Caracassonne (with kids!)

Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

Artist: Doris Matthaus

Publisher: Rio Grande Games / Hans im Gluck

I love the original art. It is very evocative of games that came out during the initial German game boom (Photo credits: Big Woo@BGG)

Hundreds of reviews for Carcassonne can be found on BGG. These reviews pretty much covers the entire spectrum of the game. Love it or hate it, I am quite sure you will find an appropriate review for it. There is really nothing much to add other than my personal opinion and rate the game through the lens of playing it with my child who recently came of age to join the board gaming world.

Carcassonne is the poster child for a tile-laying game. As far as I can remember, Carcassonne is synonymous with tile laying. The term meeples can probably be traced back to Carcassonne. Players pick a tile and play a tile to form cities, roads or fields. With each tile, players have the option to put meeples either as farmers on fields, knights on cities or robbers on roads. Points are scored when structures are completed and importantly, players have a chance to work together or against each other to complete the structures.

Obviously, Carcassonne can be played cooperatively to score points by jointly completing building, roads or fields. I have also played a cutthroat version of Carcassonne where players go all out to foil each other to complete structures. Believe me, both versions are day and night and the cutthroat version is not for everyone. It was incredibly frustrating to play and brutal.

At present, there are so many expansions for Carcassonne I have lost track. This must be a constant evergreen for title for Jurgen-Wrede. There are constant reprints, big boxes, anniversary editions for Carcassonne that there is no way you can miss it. For me, my modified base game consists of Carcassonne plus The River, Inns and Cathedrals and Traders and Builders.

The game is such a classic that I feel it’s a crime to sell it. I have tried, but somehow it is sticking around. Mechanistically speaking, the game is relatively unique and unparalleled. It is easy to pick up and play and certainly has some longevity. But it is definitely not something you play over and over, though I suspect there are some hard core fans out there. It is charming, inoffensive (if played cooperatively) and a fine way to pass time, I think it is rightfully considered a staple of gaming in modern households.

Final word: Average

Kids Corner

6 years and 4 months: All hail Carcassonne! My six year old just picked up the game and is now fully immersed in it. She can play the full game but we have omitted farmers for scoring. That is still the hardest part of the game for her to grasp. We include inns and cathedrals but not traders and builders. That will happen in due time. For now, I am excited that she is excited to play the game. I think there is really nothing to prevent kids from playing the game. I think the sharing of buildings can still be tricky concept to learn but I do see something click in her head. I think Carcassonne is an excellent gateway game for kids. For younger kids, one can even omit scoring and focus on just building structures for fun. That works too. While I haven’t tried Carcassonne kids, I don’t think the regular Carcassonne is out of reach for a 5-6 year old.

Update: I think it happened today. Somewhere between playing with Builders and Traders, it dawned on me that this was the first game I felt we played as a family. Yes, previously, it was always, playing with her and to spend time with her but this was the first game I felt we played as.. equals. Well, almost. I was playing not as a Dad but as a gamer. I think we have arrived…… Carcassonne nonetheless. How ironic because this was my first foray into Euros.

2 comments

  1. Hi! Thank you for sharing.

    I’m a mother to a son (almost 6y.o) who’s into board games.
    I’m a newbie about boardgames and often got confused (and overwhelmed) to pick the right games for him.

    Since they’re pricey so it’s not like we can afford it every once in 2 weeks or month.
    Picking the game is a tough job for me :D. Now i just rely on its rating in BGG, when the rating is good than it goes to my wishlist. Lol.

    Lately, I’m considering to buy Carcasonne, but still not sure whether it’s as fun as Ticket to Ride or Pandemic (we love those game!)

    then i found your blog and you rate the game average, it makes me rethink about buying it.

    Have you played My Little Schyte or Isle of Cats? Any thoughts which one is better, carcasonne or the others?

    Like

    • I have not played either game. My rating of average should not influence you decision to purchase or not purchase Carcassonne. This rating reflects my personal opinion of the game. As I mentioned, if you are playing with kids, the game is going to be different. It all depends on how exposed the child is to games. Go simple and then increase in complexity later. With Carcassonne, you can try and do that. Pandemic is much tougher. Ticket to Ride may work. I suggest it you can, bring you child to a nearby game group and see if a copy of Carcassone is there and try it. Go to meetup.com to see if there are open groups nearby.

      Like

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