Why am I writing a review of a 15-year-old game?
Surely there are better, newer games out there.
Yes and no.
There are more complex, difficult, intense games than Carcassonne.
But if you’re looking for your first European game, you’d have to look a long time to find a better choice than Carcassonne.
In fact, I’d say skip Settlers of Catan (despite its Big Bang Theory fame) and go straight to Carcassonne.
The setup is simple. Take the scoring track out of the box. Find the start tile, slap it on the table, and throw the rest of the tiles face down in random stacks. Pick your color, grab your meeples (the little people tokens), and you’re ready to go.
It’s easy to learn. You build things by matching up the tile you draw with what’s already on the table. You can connect a road to a road, a city to a city, and grass to grass.
Unlike with Settlers of Catan, you won’t get stuck waiting for a good dice roll because there aren’t any dice. Your whole job is to decide the best place to put your tile and then whether you want to put a meeple on it.
That said, I have two criticisms of Carcassonne.
The farm rules are hard to explain. I’ve handed the rulebook to new players and they still didn’t get it.
This is easily overcome. Play the first game without farms, then look at what you just built and read the rules about the farms. You’ll figure it out.
The second is that there are so many versions and expansions of this game that if I wanted to keep up with them, I would go bankrupt.
I don’t any of the expansions, but I have played with a few. I like the base game better on its own.
If I were buying Carcassonne, would I buy the new version that’s releasing today or try to pick up an old copy?
That depends. If I wanted expansions, I would buy the new version, which comes with two expansions, and wait for the other expansions to come out with the new art so my whole collection matched.
If I just wanted the base game, I’d pick up the cheapest copy I could find, new or old. But I would definitely buy it.
The cheapest I’ve found today is $23.99 at CoolStuffInc.com, but that doesn’t include shipping.