Carcassonne is a classic. There’s nothing flashy or overly complicated about it (except for maybe the scoring the first time you play). You also don’t need the many expansions for a great play. Start with the base game – which comes with two expansions in it now – and you’re ready to go.
How It Works
- Carcassonne is another tile-based game like Lanterns or Tsuro or many, many others. Players take turns drawing tiles they then play on the commonly developed tabletop world.
- Each player also receives a set of meeples (if you don’t know what meeples are, stop now and look it up). Meeples are placed on the board on roads, cities and, if you choose, fields. Your score is calculated both as you go and at the end (depending on where meeples are placed).
- The goal: score the most points. You can see the point tally on the scoreboard. Your score is marked by one of your meeples and adds up along the way and more at the end.
Why It Works
- Like I said. It’s now a classic, published in 2000.
- We don’t mind a long game here and there, but it seems the best games take under an hour. Carcassonne is certainly under an hour, but may take 45 minutes on your first play. After that, expect about 30 minutes for two people, adding time depending on how many people are in the game (2-5 or 6-8 with expansion) and how many expansions you use.
- We don’t seem to like a lot of games where one player is attacked or goes on the attack regularly, or where one player could (if they were a jerk) intentionally block people from placing, say, trains or roads when there are perfectly legit options for them to not have to do that. While there is interaction and fighting for territory in Carcassonne it’s a sufficient amount and not overdone and it’s built to be a mutual give and take. Again, I’m talking about the base game.
- There are multiple ways to score. Not going well on the highways? Focus on cities. Can’t seem to close that city wall? Grab that nine point highway segment or turn your attention to a monastery or field.
- It always depends on the child, but my guess is that an 8-year-old can learn this. If your child (or teen or adult) can’t pay attention to things for 30 minutes, then maybe add a few years to that. But for genuine interest, the minimum age is probably 10-12. It’s not a flashy game.
✖️ Watch It Played episode