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Review: Carcassonne - Tiles & Tactics

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Revisiting a classic

Man, Carcassonne! That name just brings back so many memories. It was essentially my wife's gateway into hobbyist board games, and much more accessible than the one I originally wanted to get her into (and failed): Warhammer 40K.

It's crazy to think that through the myriad of other games I've played with similar elements (like Terra Mystica -- I'm making a tenuous Meeple connected here), I can still come back to this classic. Sadly, it hasn't been preserved very well by the various publishers that have taken up its flag.

Exozet, previously in charge of the game side, kind of let Carcassonne rot, which is a huge problem in this ever-evolving digital era that requires OS compatibility. Since then Asmodee Digital has taken over, and re-launched the Tiles & Tactics version across multiple platforms.

I think this one is going to be sticking around longer.

Carcassonne - Tiles & Tactics (Android, PC [reviewed]) 
Developer: Asmodee Digital
Publisher: Asmodee Digital
Released: November 29, 2017 
MSRP: $9.99 (PC), $1.99 (Android)

To be clear, this is a new version of the game developed for PC and Android devices. It features cross-play with Android and Steam, as well as asynchronous and real-time online multiplayer components. That's a good start and a great way to bolster the community out of the gate. Tiles & Tactics isn't special in that it re-invents the base, it's just another, slightly sleeker version. It contains the same rules with a new UI and an isometric 3D board effect, with the option to swap to an old-school view.

Carcassonne is popular because it's one of those low skill floor, high skill ceiling concepts that's popular in many board game circles. It takes minutes to learn how to play, but if you're going at it with folks who have experience, your kingdom will be in shambles at the end and you'll be bullied out of a lot of points.

It's so simple to learn because it's a turn-based game with limited actions. Each player grabs a tile from a stack (which could be a road, series of roads, a building, or part of a building), and places it in a legal spot. Then, you have the option of putting down a Meeple figurine on the board you created, once again in a legal spot (the game does all of that legal work for you, which makes it a great teaching tool). That's honestly it.

Except, you need to account for myriad variables at all times. Roads, buildings, and open farm areas can earn you points when Meeples are placed in them, but they're limited to a finite pool, and if you thrown them down haphazardly, players can block you out of completing projects and you'll never earn them back to place somewhere else. Opponents can also steal ownership from under you by creating new building sections and roads with more Meeples on them then connecting them with your projects, wiping you from the board and stealing the victory points entirely.

It can be brutal, but if you're the type of person who doesn't mind losing, you'll pick up enough tricks to come close to, if not beat an average player in a reasonable amount of time. Carcassonne requires patience and careful planning, but given that most games last no longer than 20-30 minutes, you can just clear the board, start a new session, and play again. I engaged in sessions with no issues with two other people in the same lobby multiple times -- and the basic online chat feature was enough to convey lighthearted trash talk and ask questions.

As a bonus if you sign up for Asmodee's email list you'll net the Abbot expansion (which enhances the cloister mechanic, a type of building in the game). Rivers, my favorite bite-sized add-on from the tabletop version, is a dollar. Carcassonne has so many expansions at this point it's overwhelming (Princess & the Dragon, Inns and Cathedrals, Traders and Builders, and so many more) -- so starting off with two is fine for now, as long as more reasonably priced sets are on the horizon. But since this is based on Carcassonne II, a re-released version from 2014, I'm not sure if any more are coming.

Tiles & Tactics isn't glamorous, but it does its job. It's a vessel for Carcassonne, a complicated eurogame that has withstood the test of time. All Asmodee needs to do now is grow the community and keep people interested.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Carcassonne - Tiles & Tactics reviewed by Chris Carter

7.5

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 



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