Get on Board: Carcassonne

A medieval French town is the setting for this compelling indie board game and its "meeple"

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With millions of copies sold worldwide, Carcassonne is one of the leading alternative board games on the market. Suitable for ages six and up and for two to five players, it’s a great introduction to the world of indie gaming, but has maintained a solid fan base with its catalogue of expansions.

Carcassonne was named after the medieval fortified town in southern France and conceived while German games designer Klaus-Jurgen Wrede was on holiday. Wrede merged his love of historical games with the basic premise of strategically earning the most points to win.

The board itself is the medieval town, which players build on throughout gameplay. To begin, a single terrain tile is upturned and players take turns to pick up tiles from a stack of 71. Each contains a piece of a landscape such as a road, monastery or city that they must match to the tiles on the board – roads must connect to roads for example.

One of the most impressive things about Carcassonne is in fact the instructions booklet

Players can then opt to place one of their “meeple” – little wooden counters resembling people – on the newly placed tiles, scoring the points necessary to win. Longer roads and bigger cities earn the meeple occupying them more points. The player who places the last tile ends the game and points are counted.

One of the most impressive things about Carcassonne is in fact the instructions booklet. Time has clearly been taken to compose the rules in such a way that the player feels compelled to start the game before they have even finished reading the last sentence. While some games drag the learning experience down with clogged directions, Carcassonne’s sets the tone for what is a very easy, but thoroughly enjoyable game.

Once the basic rules are grasped, however, you can introduce different phases of gameplay – broadening the strategy and increasing the number of ways players can win and lose. There are also plenty of expansions packs to buy, which introduce new elements to the original game such as princesses, dragons, bazaars and even a circus.

With numerous awards won, and its own international annual tournament, Carcassonne is a great addition to the games cupboard for both casual and serious players.

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