It's a great game to get people involved in games that might not otherwise enjoy games. It's very puzzle-like and playing it is easy to understand. It's also a terrific game to play with kids. It has many expansions to add to the complexity or change the game up to make it interesting in different ways once you tire of the regular game. And, there are many off-shoots that are based on the base game that tweak it in several ways.
Carcassonne: The City is one of those tweaked versions of the original. It was originally published in 2004 in this fantastic wooden box version:
|Nice wooden box with a clasp and hinge.
I told him to go get his jammies on and get ready for bed while I set it up and reviewed the rules. This sort of comment generally gets him motivated to get ready quickly. So, I opened it up and went about setting it up.
|The box opened with the bagged pieces revealed.
|Getting the basic pieces set up
I quickly reviewed the rules, go the pieces out and.....he still hadn't arrived. :( After retrieving him from not-getting-dressed-and-playing-with-his-marbles-instead-land I started teaching him. I started by noting it's just like regular Carcassonne but with some changes.
For instance, the only feature on the tiles that you are required to connect are the roads. Roads when completed score 1 point per segment up to 3 segments. However, they are 2 points per segment if 4 or more segments long (this is different than basic Carc).
Then, there are markets which are like the cities except there are 3 colored markets - red, blue and yellow. When you complete a market you multiply the number of colors in the market by the number of tiles to score. Duplicates of the same color don't count extra so the most you can have is a multiplier of 3 for the colors.
Then, instead of farmland you have residential areas. You play this like the farmer - once you place your meeple he's there the rest of the game. Similar to regular Carc you get 2 points per market touching the residential area (completed or not) at the end of the game.
One thing that's important to note is that residences and markets can be put down next to each other even though they don't match. This also makes it easier to try to 'take over' someone else's market or road potentially.
Now, the next rules are different. As you can see we have a wooden gate, wooden walls, and wooden towers. These come into play about 1/3 into the game. There are a total of 75 tiles in the game. To start we make 3 stacks of tiles, 30, 25 and 20 and work through them in that order. After the first stack is gone, then, every time a feature is scored we get to place walls on the outside edge of the city starting with the player triggering the scoring. For the normal game each player places 1 wall but for 2-player we each get to take turns placing 2 walls. Also, the very first time a wall is to be placed, the gate is placed instead. There isn't anything significant about the gate other than to look cool!
A wall must be placed along a tile edge and adjacent to the gate or another wall. Thus, there are always 2 ends to the wall you can build on.
When you place a wall you can place a meeple on it as a 'guard'. The guard scores 2 points at the end of the game for each WHITE building in the residential areas of the tiles in that row that the meeple looks over, or 3 points for the white buildings with a scroll next to it. Once a meeple is on that wall no meeple may be placed on the wall directly opposite in the same row, unless there is a gap in the row.
Finally, the player initiating the scoring and wall placement is allowed to place one tower if they wish (each player gets a limited amount out of the 12 total towers, evenly divided at the beginning between players). It is placed at the end of one of the wall segments and scores 1 point for each wall segment up to the next previous tower (or the gate).
So, that was enough for us to get started. He started first and drew the first tile, placed it and placed a meeple. I did the same. An on we went....
|Jacob placing his 2nd tile in the game
|Happy to FINALLY be playing this game!
Jacob placing a meeple onto his first wall segment - this probably wasn't the best choice here, but he had fun doing it!
|Yellow guard on the wall
We kept going and I got ahead by a good bit, but he was able to quickly catch up with a couple of good market plays. He eventually got the hang of the walls as well in terms of what were good options for placing meeples (i.e. finding rows that had more white buildings). I don't think he quite caught on to tile placement considerations that would give more points at end-game for the guards as well as anything from immediate scoring.
|Taking ownership of a road
The city continued to grow and grow. Getting on down to the last stack, the number of walls placed doubles so we were each putting 4 walls down for EACH regular scoring action. This quickly begins to deplete the walls (running out of walls is one game-end condition as is the wall ends reaching to within 4 segments of each other)
|A looong reach across the table (don't knock down my red meeple again!)
Finally, the game ended when, after placing walls, we totally enclosed the city!
|End game position
We counted up the scores for residences and guards. Daddy ended up winning but it was too close to call until final scoring.
|Final city with final score tallied
This is a great family game just like the original Carcassonne, but with some nice twists to give some added dimension to the decisions you make in placing your tiles.
- You have a limited supply of meeples (7) to play with. As you put them in the residences or on the walls, you have fewer and fewer meeples to work with, so you must choose wisely!
- Also, there is a special rule that says any meeple that comes off the board CANNOT immediately go back onto the board (due to the ordering of when you score vs. when you place a meeple). Therefore, if you have no meeples in your supply and you complete a feature for scoring, the meeple you get back can NOT be placed onto the tile you just placed.
- The markets can score quite a bit when they get much larger and have a lot of colors.
- Roads can also score quite a bit the longer they get (4+ segments).
- Placing a tile has more consideration than just the immediate feature due to the guards AND the residences.
- Completed AND uncompleted markets adjacent to residence areas both count for end-game scoring.
Do I like it enough to want to purchase a copy of it? YES! If I hadn't traded for it, I likely would purchase this game, especially after having tried it once or twice. I love all of the scoring opportunities (and how placement of tiles can have affects for many different dimensions of the game). There's a lot going on here and it's easy to see why so many gamers prefer this version over other the more standard versions of Carcassonne.
Do I want to play it again? Yes, most definitely! I can't wait to get this to the table with one of my gamer friends to be able to explore the possibilities that I saw but didn't get heavily into in this first game.