Carcassonne Board Game Reviews

carcassonne board game review

carcassonne board game reviewsCarcassonne Board Game

Carcassonne Board Games, named after the city of Carcassonne in France, are favorite family games in our house. The idea is simple… you play cards that have pictures with landscape, city walls or a road on them… and collaboratively, you build up a map of a medieval land.  (There is a joke going around that the final map looks like it was designed by the world’s worst city planner…) Points are scored for completing towns, cities, cloisters and cathedrals… for holding a road… and even for farming.

You do work together with other people to create the map… but you also work against them to score more points. It’s a semi-cooperative game, which makes it good for people of all ages and skill levels.

Carcassonne Board Game Review

carcassonne board game reviewThe basic Carcassonne Game is simple enough for an elementary kid to play (the box says 8 and up), but engaging enough for teens and adults. My son will haul it out and play with his buddies… my little daughter will play with her Oma (she even plays it by herself… she loves the idea of creating your own world). We frequently haul it out on board game night, where the player age spread goes from tween to mid-sixties.

And then you add in the expansion sets... and things really get interesting.

Rivers, Wizards, Princesses, Inns and Dragons all add their own sets of new rules and fun… as well as a few complications… The game just gets more and more interesting.

Playing The Carcassonne Board Game

Some Basics

The game of Carcassonne can be played with by 2 to 6 people. The more people… the more you have happening…

Each game takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to complete… unlike Monopoly or Risk, you don’t have to sign your life away. You can easily run through the game a few times in an evening.

carcassonne Learning the game is not hard. I promise. Take it slow the first time. Work together to see where the best place to put the piece is. You will come to learn cut throat strategies as you go.

Then start adding Expansion Sets…. they will change the game up a bit. You don’t have to play with them every time….just when you are looking to do something different. We keep the River Expansion in with the Basic game all the time… but add the Dragon or the Bazaar sets from time to time to do something new.

How to Play Carcassonne

Begin the game by placing the starter tile on the table. (It has a road and part of a city on it … the back is a different color to differentiate it). You can stack the rest of the cards in piles around the table, or do it the easy way, and put all the rest of the cards in a bag (the Crown Royal Bag works well for this, but any cloth bag will do.)

The first player draws a card, and determines where to place it in relation to the starting card. They can continue the road, or add to the city. The features must match up. Then the player can claim that road or city by placing a meeple on it. Then the next player draws a tile and does the same. Until all the tiles are used up.

Note… when a feature, such as a road, city or monastery is completed, the player gets the points for that feature, and gets his/her meeple back.

After all tiles are used, the rest of the board is scored. Farmers get points for how many farms they support… points are given for partially completed features.

The player with the most points wins.

Carcassonne- Board Games

The basic Carcassonne Board Games contain a simple set of cards that have bits of landscape, road and city wall on them. The cards are a stiff cardboard, and are quite sturdy (unless of course, the dog chews on one….. then … it’s best to just let that one go).
You will also get your little men (Meeples), and a score card. This box is enough to get you going, and you can have a fantastic time playing with just the basic set.

To play the game of Carcassonne, you must have the basic set. Get this….and get started!

 Carcassonne: New Edition Carcassonne Classic


Carcassonne Expansion Sets

The River Expansion

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne The River 2

The River is a mini-expansion set… how mini? It’s only 12 cards, and it comes in a teeny tiny box. Lose the box immediately, and stick the cards in with the basic set. The River is a landscape changer only. The river cards get played first… to sort of rearrange the landscape, affecting the way towns and cities can be placed… but you don’t score from them. I love playing with this set, and just consider it a basic part of the game.

The River adds both visual interest, and some landscape changes to the basic set of Carcassonne…. and it’s inexpensive, how can you go wrong? We actually have 2 sets of the River Expansion.. just to make it more interesting.

Note- The Carcassonne New Edition already contains the River Expansion!

Inns and Cathedrals Expansion Set

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne 1 – Inns and Cathedrals

The Inns and Cathedrals Expansion set includes special road pieces that have Inns along them… and it also includes Cathedral Pieces for adding a Cathedral to your cities. These pieces will enable you to double and triple your scores… but only if the roads and cities are completed. These are fun additional tiles to play with… the points go up higher, so additional scoring pieces are included.

This Inns and Cathedrals Expansion Set adds another set of scoring opportunities to the Basic Carcassonne Set. Working with Cathedrals can make the cities so much more valuable… if they are completed…. and the roads become higher value to. Also, you can use those Cathedral pieces against someone by adding it to their incomplete city (if they can’t finish it, the points are all lost!)

This is an expansion set worth having.

Princess and the Dragon Expansion Set

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne Expansion Set: The Princess and The Dragon

The Princess and the Dragon Expansion set is an interesting Game Changer. Dragons can be set loose on the game board… wiping some of the players out. Knights can fight the dragon… Farmers will hide from him… and the Princess is in danger. It’s a fun set… we don’t use it every game, but it is good for a change.

Dragons and Princesses… this set rearranges the players on the board. Fun to play with if you like the unexpected.

Note- I bought this expansion when it was much cheaper… one of my kids really likes it (she’s kind of a vindictive game player)… the others, not so much. You should judge by your own gaming style.



Traders and Builders

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne 2 – Traders and Builders (2015)

Traders and Builders changes Carcassonne just a bit… drawing a trader will give you extra points… drawing a builder allows you to place more tiles during your turn so that you can build roads and towns quicker. There’s also a pig… to increase the value of the farms.

The Traders and Builders expansion adds a new dimension to the Carcassonne game… more scoring, more building and some new rules. Also included is a bag to put all of the tiles in… it’s nice to draw from a bag that can be passed around.

Note- I can not emphasize enough how much I love the bag! Even if you don’t get this set, get a bag to pass the tiles around in. Honestly, the little piles on the table are always getting knocked around.

Bridges, Castles and Bazaars

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne Expansion 8 Bridges and Castles Board Game

The Bridges, Castles and Bazaars Expansion Set adds a few new twists to the Carcassonne game. Road construction is changed by the inclusion of Bridges which helps to link farms. You also have a chance to build small castles, which can add extra points to your score. The Bazaars are best played with a group of people since there is an auction, and you need more people to make it work.

New tiles add to the excitement of Carcassonne… you can build bridges and castles… and there is an auction element when the Bazaars are introduced. Great if you are playing with multiple players.

Note- The Auction makes this a more interactive game.

The Tower Expansion

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne The Tower Expansion Board Game

In the Tower Expansion set… special extra pieces allow you to build a tower. Lords around Carcassonne can build strongholds… which need to be guarded. There is also the chance to capture opponents pieces and hold them for ransom. It’s an interesting addition to the basic set… and it allows for a bit of back and forth between players.

The Tower expansion adds a new level … vertical… to Carcassonne. There is more interaction as players can be kidnapped and held for ransom. Added bonus… the box is built to act as a tower for drawing pieces.

Note- I like the vertical box… but I still prefer putting pieces in a bag, as I tend to be clumsy.

The Count, King and Scout Expansion Set

carcacassonne expansion setsZman Games Carcassonne Expansion 6 Count, King & Robber

Originally, the Count was a mini expansion Pack of just 12 pieces. King and Scout were also mini expansions. It looks like they have been combined now into one big expansion called Count, King and Robber

These Count pieces represent the actual city of Carcassonne, and they are played first. Players who help other players score points in the game will have a figure moved within the City Walls… and then extra scoring features are offered later in the game. This means you can move your guy out of the city later… and take a few points from someone else’s road or town.

King  was also a good mini expansion set. The player with the largest town gets to keep the king. This changes as the game progresses. At the end of the game, if you have one of these in your possession, you get extra points. Simple.


Abbey and Mayor

carcacassonne expansion setsCarcassonne Expansion 5 Abbey and Mayor Board Game

Abbey & Mayor adds new tiles and new wooden pieces. The new Abbey tiles act like Cloisters but you don’t have to match the landscape features around them... plus, they can complete the features they are placed next to. The new wooden pieces are the Mayors, which can be put into cities for extra points. The Wagons and Barns add to Farm scoring, which means you can score a farm mid-game.

I like scoring the farms mid-game… it loosens up the pieces a bit. And the extra points that come from the Mayor are nice, This is a good expansion to try.





Carcassonne Big Box Game

carcassonne board game reviewsCarcassonne Big Box Game

Don’t want to buy the Game and Expansion Sets separately? The Carcassonne Big Box Game has a the basic game load of favorite expansions all in one box! In the box you will find Inns and Cathedrals, Traders and Builders, Princess and Dragon, Abbey and Mayor, Bridges, and Castles and Bazaars. There are slots in the box for each component to keep them separate if you don’t want to include everything in every game.

Why buy in dribs and drabs? Get a load of Carcassonne parts in one fell swoop!

Different Carcassonne Big Box Games contain different expansions… Order the one YOU like best.

carcassonne board game reviewsCarcassonne Big Box 5carcassonne board game reviewsCarcassonne Big Box 3


carcassonne board game reviews
The Real Carcassonne

A Fairy Tale City in France

City of Carcassonne is a picture perfect city in the Languedoc Region of Southern France.
Carcassonne is actually two cities in one.High on the hill is the walled City…it looks like something designed by Disney or Dreamworks. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site… lovely with cobblestone streets, drawbridges and high walls. It’s what you expect to see when you go to visit a Medieval Fortress. Parts of it date back to the 6th Century, and the walls date from the 8th Century. Because of its location in the area close to the border of France and Spain, the land has often been in dispute, and it has at time been occupied by Romans, Moors and Cathars. Today it is primarily occupied by tourists.
Below the castle is the lower town, the Bastide Saint Louis, that dates back to the Middle Ages. This is where you go to wander through fine shops, find cafes and restaurants for a meal or snack, and spend the night. It is far less crowded than the Castle above… but no less charming.

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