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Carcassonne - Our Favorite Strategy Board Game

Updated on October 28, 2015
Carcassonne - tile-based strategy game
Carcassonne - tile-based strategy game

Carcassonne - Tile-Based Strategy Game

When our two sons were in college, they both started playing a number of German-style strategy board games when they would get together with their friends. They finally decided it was time to introduce my husband and me to some of these fun games too.

They first introduced us to Carcassonne, a tile-based strategy game named after the medieval walled town of Carcassonne in southern France.

See Carcassonne Board Game on Amazon

Simple rules, easy to learn

The rules for Carcassonne are relatively simple and easy to learn. We take turns picking square tiles at random and placing them on the playing area by joining them to other tiles that are already down. Tiles represent different types of terrain: roads, cities, and fields. Most tiles have 2 or 3 types of terrain represented, and each tile that is placed must connect the same type of terrains together.

When we place a tile, we can choose to claim one of the terrains on that particular tile, by placing a wooden person ("follower" or "meeple" -- and no, I don't know why it is called a "meeple"!) on it, whether it be a city, a road, or a field for farming.

Take a look at the third image below, of the playing tile with the yellow meeple on it. The meeple is claiming the city (placed on the city), but you can also see the green fields and the white curvy roads.

Points for claiming and developing terrain

Points are given for the size of the claimed cities, the length of the claimed roads, or if the farm fields are claimed, points are given for how many completed cities are fed by these farms (i.e. how many completed cities connect to the farm area).

There is luck involved, of course, since the tiles are drawn at random. But developing good strategies increases our chances of winning.

Great for socializing with family and friends

Both of our sons have developed a feeling for the types of tactics that are more likely to be successful. Luckily they're very willing to help us out too, by suggesting where we can place our tiles and meeples for the best effect.

When we play with our sons the game often turns into more of a cooperative game, because we all like trying to figure out where are the best places to put down new tiles. Of course there's competition too, but it's a friendly competition.

Have you played Carcassonne?

Do you play strategy board games? Have you played Carcassonne?

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Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Partway through the Carcassone game.  Image by Stella Dauer, CC BY-SA 2.0http://www.flickr.com/photos/49973009@N00/2244158379/A huge city in this game (near the folded arms). Image by Martin Cathrae, CC BY-SA 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/34067077@N00/149066355/Close-up of a playing piece, called a "follower" or a "meeple".  CC BY-SA 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carcassonne-meeple.jpg
Partway through the Carcassone game.  Image by Stella Dauer, CC BY-SA 2.0http://www.flickr.com/photos/49973009@N00/2244158379/
Partway through the Carcassone game. Image by Stella Dauer, CC BY-SA 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/49973009@N00/2244158379/
A huge city in this game (near the folded arms). Image by Martin Cathrae, CC BY-SA 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/34067077@N00/149066355/
A huge city in this game (near the folded arms). Image by Martin Cathrae, CC BY-SA 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/34067077@N00/149066355/
Close-up of a playing piece, called a "follower" or a "meeple".  CC BY-SA 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carcassonne-meeple.jpg
Close-up of a playing piece, called a "follower" or a "meeple". CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carcassonne-meeple.jpg

Expansion Sets

The game Carcassonne has many expansion sets that can be used to extend play time and to add more complexity to the game. We use the two expansion sets shown below: "Traders and Builders", and "Inns and Cathedrals". They are not complete games by themselves, but are added to the basic Carcassone game.

Carcassonne Traders

With this expansion set, you can get extra points by trading, or place extra tiles for building, or add a pig to your farm for more points. This is my favorite Carcassonne expansion set.

Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals

This set enables players to get more points for completed roads or cities if certain tiles are placed. But no points are given if these special tiles are placed and the road or city in question is not completed.

See different Carcassonne expansion sets on Amazon.


Gateway Game to Other Strategy Board Games

There are many excellent strategy board games available, but they can be confusing and difficult to learn for someone who is new to this type of game.

Carcassonne is sometimes considered to be a "gateway" board game, because it is easy to learn and the turns move quickly. Also no one is eliminated during play, which is a bonus.

There's a good deal of luck involved with this game, in the drawing of tiles, but learning useful strategies and tactics increases the chance of winning.

Do you like to play strategy board games? Have you played Carcassonne before? What's your favorite expansion set?

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    • KarenHC profile image
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      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @Tim Bader: It was kind of a toss-up between Carcassonne and Catan for my one son, and he settled on Carcassonne. I'd love to try Settlers of Catan sometime. Hah, yes, I can understand running out of space for all of these fun games :-)

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 4 years ago from Surrey, UK

      I've heard of this game from some friends and would really like to play it.

      We really like Settlers of Catan in our family - plays quite differently to Carcassone, but is on a similar theme.

      Now, shall I get Carcassone or one of the expansion packs for Catan?

      ...help, I'm running out of space in the house!!

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