Cost – The basic game costs around $30 depending on where you buy it, and expansion packs average around $20 each.
When some friends from England came home for Christmas, they mentioned getting together to play an exciting new game called Carcassonne. I’m usually up for learning a new game, so I agreed without hesitation. I had no idea what I was in for. This is the game that keeps growing and growing until you realize you’ve unleashed a monster.
The game’s playing space is made up of tiles that you lay down with each turn. It starts with a happy little river and then explodes into a booming medieval metropolis. It’s not like you’re leisurely building your own cute little city, though. No, no. That would be too easy and stress free. No, there has to be fire-breathing dragons and forts and catapults that destroy everything you’ve worked so hard to build for the past 4 hours. Oh yeah, did I mention you need a solid 4 hours at your disposal to complete this torturous escapade?
I know it sounds like I hate the game and, in part, I do, but I don’t think I hate its core concept. I think I would quite enjoy the basic game of building castles and fields and roads with my meeples (wooden playing pieces). However, there are numerous different expansion packs you can buy, such as the dragon, that wipe out everything in their path and leave you feeling bitter and angry. I’m not a very competitive person, so these add-ons did nothing good for me.
Carcassonne is great at its core for couples to waste away a rainy afternoon with and can conjure up some healthy competition. If you really get into the game you can purchase your own wooden meeples online and custom paint them (meeplepeople.com). If you have a large table, a competitive spirit and some time to waste Carcassonne is the game you’ve been waiting for.
Board games are sneaky little things. They can bring people together for a fun evening, or they can tear friendships apart and lead to tears and rage. I had a bad feeling about Carcassonne right from the first time I saw it. I thought there was no way that a game built on cartoonish tiles and little wooden pieces called meeples could possibly be good. Well, I can honestly say I was equally right and wrong.
We played Carcassonne twice over the holidays, with two different groups of people. It can be played by as few as two players, but in order to learn all the complexities of the game, we joined some friends. The first time we played I got completely overwhelmed by all the rules, but by the second time I started to get the hang of it.
I get frustrated when I feel like winning or losing a game is largely out of my hands, and that is exactly how Carcassonne made me feel. At it’s most basic form, Carcassonne is about placing tiles that make up the playing surface. These tiles can be either castle, farm, or road. When you place a tile you have the option of placing a meeple on that tile and only that tile. That part of the game is fun. I like trying to complete a castle or a road and get the points before someone else takes it over. Where things go bad is when certain expansion packs get added into the game. All of a sudden there is a huge element of luck involved, which I didn’t enjoy at all.
Though I wasn’t crazy about the game, I did find one great way to enjoy it. There is a version you can buy on XBox Live (800 points) which I love. It breaks the game down to the essentials which is especially great for newbies like me.
A mixture of being confused by the rules, and frustrated by the element of luck keeps me from loving this game. But people seem to love it or hate it, so I recommend at least trying it to see what you think. You can buy the game at places like Chapters, and if you want more you can buy expansion packs online, or if you live in Halifax check out Strange Adventures.
If you’ve ever played Carcassonne we would love to hear what you think of it.