Carcassonne: The Castle
English language edition of Carcassonne: Die Burg
List Price: $29.95
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The imposing silhouette of Carcassonne sits like a throne in the light of the setting sun. The city also acts as a fortress, protecting those who live there with its impenetrable walls. Visit the city to discover its many features and to learn why it is so magnificent.
Carcassonne: the Castle is an exciting tile-laying competition between two players. Inside the castle walls, the city grows as the players place tiles and their followers: knights to guard the towers, heralds to spread the news, and merchants to sell their wares in the markets. The player who makes better use of his followers will lead the race around the castle wall, which is also the scoring track for the game. There are several items waiting on the castle wall for the first player to reach them. Each will prove useful to the player who acquires them.
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 786 grams
All-Time Sales Rank: #58
Customer Favorites Rank: #90
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 1 castle wall
- 60 castle tiles
- 18 wall tiles
- 14 followers
- 2 keeps
- rule booklet
Average Rating: 4.6 in 16 reviews
This edition is a great twist on a fun game. When my cousin and his family moved away they took my best game players with them. But Carcassonne Castle is great for my husband and me. It's similar to Carcassonne with some twists.
In recent years I have started to change my outlook on games and gaming. At one point I owned literally dozens of games, some of which were played regularly and some simply gathered dust. Over time I determined the dusty games were best suited for EBay, and I reduced my collection to roughly twenty games which consistently find their way to the table.
These days when I ponder a new game purchase (and I still buy a fair share) my first consideration is always "Will I actually play it"? Carcassonne The Castle has risen to near the top of my current top-20 list for that simple reason - I play it a lot. There are already very good reviews of this game already, my contributions to these include the following....
1) This is meatier than regular Carcassonne, but not much. This is a pretty good portal game for newbies precisely because you can teach it one-on-one.
2) The game plays in just under an hour for experienced players. This in and of itself makes it a clear winner for me - I have a buddy that games and works nearby and we pull this out at least once a week over lunch. Now that's time well spent.
3) It is by far the best two-player game of Carcassonne for those who like the series (I can take or leave the original, I really enjoy Hunters and Gatherers).
4) It's worth the money.
5) Get a Crown Royal bag for the tiles. It's a nice touch. I use a mini Crown Royal Bag for the scoring tiles and playing pieces. You can get these cheap from EBay. In fact, get a CR bag for any game with tiles, including any game in this series, Ra, etc.
My wife and I tackled this game late one evening. Normally when we open a new game we learn the rules together the first time, then play a day or two later. When we finished these instructions, we decided to play a few tiles to get the hang of it. We couldn't stop! We kept saying 'just one more tile'. We weren't able to play a complete game that night but couldn't wait to play again. We have now, and we're ready for more. I'm probably more of a gamer than my wife, and she's said more than once 'this is a great game'. Since this is our first exposure to the Carcassonne family, I can't compare to the others. I can tell you this one is a total delight.
With yet another entry into the Carcassonne family, I seriously wondered if it would be worth the playing. After all, how many variations of this do we need? What tipped the balance was the fact that this was the first permutation of Carcassonne that was by a different designer. Reiner Knizia was the designer of this game, a departure from Mr. Wredes stable of Carcassonnes, and I figured the game might have enough of a different flavor to warrant some playings. Good thing I did. The design template is still in effect: building projects by adding tiles and meeple to the existing board. But this isnt just another Carcassonne
Straight off, this game is for 2 players only. That may not sound like that big of a deal, but it allowed Reiner Knizia to add some competition to the game that works very well. As well as the standard type of project completion, there is now the competition for the largest Keep. There are now two types of city type projects you can do Houses and Towers. Now Towers are worth twice as much as Houses, and so the lure is to want to focus on them. But the Houses, worth half as much as the Towers, are what score for the bonus of the largest Keep. Whenever a player completes a house, if it is his biggest one thus far, he moves his Keep piece to it. At the end of the game, the player with the largest Keep gets bonus points equal to the biggest field of empty squares inside the city (which can vary wildly, but generally is between 3 and 10 points.) So do you build lots of houses, sacrificing some points in order to compete for the Keep bonus? Or do you just focus on Towers are try and limit the open space? If you dont compete, your opponent will get the Keep bonus very cheaply.
Also, the way the tiles are illustrated makes you think a bit differently from the other Carcassonnes adding to the newness of the design. The other Carcassonnes require sides to match exactly, but with The Castle, only roads must match roads. Anything else may be put side to side. This creates lots of blocking opportunities, which is important in a 2 player game so one player does not run away with it.
Lastly, the game is played inside a large perimeter with multiple start points. Again, that may not sound like it adds much to the game, but it does. Now you have many options of where to play, sometimes on the opposite side, and you can now expand from the other side in order to limit a different section of the city. And eventually the different sections start getting added together which culminates nicely towards the end of the game. And since there are less tiles than spaces inside the city, as the game winds towards the finish, it becomes important to get projects finished, but which ones? If you are losing Keep scoring, you need to also focus on limiting the empty areas. And you cant let your opponent nail any big projects at the end!
Lastly, the score track now has bonus tiles on it. And these bonus tiles are very juicy! The only way to get them is to get the score that the tile is on. (E.g. You are on the 5, and you need either 7 or 8 points exactly to get the bonus tile that straddles the 12/13 points.) Again, do you go for big Tower scores and end up skipping many of these bonus tiles? Or do you score lots of smaller projects trying to aim for bonus tiles? Once you have bonus tiles, you can start planning projects around them, which adds even more depth to the game.
Those who have played Carcassonne before will be able to jump right in with a few small adjustments, and those new to the series shouldnt have too hard of a time picking it up. Is it worth owning? I have been able to play all the versions of Carcassonne, and I can say this is the best one to play with only 2 players. That is also a possible downside, as it only plays 2 players. But if I only owned two versions of Carcassonne, I would own this one (the Castle), and Hunters & Gatherers. Both add lots of tactics to the game and feel quite different from each other. I would try and make room in your collection for this one. It feels different, while remaining familiar, and ends up being one of the best spinoffs.
Well, all the previous reviewers have already said everything I was going to say so I'm just adding my five stars to keep an excellent rating on a game that well deserves it. I especially agree with the observation that Carcassone strategies that work in the mother game don't carry over to Castle. My wife beats me consistantly at Carcassone but has yet to defeat me at Castle after several plays.
Even though many gamers scoff at Carcassonne, I still find it the ultimate portal game for introducing new folks to the wonderful world of board games, even more than Settlers of Catan. One of the things I liked most about Carcassonne was that it made a fairly fun two-player game, and I often enjoyed those two-player games as much as, if not more than multiplayer games. When I heard that Reiner Knizia was making a two-player version of this classic, I was ecstatic. And when I found the game, Carcassonne: The Castle (Rio Grande Games, 2003 Reiner Knizia) under my Christmas tree, I was overjoyed! How could a game like this go wrong?
But when I played the game, I found that it actually exceeded my expectations. It quickly went from a good Carcassonne variant to become one of my favorite two player games ever! Carcassonne: The Castle is similar to other Carcassonne games, but varies enough to make it probably the best version available. I will now only play regular Carcassonne as a multiplayer game, since this version is vastly superior. It certainly is one of the best games of 2003!
Ten puzzle pieces are put together to form the outer walls of a castle, to form an uneven shape that will hold seventy-six tiles. The walls also form a scoring track, onto which are placed one meeple each of the two different colors (black and tan). Thirteen of eighteen wall tiles are placed face down on the corners of the wall (because of the cities shape, there are many corners). Each player receives 6 meeples and 1 keep of their color. Sixty castle tiles are shuffled and placed face down into a pile. One player makes the first turn, with play alternating until all the tiles in the face down pile are gone.
On a players turn, they first draw a tile, then place it. Tiles are made up of three types of terrain: tower, house, and court. There are also roads traveling through certain tiles. The first player must place their tile in such a way that it connects to one of the start spaces on the castle wall (there are seven). After that, all tiles must either connect to a start space or to a tile that has already been played onto the board. Unlike other Carcassonne games, the rules for placing tiles are not much more restrictive than that. The only other rules are these: 1). Roads must always meet roads although they can run into the castle wall. 2). Tiles must have one of their sides completely next to the side of another tile (you cannot stagger them when placing). Other than that, court can be placed next to house, house next to tower, etc.
After placing a tile, the player MAY place one of their meeples on the tile they just placed. They may place it on a road (making it a herald), on a tower (making it a knight), on a house (making it a squire), or on a field (making it a merchant.) As tiles are connected, the places where meeples are may grow larger but only one meeple may be placed per each individual house, court, tower, or path. It is possible to have more than one meeple in each place, but only if a tile is placed to join two already connecting towers, houses, etc. When a road is finished by having both ends run into walls, or a city square, the player removes their herald, and scores one point for each tile on which the road goes through. If there is a picture of one or more fountains next to the completed road, the points are doubled. When a tower is finished (by having every part of the tower surrounded by different terrain types), the knight is removed, and the player whose knight it was scores two points for tile that is part of the tower. When a house is completed, the player whose house it was (most squires) removes them, and scores one point for each house section. When a player scores their first house, they place their keep on it. The keep stays there the entire game unless the player builds a larger house in which case the keep moves to the larger house. If, on a road, house, or tower, there are the same amount of meeples for both players both are removed, and nobody scores any points.
Courts are scored a little differently. When a player places a merchant, they lay it on its side to show that the merchant cannot be moved for the remainder of the game. At the end of the game, merchants are scored receiving three points for each market that is part of their court (little pictures on the tiles.) When the last tile is placed, markets are the only things scored unfinished roads, towers, and houses are NOT scored. The keep, however, is scored. Whichever player has the largest keep scores points for the largest empty area of spaces on the board at the end of the game. For example, if there are a group of 12 spaces together at the end of the game, and my keep is bigger than my opponents, I would get twelve bonus points.
Whenever a player scores any points, their marker is moved along the scoring path immediately. The first players scoring marker to reach each wall tile gives that wall tile to the player, who reveals it and places it in front of them. There are nine different types of wall tiles, which do a variety of things, form doubling the scoring of certain areas, to giving bonus points, to allowing the player to take an extra turn. After the last tile is placed, and wall tiles, keeps, and courts are scored, the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game
1.) Components: The components in the game are top notch, and extremely high quality. The castle pieces and the tiles are extremely good quality, and all fit together incredibly well. The wall tiles are small, and of good quality. There is no text on them, and so at first one might have to look up in the rules what each wall tile means but I found them rather self-explanatory. The meeples and keeps are nice, although I would have preferred black and white instead of tan (this is a minor, minor quibble). I think the artwork on the original Carcassonne was better, and that the cities there looked better, instead of all blocky like this game, but this is a minor quibble. All of these good components come in a box of excellent quality, with nice artwork on the outside.
2.) Rules: For those who have played Carcassonne before, the rules for this game can be learned in less than five minutes. For those who havent, the game is still rather simple, and would be the first Carcassonne game I would teach a newcomer to the hobby (if we only had two players). The rules were printed on six colorful pages, with so many illustrations and examples that we had no questions, and the rules were understood quite easily.
3.) Comparisons to Carcassonne: Some of the things added in this version, like the wall tiles, are fantastic additions. I also really enjoyed having more freedom when placing tiles. I was a little leery at first about the restricted space in which to put tiles, but soon found that it made the game much more strategic and fun. The merchants are much easier to score than either the farmers in Carcassonne or those in Hunters and Gatherers. Overall, this game was more simple in some ways, but more complex in others, but taking the best of both worlds!
4.) Luck and strategy: There are always those who complain about the luck of Carcassonne, when drawing the tiles. In this game, we felt that this luck has been dramatically reduced, and that placement of ones meeples is much more crucial to whether or not one wins the game or not. Deciding to get some quick points to obtain a wall tile is not a new, viable strategy, and keeps games close and exciting. The wall tiles ARE important, and cannot be ignored, as I have seen many games won by them alone.
5.) Theme and fun factor: This is a Knizia game, and youre looking for theme? But the castle walls really help, and I though that the theme fit fairly well around the excellent mechanics. We had a lot of fun playing the game, as there was quite a bit of interaction between the players, and we were constantly racing to see who would get the next wall tile. Carcassonne: the Castle is strategic, sure, but is VERY fun.
So, in summary, I recommend this game highly. Its certainly one of the best games of 2003, and without a doubt one of the best two-player games you can buy. It bears repeated playings and can be played casually or very competitively. Theres a lot to admire in this game, and therefore I think that its a must for gamers to add to their collections. Unless you hate Carcassonne, give this game a try, and even if you do you may not dislike this one.
With all of the Carcassonne family members on our shelf, from Hunters & Gatherers to expanded, my partner thought this would be too similar to the others. Not so! Carcassonne: the Castle is more enjoyalbe because of its challenges; the game requires different (more strategic) thinking because of the frame that contains and limits the tiles, and because of the 'bonus' chips that lie at certain points on the scoreboard.
The beauty of the game is, for me, trying to win these chips. At times, it's advantageous to make a LOWER scoring move so that you'll land on the corner with a chip that will, for example, allow you to score an unfinished court at the end of the game.
The other nice thing about Carcassonne: the Castle is that, with about half the tiles of the expanded, original Carcassonne, it plays more quickly... and leaves time for another game!
It's good. It's also different enough from Carcasonne that it takes several games to start understanding that the best strategies from Carcasonne don't apply.
It's also a much faster game than Carcasonne--you strive to make many low-point scores rather then a few giant cities/roads as in Carcasonne. Of course, it leverages the same basic mechanisms as Carcasonne (except for the Castle tiles...those are little xtra point boosts that help you if you get them). But it's differnet enough so that you really have to re-orient yourself to this new game.
The price is right too, particularly if you've snapped up all the Carcasonne expansions...you won't feel like this is the same thing all over again.
'The Castle' is a great addition to the Carcassonne series of games. Designed to be a 2 player game keeping the original Carcassonne mechanisms, it succeeds very well. Then there are several other twists or add-ons to make the game different than previous versions.
Normal scoring for paths (roads), which can be doubled if there is a fountain on the path, towers (cities)and markets (fields) mimic the original game. Houses are another building which give 1 pont per tile. The wall tiles, which you get if your scoring pawn/follower land exactly on them, add some neat twists to the game. They allow for extra points on completed buildings, allow points for incompleted paths and buildings, and some other bonuses gathered at the end of the game too.
You build inside the castle walls, which also have the scoring track on them. As things progress, it really looks as if you are developing a whole castle setting, with houses and towers spreading out, paths going to and fro, and markets expanding. Visually, it is quite nice.
Some things to note. You get no points for anything not completed (unless you get a special wall tile that allows it), and unlike the other Carcassonne games you can put dissimilar tile sides next to each other except for paths (paths always must join existing paths unless they end into the castle wall). Having the largest house at game end gives you extra points for the castle keep. The points for this are figured by looking for the largest unoccupied space inside the castle (open areas where no tiles were laid). Count the # of open spaces where tiles could have been laid, and that's how many points are scored for the person with the largest house. The game has a small wooden house you use to keep track of your largest house as the game progresses.
'The Castle' plays very well. It is quick, 45-60 minutes max, you have lots of ways to play the tiles- offensively or defensively, and you are torn between trying to build things but get the correct score to try to get wall tiles, which can be very helpful for scoring points later. We found ourselves working to get a wall tile, but then losing out on chances to make larger and more valuable buildings. You just can't do both always.
'The Castle' is very enjoyable, tailor made for 2 players. The components are as usual, first rate. Plus the price is easy on the pocketbook. If you enjoyed the other games in the series, you will no doubt enjoy this one as well.
... but then again, the original isn't very good as a two player game, either. All in all, still a solid game. I do not recommend you buy it if you're not a Carcassonne veteran --- it is more confusing than the original and can be frustrating if you don't understand the underlying game mechanics. Much more dependent on luck than the original due to your severely limited tile placement options, I've played several games where the outcome was an absolute blowout, which really is no fun for anyone.
All in all "The Castle" is a good pickup for you Carcassonne couples out there but not a very good way to introduce anyone to the series.
Since its release a few years ago Carcassonne has spawned a great many expansions and even a couple separate games and no end in sight. Rumor has it that at least one more is in the pipeline for this fall. One would expect that at some point the well would run dry or that the whole thing would collapse under the bloat of its own weight. Happily, neither of these is true as of yet.
Carcassonne: the Castle is a collaborative effort, using the basic mechanisms as created by Klaus-Jurgen Wrede and filtered through the fertile mind of Dr. Reiner Knizia. One would expect such a collaboration of two of the most successful designers of recent years to ehter succeed or fail spectacularly. While it does not soar on the wings of an eagle, neither does it sink beneath the waves either. Carc: the Castle is a very good game with a lot of good ideas that fits well into the Carcassonne mold.
Things that have changed from the basic game are more than cosmetic, allowing for new levels of strategy. The use of special scoring tiles along the scoring track allws a player to try for pinpoint scoring in order to make bigger gains later in the game. The placement rules are a bit more lenient than in the regular game, which makes up for the much tighter placement restrictions from the boundaries of the castle wall itself. Finally, restricting the game to only two players brings a new focus to the game, making each tile placement and each meeple placement a double-edged sword. Help myself? Hurt my opponent? Can both golas be acheived at once? The possibilities are tantalizing.
One of the best and most thematic two-player games to be found. Recommended.
For those of you who like Carcassonne, don't miss the elegance of _The Castle_. It takes a little getting used to the format of the interior castle, but the game plays well.
Both my partner and I soon found ourselves immersed in the detail of the castle walls. He went after the longest roofs, and I concentrated on the wall tiles. It took a little time to figure out what is meant by the corner tiles on the victory track when moving.
You can make your followers into one of the following: merchant, squire, knight, or herald. Heralds are considered placed on the paths, and one has to watch where the path ends, just as Carcassonne. Merchants have to find tiles with tents for displaying and selling their wares. Squires are placed on rooftops and, eventually, control entire rooftops. Knights, as one would imagine, are placed on walls and can often control a considerable length of that wall.
My partner concentrated on rooftops and tiles for merchants. He built a considerable roof complex, and it looked disastrous for a long time whether many points and movement would be achieved by me. However, the walls came to my rescue, and I started building knights wherever possible.
Soon our tile building looked like the inside of a castle. Some of the tiles we placed didn't quite match, and we had to be careful about whether the roofs looked like a match. My partner started upsetting the apple cart by building rather extensive paths heralds on those path. I somewhat stopped his extensive building by placing tiles in such a manner that those extensive paths came to an abrupt end.
That did not stop my partner's building boom, and his roofs encompassed at least one quarter of the castle's interior. Naturally, the rule applied that one gets back the followers after scoring the points. We moved along the victory track, and it looked like I would achieve an overturned tile and score some more points later. However, I underestimated how fast my partner would pull into the same four spaces and the tile and get one tile after another. That disheartening aspect of play was only softened by at least achieving several points for the extensive interior castle walls constructed.
The scoring ended with my partner having a runaway: 76 to my slow, but sure 37. We missed an illegal move with the roofs in the game and progressed to the finish of the game anyway. My partner thought the merchant was worthless compared to the herald and the knight. No tiles had to be discarded, which shows we tried to fit the tiles somewhere. It is important in this elegant game to place the tiles correctly.
The game proved more frustrating than the original Carcassonne; however, that can be remedied in future games with more attention to heralds and squires. All in all, the game proved an enjoyable evening.
THE CASTLE is yet another fun game in the highly successful Carcassonne series.
The addition of the perimeter wall is a wonderful variation to the tile laying mechanism of this addictive activity.
In typical Knizia fashion, the bonus tiles around the wall add more decision making thus increasing the strategy compared to other Carcassonne versions, however; I feel that placing the wall tiles face down leaves too much to luck. Placing the wall tiles face up would further increase the tension in your gut by making both parties hungrier for certain tiles as opposed to others. There's nothing more lack-lustre than fighting your way to three wall tiles in a row only to discover they won't heed the biggest rewards for the tile placement you've made inside the castle. Plus, the choice of acquiring or leaving certain wall tiles would add a touch of the 'screw your neighbour' element needed here.
All in all, a very fun game and highly recommended!
Carcassonne: The Castle is a new version of Carcassonne, NOT an expansion. As in Carcassonne, players place tiles to create a landscape, and place followers to earn points.
But unlike normal Carcassonne, players are restricted to play tiles inside of a wall; you can't expand any further. This requires more strategy than normal Carcasoonne.
Also, the is only for two players. So, this also restricts you if you want to invite friends over to play.
Overall, the game plays well, and is a very fun game.
I like almost all of the other Carcassonne games except this one. I like the idea of limiting the space where you can place the tiles. However the placing of the tiles in any which way you want seems illogical to me. With the rule of placing like tile faces to like tile faces eliminated, I think it makes the game too easy. So after a game or two, you might want to consider invoking that rule again. I really enjoy finite games like this, but I think the execution was poor, perhaps even rushed to market, or whatever, but the fact is, to me it doesn't shine as bright as the others. I actually like Ark Of The Covenant better than this. Three stars for effort.
And remember you can't pass "GO" if you don't play the game!!!!
Carcassonne: Keep `em Comin' seems to be the theme for this franchise design by Klaus Jrgen Wrede. Extra tiles, stand-alone games, biblical adaptations, and now even the great Reiner Knizia hops on the bandwagon to design a two-player version using the tried and true place-a-tile, place-a-follower system. This time, the building is constrained within the walls of the castle and not surprisingly when you pair a great game system with a great designer you get a game that works wonderfully.
As a Counter reader you certainly are familiar with Carcassonne: The Basics, so no need for telling you the foundational ideas in the game. The castle walls are created in jigsaw-puzzle like manner from 10 pieces that fit together creating 14 right-angle corners. A scoring track runs around the outside and encloses 76 spaces for 60 total tiles. Players can score for building houses and towers, constructing completed paths, and being merchants at the game end. Paths work like roads in the basic game, except that paths which hold a fountain score two per tile rather than one. Also, path branches do not always break the path, so it is possible to have multiple ends to close off before scoring.
Towers score like cities, in that a completed tower scores two per tile. Houses are built in the same way, but score only one per tile. A special piece, called the keep, marks the largest house completed by each player and at game end the player with their keep on the largest house gets a special bonus. Since there are always 16 spaces left at the game's end, the player with the best keep scores one point for each missing tile in the largest unfilled space. Merchants are like farmers, and score three points for each market that they serve. The standard Carcassonne rules of placement apply, meaning that one of six followers is placed on a tile immediately after the tile is placed, and once a path, house, tower, or market is manned no other follower can join in directly.
Other than the modest differences in standard scoring options and the clever 'keep' idea, The Castle incorporates two ideas that give the game a new feel. The first is that the only tile placement restriction is that paths must connect. This means that houses, towers, and markets can abruptly end and at first this both feels and looks odd. However, given the constraint of the playing surface this is quite valid and it allows the ability to quickly recycle followers or hold out for the huge score. The second idea is the wall tiles. Fifteen of 20 tiles are placed on the corners of the castle at the beginning of the game. Each corner holds two spaces on the track; for example spaces 12 and 13 form one corner while spaces 82 and 83 form another. These wall tiles are all helpful and add flavor to the scoring. By landing on either of the two spaces making up the corner, you take the tile and place it face up in front of you. Thus, while creating scoring opportunities you often are looking for specific amounts in order to collect the wall tiles before your opponent. This too encourages follower recycling and multiple, smaller scorings versus fewer large scorings.
The wall tiles, as stated, are all helpful. In this game, features not completed at game end do not score at all. With the right wall tile, however, you can score an incomplete house, tower, or path. Some of the tiles improve the scoring potential: double the value for a completed house or tower, and four versus three points for each market in your farm. One tile is worth five points on its own, another allows you to take two turns in a row, and a final tile acts as two tiles added to your largest house when determining values for the keep bonus.
The result of these ideas is a familiar yet fresh game. The wall tiles, flexible placement, and keep battles all must be considered and yet there is somewhat of a 'Can't Stop' mentality when deciding to cut off the house or tower versus continuing it for a larger score later. Most versions of Carcassonne play very well with two players, and yet being specifically designed for two makes the Castle even better balanced and tight. The Carcassonne juggernaut seems to be strong as ever, and while it seems that the ideas should have run out by now it is nice to see at least one more nice adaptation.