Hello and welcome to our newest monthly installment – this one from Marti, the Fluffy Meeple!
Out of the three of us on OSG, I have been into modern board gaming for the longest period of time. And in an age where 2 to 3 year old board games are considered “classics” already (yay cult of the new!), I decided I wanted to go back and explore some of the games that have become the bedrock of our hobby. If you’re just getting into the hobby, then I sincerely hope that these “Classic Callbacks” help you to take a look at some of these old favorites. And, we’re going to kick this off with my #1 favorite game (and modern classic), Carcassonne.
Publishers (Past and Present): Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH, Rio Grande Games, Z-Man Games (current publisher); and about 40 other publishers all over the world.
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Main Game Mechanisms (base game): Tile Placement, Area Control, City Building
Number of Players: 2 to 5
Game Time: 30 to 60 minutes
The Game: Carcassonne is a tile-laying game at its heart. It’s one of the purest forms of tile laying that there is, and you are taking tiles out of a bag and continuing to build out until you build the beautiful French countryside until, well, there are no more tiles to be placed.
There are pieces of area control in the game as well – you place knights in cities, thieves on roads, farmers in the fields, and monks in the monasteries – all represented by the now famous “Meeples”. Throw in a mix of press your luck (what if I don’t finish this and end up with a meeple that’s stuck there for the rest of the game?) and you have a game that has caught the hearts and minds of tons of people all over the world.
Why It’s Worth a Classic Callback:
It’s my favorite game (duh). I will totally admit that I’m so biased in this opinion. Carcassonne has been my favorite game since I got into the hobby, and that will not change (even though one of the spinoffs may eventually take its place, who knows). So, to me, that definitely makes it worth the Classic Callback to start with.
Longevity. There’s a reason that this game has been around for 17 years and is still getting expansions and new editions. There is something that draws people in and gets them excited about what gaming has to offer. Even though Rio Grande sold it to Z-man (which means it’s under the Asmodee banner now), Z-man has been doing a great job of putting out all of the old expansions and such with the new art style. I admit, there’s something I like better about the old art, but it’s still a nice looking game on the table.
Not only do you have expansions, but you also have a ton of spinoffs on the game as well. We just got The Castle and The City (which are out of print) from Brandon and Kerensa from What Did You Play This Week (WDYPTW), and we had played them at Origins and loved them. We’re also about to get Over Hill and Dale from the Miniature Market sale, and I’m watching for a sale on the Amazonas spinoff. My point? There are a lot of ways to take this base system and twist and turn it into something even more awesome, and every iteration that I’ve played is a ton of fun.
Variability in Gameplay. I will not, absolutely will not play Carcassonne without the Inns and Cathedrals expansion (Expansion 1) or the Traders and Builders expansion (expansion 2). Why? Because they take the game to a new level. I&C adds a push your luck element to the game, because if you don’t finish a road with an inn next to it, or a city with a Cathedral in it, you get no points. If you do, it’s 2 points per road tile or 3 points per city tile, respectively. T&B adds a level of set collection to the game, giving you bonuses for collecting sets of wheat, ale, and cloth based on finishing cities. That being said, you can mix and match the 10 big expansions and the dozen or so small expansions to get whatever “feel” you are looking for in the game.
Who Won’t Like Carcassonne?
- If you enjoy a lot of player conflict, you won’t find it in base Carcassonne, so you may be disappointed by it. But, adding expansions like The Princess and the Dragon; The Tower; and The Catapult (which is just ridiculous, lol) add a little bit of player conflict and may elevate the game for you.
- If you don’t like tile laying games, avoid this, obviously. 😉
- If you prefer Ameritrash games, this game will not do you any favors, I promise. While the theme fits, there are several themes that could be used here, so you likely won’t feel like it’s “Thematic Enough.”
Who Will Like Carcassonne?
- If you find that your tastes align with the types of games that I enjoy playing, then you’re going to like Carcassonne, hands down. It may not be your top game like it is mine, but it will be something that you enjoy.
- Are you someone that loves puzzles? Carcassonne feels like a giant puzzle when you get into it and start putting meeples all over the board.
- Do you like to relax with a game, while still thinking hard about what it is that you want to do? Carcassonne hits that balance perfectly, in my opinion.
- Do you like to play games with limited resources (in this case, meeples) that you have to learn how to utilize appropriately so that you can score the most points with them? That’s something you can definitely get from Carcassonne as well.
Do you enjoy Carcassonne? What expansions do you play with? Do you have any “house rules” that you utilize to enjoy the game even more? Also, do you have any suggestions for what else I should feature on “Classic Callback” in the future? Let me know in the comments, or hit us up on social media!