Carcassonne is one of those classic board games that is responsible for millions of people getting into board games in the first place. Even though I’m horrible at its tile-laying gameplay, I can certainly see why it’s such a gateway franchise.
In the Carcassonne app, players take turns placing tiles to create a map with cities, roads, fields, and much more (especially if you buy the expansions). You can also place a little “meeple” down on your turn to earn points in various ways. For example, you can play your meeple as a thief and earn points based on how long his stretch of road grows, of make a farmer who scores points by being next to lots of cities. You have a limited supply of meeples, so placing them at the right place and the right time is the crux of the strategy.
Considering I’ve yet to win a game online, I am probably not the best person to talk about Carcassonne strategy, but trust me, the way I get beaten so badly proves there must be a strategy to master. In any case, this is not the kind of game you can take that seriously. It’s a relaxing kind of game with a relaxing guitar soundtrack: perfect for playing casually against the AI, or friends.
The game gives players ratings based on their past performances, but this works well whether you take it seriously or casually. Serious players can be auto-matched against other highly rated competitors online, while those who just enjoy placing tiles without a care can be pitted against similarly relaxed players.
Carcassonne can actually accommodate up to five players, and the more the merrier as interesting conflicts arise. You’ll one-up each other for control of cities, try to steal points at the last second, and you’ll rejoice when you get just the tile you were hoping for to bring all your plans together. Thankfully, turns go by really fast, so you don’t often have to wait a long time before you’re up again.
The only thing that puts me off is the fact it costs $9.99 on the App Store, which is a little on the high-end. But with any game, its value is really dependent on how much enjoyment you can get out of it. And with the ability to find online opponent anytime to play, you probably will get a lot of mileage here. Plus there are several expansions for just one or two bucks that add a lot of new and interesting elements to handle.
Even if you don’t like playing with others, there’s also a Solitaire mode that gives players a weekly challenge to attempt, with high scores posted on a leaderboard.
All in all, Carcassonne is a great overall board game to have on your iPhone. It takes literally seconds to show someone how to play, so it makes a great time waster in any situation, especially when you pass-n-play with an iPad. Just be careful, because it really can suck you right into the world of board games.