16 Dec 2013
First Time Playing: Cardcassonne: The Card Game
So, I'm not entirely sure why this game is named the way it is, as it virtually has no similarities to the original Carcassonne game of drawing tiles and claiming land. Here with Cardcassonne: The Card Game we are laying cards into rows, delicately balancing between playing out cards and claiming a row. Claim a row too soon, and you might be missing out on points - wait too long and someone else might just claim that row before you get to it.
It's a quick and easy game to learn, as it plays out over the course of six rounds. All players draw a certain number of cards (depending on the number of players), which they play out one by one until all players have played out all their cards and claimed a row of cards. There are four rows, sorted by colour (at the start of the game, ten random cards are drawn and placed according to colour). The first card played out from each player is placed face down, giving players the option of putting any card in any row. All cards following that turn are placed face up, meaning they have to correspond to the colour of the row. A player may choose any of their turns to place a meeple behind one of the rows instead of laying down a card - however they still have to continue playing cards from their hand until they have none left. Any cards that are left unclaimed remains on the board in the following turn.
There are three main types of cards; animal cards, people cards and treasure cards. Animal cards are scored on a chart according to how many you have on the card (it has reached my attention that these cards aren't discarded after scoring, and instead will accumulate more points for you as the game progresses - however, this was not how my initial play-through of the game went). People cards are scored according to the sum total of people multiplied with the sum total of people cards (these are discarded). Treasure chest cards are saved for the end of the game, where you will score according to how many different coloured chests you manage to accumulate (you may collect more than one set, however). There are also special points cards, as well as wildcards that may be used as any colour you want.
For cards that are played face down, if any of them do not correspond with the colour of that particular row, the player who gets the card will have the option of earning ten bonus points (I say option, because if it's a treasure chest, a player may want to save it for the end of the game rather than scoring those bonus points right away). At the end of six rounds, whichever player has earned the most points is declared the winner.
This game is absolutely newcomer friendly, and can be learned in just a few short minutes. The main trick to it is finding the balance between playing it safe - which may not earn you the optimal amount of points, or taking the risk of playing more cards - and hope none of the other players claim the row you want before it's your turn again.