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Meeple’s Eye View – Carcassone

The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. This week’s column is written by featured blogger Rick Grayshock.

Carcassonne is an award-winning new classic. It is the game that introduced the world to the meeple, a wooden figure that has become an industry standard (and kind of a big deal here). The game was first published in 2000, but is just as strong a seller today. Named after a city in France, Carcassonne is a Euro-game that is simple but fun and can be challenging.

I will be reviewing the new edition, reprinted by Z-Man games in 2014. The new edition includes new artwork and two expansions included in the base box.

Theme: Kingdom building

Number of Players: 2-5

Game Time: 30-45 minutes

Age Appropriateness: 7 and up

Game Type: Tile laying, area control

In Carcassonne, players work together to build the kingdom (laying tiles) while using their own workers to score points individually to win the game.

Game Play: Players take turns drawing a tile and placing it on the map. After placing their tile, the player may choose to place a worker on that area or not. Points are scored depending on the type of worker that is placed and the completion of their task.

The rules regarding tile placement are simple- a tile must be placed bordering at least one existing tile with the features of any touching edge matching. Roads must be matched to roads, cities with cities and fields with fields.

A worker (meeple) can be placed on features to score points. A meeple can be a farmer if placed in a field, a knight if placed in a city, a highwayman (or robber) if placed on a road and a monk if placed on a monastery. Each scores points when the feature is completed and are placed back in the player’s hand to be reused. Farmers score at the end of the game and stay on the board. The game ends when the last tie has been played.

Component Quality: The artwork was updated for the new edition and is very nice, though not a lot different than the original. The tiles have always been high quality, thick cardboard. The meeples are wooden and brightly painted. Simple components but very well made.

My Take: I am a big fan of this game. My family likes to play it. My wife likes to play it, even with just the two of us. It is a great mix of strategy and luck. Each player starts with 7 meeples, so you have to be somewhat selective on where you decide to play them. Farmers can score you big points, but they stay on the board limiting the number of workers you have to use for other features. Do you play them early and risk that the fields they work don’t end up serving enough cities to make them worthwhile? Monks can also take some time to get back as you have to surround the monastery with tiles. Is it worth the nine points?

This is a game that takes very little time to explain. Play it once and understand all the different ways to score, then you are ready to go. I highly recommend this one.

Expansions and Replay-ability: Are there any expansions for Carcassonne? Ha. Yes, there may be a few. The new edition comes with The River and The Abbot expansions included. The majority of expansions for Carcassonne add tiles and/or a few components that add ways to score.

Let me first say that the base game gives you a ton of replay-ability. Since you are creating the map as you randomly draw tiles, the board never looks the same twice. The small expansions like The Abbot add just enough to change up the game. There are so many of these small expansions you can get.

Additionally, there are other versions of Carcassonne that are stand-alone games. Recently, Carcassonne Gold Rush was released, which gives the game a wild-west feel with cowboys and prospectors. Carcassonne South Seas was also released with an islands theme. There is even a Carcassonne big box edition, which comes with eight expansions included. This will run you over $100, so I would most certainly recommend that you play the base game before making this kind of purchase.

Meeple Rick GrayshockRick Grayshock is a husband and father who is a digital content producer for FOX Sports Ohio and is a co-founder of the Cleveland sports website WaitingForNextYear.com. Rick is excited to contribute to Meeple Moments and to write about his ‘other’ favorite hobby. Follow him on Twitter @RickGrayshock.