Carcassonne offers game tiles for miles and a landscape of smiles. This easy to learn, super-fun tile game is great as an App.
# of Players
NOTE: The version of Carcassonne covered in this review is obsolete. The license has switched and the version from Asmodee Digital is now the only version supported on Android. If you have previously purchased the Exozet version, you can continue playing, but there is no point in reading this review. Check out the new version here.
In the digital village of Carcasssonne, your mission as Thieves, Monks, Farmers and Knights is to claim your stake to the roads, cloisters, fields and cities of this ever-changing countryside. Carcassonne belongs to the Area Control and Tile Placement genre. In my opinion, the best part of this app is the speed of play - it's lightning fast in such a good way. The land tiles are easy to understand, place & rotate. There is little to no need of prior board game play with this digital adaptation, as the marvelous simplicity eases you into feeling like a seasoned French Aristocrat in just a few games.
This Carcassonne port offers several in-app purchases at reasonable prices. The Expansion packs add many more levels of enjoyment to an already awesome strategic kingdom building app.
A turn in Carcassonne consists of being dealt a playing tile, fitting it into the game board, and placing your Meeples as you wish. The placement options of land tiles is clearly marked, and you have an opportunity to rotate the tile as you see fit. Should you have any meeples in your supply, you may place them along a road, inside a city, or in the fields during the turn. Deck games definitely put a player at the mercy of the next card, and Carcassonne is no different. The devil is in the deal, so say a French prayer, and hope you're dealt the land tiles your Meeples need to rule the land.
Barrier to Entry
Carcassonne offers brief, yet crystal clear instructions for scoring. The rest of the game is very well coordinated during play. The flow of the game accomplishes this by prompting you to act when the time comes. The Barrier to Entry is very low, and anyone willing to have good time should immediately embrace the humble greatness of the game.
Predicting, creating and maintaining the Fields your Farmers occupy could be the biggest barrier to truly understanding final scoring. Here's a hint, the boundary of a field is established by roads, cities and rivers(when applicable,) and it's important to have completed cities bordering your fields for maximum points.
Beginning of a Game
Placing your Land Tile
Look and Feel
Exozet delivers an excellent port of this fantastic board game. The app really shines during the land tile and Meeple placement. The developers made it simple to place, remove, and replace Tiles and Meeples during your turn. During a single player game vs. A.I. the movements are a bit fast to follow, however when your turn comes, you can easily zoom in/out to see all the new Land Tiles and Meeples played.
The sounds of Carcassonne transport you to a simpler time of Medieval France. I enjoy the flutes, trumpets, harps and lutes during my conquests, as I'm sure you will as well. Scoring plays are zoomed and highlighted for clarity during the turns and final accounting of points.
The Quick Game option allows for one randomly selected opponent, so get ready for a heads up match. This format is not exactly asynchronous; I've been timed out and lost due to slow play a few times in Quick Games. I estimate the time out length to be about five minutes. That being said, you must play the online Quick game when you have time to play the board through completion. Otherwise you run the risk of wasting your and another Carcassonne lover's time.
A Custom Game involves inviting friends to join a game. This format is truly asynchronous. Should you be fortunate enough to have multiple friends already paying the Carcassonne app or willing to download it, then you can invite up to five people to compete with colonizing and fortifying the lands of France. The River II, Traders & Builders, and Inns & Cathedrals are available as Custom Game expansions. Sweet!
Helpful hint: DO NOT put yourself in the position where only one specific tile can complete your road or city.
Carcassonne App definitely needs to incorporate all the Expansion Packs into the Online playing field. Also, Quick Games need an option for how many opponents you choose to battle, and not just a heads up match every time. The lack of an explanation of online Quick Game timeout rules/restrictions hurts the app in my opinion.
The Carcassonne single player mode boasts 11 unique A.I. opponents of varying skill level. You choose to play against up to five A.I. opponents at once. Beware; playing the 6 player option is a frantic Meeple moving, city stealing, cloister cluster of a good time! I've found that placing land tiles that hinder the advancement of the A.I.'s city development goes a long way towards victory. This not only holds captive a Meeple of theirs, but also decreases points at the end of the game, should the city remain incomplete.
Scoring a Completed Road
Land Tiles Close Up
A.I. Opponent Selection
I have not touched much on the expansion pack in app purchases and how they accentuate the game thus far. There are currently six Expansions available in the mobile game. The River II is a free built-in add-on wherein players must complete the river as the first 11 Land Tiles are played. This sets up an immediate boundary in which to create fields, and creates unique opportunities to establish and block city construction. The first expansion pack you should acquire is the 4-pack of Land Tile additions; Traders & Builders, Inns & Cathedrals, Crop Circles, and The Festival. The Traders and Builders expansion is my favorite, as it allows for bonus tiles while a Trader is in a city or on a road. Also available as an in-app purchase is the "Double Base Tile Set" for just a buck which doubles the land tiles.
Six Player Mayhem!
Scoring a Partial City
Finished Board Example
The Wrap Up
The adaption from table top game to mobile app is, in my opinion almost seamless. As expected, the sometimes difficult task of calculating points is done for you & despite being rather hasty in fashion, is very accurate and straight forward. Carcassonne shines in the beautiful simplicity of the squares and infinite replay-ability. Note: This review is based solely on playing on the Android platform developed by Exozet.
What the online experience lacks in expansions, the single player mode more than compensates for. I am approximately 100 games deep into Carcassonne, both online and single player. As I mentioned before, you are at the mercy of the Land Tile deck, and my record reflects this. Should you care for a friendly game, find me at Pixel Mack in the online player-verse; send me a friend invite. I would like to see more custom features, or any custom features actually. For example, different table top backgrounds, and/or Gravatar incorporation. Personally I enjoy a little chat chat with my random online opponents, and I would like to see this feature in any future updates to the app.