Revisiting Carcassonne


3 Oct 2021. I brought out Carcassonne again. The previous play was Sep 2019. I had thought it was much longer ago than that. Carcassonne by now has reached classic status. Published in 2000, it won both the 2001 Spiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis. It is not as popular now compared to its heyday. In the 00’s, it was almost like a mandatory game for new gamers. Now it is no longer surprising for newer gamers to have not tried it. Carcassonne has a special place in my heart because it was among a handful of games I played a lot of when I got into the hobby. My copy is the first edition. The current edition has different artwork for both the box cover and the tiles. 

My copy is a German version bought at Witch House in Taipei. I still remember when I first learnt the game, it just felt weird to me. I wasn’t wowed into buying a copy immediately. In fact, I didn’t think that highly of it. Being unfamiliar with Eurogames, I thought the best games should be like Axis & Allies and Samurai Swords. Thankfully I eventually did buy a copy. When I taught my wife and my friends the game, they all loved it. I too grew to be quite fond of it. 
One phrase we used to say when playing Carcassonne was farmers work lying down. When we placed a meeple as a farmer, we had it lie down to remind us that this meeple could no longer be retrieved until the end of the game. One important element which makes Carcassonne so much fun is how everyone can persuade, bribe and even threaten the active player when they are contemplating how to place their tile. We try to coax fellow players into collaborations. We remind them not to inadvertently help other players. 


This is the current box art, with a bit more depth of field. 

Originally I only intended to play with my wife Michelle. At the time younger daughter Chen Rui was at the table, so I asked whether she wanted to join us. She said yes, and picked black, because she always wears black. My customary colour was green, and Michelle’s red. Michelle and I have been playing Carcassonne since before we had kids, and now Chen Rui is already 15. 

My Carcassonne is quite the Frankenstein, containing many expansions. I have the first expansion, which is almost essential. I call this the fat boy expansion because it comes with the big meeple. The official name is Inns & Cathedrals. I also have Abbey & Mayor. In this particular game, I used the tiles but not the various meeples that come with Abbey & Mayor. I have quite a few mini expansions, most of which came with the Spielbox magazine. I don’t even remember their names. Since we have many more tiles than the base game, our games go a little longer. 

That huge castle at the centre started since the beginning of the game. If you look closely you can spot the starting tile – the half moon and horizonal straight road tile, just below the cathedral. This castle was not only big, it also had a cathedral, so it scored us about 75 points. Cathedrals are a high risk high reward proposition. If you manage to complete the castle, you score triple instead of double. If you fail, you get nothing. 


Categories: Meetup

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