The original Carcassonne was published in 2000 and was awarded with the Spiel des Jahres award in 2001. The name is derived from a medieval fortified town in southern France. Carcassonne is the home of two UNESCO heritage sites: The Medieval city and The Canal du Midi. The board game brings the Medieval city and The Canal du Midi to the table (I like to imagine that the River-expansions are inspired by the canal) and allows player to control different objects and areas for points.
Since its release the tile-laying game Carcassonne has taken us for a journey around the world and even to outer space. As for this first post in this blog, we’ll be staying in the town of Carcassonne and welcome a snow-clad season: Winter.
In Carcassonne followers are used by players to take control over different areas and objects on the landscape tiles. One of each players’ followers is placed on the scoreboard to keep track of his or her points.
The word Meeple has become well-known in the world of board games. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by Alison Hansel in 2000 over a game of Carcassonne in an attempt to merge the words “My” and “People”. The board game component had, however, been introduced prior to the release of Carcassonne.
40 followers are included in the game, eight in each of the five colors. They are 16 mm high and are made out of wood.
(Unfortunately we haven’t been able to identify what type of wood was used in making these. If you know what type of wood was used for these specific pieces, or what type of wood is generally used for making meeples, please let us know.)
84 Land tiles are placed on the table by players during the course of the game, developing the city of Carcassonne. One of the tiles has a different, darker, color on the back. This is the starting tile. The starting tile includes all types of segments (roads, cities and fields), ensuring that the first player will be able to lay his or her tile.
The tiles are beautifully designed. Some of them have animals and critters on them (such as arctic wolves and bears). There is a range of fan-made rules related to these tiles.
The issue, although minor, related to the land tiles is how they work along with the meeples. When new tiles are added, a distortion of the other tiles and the active meeples can occur. As the exact position of the meeple on the tile is of importance, unwanted movement is annoying – a monk can become a knight or a thief easily if your hands are unsteady. This is especially an issue for tiles with monastaries within cities. However, Carcassonne is a quick game and meeples are often staying on the same tile for just a short period of time. Remembering the position is usually not an issue.
There are 84 tiles included in the game. One of the tiles is a starting tile and has a different backside. They are 45 x 45 mm. The material that they are made of is not disclosed.
Games that involve the need of counting points during the course of the game offer a range of different solutions: A separate scoreboard, an integrated scoreboard on a fixed gameboard, point tokens or the traditional pen and paper.
As Carcassonne has an ever-changing playing area it is not possible to use an integrated scoreboard. Using point tokens would involve an extensive need to as points are received frequently in the game. Carcassonne uses a separate scoreboard. It seems ideal, but for some reason I am not happy about bringing it to the table. This might, however, be an irritational element only people who own small tables has to endure.
There is one score board included in the game. It measures 179×258 mm. The material is not disclosed, but it appears to be made out of the same material as the tiles.
The gingerbread man expansion
This specific version included the gingerbreadman expansion. I am not sure whether this is true for all Winter-editions or if it’s just included in some. I will try to get in contact with the publishers to bring clarity into this. (Edit: If the gingerbread man expansion is included, it should be stated on the box. Thanks to Nick who pointed this out!)
The gingerbread man is activated once a tile with the corresponding icon is drawn. The player who activated it gets to move the gingerbread man meeple to an incomplete city, giving the followers inhabiting the city a possibility of additional points.
There is one gingerbread man included in the expansion. It is 22 mm high and made out of wood. The expansion also brings six new tiles with it. All of them include an icon of the gingerbread man.
#1 Make players add one of their meeples for every lap they do on the score board. This punishes the leading player.
#2 Allow players to hold three tiles in their hands instead of drawing one at the beginning of their turn. This diminishes the luck element.
Carcassonne Winter-Edition – Scandinavian
Publisher: Hans Im Glück and Enigma
(Please feel free to comment on what information could be used to identify the correct versions)