Customer Review

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surely Over-Hyped?, 1 Jan. 2014
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Carcassonne Board Game (Toy)
I received this as a Xmas present and have since received the Inns & Cathedrals and Builders and Tradesmen expansion packs. My partner and I are backgammon addicts and both in our early sixties, so perhaps not the usual age profile for Carcassonne but we have an honourable background in games-playing. I've also visited the enchanting Cite of Carcassonne twice.

Firstly, this game is nothing to do with the city itself although I suppose it is a convenient and famous mediaeval location to use. The parts have a quality feel about them - as they should at this price! The box seems to be accurate in it's suggestion of 45 minute playing time. This, we feel, is a nice duration - not too short or long. The instructions are decent but we were grateful to play our first game with two of our mature children who are experienced addicts (owning every expansion pack!). We have played one game on our own subsequently with little difficulty.

Our impression is of a decent but hardly ground-breaking game. The objective is to score points whilst taking it in turns to lay "tiles" to form a ground plan of towns, roads, monasteries and farms. Because the tiles are selected at random and laid one at a time there is little scope for tactics or strategy. There is little serious decision-making. At the end of both games, including the one with our experienced children, I was unable to say what had decided the outcome. What little skill there was seemed to surround placing figures on "farm" areas. In both of our games these placements seemed to decide the winners and the real indictment was that they were made early in the game when the players could not possibly have predicted the outcome. Aficionados will doubtless say that the subtleties will become more obvious as we play more and I accept that - but I still can't see the skill content rising much above 20%. Let's put it another way: my partner and I easily held their own with our experienced mentors, although they said they were playing the game "straight" and not using spoiling tactics with each other.

I've looked at the two expansion packs but not yet used them so we didn't try to run before we could walk. Nothing in them makes me feel that the skill factor is going to rise much (although playing time clearly will). There are extra tiles and extra ways of scoring and this may call for more decision-making but there is no new dimension to the game that I can see. I hope to be proved wrong.

Many things are really good. The playing time is sensible, it's well-made, the instructions are good, and it is undoubtedly novel to the Scrabble and Monopoly generation. But it's not brain food. The clue is in the 8+ age recommendation. Kids would be able to play at that age and sometimes beat the parents. As a family game, then, it's possibly very good indeed and I can envisage kids pestering their parents to play. As a game for adults I would have to say that it is over-hyped.

Value For Money is poor, I would say. This is an expensive game and the Expansion Packs much more so. For this kind of money I would be looking for a game that is more subtle, more exciting or more intellectually demanding. To those who would tell me that half a dozen expansion packs will reveal the hidden drama of the game, I would say that the basic game should be able to blow its own nose at this price.

I'm told it's a "Gateway Game" that introduces one to the German point-scoring games genre. Blimey!

My best advice to anyone would be to find someone else with a set and try it out. You might very well think it's the best thing since French baguettes but if you don't it's a fairly expensive mistake. We will carry on playing it occasionally, and maybe the expansion packs will bring the game to life, but I can't see it becoming addictive for us.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jan 2014 12:18:48 GMT
LAMBCHOP007 says:
Good review and many valid points made.I have the main game,the same expansions as you plus some more obscure add on`s such as the plague and the tunnels.Also purchased extra tiles which makes the game last longer.Your right,the skill factor doesnt count for much and its not until the final scoring that the winner is revealed.Maybe thats what makes it fun.A three hour game of monopoly where you can see who the final winner is going to be sucks the will to carry on playing out of you.How many games of monopoly actually get finished lol..Personally I love carcassonne but if I want a skilled game to get the grey matter working I will stick to chess

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2014 16:00:53 GMT
Leo says:
I think you are missing one of the main tactical aspects of Carcassonne that really does get your brain working: you can steal castles/roads/farms from other players. By starting your own castle/road/farm and then connecting it to someone else's, you then share it. if you then do the same thing again before the castle/road is completed you will have a majority and will receive all the points for the road or castle. It works in a similar way with the farms. It is also possible to place your tiles in a way that it makes it impossible or very difficult for another player to finish whatever they are working on. This means they will not receive the points for finishing their road or castle and means they will not be able to use that person for the rest of the game.

Basically, try playing it again with your chess head on and I reckon you will enjoy it a lot more!

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 16:41:13 BDT
Paul Davis says:
Carcassone is a simple game, especially in its standard form, the additions add to it give you a little more to consider but it is never going to be a cerebral game.

Although the same is true of backgammon.

Have a little look at hive on the Geek (boardgamegeek) perhaps?

Cost wise I thought £22 for this was brilliant!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:37:39 BDT
Lionel Wall says:
I am a keen backgammon player, Paul, and I don't think there is the slightest comparison. Both games have a similar element of "luck": the dice throw versus the order in which tiles emerge. Backgammon, however, calls for constant reappraisal of the tactical situation and a skilled player can snatch the most unlikely victories from the jaws of seemingly inevitable defeat and a single misjudgement can have the opposite effect. If you are a gambler (personally, I'm not) you can bet on the outcomes through use of the doubling cube. In my view it takes at least 6 months of regular play to become a half competent player. After 20 years I'm still learning. I know that there are many fans of Carcassonne who would make similar claims but I don't think it is remotely in the same league.

I know Caracassonne is hardly a new game but I have seen a backgammon board scratched on a stone in ancient Ephesus. I think that tells you quite a lot. I see backgammon played in cafes throughout the Middle East by people for whom £22 would be a fortnight's wages. I think we have to respect these ancient games as being in altogether a different league from our modern commercial products.

I don't want to decry this game. It's not half bad and I know some very intelligent people are addicted to it. To use a more modern comparison, however, I don't think it is as intellectually stimulating as Monopoly. In fact, I think one of its strengths and perhaps one of its sources of popularity is that even newbies - or children - can feel they've got a chance.

Posted on 29 Aug 2014 18:35:22 BDT
bugs bunny says:
My wife and I play this game a lot, without expansions. We enjoy it, but I think this review is extremely fair. I can't disagree with any of it. We are in our mid to late fifties.

Posted on 19 Sep 2014 17:40:21 BDT
Daniel Chard says:
Yours is a well-written, balanced view and in general I agree with the majority of the points you've made. I do feel that you underestimate the level of thinking that *can* go into a game though.

I would consider myself a relatively strong Carcassonne player compared to most, and have organised and taken part in several online competitions as well as my national championships (which I didn't win I hasten to add - there's always someone better than you regardless of how good you think you are, or in my case 9 of them).

I suppose most people won't often find themselves in this situation, but when you're playing competitively the tactical and strategic elements far outweigh the luck of the draw. Working to trap your opponent's followers in uncompletable features is a common tactic, and there's usually a battle for the most valuable farm towards the end of the game which requires enormous levels of concentration and lateral thinking in order to determine how best to ensure you have the most farmers on it based on what tiles are left.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Sep 2014 18:16:04 BDT
Lionel Wall says:
Daniel, thanks for this. Yes, I admit that there must be more to it than we've uncovered. After all my daughter/son in law are addicted! I think that most games require time to uncover the intricacies and that we haven't done so is partly our own failing, I know. I think the game's ok but it wasn't riveting enough for me to want to play it on any other than a casual basis. I've been rather staggered at the number of comments on my posting on this game - more than on all of my reviews put together even though I gave it 3*! The game obviously creates considerable loyalty. I am 63 and I guess some of it (I am sad to admit) is an age thing, although in my defence I did get it and the expansion packs because they were on my wish list! It's in our holiday lodge now and we do still play it occasionally. Is it a better game for more than 2 players, do you think?
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Location: Huntingdon, England

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