Review: Carcassonne, by The Coding Monkeys
Carcassonne, by The Coding Monkeys
• Nice import of the board game
• Great multiplayer options!
• A little confusing to new players
• Tile movement can be a little hard for people with big fingers
Carcassonne is a board game from 2000, originally published in Germany. It takes a somewhat “standard” board game idea (build cities and towns) and simplifies it simply based on tile placement. You and your opponents alternate turns, trying to place tiles for the maximum number of points. After placing tiles, you can “claim” a terrain type (city, road, cloister) by placing one of your followers there. You get points for having claimed completed roads, cities, and cloisters.
It’s an interesting concept of a game, and prior to this iPhone version I had never heard of the game before. Shame on me! I have played it a few times, and I tell you – I love it. Now, there is a single player version of the game as well, where you compete against yourself to build a compact landscape with the tiles. In both the single and multiple player versions, the game is over when there are no more tiles to play.
Now, I have mostly been playing the single player version of the game. When I first started playing, I was somewhat confused by the rules. There is an in-game tutorial that guides you along the process, but I felt it wasn’t very complete. Even after following the tutorial, I still had a difficult time understanding the process and the game play for the single player version. It took a few times of playing it to feel like I finally got a handle, and even then I wasn’t 100% sure. The multiplayer version was easier to understand, but of course I also think it is a more straightforward version of the game.
The multiplayer options included in the game are wonderful, with two glaring exceptions. Multiplayer can be done via local wifi, Bluetooth, and internet connectivity. Internet multiplayer is something that I wish more games would incorporate, because not everyone has someone with an iPhone in their house (or alternatively, has someone with an iPhone in their house who wants to play the game). The internet player option also includes push notifications, so you can take turns. However, what is missing is a pass-the-iphone version of multiplayer, and a play against the computer option! I am not sure why they were excluded, but it means you are limited to multiplayer only with someone who was an iPhone.
The graphics are nice – clean, crisp images, text, and display. It isn’t anything too complex, but it fits the game nicely. My only problem was my big fingers – occasionally getting a tile to rotate or be placed in the correct location was a little difficult. But people with smaller fingers should have no problem with that. The music is very nice as well – a nice sort of background music that enhances but doesn’t distract from the game play.
All in all, this is a fun import of an interesting board game. It can be played alone (sort of) and with a wide variety of multiplayer options, although there is no computer AI option or “pass the iPhone” option. The game is engaging, moves quickly, and just all around fun to play. The good news is that there will be a universal binary when they develop the iPad version, so make sure to buy it now (it will go up in price when that comes out). For $4.99, this is a fun game that you should be able to play over and over. Four and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.