gamers (people that just know of things like Monopoly, LIFE, Scrabble) to the wide world of actually good board games. The mechanics of play are rather simple to pick up and you can play with 2-5 players in 30 to 90 minutes (the more players, the longer it takes). The re-playability is high and there's a slew of decently priced expansions that you can mix and match with the base game when you're ready for new twists. The only con is that it does take up a decent amount of space, about as much as Monopoly or LIFE.

The game has an element of strategy and luck to it that makes it a good game for a mix of skilled players. In the box you'll find 72 tiles (printed with various terrains, roads, and castle walls), a score sheet, and 5 40-piece colored followers. The tiles are placed face down and randomly mixed together, except the starting tile which is place face up in the center of the table. Players then take turns picking tiles from the draw pool and then attaching them to the ever growing game board where the tile fits correctly. When a player places a tile, they can decide if they would place one of their colored followers on that tile, which is what will eventually gain them points. There are 4 different places to place followers on the tiles and only some of those options are available on each tile. Different positions have different advantages and disadvantages, depending on how quickly you can finish the follower's "work" and get him back, and how many points that "work" will earn you. The rules and other websites can explain those positions for you. Just know that it takes a combination of positions throughout the game to get a respectable score and that what that combination is exactly changes with every tile you place. The most complicated part of game play is calculating the scoring at the end. It's a great way to work on math skills, that's for sure.

This game is great for people that aren't afraid of lots of pieces, a little bit a math, and a lot of fun. It tends to be one of those games that people come and watch being played, as every turn has the potential to be a game changer and there's nothing kept secret in player hands - mainly because there is no such thing as a player hand. I've yet to find someone that has not liked this game enough to not play again. As a matter of fact, after purchasing the XBox LIVE version which allows multiple players locally, none of my friends have yet to turn down a game.

Carcassonne on Amazon