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Back to the Board - Carcassonne 68

Heartless Gamer writes to mention a feature on Grimwell online looking at the great board game of Carcassonne. Yet another terrific title from Rio Grande, the article takes a look at a possible introductory title for someone who might not have played a more serious board game. From the article: "Once you place a farmer, you can't get that follower back. The question thus becomes, do you play it now while the field is empty or do you wait, hoping your opponent won't claim the field the following turn? Farms can mean big points at the end of the game but could also mean missed points during the game if you run out of followers to play. The game plays smoothly once the players are briefed on the rules. Turns fly by and games complete relatively quickly. The only trick area of gameplay is ensuring players placing farmers are not overlapping other farmers. There can be a lot of land tiles between farmers, so a keen eye is required to ensure the rules are followed. Fortunately, the rule book has plenty of examples to help the players out."
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Back to the Board - Carcassonne

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  • Excellent Game (Score:5, Informative)

    by TekReggard ( 552826 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:42PM (#15870659)
    I like this game a lot. Some other favorites are Settlers of Catan[And its two expansions], Age of Mythology [The boardgame], Betrayal at House on The Hill, Arkham Horror, Power Grid, and Puerto Rico. Check the games out if you want something new to sit down and play with your friends... we're hooked. -TKSV
    • As far as the initial article/commentary -- you should place the farmer near an opponents Monk since you know they are going to fill the fields in for you.

      But I agree. Settles of Catan is the best. I prefer it with C&K and Seafarers, as well as with the 5-6 player expansions on it. I just wish my 3D version had come with both expansions.

      You can get Settlers and Starfarers (computer versions in German) from Ravensburger. If you are familiar with Settlers, the base game will be easy enough to play. The S
    • Age of Mythology is an truly, truly aweful board game. If you play with people with any interest in winning the games becomes a downright nasty game of resource denial. Some of the sides have units that simply trump the other sides units and the combat system is just pseudo-randomness added to pseudo-randomness added to randomness and that's overkill.

      Play Zombies instead, it's a much better game that won't make you regret playing it.
  • Puerto Rico (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jonboy X ( 319895 ) <jonathan@oexner.alum@wpi@edu> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:43PM (#15870664) Journal
    For deep, engrossing, widely variable strategy, try Puerto Rico [boardgamegeek.com]. It's different every time you play it. For more of a "get in your opponents' way" kind of experience, I'd recommend Power Grid [boardgamegeek.com] (yes, there's an English version). Finally, if you're into path-building but want a bit more ramdomness in your game, try Settlers of Catan [boardgamegeek.com]. All good, all German. We used to play these games all the time at lunch at a place I worked a while back, and it's one of the things I miss most about my time there.
    • Comment removed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:53PM (#15870715)
      Comment removed based on user account deletion
      • Hey, I agree that these are great games, but the article seems to be about games for beginners. Puerto Rico [boardgamegeek.com] and Tigris and Euphrates [boardgamegeek.com] certainly do not fit in these category. I think however that great games like the different [boardgamegeek.com] flavors of [boardgamegeek.com] carcassone [boardgamegeek.com], and even El grande [boardgamegeek.com], and Power Grid [boardgamegeek.com] are great for beginners and seasonned players alike. Settlers of Catan [boardgamegeek.com] is really cool if you play with the Cities & knigths expansion [boardgamegeek.com], but a bit lame (IMHO) without, that is a lot of rules to stomach for a starting player. My
      • Don't forget the famous settlers of Catan [boardgamegeek.com] from Germany, as well as for sale [boardgamegeek.com] and bohnanza [boardgamegeek.com]. All spectacular games in their own right - the first through pure strategy - the second two through haggling. Citadels [boardgamegeek.com] is also a fun little game, rife with strategy particularly through guessing about opponents. My wife, myself and our couple friends play these games fairly frequently.

        I wouldn't say Americans haven't created great games (balderdash & stratego come to mind), but more so Americans haven't in
      • Whilest in principle I would agree the German games are more original, I disagree partly with the Carcassonne franchise as it has been getting several re-hashes/tweeking with the 'Hunters and Gatherers', 'The Castle', 'The City', 'Arc of the Covenant' variations, and to be honest having played them, they are pretty much the same game with slight changes to rules/mechanics.

        The original was the best version. And all the expansions to the original base game do help with its longevity, but at some point it beca
        • Looks like the German game industry is using some ideas from the Anglo-Saxon game industry: that of expansions. A well known name and a new feature often sells just as well for much less effort than a completely new game that needs to follow a complete development and testing track.

          And now that German board games are booming, successful publishers are cashing in. You see stuff like that in any industry.
      • For some strange reason the game my mates and me (Germans) play most is Axis&Allies, though we do know and played Carcassonne, Settlers, Puerto Rico etc. I reckon it's just because of the atmosphere of the game.
      • I recommend "Through the Desert."

        Non random.
        Multiple simultaneous strategies (longest route, oasis capturing, territory capturing).
        Every game plays differently.
        It plays very fast (30 mins for average game).

        And it looks like boardgamegeek has been /.'ed.
    • Mmmmm, games!

      The group I play with prefers Carcassonne: The Discovery [boardgamegeek.com]. Is has a different spin on managing your meeples [wikipedia.org], and is a shorter but more strategic game. The other Carcassonne games are good too, though.

      Check out http://www.meeplepeople.com/ [meeplepeople.com]. I'll also team up with the previous posters regarding Settlers, Puerto Rico and especially Power Grid. PG is our group's favorite right now, and we often talk about how the various aspects of the game could be modelled in code.

      We also like

      Ticket to

    • I tried to get our circle of friends into Puerto Rico, but after 1 play-through they unanimously elected to go back to Catan. I think the game takes a bit longer to grow attached to, since the strategies aren't immediately apparent and it provides a ton of choices--too many for the new player, maybe.

      Carcassone is a great game that I've used for new players when there isn't enough time for a game of Catan. I've probably taught 15 people to play Catan, and about another 10 to play Carcassone.

      These quality gam
  • ...can a board game ever be high art?
  • I love this game, but honestly haven't played it for a long time, because I have to look at the rules everytime I play it (after a break). I had the original RIO game, plus an expansion, but now... I can't remember the rules that well. Further, not only is it bad that I don't entirely remember the rules, but it just got so difficult to explain to folks how to score it, and friends come and go, and well... I was never quite sure I was scoring it right by the end... when we want to play a quick game, games w
    • The Rio Grande edition is printed using the IMO too complicated farmer scoring rules. You'd have better luck playing with the latest german rules that go like this:

      Score each field separately. Whoever has the most farmers on each field gets 3 points per city adjacent to the field.

      The scores are very similar to what they would be with the scoring system in the English rules, and it's much simpler and quicker.

      You could also play one of the many carcassonne variants with simpler scoring systems, like Carcasson
    • I was never quite sure I was scoring it right by the end... when we want to play a quick game, games with difficult scoring, tend to take a backseat. . .

      Go directly to Snakes(Chutes) and Ladders. Do not play Go. Go not pay $200 for a set of (cheap) stones.

    • Then you might want to try Carcassone: Hunters and Gatherers [boardgamegeek.com]. As the name implies, it's very similiar (it's its own stand alone game, not an add-on) but the scoring is a bit more uniform. River segments and forests are scored immediately on completion, river systems and fields are scored at end of game based on the amount of game in them.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:09PM (#15870787) Journal
    Those Carcassonne guys gave Ben Sisko more than his share of headaches.
  • Great game (Score:4, Informative)

    by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @08:16PM (#15870821)
    This is a great game for people looking for games in the Catan/Amun Re/etc style but with quicker gameplay and simpler rules without sacrificing much of the "heart" in theses games.

    The best thing is that it can be played 2 player. It's best with 3-5, but it's still enjoyable with 2.
    • Re:Great game (Score:2, Interesting)

      by happy_place ( 632005 )
      I think the rules to the basic Settlers of Catan are much simpler to explain to a newbie, than Carcassonne. Perhaps it's just because one doesn't fully understand the impact of your moves in Carcassonne until after you've entirely completed a game, and scored everything... so you are forced to play through an entire game or two before you can really get the strategy... Settlers of Catan, you just say, "Be the first to get X points..." (which has always been something of an arbitrary and unfulfilling end to
      • I've had the opposite experience: settlers is harder to grasp, and it's much easier to be completely and utterly doomed to last place before you take your third turn. How is "Be the first to 10" any better than "have the most points possible"?

        The reason many players like Settlers over Carcassonne is because it has significantly more player interaction. In many ways, it feels like a better, shorter monopoly. I personally find Settler's trading rather unfulfilling when compared to real trading games, so I'd r
        • You make a good point. It is quite complicated explaining how to choose a good initial spot for Settlers. Then again, I play Settlers with three boards combined, plus the gold fiends and we made our own homegrown rules that you can build a bridge across one link of water with a Road+Sheep (to feed the troll under the bridge)... so in a way we've kinda customised the game to our liking. And you're right, nothing sucks worse than being doomed to go nowhere in Settlers after the second or third turn. It has
  • Great game! (Score:2, Informative)

    by yttrium ( 88756 )
    This is a great game, and it's fun for 2 players or as many as 5 (you can get a sixth color in an expansion) -- plus it only takes 45 mins or so to play. The rules are simple enough that you can bring this out at a party and get a game going quickly. Another great game along these lines from Germany is Alhambra. Of course, Settlers of Catan is a classic too.
  • by jpatters ( 883 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:06PM (#15871014)
    Others have mentioned Puerto Rico [boardgamegeek.com], and The Settlers of Catan [boardgamegeek.com], which are awesome games, but I always find myself coming back to the old school wargaming goodness of Titan [boardgamegeek.com] which, even though it is an elimination game with a completely different style and feel as all of the newer, more slickly designed games that are all the rage now, nothing beats throwing a fistfull of dice around to really get the blood pumping. It even has a free java implementation [sourceforge.net].
    • Yeah, that's right - worse than Monopoly, even. I just can't understand why some people seem to love it so much. Some of my friends play every now and then, and I've joined them a few times. Fundamentally, I suppose I'm unwilling to devote 8 to 12 HOURS of my time to a single game of Titan, when I could play multiple rounds of any other game in the same amount of time.

      I suppose if there were some kind of payoff to be had after all that investment, it'd be one thing, but the climactic final battle between ar
      • If it is taking you 8 to 12 hours, you are playing it wrong. Try a few games of the computerized version, Colossus. You should be able to play a game against five computer opponents in about a half hour. That is if you don't play too conservatively. Those legions are for attacking with! You can even play on-line against human opponents, but it will take a bit longer.
        • Sure, you can play a game of Titan against computer opponents in half an hour, but that's not a realistic comparison with playing the actual boradgame, because of the following differences:

          1. The computer players in Colossus are pretty dumb.
          2. Dice rolling and counting is immensely faster with the computer doing it.
          3. Same thing for setting up the battle maps.
          4. Perhaps most importantly, you can play very agressively when you're the only human player. If you lose, you don't have to wait 5 hours for the game
  • I can play this with my daughters (10 and 5), and the ten year old wins about one third of the time, without me holding back too much. It's a wonderful family game, for people ages 5 and up.
  • Carcassone (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 )
    Carcassone is a terrible game. There's almost no strategy involved. When you draw a tile, you often only have a single place to put it (either because you're forced to as the only move, or because it's the only option that'll help your people). I felt like I'd have more fun flipping coins and counting winners based on the heads.

    If you had more control over tile placement, the game would be a hell of a lot more interesting.
    • Re:Carcassone (Score:2, Informative)

      by yttrium ( 88756 )
      There's quite a bit of strategy to this game. Balancing how many guys you have placed on the board at any time, whether you claim fields or not, how you can sabotage other players' cities to make them unfinishable, how you can insert yourself into/onto things that other players already own, etc...

      I agree there's not the depth of Settlers, but this is a great game.

    • Re:Carcassone (Score:2, Informative)

      by evilhayama ( 532217 )
      As an experienced player this is sometimes the case, but usually there are a few places to put a tile which will help you in the long term. For beginners however it's more interesting as you discover new ways to steal cities, expand fields etc. Carcassonne has too much randomness to have lots of depth, but it's super approachable and hence great for beginners/children. It's the gateway drug of german board games!
    • Re:Carcassone (Score:5, Informative)

      by pruneau ( 208454 ) <pruneau@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:49PM (#15871500) Journal
      I totally disagree.
      Like someone else pointed, the medieval version of that game can (and will) be picked up by any people older than 8.
      As well, we had tournaments with the hunter and gatherer version, and I can tell you that assigning everything to luck is just a bad excuse for losing. We are still playing this game with my 30+ friends, and knowing the layout of the tiles by heart helps a lot. Now, if you really want to tone down luck, just make sure that everybody plays with two tiles to choose from in his hand, for example.
      Anyway, our recommendations:
      • medieval carcassone: good for beginner, especially with the inn extension (allows 6 players)
      • hunter and gatherers: very good fun for a long time for the vanilla version.
      • settlers version: advanced one, can be very frustrating, but probably the more refined one. Lot of finesse and more options than before.
    • Re:Carcassone (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's almost no strategy involved.


      When you draw a tile, you often only have a single place to put it (either because you're forced to as the only move,

      Bullshit. Almost never happens.

      or because it's the only option that'll help your people)

      Only if you're a beginner. Once you get into it, there are generally a great many ways you can play to your advantage, even with a seemingly useless tile. You can impede your opponents, set up a later tile, or simply make it easier to complete th

    • Drawing too many "bad" tiles will indeed make any player lose. However, drawing the "good" tiles does not ensure a win. The game is maybe 20% luck, the rest is skill. Which, in settings with casual gamers, is actually nice, since everybody has a chance of winning (even if the more tactical players win most games).
    • I totally disagree. There's typically many possible places, out of which up to a handful tend to be interesting, either to help your people or to harm other player's people (making cities harder to finish) or - in particular - managing the fields. There is *so* much strategy in who gets what fields and how do you manage to get your meeple onto a big field that's already taken. Having only one *possible* placement of a tile is really, really rare, except at the very start if you don't use River or Count e
    • Well, we prefer the random game, but if the randomness really detracts from the game for you, you can try this variation:

      - Each player initially draws a pool of tiles. 3 seems to be a good number, but you can adjust as needed to suit your tastes.
      - Play continues as normal, with a player drawing a tile at the beginning of each turn, but that tile is placed into their pool of tiles.
      - The player then plays any tile from their existing pool.
      - At the end of the game, players just
      • I agree. I think having a small hand would drastically improve the game.

        As to the rest of you, it's not that there's only one valid move, but usually only one optimal move, with way too much randomness for my taste, never getting the right tiles you need.
  • german games (Score:2, Interesting)

    Germans really make the nicest games, I'm hooked to the card trading game "bonanza" / bohnanza (in german; bohn is bean). You basically grow different kinds of beans and when you have enough beans you can trade them for gold. But the player is limited in the number of beans they can grow so you have to trade with other players. Very funny.
    • Re:german games (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kubrick ( 27291 )
      We got given that a while ago. The funny thing about it is that the person with the highest level of trust among the group outside the game often ends up winning, because they're using that trust in order to swing the trades necessary... and the accountant we play it with doesn't always do well, because everyone's paranoid about trading with him. :)

      I like the forced order of the play as well (FIFO from the cards drawn). It means that your trades and played cards have to be woven together very neatly to keep
      • Re:german games (Score:5, Interesting)

        by angrymilkman ( 957626 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @12:29AM (#15871613) Homepage
        If you like the social aspect of games there are two other games i can recommend: - Die wervolfe fon dusterwald - its a game about werewolves everybody gets assigned a card (werewolve, citizen, witch, hunter etc). The goal of the game is for the werewolves to kill the citizens and for the citizens to identify and burn the wolves. Its a brilliant game that can be played with up to 18 people. its a really cool game where everybody gets parranoid accussing others of being a wherewolf - kuhhandel - again a card trading game similar to bohnanza but very complex (you have to get four of the same animals and every turn you can either auction off an animal or force trade with other player and there is no real strategy for winning which makes it such a brilliant game. I wonder why almost all games come from germany? don't they have computers or tv's ;-)
        • Actually, "Werwölfe von Düsterwald" is available in english under the name "The Werewolves of Millers Hollow". Originally, it's a Russian folkgame (were you had to uncover spys) that has been brilliantly redesigned by two frenchmen : Philippe des Pallières and Hervé Marly under the name "Les Loups-Garous de Thiercelieux".

          As far as Board & Card games go, a quick pick from my personnal favorites would be (in no particular order):
          - Ticket to Ride [boardgamegeek.com] my favorite point to point movement game
    • If you like the trading aspect, you *must* try Traders of Genoa. It's almost nothing but trading/auctioning/haggling, and very well done. Taught me to haggle for real-life things. Doesn't work with less that three people, though, and best with four or five.
  • carcassonne? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rlbond86 ( 874974 )
    Everyone knows that the REAL best game is Blokus! [boardgamegeek.com]
  • by Merithiel ( 805986 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:18AM (#15871737)

    Brettspielwelt (BoardGameWorld in German) has been online for a really long time and has around 40-50 various Rio Grande games which one can play multiplayer via some java applet and standalone client.

    Check the Wikipedia entry on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BrettspielWelt [wikipedia.org] and here is the English portal: http://www.brettspielwelt.info/ [brettspielwelt.info]

    My favorites are Carcassonne(of course!), Peurto Rico(games can be VERY LONG though), and Tichu.

  • Zombies [gamesbyjames.biz] is a great friggin game...quick and fun... And you get to kill zombies and screw your friends at the same time...not the most thought provoking game but fun as hell...
    • I find nothing quick about it. Also, in my opinion its not fun either. Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill, while both deeply flawed games, are both as fast, and more fun than, Zombies. Arkham Horror might even have an expansion out that actually makes it _good_, but I haven't played it yet.
  • If you haven't played before, think of Carcassonne the beautiful child of a marriage between Dominos and Risk -- you keep laying new tiles onto the map even as you're trying to take it over.

    One of the great advantages of Carcassonne, IMHO, is that a complete game takes only about an hour (if all players have played before). So few of our favorite board games can produce a satisfying, complete experience in that short a time. A round of Carcassonne takes about the same time as some games of cards.
    • You obviously don't have all the expansions in play. We've purchased every one, and have noted that a two-man game now takes over 2 hours to play.
      Needless to say, we'll be culling a few expansions out of the list to get back to speedy game play - City ... gone. Pixie/Faery ... gone.
      We haven't had the towers long enough to make a permanent call yet, but it's on the edge.
  • by alanhunt ( 113895 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:54AM (#15872794) Homepage
    Carcasonne is an excellent entry point into the world of strategy board gaming. The rules can be learned in about 15 minutes, but it takes many games to really get a sense of winning strategies. It is also infinitely replayable, since the board is different every time you play. Truly, one of the great games of the last few years.
  • I am surprised nobody has mentioned Junta [wikipedia.org] yet. I recall many happy hours of playing this at university.

    Basically, the players take on the roles of president and ministers of a banana republic. Each round consists of splitting the country's "foreign aid", voting on the budget, and (attempted or succesful) assasinations of other players.

    Players can also declare a coup (if they have a coup excuse), at which point there is a military phase, followed by either the ex-president or a traitor being sent to the

    • I'll second Junta. Like it a lot more than any of the German games. Most of those play well enough but tend to the simple side playwise. Which, of course, is what people want (people love the mind-numbing "gameplay" of Risk). Combine it with the short length (fantastic!) and you get sales hits. They deserve the attention but hopefully there'll someday again be a market for more involved games.

      For elegant but simple and fast, Cosmic Encounter simply can not be beat. Unfortunately it's not available at retail

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham