Once, not so long ago, I was a massive Monopoly fan. I know, I know, give me a break, I was young and knew no better!
Anyway, it’d be safe to say that I loved the game, the interaction, the social aspects of that Scarlet-boxed temptress. Everything was good between Monopoly and I, we spent many fun hours together… Until! One day, a good friend of mine introduced me to a blue-boxed mystery.
To the untrained eye this newcomer appeared simple, no frills, no money to get in the way, you might even describe it as plain. BUT! Beneath that plain, almost drab, exterior hid true beauty! A beauty that, without an introduction, you would walk away from in blissful ignorance of what you’d just missed.
It was on that day that I fell head over heals in love with this delightful blue stranger. The more time I spent with it, the deeper in love I fell. My relationship with Monopoly was left in tatters as I came to realise what true beauty really was. I eventually left Monopoly and its controlling temperament behind and have never looked back. My blue-boxed beauty, or Carcassonne as you may know it, has changed my perception of games, and what makes one good. It’s simple, well-balanced and can be taught in a matter of minutes.
Right, let’s set the drippy love story aside and look at the game itself!
Carcassonne, is a tile-placement and area control game all in one. It’s designed for 2-5 players, but you can add a sixth player, and may even like to look up the solo variant on BoardGameGeek. There are very few rules to follow and it can be taught in a relatively short space of time. This game is what I’d describe as a true gateway game. A game that people of all ages can understand and enjoy.
“But if it’s so simple, won’t I get bored with it really quickly?” I hear you ask.
The quick answer… I doubt it! The tile placement mechanism provides a massive amount of variety, and for those who are looking for something a little deeper or complex, you can throw in an expansion or twelve! Only yesterday I received a parcel containing, not one, not two, but seven!!! Mini expansions. That’s not to mention the plethora of large and mini expansions that are already out there! This game may just be close to perfection!
“Nothing’s perfect, there’s got to be something wrong with it somewhere.” you say?
Yes! There is something wrong with it, that’s why I said “Close to perfection”! The problem for me is the theme! If you’ve read any of my other posts you may have realised that I like to imagine myself in the heart of the action. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a theme, it’s just not a particularly engaging one. Imagining myself stood on a road, laid in a field or strolling city streets just doesn’t do anything for me. I love The gameplay, the way it can bring people together and the strategy behind it. But! If I want to give my imagination a spin, I’m afraid I won’t be knocking on Carcassonne’s door.
So in summary, buy Carcassonne, buy it for yourself or buy it for your non-gamer friends. If they can get past the theme, they may just convert!