Players (2–5, ages 8+) take turns developing areas in tile form, matching up walls to form buildings and connecting roads to fill out the surrounding areas. Each player has a pool of 7 followers, the people that are used to develop the areas.
Followers can be used as:
Knights, to defend cities
Thieves, that roam the surrounding roads
Farmers, to supply the cities
Monks, to be housed within cloisters
The gameplay gets strategic in a few ways. First off, placing tiles requires you to build off of previously placed tiles, therefore blocking other players developments and amassing your own gets pretty competitive. Secondly, placing your followers in such a way that gets you the optimal amount of points or mooching off of the points the other player has wracked up by building their own cities or roads. Lastly managing your resources, in this case your followers are your resources for scoring throughout the game but your limited to only 7, so if you misplay or over extend on certain developments you will find yourself placing tile after tile without scoring any points.
Points are scored based on your followers being placed on tiles, generally the larger the structure the more points you get. Bigger cities, longer roads, cloisters in heavily populated areas, and farmers suppling a number of cities will all get you victory points.
The artwork for this game is pretty important, without a clear sense of how the landscape works and where something is or isn’t going —you lose a crucial part of the gameplay. Granted —grass, roads, and city walls are pretty repetitive —I still think its worth mentioning.
On a nerdy level, Carcassonne is also part of the mythological origin of the term “Meeple”. Supposedly used during a game of Carcassonne, someone fused the term “my” and “people” together when referring to their wooden follower figure and came up with the word “Meeple”. Since then, the term has been thrown around and absorbed into everyday board game nerd language as a name for wooden humanoid game pieces.
What I like most about Carcassonne is its playability. I’d affectionately give this a “gateway game” label. Carcassonne can be a great way to introduce people to another side of gaming beyond Monopoly, Scrabble, and Yahtzee —a more strategic side. The game plays quick, has a small learning curve, and keeps the players engaged during all facets of gameplay.