15 Aug 2013

First Time Playing: Carcassonne

This Sunday I decided to do a pretty strange thing - I entered a tournament for the game Carcassonne. The reason this could be considered strange is that I had never played or even seen the game before, I literally learned the game ten minutes before the tournament actually started. One of the other contestants taught me the game through playing a practice session with me, the whole time explaining her moves, the rules behind every tile she placed, what scoring options they gave her, and advised me on my moves. I fully recommend every newcomer to learn this game this way as it's a very quick and efficient way to familiarize yourself with the moves you have available and you can more quickly develop a strategy for your game play.

Easy to learn, quick and simple to set up and no problem to follow

The game itself is a pretty simple strategy game. You have a pile of tiles to draw from, never knowing what you might get. You also have a number of game pieces (called meeples) in your colour. You play the game by drawing a tile and placing it on the board. You may only place a tile where grass is adjacent to grass, road is adjacent to road and/or town is adjacent to town. Then you may claim a part of that tile with one of your meeples (town, road, cloister or field). Then, if placing the tile finishes either a town, road or cloister, the player who has claimed it will score points depending on how large/long a town/road is. It is also possible to compete with another player for a town or a road. As long as the town, road or cloister is unfinished, your meeples are tied up and cannot be used for other purposes, so the key point is to balance between building and scoring. If you claim a field, your meeple will be tied up for the remainder of the game, but could potentially score you a great deal of points at the end of the game. The game finishes when every tile has been placed.

This game is pretty easy to learn, and while having prior experience with other strategy games certainly help (as it always will), there is really no need to have played other games to get into this one. The number of options is limited and the scoring is pretty simple to follow. And as a bonus, if you eventually tire of the basic game, there are several expansions out there you could try (I haven't yet, but I fully intend to).

And for those who wonder, I won 3 of my matches in the tournament, ending up on 4th place, which is not too shabby (and I got to take home a copy of the game as my prize).

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