Boardom is the regular blog feature in which Mary geeks out on table top games.
Carcassonne was one of my own “gateway” games that got me into Euro board games and it remains one of my favorites. It’s an easy-to-learn tile laying game named after a medieval French town. You lay down one randomly drawn terrain tile each turn. You may place it wherever you like, as long as it’s adjacent to an existing tile and all the sides match up so that roads connect to roads, fields to fields, cities to cities, etc. Then you may place one of your seven followers, little wooden people affectionately known as “meeples,” on one of the tiles to claim a city, road, field, or cloister. On to the next turn. It’s really pretty simple. When the element you claimed gets completed, you can remove your meeple and gets points based on what the element was and the number of tiles it took up. If it never gets completed, your meeple stays on it until the tiles run out and you get your points then, but you may not get as many. A lot of the game is dictated by luck from the random tiles. But strategy is still very important. You may choose to conserve your meeples for bigger claims down the road, or you may wickedly try to take over another player’s claim.
Play Time: 40-60 minutes
Number of Players: 2-5. I haven’t played it with more than two very often, so I can’t say what the ideal number is. But BoardGameGeek users voted 2 as the best.
Suggested age: 8 and up.
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Published: 2000, Rio Grande Games (English version) and Hans im Glück (German version)
Buy: This game is widely available. It looks like you should be able to get it in the $15-20 range online. Or you can skip the shipping charges but pay a little more and support your Friendly Neighborhood Game Store.
There is also an awesome iPhone version out now. You can play it online or locally with a friend who has it, and includes a great solitaire game, with which you can challenge your friends to beat your high score. There is at least one big game-changer I noticed about this version though: it gives you the ability to see how many of each kind of tile are still left in the virtual tile bag. When I played with John I felt this gave both of us a new advantage we never had before. Sure, you could conceivably figure out how many of each tile are left in the original game, but it would take a lot of keeping track and counting. I’m not sure if I like this new feature, but either way, I very much recommend BOTH the original and the iPhone versions. There’s even an Xbox 360 arcade one if you’re interested!