Carcassonne

Published on August 28, 2010
By
Players:
1 - 5
Multiplayer:Pass n Play, Internet, and Local Wifi / Bluetooth
AI:Yes, different levels and personalities
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Carcassonne
Price: $9.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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carcasonne4 500x375 Carcassonne ipad screenshot

Carcassonne has remained one of gamers’ favorites for years now. It is one of those games that is highly accessible to all types of players, both on the iPad and through the physical game. This game is perhaps what would be classified as a gateway game – it’s easy to get into and easy to open up the world of iPad board games (and eurogames in general) to all varieties of players.

Players should also be aware that this board game has numerous expansions in the real world. The developers are currently working on implementing these expansions as in-game purchases, and a way to implement the rules in a modular fashion. This is a time-consuming process requiring much patience on our part.

You can also check out my review of the physical boardgame at BoardGameGeek.

Gameplay

The game is premised around tile placement and claiming those tile features with ‘meeples‘. Each player takes it in turns to randomly draw these terrain tiles and place them on the infinite landscape slowly building the terrain, and its features, block-by-block. On each tile you will have one of a number of features including, but not limited to (depending on expansions), pasture, road, city, and cloister. Cities, roads and pastures are all features that continue through one of the edges of the tiles, and all tile placement must ensure matching edges preserve continuity.

carcasonne2 500x375 Carcassonne ipad screenshot

As you place a tile, you may claim any one of those features provided it is not connected to a feature already claimed. The trick then is to build upon your claimed features to a reasonable size and finish them off to claim those points. Cities and roads are completed by closing them off, cloisters by ensuring its tile is entirely surrounded (orthogonally and diagonally), and pastures are not completed – being scored only at the end of the game.

Upon completing a feature, you firstly recover one of your precious meeples, and score the points for that feature. Cities score two per tile (and pennant) the city encompasses, roads score one point per tile for each tile it resides in, and cloisters for each tile in the grid of 3 x 3 it is situated within. Pastures are different, being scored at the end and claiming three points per completed city that pasture touches. Unfinished features typically allow the scoring of only one point per relevant tile at the end of the game.

Of course, while a feature rmains uncompleted that meeple is invested into that feature and will not return to your supply. Given you have only a handful of meeples to use judicially across the entire game simply allocating them at any opportunity is not a winning strategy. Players must make judgements about whether there is likely a payoff in placing their meeple on any given feature, assess the likliness of it being completed (how many tiles there are left to draw, the likeliness of the particular types of tiles needed coming up, and other obstacles relevant to placement). Significantly, placing a meeple on a pasture means you never get it back, and this is signified by being laid flat.

carcasonne3 500x375 Carcassonne ipad screenshot

Naturally, this presents opportunities for players to score cheap points by completing a two piece road or city and immediately gaining their meeple back. Rule of thumb is always keep a meeple in reserve so you can exploit this technique at any time.

However, there is more strategy than that. While you cannot claim an already claimed feature outright, you can allow two features to connect through strategic tile placement. By doing this you compete over a feature and it’s a great way to jump on board someone’s mega-city or road to nowhere, or simply steal it right off them. When a contested feature is completed, each meeple counts as a force of one. If all contesting players have equal force on the feature, each gains the points of that feature equally. If one player is canny enough to link more than one of their meeple to this feature, and thus have a greater force, they will take all the points outright. For some players, this is considered an underhanded cheat, while other players revel in the delicious strategy this brings to the game.

Finally, many players underestimate the pastures. Since they often register as negative space in most players minds its easy to forget them and forget how tile placement can shape the opportunities for the pasture endgame. Games are infamously won and lost on the pastures at the end, and the best strategic players are those who correctly assess the risks of completion, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the pastures. Remember, a many small cities can easily add up for the right pastures, and sometimes its worthwhile placing a tile that gives an opponent a slight advantage to their feature if it means expanding the scope of a pasture you’ve claimed, or ensuring a number of smaller completed cities within it. Consequently, players either seem to scrabble for the pastures at the very beginning and build their game around it, or right near the end when the layout is better known.

Whatever your style, players can approach the game with a depth of strategy and cunning, or through the simple joy of watching your creations bloom across the land.

Meeples, or names derivative thereof, has almost become a generic name for all types of wooden figurines found in most types of games. Don’t be surprised to encounter terms like animeeples, vegimeeples and the like. This term really only applies to wooden pieces that have some semblance of shape of the thing, rather than simply a token representing the thing.

Implementation

Perhaps the strongest point of this game, and one that I would like other developers to take note of, is the multiplayer network implementation. Alongside local bluetooth and pass’n’play options, there is online play, which is both easy to use and access players. There is no website registering or further steps on your part. It also gives you an estimated time until you find an opponent, which I assume depends on the average wait time. There is support for multiple internet games and push notifications, so you can play in a number of games or do other tasks while you wait for your opponent.

carcasonne4 500x375 Carcassonne ipad screenshot

There are a few advantages that are readily available from the iPad over the real version. Firstly, the layout really is infinite. Often the real game is hampered by the physical limits of any given table – not so here on the virtual board. The game also immediately reveals any space that cannot receive a tile because no suitable tile exists in the stockpile. It has a number showing remaining tiles to be drawn, and a drop down bar that shows the types and numbers of tiles remaining. In theory all these things can be worked out in the real world, but they would be time consuming and interfere in the game’s flow.

As can be seen from the images, the graphics definately reflect the board game well. Each of the tiles is replicated from the game’s original graphics. There is a soft and gentle accompanying background music and charming little sounds play with tile placements.

Verdict – 10/10 This will definitely go down as one of the favourites of many a gamer and non-gamer alike.

Carcassonne, 8.4 out of 10 based on 530 ratings

Review By: Angelus Morningstar

Completed a Masters of Jurisprudence at University of Sydney. I am an activist, dramaturge, and instigator of strange mind experiments. I’m a storyteller, and I mostly tell stories about people. These aren’t always stories you’ll find written down, they can be stories told over a coffee, told by firelight, told through art act and lifestyle. Of course, we all tell stories. We love our little fictions, lies and dreams – I just like to embellish a bit more than most. My current project of substantial size is called Eidolon. It can be found here: http://www.eidolon.me
Players:
1 - 5
Multiplayer:Pass n Play, Internet, and Local Wifi / Bluetooth
AI:Yes, different levels and personalities
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Carcassonne
Price: $9.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
a WordPress rating system
Share this review:

18 comments
richardmtl
richardmtl

This game was pretty much my gateway game, which is why I'm lurking on this site and reading all sorts of reviews now. :)

Eyex3
Eyex3

Best board game in iPad

Carlos Ascanio
Carlos Ascanio

The guys from Carcassonne just released an update that comes with an expansion, traders & builders. You can buy it as an in app purchase. I think is excellent, like the app itself. It costs 1,99$

Zinala
Zinala

How do I get this on my iPad?

Rubeus
Rubeus

I´m agree with Yantur: this game is a extraordinary, and a must-have for iPad users who loves boardgames. I´m playing a lot this game and "Forbbiden Island" (great game, too).

Yantur
Yantur

For me still the best boardgame implementation. Working well with different numbers of player, a very innovative Solo player mode, excellent graphic, good user interface, working online play mode - i can't see a point which is not well done - 10 out of 10 points!

DNAmers
DNAmers

While it isn't the cheapest Euro-game port on iOS, the price is very, very good for the quality of the product. The excellence of the game itself aside, every aspect of the iOS port screams quality, from the details of the tiles to the fluidity of play, from game/setting management to toggling between expansions, from variable opponent AI to multiplayer via GameCentre. This is a solid port of an excellent game, well-worthy of it's place at the top of most iOS review sites, and will be the Gold Standard to which all other iOS ports will be compared for many moons yet. The only addition I can see for this game -- and more a #firstworldproblem than an actual deficiency with the game -- is preferential Meeple colour through multiplayer games. As others have noted, switching player colour between games can take a moment for a coffee-deficient brain to register to a coffee-deficient brain, and I'm sure it would be an easy fix to lock your Meeple colour over multiplayer games. If you'll only ever own one iOS port of a Euro-style game, this should be it.

kuekwee
kuekwee

10 buck is on the high side, but ipad version save a lot of time on scoring sheet compare with the physical version. Once you got the basic version expansion is not expensive.

Nick
Nick

The update that will contain the expansions has been submitted to Apple :)

Nick
Nick

It looks like there are 2 expansion packs on the way: Inns and Cathedrals and River II The update has been submitted to Apple :)

Redfin
Redfin

I'd played Carcassonne "for real" and via The Vassal game site and was delighted when I found it was available for iPad. Its a simple game and easy to learn (my 6 year old daughter plays) but I've never got bored with it. Really looking forward to the expansion packs for iPad.

Josh
Josh

As someone who had never played Carcassonne before encountering it on the iPad I have to say that this app ushered me smoothly into the fold within only a few minutes. Addictive strategy, beautiful graphics and seamlessly implemented online play. If you haven't already bought it, do so!

J.D.
J.D.

I wasn't crazy about the iPhone version -- it was just to small to see what's going on. But now that I've got an iPad (and they updated to a universal app with a new iPad-sized interface), I'm playing all the time. Highly recommended.

James Bruce
James Bruce moderator

@Stainlessoul There is AI - a number of different levels. Click on local game, and change the player icons for computers. You should be able to select from different personalities. 

Latest blog post: Musket Smoke

James Bruce
James Bruce

Well that would a whole new level of awesome...

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