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Friday, February 20, 2009

Carcassonne, by Rio Grande Games

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Note from Carrie: I think Fridays are going to be wild card days here from now on. At this point in the week I'm pretty much brain dead anyway. Today would appear to be "game day". Check out our earlier post today in which guest contributor, Sky, reviewed Number Hunt.) And then check out my note here at the end of Jonathan's review of the following game.
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Howdy folks! It's Carrie's better other half, blogging again. (Apparently you didn't "boo" loudly enough last time I posted... or she just hasn't gotten around to changing the password yet!)

Anyway, in a bit of a change of pace, I'm actually reviewing a board game this time rather than a book. (If you're only here for the book reviews, look at it this way: Here's a game that the rest of your family could spend hours on, giving you more time to read. Happy now?)

Growing up, I was the oldest of five kids, and we were all Totally Into Board Games. Particularly the serious, thinking kind. If a particular game involved any bit of luck, it was snubbed. (Yahtzee, for example. We would have rather been found dead in a ditch than been caught playing Yahtzee.) Anyway, when it came to board games, we invented them, played them, argued about them, and more. I'll never forget my eight-year-old sister coming home from a friend's house and mentioning that they had played a game which most of the other girls liked, but "the ruleset could have been improved."

Somehow, my younger siblings all became better than I was at games. I had serious morale issues as a teenager due to this. (Later on, two of my brothers went on to win national chess championships. I didn't feel so bad at that point.)

Fast-forward a dozen years, to the present. Carrie and I are not much the gaming types. (My acne is gone now, too.) But we ran across Carcassonne recently and gave it a try, to our very pleasant surprise.

Carcassonne (a French word, pronounced "Carcass-Zone") is unique in that it's a tile-laying game with extremely simple rules that don't require mind-bending strategy in order to get the hang of. At the same time, there's enough depth that you'll enjoy playing it over and over. (We have.)

It's also fun because you're creating a "landscape" of roads, cities and fields as you lay down the individual tiles, and the map is built from scratch differently with each game. By the time you're halfway through a game, you're thinking uniquely about the map that's being created, which is constantly changing and presenting new situations. This keeps the gameplay feeling very fresh and interesting, rather than becoming boring after a while.


The rules are easy enough to pick up quickly, and even most kids (8 years and up, I'd say) can participate in playing without much challenge. But there's enough depth in the strategy to be explored that it doesn't become tiresome, even to adults. The game can be played with 2 to 5 players (and there are expansion packs that support adding a 6th player.) Carcassonne can truly be enjoyed just as much by 2 players as 6 players; the gameplay scales perfectly without any difficulty.

If your family is the type that enjoys playing games together, I recommend this wholeheartedly. It's been a hit with everybody that we've introduced it to!

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I am seriously NOT a gamer in any sense or imaginative use of the word. I rather loathe playing games as a general rule. However, I wanted to play this one because we've been talking about Knights and Castles around here and this game involves both. Hence my initial interest. I played this game once with Jonathan and then volunteered him another round of it because I thought it was very fun. And I wouldn't even mind playing it again (and again and again)! If you know me, you know I wouldn't normally volunteer to play ANY game more than once. Except Clue. I do like Clue . . . (so I find it rather unfortunate that Jonathan doesn't) . . . sigh.
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5 comments:

drey said...

This is so funny. Carcassonne is one of our favorite games. I bought it for the Mr. quite a few years ago, and it's a staple now. We've even gotten friends hooked on it, and holy moly, it's on the XBOX Live Arcade! We have the Princess & the Dragon expansion, as well as the Traders & Builders. We like the latter, not so much the former. Somehow having a dragon rampage & smoosh your followers isn't a lot of fun for the smooshee... =)

Another game we like is Settlers of Catan. Not quite as variable as Carcassonne, but at least your game board is always slightly different...

Lisa writes... said...

Not a gamer either. At all. I think it's partly due to the fact that I would HATE to lose. Seriously. Hate it.

Katrina said...

We love this game and I reviewed it on my blog a couple years ago. I like that we can play it with our 10-year-old, but it makes a great 2-player game too, if it's just me and the hubby. We don't really like Princess & Dragon expansion (we're kind of non-confrontational, I guess), but play often with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I LOVE games, but unfortunately my better/other half does not.

I bought this game a year or so ago and have enjoyed it (and made other family members play along at holidays).

Marks of Faith said...

Sounds interesting. My husband and I are both readers, but at times we like to do something that we both are a little more involved in then simply snuggled up reading together. (And, watching a movie doesn't count!) As our only child is a baby and we live rather in the middle of no where, I am always looking for interesting games that will be intriguing for two, but value my $$$ and want my games to fit a group situation too. Thanks for the recommendation.

BTW: I having seen this game around locally, any recommendations on a place to buy it or is Amazon the favorite?

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