Carcassonne: The City
English language edition of Carcassonne: Die Stadt
List Price: $49.95
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The impressive city of Carcassonne was a magnet for tourists from all lands even in the middle ages. Its large markets, grandiose homes, and busy streets made the whole city a popular attraction. Here is your chance to build the city of Carcassonne! Players build walls, build towers, found markets, and place followers in the normal way. At the end, you will all enjoy looking at the beautiful 3-D city you have built! Also, the game comes in a beautiful wooden box that is as beautiful as the game is fun to play!
This was my most recent purchase, and is the last of the Carcassonne "spin-offs" that I needed to complete my collection. Aside from the recently released minor expansion, "Cult, Siege & Creativity" which looks like a re-hash of two older expansions, and the announced "Catapult"; I now have everything "Carcassonne". So you're probably going to get sick of seeing all my reviews in the next few days, as I am now taking the time to finish up on what amounts to A LOT of Carcassonne. Actually at last count I was at 65 games, it is probably over 75 by now, but I'm too lazy today to go count. Anyway, I've actually got a lot of games to review/catch up on, so with that said let's get into it shall we????
I read all the reviews that were available for this game before I bought it, and I seem so far, to agree with Tom Vasel on this entry being the best of the series. In regular Carcassonne, the map is never complete, rarely aesthetically pleasing, and often there are huge holes (empty spaces) in the middle of the map. This game encourages "working together" to build the city. That isn't meant to be read as "help everybody score points". Not at all, wherever possible don't give away points, but the game asks that all players (4 max.) build the city to mutual advantage. Even so I can still see some odd configurations, but I think the object here is to not have any gaping holes, or things of that nature. We only played it once, and we forgot some of the rules as we went along. So it does require a replay, but for review purposes, I can tell you what you need to know to buy or not buy this title.
Chris couldn't make it out for this game session, however Kevin, Felipé and Will were here, so the first game turned out to be a doozy. Dennis showed up when we were half-way into the 2 phase, so we made him watch. That's what you get for showing up late. In Doonan's case, he didn't even get to SEE the game, as he never showed, so just remember if a challenge is thrown down, you'll want to answer it, Kevin, Felipé and I did, and boy were we ever sorry!!!!
Here's the deal, Will threw down the "Bobby Flay Challenge" by threatening to kick everyone's butt in Carcassonne. The other reason Will threw down the challenge was Felipé told him I had bought this for myself for my birthday. I have this tradition where I write down the names and scores of the players of the first game in the lid for posterity's sake. And Will wanted to get his name in on one of the lids, hence the reason for his challenge. So we played. This game plays somewhat like Carcassonne: The Castle, but only somewhat. The Markets (green grass) and the Residential Areas (brown dirt) do not need to match. Unlike Carcassonne where ALL features must face a like feature on an adjacent tile, this one ignores that rule. This seems like another Reiner Knizia variation, if memory serves, he also designed The Castle? However it's not, seems Klaus Jurgen-Wrede just kept the Knizia mechanic of not making all tiles match. The exception here is that all the roads must face another road tile. I don't like this mechanic, I think it makes the game too easy. But I believe after playing this Wrede/Knizia model I see why. Will said it best it's a race to beat the closing of the wall. And that's exactly how you've got to think in order to score in this game, otherwise you're likely to get left behind. You play in phases. There are 75 landscape tiles, 70 wall blocks, 2 short wall blocks, 12 tower blocks, and 1 city gate block. The 75 tiles are shuffled and dealt into three stacks . Phase 1 consists of 1 stack of 30 landscape tiles, Phase 2 consists of 1 stack of 25 landscape tiles and Phase 3 consists of 1 stack of 20 landscape tiles. Each player gets 8 meeples and surrenders one to the scoring track, for a pool of 7. In phase one the first player chooses a tile and places it in the center of the table. Other players follow suit, until all the tiles for the phase are placed. Players may place followers just like in other variations of this game, and thereby score points. Remember this caveat as you play and you'll be ok: green to brown, brown to green, green to green and brown to brown, don't forget road to road also! Green areas make up Markets and Brown areas make up Residential Areas BOTH will score you lots of points. Speaking of which in this game I LIKE the points system here. Roads work a little different but I like the idea a lot. Roads from 1 to 3 tiles count as 1 for 1, a road of 4 or more tiles counts double. Therefore a 9 tile long road scores the player(s) 18 points!
The markets are a little confusing but after one game you'll be ok with them. Once closed, count the number of tiles, then multiply that number by the number of DIFFERENT mercantile available FISH, WHEAT, LIVESTOCK. That means your closed market scores YOU (and anyone who ties you) N*X where N is the number of tiles and X is the multiplier (either 1, 2 or 3). It seems confusing, but trust me it makes a lot more sense if you play the game once. Residential Areas work like Farms from the original model, and you'll want to be careful about timing when you go after these areas, too early, and you could get locked out with no points, and too late might get you too little points to win. In the Residential Areas (which are scored at the end like farms) there are 3 kinds of buildings, nondescript brown dwellings, blue Public buildings and blue Historic buildings. Meeples in a Residential Area are treated like farmers, they feed the "castles" or rather are fed by the "Markets" so for scoring purposes they act very much like farmers from the original, except that here you score 2 points for each market in your Residential Area closed or unclosed. We muffed the rules up a little and forgot to include the new deployment rule "Guards", but we'll get around to that later. Now that Phase 1 is over we bring forth the second stack of tiles (25 tiles) and play continues, only now EVERYONE needs to keep on the ball, if you (or any player) closes a feature AND points are SCORED game play will interrupt briefly for a "wall building" phase. After the feature(s) are scored the player who caused the scoring round (regardless if he himself got points) starts the wall with the city gate, the other players lay down 1 wall block each after that. In this phase during each "build phase" the players put 1 (one) wall block down each, the walls must connect to an older piece of wall, a tower, or the city gate. In other words the wall grows like a snake from the gate and onward. The player who initiates a build is allowed to play one of his towers, towers score you points for each piece of wall connected to it. So you can potentially earn some good points here as well. After the last tile in Phase 2 is placed Phase 3 begins. Phase works the same as Phase 2 except there are only 20 tiles LEFT in the game, and FEWER chances to advance your scoring token. Each player in this phase builds 2 TWO wall blocks until either the wall encloses the City, the last tile is laid, or the last wall piece falls to within 5 spaces of the other end of the wall. When this happens the game immediately ends, any "open spaces" where a wall should be, a wall is placed (if there are any left over). Any feature(s) closed by the "finishing" of the wall are then scored. All unfinished features ARE NOT scored except for Residential Areas which score now. During the wall building phase a player may opt to place a follower on the wall as a GUARD. This is new "deployment" I spoke of and they are also scored now at end game. Guards score 2 points for each Public Building and 3 points for each Historic building in their row/column. How can you tell the difference? All Historic buildings have a BANNER with the building's name in it, public buildings have no such banner. If the guard has direct "line of sight" to the building, meaning there are no blank spaces, he scores for all buildings in his "sight". The player with the most points wins.
Now I said I agree with Tom that this may be the best of the series, concept wise I totally agree, mechanics wise, I totally don't. I just don't think it's ok to ignore the core mechanic where all tiles must face a like feature on an adjacent tile. I suppose you could always agree to "house rules" in such instances, but it just seems like legal cheating to me. I give it 4 stars for this infringement of the core mechanics, but I give it a 5 otherwise, the wall is a great concept, and it truly is a race to score points, both on the map and on the wall. My major problem with Hans im Glück is they choose NOT to expand on good games like this one, and Discovery, and yet the parent game gets all the glory, I wish they weren't so wishy washy and would make expansions for this, Hunters And Gatherers, Discovery and New World all of them are great in their own right, but none of them will get any more expansions methinks. In the end this is a great game, a great series (I have them all!) and the wall is just about the coolest game mechanic I've seen in a very long time, it's almost as cool as the "roulette marble racetrack" from an out of print game called "The Magnificent Race" Now that game had some cool mechanics!!!! I liked this game and Will liked this game (mainly because he won), the others gave it a "harumph" afterward, but I think they liked it too? I don't but I'm sure we'll all play it again, and hopefully often!!!!
The box lid inscription reads; "First game 11/01/08 Jay Blue 96 Kevin Red 106 Felipé Yellow 67 Will Green 108"
A close game but Felipé was left "holding the bag".
Remember you can't build the WALL if you're not playing the game!
The title pretty much says it.
Actually I was worried that all of the 'paraphenalia' such as walls, towers and etc...might detract from the beautiful simplicity of the original, but that's basically not so.
Actually, the tiles work a little differently from the original in that only roads have to match...markets and residential districts don't have to match (causing either of them to have their border at the tile boundary). This changes some of the placement dynamics as now you don't really need to "wait" to get the tile you need. You'll always have a viable, useful move to make.
Also, the wall is interesting in that it creates a boundary for the growing city, so you have to plan your strategies accordingly.
I still prefer the original, however, so I give this one 4 or 4.5 stars (I gave the original 5).
Carcassonne has become quite the franchise in the past several years. On Boardgamegeek, I can pull up twelve different entries for the game, and five of them are self-contained games. I have always enjoyed Carcassonne in all its forms and variations; but found each consecutive set better than the last, with Ark of the Covenant (released last year) playing extremely well. The newest member of this happy family is Carcassonne the City. When I first got the box, I was immediately impressed to see that the box was wooden; and upon opening it, found even more wood in the form of 72 wall pieces.
One thing I’ve always liked about the Carcassonne games has been their eye appeal, and this one is no exception. When completed, the game looks better than any other version, because the walls and towers create such a nice visual effect. Not only that, however, but the game play is more strategic than any other Carcassonne (save possibly the original Carcassonne + all umpteen expansions). The rules are incredibly simplistic, but the tiles are easier to match up - play is fast, and knowing where to place your meeples is a lot more fun. If this were the last Carcassonne game ever (and I doubt it), then the series would have finished with a bang.
To start the game, each player takes seven followers of their color (generally called “meeples” by most folk) and places another one on the “zero” position of a scoring track. Seventy-five tiles are placed in three stacks next to the table: one stack of thirty tiles, one of twenty-five, and one of twenty tiles. Twelve wooden towers are divided evenly between all the players. One player is chosen to go first, and play proceeds clockwise around the table.
The first player draws a tile from the first stack (thirty tiles) and places it in the middle of the table. Succeeding players must place tiles adjacent to any tile currently on the table. When tiles are laid next to each other, the only thing that needs to match are the roads. Tiles consist of road sections, residential areas (which may contain one or more public or historical buildings), market areas (either fish, grain, or livestock), or a combination of these. After placing the tile, the player has the option of placing one of their meeples on the tile they just placed.
The player must place the meeple
The only way for two or more meeples to end up on the same area is if two separate markets, etc. have meeples in them and are connected by a tile.
If the tile placed finishes a market or road, then that area is immediately scored. (Residential areas score only at the end of the game.) A road scores one point for each tile that makes it up (three tiles or less) or two points per tile (four tiles or more). A market scores points equal to the number of tiles in the market multiplied by the number of different wares in the market. (A five-tile market that has fish and grain scores ten points.) If more than one person has meeples in a market/road, the player with more meeples gets the points - ties score points for both players. All meeples on the scoring market/road are returned to their players, and play continues.
When the first stack of tiles is completed, players move on to the second stack (twenty-five tiles); however, walls and towers can now be played. Walls are placed whenever a player plays a tile that causes something to be scored for any player. The first player places the city gate (a wall for all intensive purposes) next to any tile they want, and then each other player places one wall adjacent to the gate or another wall placed. Walls finish markets and roads, so scoring can occur. After placing a wall, a player has the option of placing a guard meeple on top of the wall, as long as there is no meeple on the wall directly opposite. After all players have placed their wall, the player who initiated the scoring can place a tower at either end of the wall, scoring points equal to the number of walls between the tower and last tower (or city gate). Everything else remains the same, until the third stack is reached (twenty tiles). At this point, players place two walls each during the wall-placing phase.
The game ends when the last wall is built, the entire city is enclosed by walls, or the two ends of the city wall are within five walls of each other (in which case the city is automatically finished). All unfinished markets and roads are NOT scored, but residential areas score two points for each adjacent market. Guards also score two points for each public building they can see in a straight path in front of them, and three points for each historical building. The player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments about the game...
1.) Components: I’ve already seen debate on the internet about whether the graphics on The City are better than other Carcassonnes. I can’t really say; I think the graphics are about on par with the other games. But the finished product looks better than any other game I’ve played. Because it’s rare to have an empty tile in a city, the game just looks aesthetically better. The walls and towers surrounding the city certainly don’t hurt; it looks like an actual city. Not to mention that every historical and public building look different give the city a very distinct look. The tiles are durable cardboard, as is the scoring board. The meeples are squatty little wooden figures, but they don’t tip over too easily. The wooden walls and towers are nice, chunky bits and are cause for more “statue-building” (where players forget about the game and play with the pieces) than any bits I’ve seen in a while. Everything looks very sharp and clean, and the wooden box certainly doesn’t hurt, especially since it comes with TWO drawstring bags (if you need one for another game - here you go!), one for the walls, and another for the tiles.
2.) Rules: The rules are printed on six full-color pages, with many illustrated examples. The formatting is excellent. They’ve obviously had a couple games prior to this to figure out what people have problems with, but everything is written very clearly, with tricky rules highlighted. The game, while offering more strategic options to “gamers”, is one of the easiest to teach new players; and I’ve brought many to the fold in the past couple weeks, using this excellent game.
3.) Differences: The game play plays like regular Carcassonne but borrows a tactic from Knizia’s Carcassonne: the Castle, in that the tiles don’t have to match up except for roads. This drastically changes the game, both aesthetically and strategically. Players no longer fight over huge markets and districts, as they are easily finished and scored. The tower and guard scoring is a simple thing, but adds a lot of strategy, especially to tile placement. If I want to place a tile that will expand my market but will place a historical building in front of one of my opponent’s guards, what will I do?
4.) Strategy: The main complaint about Carcassonne is that when one draws a tile that they cannot use continuously; they don’t have a chance. In this game I believe that this changes dramatically. The tile mix is superb, and the fact that they can go in many places allows a player a lot more options. The placement of the walls also adds strategic options and gives players the motive to score other player’s roads and markets. This makes the game more palatable to people who want a meatier game, while people seeking a simpler game won’t be disappointed either.
5.) Fun Factor: People, when introduced to Carcassonne, are normally impressed at how “cool” it is to connect the tiles. This game has the same effect, while the walls only double the “coolness.” At the same time, the game is fun, and scores can often be quite close - I have seen blowouts. The game plays well with two to four players, and it makes an excellent two-player game. There is a contingent of people who don’t like Carcassonne, and I’m not sure that this game will win them over. But if any game will, this is the one. One of my friends who despises Carcassonne said of this game, “Of all the Carcassonnes, I hate this one the least.” I guess that’s some credit.
My opinion is close, “Of all the Carcassonnes, I love this one the most.” I’ve enjoyed all the incarnations of the series (H&G was merely okay). But this one adds a lot of strategic options, while keeping the game simple. The scoring is easy and has no confusion (unlike the farmers), but the simplicity in this game does not mean it’s a “light” game. I’d rather classify it as a medium-weight game, and the fact that it plays in about an hour or less makes it a worthwhile addition to my collection. If you only want one Carcassonne game, then I would recommend either this one or Ark of the Covenant. If you want the game with the most strategy, this is the one to get.
“Real men play board games.”