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Flashback Friday - Carcassonne - Love It or Hate It?
If I want to lay tiles I'll play Alhambra. Or, even something like dominoes or Rummikub. I can score all three of these very easily and LOVE the tactile-ness and clinking noise the Rummikub tiles make. Make Carc with bakelite tiles I'll buy it.
Road Judge wrote: Or, even something like dominoes or Rummikub. I can score all three of these very easily and LOVE the tactile-ness and clinking noise the Rummikub tiles make. Make Carc with bakelite tiles I'll buy it.
If you like this, you should try Mah-jongg. It's one of my favorite classic games. I played a ton of it many years ago with my girlfriend and her two kids. We had all become quite adept at it and we used to play on this glass-topped bistro table that a roommate owned. Said roommate used to say that we were playing so rapidly, the click of tiles on glass made it seem like someone was playing castanets in the apartment.
Saw the flashback, thought Oh, man—do I ever have a lot to say about this...
My kids have been trained to play so viciously they've literally stunned their friends who never considered the hobnailed-boots version. I still enjoy it, but only with people who are interested in detailing the emergent narrative of how awful everything is.
Thanks for the shout!
I like it, I will always keep it and it will reliably collect dust.
It's still her favorite game now, and we play a few times a year. I like it best with the first couple expansions, which I think even out the tile mix and add some of those mechanics that ride the line between cooperative and competitive. I don't think I play it with anyone else, but I have a really strong affinity for the game just because of my time spent playing it with my wife.
I haven't read this whole thread, so this may have been pointed out. But in 2007-2008, when I was buying games with every paycheck, the most tempting thing about Carcassonne was its $25 MSRP. We really need proper board games at that price point to keep on getting new people into the hobby. According to CSI, Carcassonne's current MSRP is $35, which is awfully good for 2020's landscape. I'm glad it's still affordable.
One weekend, not long after my first child was born, we had a relative and her husband come and stay with us, from interstate, and from the country at that. We lived in Sydney at the time. Sin City. The Big Smoke. And it was their first time visiting, so I was happy to play tour guide. Nothing beats playing tour guide in your home town, after all, especially when you have a love/hate relationship with it. “Let me show you this little cool out of the way place oh they ruined it.” “And that’s where the murder happened”. “We could do that but it would take like 5 hours to get there”. “Look at this small hole in the ground. It sold last week for 2 million dollars.” Anyway, I asked them, what did they want to do? Opera House? Harbour Bridge? Manly Ferry? And the husband says, “Well, what I really want to do is visit a game shop. A board game shop”.
I racked my brain. An image formed. I recalled my old geek friend. The one into Warhammer. Ohhhhhhh. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I used to sometimes wait outside Games Workshop while he went in. I think I’ve seen some of those kind of places around still. So I directed the husband off to where I thought there might be something suitable, in the city; I think they went while I did something else, I can’t really remember. At any rate, that night, he said, “Alright, time to play”, and pulled out Carcassonne.
So, that’s it then. We all know how this goes. If the standard games-cupboard games in their oblong boxes I had grown up with had planted seeds in their own little ways, then this was the rains coming in. I immediately saw that this game was on another level to anything I had experienced before. It had simplicity, a nice tactical bent to it, it looked different to anything else I had seen – the aesthetic was really pleasing to me - , it made a pleasing little map, the turns were quick, the GAME was quick. I was impressed.
A little niggle formed pretty quickly. I did not go crazy. I did not go out and find the shop this item had come from, or hop online immediately and order the top 50 BGG games to be delivered to my house. But the niggle was there. And, eventually, sitting at home, staring at the television for another night, I thought, you know what, let’s do something different.
-I want to play a game instead.
-Um…. Like, Mario?
-No, I mean like, a board game or a card game.
But, that, and a pack of cards were pretty much it in the house, and no, I didn’t feel like another round of world domination on the computer either. I wanted something that my partner and I could do together (like so many others before me!). And that maybe one day, the kid, and potential siblings, might enjoy too.
Of course, I was thinking, Carcassonne. Has to be!
So next time we were near a gamestore – I knew the address of one now - , I said. -Oh, look, we’re near that gamestore, I think…. I should pop in and see if they have Carcassonne.
We walked past it a few times, missing the sign. It was through a single door, and occupied the big room at the top of a narrow flight of stairs in an old Victorian terrace, itself sandwiched between Vietnamese bakeries and Indian grocery stores. Most of the space was given over to tables and Magic players. And a distinctive odour. My partner looked at me.
-I’ll see you downstairs, she said.
I looked at the shelves. Multiple things were clamouring for my attention, but I knew what I wanted, found the big C, and got out of there.
It’s still on the shelf of course, and I’ve added expansions to it over the years, into the same box– I’d say my first few purchases were actually expansions for the base game, rather than other boardgames. Inns and Cathedrals, the River (I bided my time on ebay and eventually got lucky), Princess and Dragon, all of them added something a little extra and kept us going on Carcassonne for quite a while. Those expansions, or researching them, prompted me to find get online and start looking at other games as well I’m pretty sure.
The same things that appealed to me the first time around still do; the simplicity of it, the tactical nature of it. The tactile nature of it – reaching in to the box to grab a tile, turning it over, putting it down. I’ve come to appreciate how it can be both a quiet, non-confrontational thing, or the most vicious game I own (Uncle mc used to stay up past midnight playing Cut throat Carcassonne!). I like the gamble that is the farmers. The bluffing you can do with a clever placement, when it looks unassuming but is really part of a larger plan. I like that I could introduce this to my kids when they were really little, just by removing the farmers, and that something like the Princess and Dragon enabled them to develop their “kids assemble, bash Dad” sensibility deliciously early.
It wasn’t 100% successful though; I discovered it wasn’t enough to make us play games every night. So, I obviously needed to have another option or two, and I had a few ideas about that. Plus, on top of that, my partner developed an aversion to gamestores.
-I might have a look in the gamestore.
-Oh, do you have a date with your nerd friends? Are you sure you’ll be welcome? You showered this morning…..*
*conversation recorded last week