Carcassonne: The Castle
You say you don’t care for the open-ended, free form style of the original Carcassonne, the tile-laying game that has the potential to expand beyond the edge of your game table?
You say you only have one other person who will play games with you anyway (a sad state of affairs but beyond the scope of this review)?
The original Carcassonne plays well with just 2 participants, but you might welcome the challenges posed by a Carcassonne with borders; that is, with a castle wall that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and serves not only as a scoring track but also often holds the keys to victory.
Enter Carcassonne: The Castle.
As you can see above, the castle wall is not rectangular. At each bend, you place a random rule-breaking tile face down during setup.
If you land on one of the two triangular spaces covered by the tile while moving your scoring meeple (who looks a bit like an evergreen tree), you collect the tile and either put it to use during the game or during end game scoring.
Laying tiles within the wall allows you to score in one of 4 ways.
- Finish a red house
- Finish a gray tower
- Finish a tan road
- Lie down in a green field
Normally, completed houses give you 1 point per tile, towers 2 points per tile, and roads 1 point per tile (unless they contain a fountain – which looks more like a well – which doubles the score).
Some of the rule-breaker tiles allow you to score an unfinished structure at the end of the game. Others give you bonus points or an extra turn.
The player with the largest red house gets to score the largest untiled area within the wall at game’s end – one point per potential tile space. In the castle below, that would be 11 points. (There aren’t enough tiles to fill the entire interior.)
Planning your scoring early on so you can collect wall tiles seems to have a bit of a snowball effect, at least in the games I’ve played. Getting more of those tiles gives you more opportunities which allows you to get more tiles….
I usually play Carcassonne: The Castle with my wife, and more often than not, I’ve won. Shortly before writing this, however, she clobbered me and scored a house record 119 points in the process. She would have had at least 135 points, if I hadn’t had one of my meeple dudes lying in the same grassy knoll as one of hers.
I tip my hat (or would, if I had a tippable one) to her and promise no mercy next time (Gadget)!
Fun Meters (out of 5)