Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boardgames: How to play Carcassonne

Carcassonne is one of the games that started our collection. We bought this for my husband's birthday in 2007. We had just graduated with our Bachelors degrees (we got to walk together, how fun is that!?) We knew we were about to move 1350 miles away at the end of the summer where my husband would be starting his graduate program. (We thought he'd be done in two years and have a Master's Degree, possibly continue on to a PhD.) Now, four years later he is still working on getting his thesis completed! Sometimes life does not go as planned. We still have the original version of the Carcassonne Big Box and love playing with 3 of the 5 expansions. (The three we like are The River, Traders & Builders and Inns & Cathedrals.) I'm going to be explaining how to play this wonderful little game today. I will only be explaining the base game, not any of the expansions.  I love Carcassonne because the board changes every game - you create it as you play! Plus it has Meeple - I love Meeple. 

To start, here is a list of tiles that are in the base game:
 Here is the text that I cut off in the top photo:
 Also the base game usually comes with the river expansion as well (however I'm not showing how to use it, but I wanted to show you the tiles:) The river expansion replaces the starting tile and gives you more options to start with.
 Here is the score board:
 Each person has 8 Meeple (7 to play with and one to keep score with.)
 Here are blue's 7 meeple to play with.
 Above are the tiles that will make up the board. See the bottom left one? That is the starting tile and looks like this:
 This tile is has each type of design that is in the game (city, road and farmers fields.)
 Choose the start player and each person takes turns drawing and placing a tile.
 Black drew the above tile. Black decided to add to the road and hope to finish it. This Meeple is technically now a thief. We tend to not mention that when we play ;).
 Next, blue takes their turn. The tile they drew is above.
 Blue can place his Meeple here
 or here. But Blue cannot claim the road on the left because black already has a Meeple on that section of the road. The house in the middle of the road ends the segment. Meeple stay in place until the road is completed.
 Black decides to build a city. (Meeple in cities are knights.) Meeple in cities also stay there until the city is completed.
 Blue draws and adds onto their road. Each time you draw a tile you have a choice to place a Meeple on it. However, you can't place a Meeple on a road, city or farm field that has already been claimed. (I'll be explaining about farm fields later.) In the above example blue decided not to place a Meeple in the field.
 Black found the tile to finish their city. It is now scored. Cities get 2 points per segment and 2 points per shield (the blue and white shield by the Meeple in the city.) This city scores 10 points.
 Black moves on the score track to 10 points.
 Blue is still at 0.
 Black now takes back their Meeple and blue takes their turn.
 Blue picks the above tile and adds it. See how there are two ended segments and blue claims the road in between.
Blue takes back their Meeple.
They move up on the scoring marker to 2 points.
Blue now claims what we call a 'football' city. This city is only counted as 2 points.
Blue takes their Meeple back
and moves to 4 points on the scoring track.
Black finishes their city and gets two points per segment.
10+6=16. Now I'm going to skip ahead in the game...
It is Black's turn again and they draw a Cloister. Black places their Meeple on this tile (it becomes a Monk.) Black will get points and their Meeple back when the Cloister is surrounded by tiles.
The game has been going for a while. 
Black finally is able to get the Cloister surrounded. The scoring for Cloisters is one point per tile surrounding the Cloister and one point for the Cloister tile. So Black gets 9 points.
Black is now at 34 points.
And they get their Meeple back.
On Blue's next turn they place a farmer. Farmers lay down in the field and are not moved for the remainder of the game.
Farmers at the end of the game gain 4 points for every city that is in their meadow (including 'football' cities.)
Just so you know the score:

At another future turn, Blue completes another city and scores 12 points. 8 points (2 points for each of the 4 segments and 4 points, 2 each for the shields.)
Score is now - Blue 44, Black 34.
It is now Black's turn, and as you can see by the photo above they found a piece that could have finished their city, if not for a road! This happens in almost every game and can be quite frustrating, especially for such a big city.
You may be wondering why Blue is all the way back to 4 points... never fear, Blue is not at only 4 points.
Blue is at 54 points. On the back of the 50 tile is a 100, which allows players to track how many times they have gone around the board.
The game is over.
Sometimes as you finish a game, you may find a Cloister that was forgotten. That's okay, simply count the points for the finished Cloisters.
You also count points for unfinished Cloisters. Each of the above Cloisters get 8 points as they are only missing one tile.
This one gets 5 points.
As does this one.
Black gets points for this uncompleted road: 6 points = one per segment.
Black also gets points for this uncompleted city: 15 points. (Only 1 point per city segment and 1 point for each shield.)
6 points for this uncompleted city.
5 points for this uncompleted city.
Blue gets 4 points for this road.
Now for the farmer.The farmer gets 4 points for every city that touches it's meadow. Roads, missing tiles and rivers separate the meadows.

This farmer had 6 cities in it's meadow, so Blue gets 24 points.
Blue is now at 100 points exactly.
Black's farmer was not so lucky, it's meadow only touched 1 city, and it wasn't completed, so black gets no points.
Final score: Black 79 to Blue 100
Blue Wins!

We love this game and I hope this helps explain the rules. If you have any questions about this game, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail!


  1. Great game - I was wondering if you have been to Carcassonne in SW France. I have a house there and I am heading there this week.. I will have to post you a photo because it looks a lot like your game...

  2. If only we lived closer. I would love to meet you and play games with your family. We play all the same ones and seeing your posts on them always bring back great memories. Love the Settlers food. Great idea!


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