Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Carcassonne (board game)
Carcassonne is a Tile-based German-style board game for two to five players, designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and published in 2000 by Hans im Glück in German and Rio Grande Games in English. It received the Spiel des Jahres award in 2001. It is named after the medieval fortified town of Carcassonne in southern France, famed for its city walls.
The game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and 71 others shuffled face down for the players to draw from. On each turn a player draws a new terrain tile and places it adjacent to tiles that are already face up. The new tile must be placed in a way that matches, i.e. roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and city walls to city walls.
After placing the new tile, the placing player may opt to station a follower (sometimes called a meeple) on that tile. The follower can only be placed on the player's last played tile. A follower claims ownership of one terrain feature- road, field, city, or cloister- and may not be placed on a feature already claimed by a another player's follower. However, it is possible for terrain features to become shared after the further placement of tiles. For example, two field tiles which each have a follower can become connected into a single field by another terrain tile.
When a terrain feature is completed, the followers placed on that feature earn points for their owning players and are returned to the players to be stationed again later. For example, when a city wall forms a closed loop, the city is completed and the player with the most followers in the city scores points based on the size of the city. If two or more players tie for the most followers, all tied players score points.
The game ends when the last tile has been placed. At that time all uncompleted terrain features score points for the players who have followers stationed on them. The player with the most points wins the game.
Carcassonne is considered to be an excellent family game since the rules are simple, no one is eliminated, and the play is fast. A typical game takes only 45 minutes to play. Even so, it is not a game characterized by shallow strategies and lots of luck. Strategic points include:
- Judiciously conserving followers, particularly in games with fewer players. Each player has only seven followers; once they are all stationed he can't claim any more features until one is returned. Thus it is sometimes better not to station a follower at all, or to station one that scores only a couple of points but will be returned quickly.
- Attempting to share lucrative features. For example, a player may place a tile which creates a new short road, station a follower on that new road, and then place later tiles to connect his road to another player's long and valuable road.
- Preventing the sharing of one's features. Sometimes it pays to close off one's own features for a smaller number of points than to allow another player to join the fun. However, one should not be unthinkingly selfish: if another player is sharing your city then he will essentially be working with you to score more points.
- Playing farmers at the right time. Farmers (i.e. followers in fields) have the potential to score more points than any other type of follower. The disadvantage of farmers is that they are never returned to a player during a game. They only score points at the end. One must judge whether the potentially large payoff at the end of the game is worth having one follower fewer to work with in the middle of the game.
- Being aware of who is helped and hurt by each play. Most tile placements will directly or indirectly add points to the scores of other players. Advanced players don't simply play to maximize their own score, they also look to hinder the other players at the same time.
BrettspielWelt, as well as hosting online games of Carcassonne, organises a "Mega-Carcassonne" competition for the game played with the largest number of Carcassonne tiles. The current record, held by the Spielzentrum in Herne, Germany, is 5517 tiles.
- The River Expansion (2001) - This was originally a free expansion distributed by Rio Grande Games through hobby shops in the U.S.A. Instead of starting with a fixed tile, a river is formed before the regular tiles can be used. The latest 'basic' version of Carcassonne now includes the River Expansion (you can just see it written on picture of the box above right).
- Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals (2002) - Originally known simply as Carcassonne: the Expansion, this adds pieces for a sixth player, some new tiles, and a leader pawn that has double strength. The Inns and Cathedrals for which it is named, add to the value of your roads or cities, repsectively.
- Carcassonne: Traders and Builders (2003) - An expansion to the base game with additional tile types and strategic possibilities.
- Carcassonne: King and Scout (2003) - A few additional tiles and special rules for both the original Carcassonne and "Hunters and Gatherers" (see Spinoffs). The player who builds the biggest becomes King of Carcassonne. At the end of the game receives extra points for every completed city.
- Carcassonne: The Cathars (2004) - Four new tiles which show Cathars breaking the city walls, and are used to reduce the point value of cities. This expansion was published in the German board game magazine Spielbox and is only available, in german, in back issues of that publication. Tile images and english rules are available from Board Game Geek
- Carcassonne: The Count (2004) - Twelve new tiles depicting the city of Carcassonne itself together with a large meeple representing the Count. Like the River Expansion, the new tiles are placed before play begins.
- Carcassonne: The Princess and the Dragon (2005) - Thirty new tiles with volcanos and dragon's nests, together with a dragon meeple and a Fairy meeple. When a volcano is drawn, the dragon is placed on the board. When a volcano is drawn, the dragon is moved six tiles around the board, eating meeples, until it hits a dead end. The dragon cannot move onto a tile containing a Fairy meeple.
- Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (2002) - A stand-alone game that involves the building of forests, rivers and wildlife rather than cities and roads.
- The Ark of the Covenant (2003) - A biblical-themed version of Carcassonne set in the time period of the Old Testament.
- Carcassonne: The Castle (2003) - A stand-alone 2-player Carcassonne game designed by Reiner Knizia where building is constrained within the walls of a castle. Rules are quite similar to the those of the original game, though the tile edge-matching rules are less strict. The border of the game is also the score board with the nice feature that players can gain extras by scoring an exact number of points.
- Carcassonne: The City (2004) - A deluxe stand-alone game for 2-4 players similar to Carcassonne: The Castle. Once slightly over one third of the pieces have been placed, walls are added to the city.
- Carcassonne: The Discovery (2005) - A nautical-themed stand-alone game that involves mountains, seas and meadows. In this game, players may choose to score for terrain features before they are completed, albeit for fewer points.
- Hans im Glück's home page for the game.
- Rio Grande Games' home page for the game.
- Inspiration Games' biblical version of the base game.
- Board Game Geek reviews and pictures of the game.
- Carcassonne Online PC version of the game.
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