Imagine a world where there are not people, but Meeple. Your only wish is to live in the castles and villages nestled in between rolling hills of countryside, to farm the land, and build roads for easy transportation. Unfortunately, your world cannot exist without you laying claim to these features, which appear on game tiles you can only choose at random. A lucky dip, some may say, but it is actually a game full of strategy and possibility.
When the game begins, you will have nothing but an empty table and a pile full of homeless Meeple, but by the end, you’ll have a map of your own making. Just how much of it belongs to you will depend on your nouse and ability to complete features, keep others off your turf and if necessary, use some dirty tactics to muscle in on others castles, roads and farming – stealing points and resources. It may sound simple enough, perhaps even mundane in the cold Meeple-less world you inhabit, where you care nothing for the plight of these small wooden folk, but once you have learnt the rules and played the game, you’ll soon be shouting “Power to the Meeple!” from the rooftops and getting far too het up on whether you can usurp your opponents to take over the region of Carcassonne. Whether you’re playing old-school with the original Hans im Gluck (German) or Rio Grande (English) version, or with the new Z-Man creations, soon the niggling need to obtain every expansion will take over and life without Carc will become a very sad place indeed. You will judge those around you who haven’t heard of it, and then you will teach them until they are as devoted to the Meeple’s plight as you.
But let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
The box basically contains a certain number of land tiles (72 if you’re playing the Z-Man version) and enough Meeple for 5 players. Keep in mind, you can still play with a minimum of 2 people and have a great competitive game. Each player gets 8 Meeple or ‘followers’ – although 1 is purely there to keep track of your points on the scoreboard provided, so you’ll only have 7 to play with. At the start of each turn you will take a land tile at random and place it on the table, wherever you choose, so long as it tessellates nicely (just think of it as a jigsaw) with the other tiles surrounding it. You can then place one (and only one) of your Meeple on a particular feature, provided it is unclaimed by another player’s Meeple. Keep in mind, you cannot place a Meeple on a tile that has previously been put down at an earlier point in the game – it has to be on the current tile you just put down.
Now begins the challenge to complete the feature you have chosen to own to get the maximum points, although you will still receive some points for uncompleted features at the end of the game. Completing castles and roads is one thing, but farming requires a little more forethought. Once you complete any castle or road you are able to pick your Meeple back up and use them again, but once you lay them down on a grassy area to farm you won’t get them back till the end of the game. You also run the risk of not getting any points for your farming if the tiles connect your farming land to another players land. However if you manage to farm successfully, you can literally rake in the points for every completed castle that surrounds your Meeple. If you and another player do wish to compete for farming, then you can take an extra risk by putting more Meeple down to farm the same area, but it’s a dangerous strategy. New players may wish to concentrate on the castles and roads and rack up the points that way, rather than run the risk of farming in vain.
The Z-Man games 2.0 version also includes some particularly nice expansions called ‘The River’ and ‘The Abbot’ which add some new elements to the basic game and many stand alone editions which have their own flavour, such as the ‘Winter Edition’, ‘South Seas’, ‘Hunters and Gathers’ and ‘Over Hill and Dale’.
So that’s a basic introduction into the addictive world of Carcassonne, I hope you enjoyed your visit! Hurry along to our very own Carcassonne selection and grab a copy to try it out for yourself!