Author Topic: Carcassonne FAQ  (Read 1393 times)

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Carcassonne FAQ
« on: April 29, 2020, 03:48:49 PM »
Carcassonne FAQ

I've written this FAQ as a means for answering a number of common questions relating to Carcassonne and the significant place that it holds in the rich history of modern boardgaming. Its purpose is not to offer any particular guidance relating to Carcassonne's increasingly complex labyrinth of rules, and as such I would recommend that those with questions relating to these check Carcassonne Central's excellent wiki (http://wikicarpedia.com/index.php/Main_Page) or ask directly on the Carcassonne Central forums if an answer can't be found elsewhere.

I'm hoping that anybody who wishes to add their own questions (with or without answers) will post them below so that the main post can be updated and may in time become a useful resource for newer players. Over the course of the week that I spent writing it, the FAQ approximately doubled in size as questions were shared with me or occurred off the back of other questions that I'd tried to answer. In this sense it may never be considered "complete" since there will always be new questions. Even now there are at least two questions I still need to answer and add, but I had to start somewhere so here it is!

I hope it's useful and/ or interesting to everyone. Enjoy!


#0: Index

#1: What is the connection between Carcassonne the place and Carcassonne the boardgame?
#2: I've heard that Carcassonne was the first game to use "Meeples". Is this true?
#3: Why don't my Carcassonne tiles look the same as my friend's tiles?
#4: What is the best number of players to play Carcassonne?
#5: Why does the player that goes last always get to place one tile less than the other players? Is this fair?
#6: Is it against Carcassonne's rules to create a gap/ hole in the landscape?
#7: Are players allowed to team up or make special deals between themselves?
#8: What happens if I draw a tile but can only place it somewhere that benefits my opponent?
#9: How do I get my meeples back if they get stuck or I run out?
#10: What happens if I run out of space on my table or want to place a tile that doesn't fit on the table?
#11: Is there too much luck in Carcassonne?
#12: What is "Tile Counting"?
#13: What house/ unofficial rules are commonly played?
#14: What apps exist for Carcassonne?
#15: Where can Carcassonne be played online?
#16: What's a good score to aim for in Carcassonne?
#17: How can I improve my chances of winning at Carcassonne?
#18: Where do the best Carcassonne players in the world come from?
#19: Which are the best expansions for Carcassonne?
#20: How many officially recognised expansions are there for Carcassonne?
#21: Which is the best spin-off game for Carcassonne?
#22: Where can I find more detailed information about Carcassonne's expansions and rules?
#23: Why are there so many different versions of the Carcassonne basegame?
#24: Where can I buy Carcassonne stuff from?
#25: What are the rarest/ most valuable Carcassonne items, and why are they so expensive?


#1: What is the connection between Carcassonne the place and Carcassonne the boardgame?

Klaus-Jürgen Wrede was visiting the area of Carcassonne in Southern France when he first came up with the ideas and core-mechanics behind his best-selling boardgame. Although he hadn't gone there planning to create a game (he was actually researching a book he had published in 2015: "The Secret of the Ghent Altarpiece") he was inspired by the landscape and sought to create a game where players were able to recreate it for themselves. This said, the theme no longer fits as tightly as it once did following the release of subsequent expansions that bring German, Dutch, Belgian and Japanese buildings to the familiar French landscape!


#2: I've heard that Carcassonne was the first game to use "Meeples". Is this true?

The answer to this question is yes and no. It's yes in that Carcassonne was the first boardgame to use the wooden tokens that millions of people around the world would instantly recognise today as "meeples". These were designed for Carcassonne by Bernd Brunnhofer of Hans im Glück (HiG) who originally published Carcassonne in Germany and who still "own" it today some 20 years later. However, they were never referred to as meeples by HiG and it wasn't until an American boardgamer named Alison Hansel first referred to them as meeples (a contraction of "my people") in 2000 that the term started to become more commonly known and used around the world.


#3: Why don't my Carcassonne tiles look the same as my friend's tiles?

In 2014, Hans im Glück decided to reboot the Carcassonne series with new artwork illustrated by Anne Pätzke rather than Doris Matthäus who had been Carcassonne's much-loved illustrator up until that point. A lot of die-hard Carcassonne fans were initially reluctant to rebuild their Carcassonne collections in the new art, and some were put off the game altogether when brand new expansions started to appear exclusively for the new art edition (besides Abbots). However, official advice from HiG and their international partners has always been that the different art styles remain compatible and can be mixed together as the "C" logo on the backs of the tiles is consistent. Not everyone is convinced by this, but new players certainly seem to be enjoying the new version just as much as those of us who first fell in love with Doris' original artwork ever did.

Apart from the art style, the most significant difference between the two versions of the game is that the new art version includes "gardens" on some of the tiles which score in the same way as cloisters. These are a special new feature that can only be claimed by a player's "Abbot" figure which were the first new-art exclusive expansion that has always been included with copies of the new-art basegame.

You may also notice that even when using multiple expansions belonging to the same artwork version, the shades of green used to represent fields doesn't always match very well between the different expansions and the tiles of the basic game. This isn't by design and is more to do with various subtle inconsistencies between artists, printers and publishers that either weren't picked up until it was too late, or were picked up but weren't deemed important enough to warrant a reprint. It seems to upset some people more than others, but it certainly doesn't affect my enjoyment of the game personally.


#4: What is the best number of players to play Carcassonne?

The basegame includes five sets of meeples and a sixth is added with the first expansion: "Inns & Cathedrals". However, while full sets of Carcassonne meeples (including all the extra pieces that come with the various expansions) can now be bought in 20+ different colours, this isn't to say that Carcassonne should be played with 20 players! Although it can be played with larger groups, the downtime between turns can become significant when you start to go above four players, especially if one or more of those players tend to overthink their turns. The other downside is that since you have fewer turns in larger groups, your influence over the game also diminishes to the point that luck can become too much of a factor for some players.

Competitive Carcassonne players would view it as a strictly two-player game. While some tournament organisers still insist on including three or four-player rounds as part of their national competitions before proceeding to a knock-out stage between the players with the most points at the end of these rounds, this is not a popular format among Carcassonne players themselves. My personal belief is that Carcassonne can be enjoyed with any number of players (even solo), but any games I play against two or more opponents are usually taken far less seriously than the head to head games I play.


#5: Why does the player that goes last always get to place one tile less than the other players? Is this fair?

This has always been a strange quirk of Carcassonne that I've never really understood. Considering that the basegame consists of 72 tiles, which can be divided equally between two, three or four players, it just seems odd to have the game played with 71 tiles (once the start tile has been removed) as this is a prime number i.e. it won't divide equally between any number of players other than 1 and 71. This bothers me more than it seems to bother most people.

In terms of the starting player having an advantage, I have always felt that this was the case. Not only does the starting player go into the game with a 31% chance of drawing a tile featuring a city cap that can be used against the start tile to get a four-point head start, but the starting player also gets to place one tile more than their opponent. It isn't rare that games can be won or lost over a matter of one or two points, and while it isn't always necessarily the starting player who wins on these occasions, it doesn't seem unfair to suggest that the outcomes of many such closely-fought games could have been different if the second player had been given the opportunity to place the same number of tiles as the starting player.

EDIT:
Although it's not common, I have known competitions where the advantage of being the starting player is balanced out by a tie-breaker stating that in the event of a draw, the player that went first loses.


#6: Is it against Carcassonne's rules to create a gap/ hole in the landscape?

In short, there are no tile placement rules provided that roads, cities and fields are always matched against roads, cities and fields respectively for every tile that the tile being placed is directly adjacent to. Not in the basic game anyway. This means that gaps can, and often do form quite naturally, but it's also common to see holes created deliberately either to trap meeples in any features that border the hole, or to prevent a meeple belonging to one player joining to a feature belonging to their opponent. This isn't always good for the aesthetic of the landscape, but is entirely in keeping with the rules.


#7: Are players allowed to team up or make special deals between themselves?

There are no rules suggesting that players shouldn't (or should) team up in games of Carcassonne so it certainly isn't forbidden. In games with three or four players, it often makes sense for two or more players to work together if a feature they're sharing can give them a lead over any players that aren't included in this. However, it's also entirely within the rules for one of those previously co-operative players to swoop in at the last minute with an extra meeple to win the feature outright, so be careful who you trust!

With regards to "special deals" being made between players during games of Carcassonne, this is not something that the rules cover. While it will be to the detriment of the game, especially for players who aren't involved in any such teamwork, every player's decision regarding where they place their tile is 100% theirs and isn't bound to whatever they may have agreed to earlier in the game in exchange for another player using one of their tiles to benefit them. It can be similarly frustrating when certain players try to influence the decisions of other players to subtly benefit themselves, but these all come from the social aspects that are common to many boardgames and which aren't addressed by Carcassonne in particular.


#8: What happens if I draw a tile but can only place it somewhere that benefits my opponent?

Carcassonne's rules state that if the drawn tile cannot be placed then it is discarded. Some people prefer to put unplaceable tiles back into the tile bag rather than let it go to waste, but this is classed as a "house rule" which is unofficial (see #13). But in any case, if your tile CAN be placed then it MUST be placed even if it helps your opponent more than it helps you. Tiles to look out for that are often unplaceable include those with road or city on all four sides, but it's usually only if they're drawn early on that they might be eliminated as the number of potential locations will increase as the landscape expands throughout the game.

In the event that a drawn tile cannot be placed and is discarded, the player who drew the tile draws a replacement tile and takes their turn as normal with that tile instead.


#9: How do I get my meeples back if they get stuck or I run out?

Certain expansions such as The Festival, The Tower and Crop Circles (to name but a few – there are plenty of others) introduce new mechanics to the game that can be exploited to recover meeples from the landscape and get them back into your hand for deployment elsewhere. However, in the basic game meeples remain on whichever feature they were used to claim until that feature is completed. If the feature can't be completed then the meeple will remain where it is until the end of the game. This can be especially frustrating for novice players but is an important tactic employed by more experienced players to limit their opponent's scoring opportunities and give themselves an advantage. This is why it's also important to learn how best to minimise the risk of your meeples becoming trapped, to recognise when they are being threatened and to defend them wherever possible.


#10: What happens if I run out of space on my table or want to place a tile that doesn't fit on the table?

There aren't any official rules covering what to do if you run out of space so it's up to you how you deal with it. You may be able to shift the landscape back towards the middle of the table to free up space closer to the edges, but this can be impractical especially for larger games. In the event that you decide to do this, it's worth taking a few quick photos before you move anything so that you can make sure everything is back where it's supposed to be before play resumes. Depending how this goes though, you might want to play on the floor next time!

EDIT:
Meepledrone has reminded me of some rules clarifications from Georg Wild of HiG in 2013. Surprisingly, he stated that according to Carcassonne's official rules tiles should not be shifted as the start tile must be placed in the centre of the table and any such shifting would displace it from here. However, if you do happen to have another table of appropriate height lying around then you ARE allowed to add this and continue the game onto it provided that everything stays in place. He goes on to say that while technically playing Carcassonne on the floor isn't in keeping with the game's official rules (since the start tile can't be placed in the middle of the table) this is still acceptable if you haven't got a table and don't try to place tiles under sofas, cabinets or shelves. His full list of clarifications can be found here: http://wikicarpedia.com/index.php/Base_game#Use_of_a_Table


#11: Is there too much luck in Carcassonne?

There is certainly an element of luck to Carcassonne; it would be remiss of me to suggest otherwise. But generally, people are quick to dismiss things that they see as being heavily luck-based without taking the time to get to know them. These same people don't like losing, and it's easy for a weak player to blame their defeat on bad luck simply because they're unaware of what measures their opponent took to maximise their chances of victory.

You win at Carcassonne by scoring more points than your opponent. This is achieved by generating as many points for yourself as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to limit your opponent's scoring opportunities either by anticipating their most valuable features and sharing them, or by trapping their meeples in features that will never be complete. After just a few games, novice players might have become quite good at building their own score while leaving their opponent to build theirs and hoping for the best, but these types of games are very different to the ones played between experienced players who know when to build or expand and when (and how) to threaten, attack, trap or defend.

If I had to sum it up in just three words, I'd say Carcassonne is a game of decisions, priorities and pressure. If you make good decisions, prioritise correctly and can keep your opponent under pressure then the "luck" will (almost) always be on your side!


#12: What is "Tile Counting"?

"Tile Counting" is an umbrella term covering a range of skills that can be used to a player's advantage in games of Carcassonne. While most intermediate players will be sufficiently familiar with the tiles to tell you how many of each type of tile appear in the basic game, this knowledge alone isn't especially helpful during a game unless combined with a mental record of which tiles have already been placed in order to deduce which tiles are left in the bag/ stack.

During untimed games, players who meticulously check the entire landscape before committing to their next turn can be difficult to bear which is why thinking time is limited in most competition games. Even so, many top players are so proficient in their tile counting that they will know exactly what's left at any point during a game almost instinctively and can use this to their advantage. For example, they might not waste a meeple on a particular city if they already know that that the tiles required to complete it have already been placed elsewhere.


#13: What house/ unofficial rules are commonly played?

I've listed the Carcassonne house-rules that I'm aware of below, but this should not be considered exhaustive or complete by any means! Please let me know if you play any rules variations that you'd like me to share here:

- Pre-drawing
Rather than waiting for the player immediately before you to complete their turn before drawing your tile, pre-drawing your tile for your next turn in advance can speed up the game for everyone as it affords you extra thinking time while the other players are taking their turns. This is generally quite commonly accepted/ played, even at the world championships, but It's important not to reveal your tile before your turn as this knowledge may influence how other players would choose to place their tile.

- Return unplaceable tiles
Instead of discarding drawn tiles that can't be placed (see #8), simply return the tile to the bag that you drew it from so that it may be drawn again later when perhaps there are opportunities within the landscape for it to be placed without leaving it out.

- Three-tile variant
Some players prefer to play with three tiles in their hand and draw back up to three at the end of their turn. Obviously this gives more tile placement options with each turn and some suggest that it also reduces the impact of luck (which I struggle to agree with). I'm not a fan of this particular variant as I don't feel like it's entirely in keeping with the spirit of the game, but that's just my opinion. I am however confident that Klaus-Jürgen Wrede would say that if the game is more enjoyable for you to play in this way then you should do it!

- Starting player plays the start tile
To get around Carcassonne's awkward 71-tile issue (see #5), some players like to play that the first player places the starting tile and may place a meeple on it in the same way as they would any other tile (this is instead of the start tile already being on the table before the starting player draws and places their tile). The advantage of this is that every player gets to place the same number of tiles (depending on the number of players of course) and the possibility of the starting player grabbing an easy four-point head start on their first turn is also removed.

- Table edge auto-completion
Although it isn't commonly played as far as I'm aware, I've known some people play that if a feature on a tile borders the edge of the table then it is considered complete where no further tile could be placed (without falling onto the floor). This is instead of shifting the tiles back towards the middle of the table as the game spreads out (see #10) but is easily exploited and can lead to some unusual landscapes where players deliberately extend their features towards the edge of the table so as to complete them as quickly as possible.


#14: What apps exist for Carcassonne?

There are currently official Carcassonne apps for both Android and iOS devices provided by Asmodee Digital. While the Asmodee app has been around on Android for a little while now, it is only within the last couple of months that it has replaced the previous version of the iOS app by The Coding Monkeys. Some good news here is that The Coding Monkeys' version of the iOS app will continue to run in parallel to the new and (in my opinion) inferior version although it has now been removed from the App Store and consequently isn't available to new customers.

If you search for Carcassonne on either Android or iOS devices you will find various unlicensed copies of Carcassonne as well as companion apps such as score trackers so be careful what you download!


#15: Where can Carcassonne be played online?

The Android/ iOS apps for Carcassonne (see #14) support online play and can be used to play against friends and randomly selected opponents alike. However, there are also downloadable implementations of Carcassonne and websites that offer the ability to play Carcassonne online against live opponents. I've listed some of these websites below:

- BoardgameArena (http://www.boardgamearena.com)
- Yucata.de (https://www.yucata.de/en)
- Your Turn My Turn (https://www.yourturnmyturn.com)
- Brettspielwelt (https://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele)

Most of these websites are free, although you may find certain features are limited unless you upgrade to a paid account as is the case with BoardgameArena.

Alternatively, JCloisterZone (https://jcloisterzone.com/en/) is Java-based which means it runs on many different platforms including PCs and Macs. It's free to download, offers an unrivalled range of expansions and features surprisingly tough AI/ computer opponents. It probably isn't quite as polished as some of Carcassonne's other implementations but the interface is perfectly usable and has been used to play hundreds if not thousands of online games between members of Carcassonne Central for over half a decade.


#16: What's a good score to aim for in Carcassonne?

It's a mistake to assume that your final score is any kind of indication of how good you are as a player. Because your score isn't a personal constant, it's the result of many factors of which certainly include but are by no means limited to your particular skill level.

For one thing is the number of players. Your score in a four-player game won't typically be as high as you might usually expect to score in a two-player game for example. But the strength of your opponents is also significant in that you wouldn't expect to be able to score as many points against an experienced player as you might against someone who has only just started playing the game. Strong players will look to frustrate you and try to keep your score down so that they don't have to work so hard to generate points for themselves in order to win the game. It doesn't matter if they win the game with 50 points or with 150 points; a win is still a win!

It's also worth remembering that every game of Carcassonne is different and is influenced uniquely by the order of the tiles and the decisions that each player (not just you) makes along the way. A consequence of this is that some games typically tend to yield more points than others. Maybe the game included the completion of one or two big, shared cities or an especially valuable farm, or maybe the tiles were scattered and completed features were few and far between. A score of 50 points in a game like this might be the victorious result of a hard-fought battle between two expert players.

I'll leave you with one final thought. A year or two before I started regularly participating in the UK Carcassonne championships, the competition was run in a subtly different way one year that turned out to be quite significant. Three preliminary rounds of four-player games were held, as had been the case in previous years, but the ranking at the end of these three rounds was ordered by each player's total score across their three games. In this respect, competitive play was out the window as coming last with 80 points was far better than winning with 50 points. The results were a little chaotic as most players started co-operating simply to generate as many points as possible for themselves in order to increase their chances of finishing higher up the ranking. This was not something that the organisers repeated!


#17: How can I improve my chances of winning at Carcassonne?

A colleague once bet me £5 that he could beat me at Carcassonne after another colleague mentioned to him that I was obsessed with the game. Afterwards, I found out that he thought he could beat me because he'd Googled "how to win at Carcassonne" which clearly wasn't sufficient to protect his £5 in this case. No amount of research can fast-track you through your first thousand or so games towards becoming a great player; as with most games, sports and other disciplines, the key to success is to just keep playing/ practicing...

At first you may find it useful to play on apps or websites (see #14 and #15) against AI/ computer opponents if you struggle to find real people who will play as often as you'd like. I still play at least two or three games against the Witch or The Count on the old iOS app every day! You will eventually reach a point where familiar AI opponents no longer pose any kind of challenge though, which suggests that you've probably learnt as much as you're going to learn from them and that it's time to up your game! Again, you can make use of apps and/ or websites to find suitable opponents online, and play as often as you can. When you lose, think about why you lost and what you could have done differently that might have changed the outcome as there's always something to learn from every defeat. Don't be afraid to lose either; it's as necessary as it is inevitable if you're constantly pushing yourself to improve. This is something I struggle with personally as I don't always take it very well when my opponent scores more than I do, but my games in the old days against the likes of Jéré, Leven, Merlin_89 and MrNumbers have certainly helped me to get used to it!

Every time your opponent places a tile that doesn't make sense to you, pretend that you're in their position and ask yourself why you might have done that. What are they hoping to accomplish and what tiles might they need to do so? It's hard to stop someone from achieving something if you don't know what it is they're trying to achieve so take the time to establish your priorities. Don't underestimate how worthwhile a process this can be as it can be a significant advantage to you if you learn to understand your opponent's thought process and can work out how to use it against them. This is often easier to do in person as you can read your opponent's body language too, so don't be afraid to enter tournaments or competitions even if you don't feel ready for them. Every UK championship I've played in has been a great opportunity to play, learn and to become friends with some wonderful people.

Finally, unless it's something that you're already doing, tile-counting (see #12) and trapping (see #9) are key skills that you will need to develop over time if you want to be able to compete with strong players. The better you are at using your knowledge of the tiles to your advantage and your opponent's disadvantage, the more your chances of winning will improve. Good luck, and enjoy the journey!


#18: Where do the best Carcassonne players in the world come from?

Carcassonne's first five world champions were all from Germany with Ralph Querfurth taking the title on four of those occasions and Sebastian Trunz taking the other. In fact, in 2008 both Germans placed within the top three so it's fair to say that Germany has produced some truly world-class players! However, since Els Bulten won the world championships for the Netherlands in 2011 only two countries have claimed the top spot more than once. For Greece this was Panteli Litsardopoulos in 2013 and 2015, and for Japan it was Takafumi Mochiduki in 2014 and Genro Fujimoto in 2018. Other world champions have hailed from the Czech Republic (2012), Russia (2016), Poland (2017) and Romania (2019):

2006Ralph QuerfurthGermany
2007Sebastian TrunzGermany
2008Ralph QuerfurthGermany
2009Ralph QuerfurthGermany
2010Ralph QuerfurthGermany
2011Els BultenNetherlands
2012Martin MojzisCzech Republic
2013Panteli LitsardopoulosGreece
2014Takafumi MochidukiJapan
2015Panteli Litsardopoulos    Greece
2016Vladimir KovalevRussia
2017Tomasz PreussPoland
2018Genro FujimotoJapan
2019    Marian CurcanRomania

So while it's clear that the best Carcassonne players came from Germany in Carcassonne's early days, it does appear that the rest of the world has caught up somewhat now and that, in theory, the next world champion could come from anywhere!


#19: Which are the best expansions for Carcassonne?

With so many expansions available for Carcassonne it's hard to know where to begin if you're looking to reach beyond the basic game for the first time, and it's easy to be overwhelmed by what's available!

Assuming that you've already discovered The River and The Abbots (which are included with the basegame), a good way to start expanding your games is via the first two major expansions; "Inns & Cathedrals" and "Traders & Builders". These can be played either individually or together and bring a great selection of interesting tiles that can be used either to build points for yourself, or to thwart your opponents. Plus they bring a selection of new types of meeple to give you more options during the game. The rules are easy to understand, and considering how mixed reviews can be for some Carcassonne expansions, very few people have anything bad to say about either of these expansions.

If you're already familiar with these expansions and feel ready to move on again, your choice should be guided mostly by what elements of Carcassonne you enjoy most. If you enjoy the cut-throat aggression and want more "take that" in your games then either the third ("The Princess & The Dragon") or fourth ("The Tower") expansions may be good choices for you. The fifth ("Abbey & Mayor"), sixth ("Count, King & Robber") and eighth ("Bridges, Castles & Bazaars") expansions bring a wide variety of new components to the game which all add to the depth of strategy in slightly different ways. For example, Barns (exp. #5) significantly change how farms/ fields work, the King & Robber Baron tiles (exp. #6) add extra bonus points and Abbeys (exp. #5) and Bridges (exp. #8) bring new ways to help complete awkward features or get your meeples onto those valuable farms. On the other hand, if you prefer to keep things friendly and enjoy closing your opponent's features for them, The Count (exp. #6) may be perfect for you. Not to forget the unique tile configurations and push-your-luck mechanic of "Hills & Sheep", or the high-scoring shenanigans of "Under The Big Top" (the ninth and tenth major expansions respectively).

Ultimately, there's something for everyone so it's worth thinking about who you are before you make your decision, and to try before you buy wherever possible.


#20: How many officially recognised expansions are there for Carcassonne?

This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, to the point that there probably isn't even an answer that won't be disputed and argued about between the many Carcassonne enthusiasts to whom this seems to matter. How can there not be an answer to such a straightforward question? Consider the following list and tell me how many expansions you see:

- The Count
- Cult Places/ Shrines
- King & Robber Baron
- River 2
- Count, King & Robber

Some would see five as these can be viewed as five unique expansions, but others may see just one as all of the first four expansions are included together to form the fifth. But let's also remember that in the same year, Cult Places/ Shrines were later available as a promo with a special edition of Spielbox dedicated to Hans im Glück, then as part of Rio Grande Games' "Cult, Siege & Creativity" boxed mini-expansion which also added a sixth tile. And what's more, all three versions of this expansion had different watermarks! So it's somewhere between one and seven, until you also consider that the "City of Carcassonne" from The Count is available either as a set of 12 numbered tiles, as one 3 x 4 tile or as two 2 x 3 tiles for the new art edition. It goes on like this.

So we're still no closer to answering the question, and I've only briefly touched on the whole ugly area of watermarks and all the spanners these have thrown into the works over the years. For the sake of getting an answer though, which may or may not be correct, I went to the very knowledgeable Hector Madrona (AKA Meepledrone) who knows far more about these things than I do. His opinion is below:

Old artwork edition: 44
Major: 10 (9 major + Wheel of Fortune)
Minor: 34 (including La Porxada and counting Monasteries in the Netherlands & Belgium only once)

New artwork edition: 35
Major: 9 (numbered expansions go up to 10 but 7 is missing as The Catapult was never released for the new artwork edition)
Minor: 26 (including each of the Spiel promo tiles separately)

This brings the total number of expansions across the entire Carcassonne series to... 79. So there we go. Happy now? No, I thought not. Just please, don't even get me started on the spin-offs...


#21: Which is the best spin-off game for Carcassonne?

This is a lot like asking whether cheeseburgers are better than pizza. Sometimes you want a cheeseburger, other times you want a pizza; you can't really compare them directly. This said, certain spin-off games are better for certain purposes which could be relevant. I have recommended Kids of Carcassonne/ My First Carcassonne (it's the same game) to a lot of people with young kids who are starting to show an interest in boardgaming. While it may be perfect for people in this position, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else unless I really didn't like them.

Most of the spin-off games have a particular focus or appeal, which in many cases is designed to combat specific complaints that people have made about the basic game. Carcassonne: The Castle for example is a popular spin-off that is strictly 2-player only making it a good choice for couples. Carcassonne: South Seas meanwhile is one of the only spin-offs not to include a scoretrack which makes it very difficult to determine who is actually winning until the game is finished and scores are counted up. Then of course there's Carcassonne: Star Wars edition which can be played in teams and involves dice-rolling "battles" to determine ownership of planets (cloisters).

I wouldn't say that any of the spin-offs are more popular than the basic game, but few are especially unpopular either. Games like Carcassonne: The Discovery and Carcassonne: New World may be more easily forgotten than others but everything from "Hunters & Gatherers" (2002) right up to "Safari" (2018) has something to offer and is worth trying out if you ever have the chance.


#22: Where can I find more detailed information about Carcassonne's expansions and rules?

Considering the number of expansions that now exist for Carcassonne, the state of the "official" rules has become rather confusing where rules from various expansions overlap or occasionally even seem to contradict each other. With the old art version, Hans im Glück attempted to bring clarity to any specific examples that were brought to their attention but these clarifications occasionally made things even more complicated in ways that weren't immediately anticipated. As did the mere existence of expansions like Halflings and German Castles which required players to treat these half/ double sized tiles in the same way as any other tile!

Despite incredible efforts over a number of years to keep all of Carcassonne's official rulings, special cases and footnotes together in a single document, this increasing confusion has meant that Carcassonne Central's "Complete Annotated Rules" (CAR) document hasn't now been updated since May 2015 and as such is considered obsolete for the purposes of many newer players. HiG meanwhile have started using a disclaimer on all newly released expansions stating that they are for use with the basic game only, and any other expansions are included at the player's own risk. In other words, they're leaving it up to the players themselves to decide what to do if any awkward situations arise. So that's super.

Thankfully, a group of Carcassonne Central regulars were determined not to let the CAR go to waste and successfully brought it back to life in the form of a wiki. The wiki features detailed information about every expansion including tiles, rules and more general things such as Carcassonne's history and timeline of releases. It can even generate a customised turn sequence breakdown based on whichever expansions you select, thus providing an ideal companion to help you to play your games correctly regardless of which expansions you include.

The wiki can be found here: http://wikicarpedia.com/index.php/Main_Page and is considered recommended reading for any aspiring Carcassonne enthusiast!


#23: Why are there so many different versions of the Carcassonne basegame?

If you're in the business of publishing and selling games, how do you make people re-buy games they already own? Simple! By repackaging your game as a "limited edition" with a brand new expansion or combination of expansions. Big Boxes aside, Hans im Glück have produced at least five such versions of their basic game: with Traders & Builders in 2004 (tin box), with Princess & Dragon in 2006, with Crop Circles in 2009, with special meeples and The Festival in 2011 (meeple-shaped box), and with Count, King & Robber and Die Belagerers in 2013 (tin box). At time of release, Crop Circles, The Festival and Die Belagerers were brand new expansions that weren't available in any way other than through these special boxes.

There have also been six different "Big Box" versions of Carcassonne released so far; five for the old art version, one for the new (although some might say it's more like seven if you class the 2003 "Limited Edition" gold box as Big Box 0 but that's a matter of opinion). These represent great starting points for new players who want to kickstart their Carcassonne collection with a good selection of expansions for a reasonable price. However, Big Boxes 5 and 6 have both contained exclusive content that remains unavailable outside of these Big Box editions. In the case of BB5 this is literally just a couple of modified tiles from the River expansion, but even this was enough for some enthusiasts to declare it a brand new expansion and as such River 3/ 1b was born. But with BB6, seven of the eleven included expansions remain unavailable for the new art version unless through purchase of this box. Frustratingly, these aren't even new expansions and are merely reprints of the mini boxed expansions that were available for the old art version of Carcassonne in 2012. Being a Carcassonne completionist is expensive!

Finally is Wheel of Fortune. This is a bit of a weird one as it doesn't really fit the mould as either a major or a minor expansion, and is just as much a spin-off/ stand alone game as it is anything else. This has only ever been available either with the basegame, or through Big Box 5 which includes a slightly modified set of tiles. My favourite thing about this expansion (or whatever it is) in particular though is the inclusion, with German versions, of a romantic novel written by Helene Luise Köppel. Named after the expansion, this undoubtedly provides players with an ideal companion to the game to be read between turns against players who like to make sure they've considered all of their options very thoroughly!


#24: Where can I buy Carcassonne stuff from?

Unless you're lucky enough to live near to a particularly good boardgame shop, eventually you'll need to look online when it comes to expanding your Carcassonne collection. You can generally buy the new-art basegame and most of the major expansions for it from Amazon or various online retailers at mostly sensible prices. Old-art tiles are now in very short supply though, and are stocked so scarcely that your best bet will probably be to visit eBay for a second-hand copy. Sometimes, it's also worth visiting German eBay (www.ebay.de) even if you don't live in Germany or speak German. Google translate can do a pretty good job of helping you to navigate your way around, and most sellers are prepared to ship internationally if you message them (albeit for a slightly increased fee). Rarer items seem to become available here far more often than they do on any other eBay sites and the prices expected are often more realistic so it's worth checking here at least weekly if you're looking for something in particular.

The best place to buy many of the less well-known items for Carcassonne is via Hans im Glück's online web-shop: Cundco (www.cundco.de). Cundco sells various games (including some non-Carcassonne games), Carcassonne spin-offs, expansions, mini-expansions, promos and other rarities such as coasters, blank tiles, meeple sets in unique colours, meeple-shaped keyrings, magnets, candles, luggage-tags and even cookie cutters! They also offer a handy tile-replacement service which can be used to replace lost or damage tiles from any of their games for around half a Euro per tile. Their prices are mostly very reasonable, although shipping costs can be prohibitive to the point that you might not want to order any more frequently than you have to.

Around half a dozen different expansions have been released as special promos for either Spielbox (https://nostheide.de/webshop3/index.php?language=en) or Spiel Doch! magazines, so it's worth keeping an eye on both of these for news of any upcoming editions that will include new content you'll want to be able to get your hands on while stock is still available


#25: What are the rarest/ most valuable Carcassonne items, and why are they so expensive?

Because of its age, there are certain old and rare editions of Carcassonne and its many expansions that tend to fetch higher prices than you'd normally expect to see boardgames selling for on eBay. Certain expansions such as the first few that came with Spielbox magazines were only released as part of relatively small print-runs and so are still highly sought-after now simply because they're rare and hard to find.

It may seem strange but it's worth remembering that a lot of Carcassonne enthusiasts are as much about collecting Carcassonne as they are playing it, and as such it isn't uncommon for some of these collectors to seek early or misprinted versions of certain expansions that they may already own several versions of without ever having played any of them!

I've listed below a dozen or so of the rarest/ most valuable Carcassonne items that I'm aware of, along with an indication of the kind of price I can last remember seeing them going for where possible. This list almost certainly isn't complete or exhaustive, and the prices I'm suggesting may have changed significantly since I last saw them for sale, but I hope it's of interest all the same:

- 70-point scoretrack (2000)
This was available only with the first edition of the basegame as it was quickly replaced with a 50-point scoretrack in subsequent reprints. It's hard to price as I don't see them very often but I'd be surprised to see a first edition box including this scoretrack go for anything less than around £70.

- Le Sac (2002)
This was first given away to Carcassonne players in 2002 as a fix for the mismatched backs of the tiles of the basic game and the first expansion which could be used to tell them apart when placed in stacks on the table. A similar tile bag now comes bundled with Carcassonne's second expansion or can be bought directly through Cundco (see #24) for significantly less than the €165 that was being charged for the only Le Sac I could find online presently.

- The River: Copy Protection edition (2002)
This was a special version of Carcassonne's River expansion that came with an early PC version of the boardgame published in Germany by KOCH Media. By way of copy protection, the 12 tiles have a series of codes printed on their backs which would presumably have been referenced by the program to ensure that you had the tiles to hand and thus that you were entitled to play it. This method was especially common among PC games in the mid-90s that usually required you to enter a word from a specific page/ line/ position of the game's instruction manual.

- Cathars/ Tunnels/ Plague (2004/ 09/ 10)
Spielbox (see #24) have released various items for Carcassonne over the years but these three seem to be the ones that people are most keen to get their hands on, especially if the original magazine is also included along with the expansion. Amazingly, Spielbox will discover boxes full of these in their warehouse every now and again and will sell them online at face value. Inevitably these soon turn up on eBay with prices settling between £50 and £100 per item depending on which edition of the magazine it is (and consequently which expansion is included).

- La Porxada (2010)
This was given away at Jugar X Jugar (a games festival in Spain) in 2010 as a sticker that had to be stuck onto a Carcassonne tile before it could be played. Since then it has somehow achieved semi-official status despite never having been released by Hans im Glück and is sought after by many. I can't quite imagine how much certain collectors would be willing to pay for an original Porxada sticker, or even how many of them still exist, but home-made replicas and reprints are typically quite cheap depending on the quality of the print.

- Crop Circles/ Die Belagerers (2010/ 13)
Both of these are expansions that were first released with special editions of the basegame (see #23). They were then released separately from the basegame through Cundco but sold out quickly and are now very difficult to find. For a short time in 2016, Crop Circles could be bought for a few Euros through abuse of Cundco's Tile Replacement service but they soon wised-up to this and stopped people from buying it this way.

- Black and Purple Teachers (2011?)
The School expansion consists of just two tiles and a special translucent meeple that plays the role of the "teacher". Evidently these teacher meeples had always been available in six different colours although blue, red, green and yellow teacher meeples were so much more common that most people assumed these were the only colours available. In 2015 however, Carcassonne Central suddenly discovered the existence of teacher meeples in black and purple and there ensued a desperate scramble as everyone tried to secure themselves these unexpectedly precious items. These never appear on the market anymore, and since I know the person who seems to have bought up most of the remaining few, that isn't likely to change any time soon.

- Misprinted Gingerbread Man (2012)
This popular mini-expansion for the Carcassonne: Winter Edition spin-off brings six new tiles to the game along with a little wooden figure who gives away a lot of points to players with meeples he shares cities with. However, the first edition of this expansion included a misprinted tile which is a duplicate of another tile meaning that while six tiles are included, one is included twice and another is missing! This was quickly fixed and a corrected version was released soon afterwards, but the earlier misprinted edition remains something for Carcassonne completionists to mercilessly hunt down regardless.

- Russian Promo Tiles (2013/ 16)
The first half of this set of four promo tiles were created by Hobby World (Carcassonne's Russian publishers) and given away to participants of the Russian Carcassonne championships in 2013. Two more tiles were added to the set three years later, and were quick to find a place among Carcassonne's most highly sought-after items. Within the last two or three years, even sets of just the two more recent tiles have been offered for around £100.

- Darmstadt (2014)
This 3-tile expansion was released not by Hans im Glück, but under license from HiG which made it difficult to get hold of unless you happened to be at the Essen festival in 2014. Despite this, it was unpopular even among those lucky enough to get hold of it owing mostly to the somewhat lacklustre artwork and uninspiring rules. However, this hasn't stopped it from becoming a must-have expansion for many and as such is still being actively sought after by collectors.

- Spiel Promo Tiles (2014 – 2019)
In 2014 Hans im Glück printed a special promo tile to be given away with any purchases from their stall at the Essen festival, and have done the same thing every year since. Although they typically also make them available with Cundco orders for a very limited time towards the end of November, I've seen the 2014 and 2015 tiles sell for as much as £80 (each) on eBay in recent years.

- Saint Nicholas scoretrack (2016)
This was a special version of the new-art scoretrack featuring two stickers and a set of rules allowing players to be granted extra turns under specific circumstances relating to the spaces with the stickers on them. It sold out quickly as there were only 150 to begin with, but I haven't seen any for sale since so it's difficult to estimate the kind of price one of these might sell for now.

- The Markets of Leipzig (2017)
This was initially released as a boxed mini-expansion and was only available from the "modell hobby spiel" fair in Leipzig in 2017. While the expansion itself consisted of just four double-sized tiles and a set of rules, the box also included a 2-tile mini-expansion for Carcassonne: Amazonas, a set of 13 differently coloured meeples and a signed certificate of authenticity as numbers were limited to just 600. Shortly after the fair, a shrink-wrapped tilesheet version of this expansion (including the 2 Amazonas tiles) was released to Carcassonne's international fanbase through Cundco, but it was the limited-edition boxed version that most collectors were after, preferably with as low a number on the certificate as possible!

- Carcassonne in medieval book design (2018)
Although it wasn't what many of us were expecting, certainly in terms of price, Carcassonne's "ultimate" edition came in the form of this book-box painstakingly handmade over a 55-step process using only old handicraft techniques and natural materials. Other than the box itself, there were no exclusives to be found here which made it hard to justify the €649 price tag despite being limited to just 100 units (including 20 that were reserved for staff at Hans im Glück), and as such it is currently still available through Cundco (here: https://cundco.de/fanartikel/241/limitierte-sonderedition-carcassonne-im-mittelalterlichen-buch-design?c=17).

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=4621.0
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 08:07:32 AM by danisthirty »
Heroically snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 2018

Offline Meepledrone

  • Global Moderator
  • Duke Chevalier
  • *
  • Posts: 1826
  • Merit: 135
  • It is full of... Meeples!!!
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2020, 04:49:47 PM »
Great initiative and awesome post, Dan!

+1 merit from me!  ;D

BTW, I made the topic sticky.  8)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2020, 04:58:25 PM by Meepledrone »

Offline Maj. Frost

  • Nobleman
  • ******
  • Posts: 145
  • Merit: 11
  • Sit down and play
    • View Profile
    • My Carcassonne Blog
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2020, 08:20:56 PM »
wow, what a great amount of information!

Offline Bumsakalaka

  • Duke
  • *
  • Posts: 246
  • Merit: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2020, 12:30:42 AM »
Very nice text!

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2020, 05:41:27 AM »
Thanks for the positive feedback everyone!

Some late additions to be added to the main document when I have a chance:


#x: How can Carcassonne be played as a solo game?

Although they've never previously been included with the official rules that come with the basegame, Hans im Glück have recently published their official rules for playing Carcassonne as a solo game. These can be found here: https://www.hans-im-glueck.de/_Resources/Persistent/a1c72368a5fda7bfaf7cf41ccb7605ba0a44113f/CarcBasis_SoloRegel_9_E.pdf (currently unavailable). This aside, several variants for Carcassonne solo-play have existed for many years having been conceived and developed by Decar for Carcassonne Central's annual GenCant solo-gaming contests. These can be found via the links below:

- Carcassonne: Solomo (2016) - http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=2859
- The Abbot's Walk (2017) - http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=333
- The Knave of Carcassonne (2018) - http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;down=340
- The Invaders (2019) - http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=4351.msg64115#msg64115

So even if you haven't got anyone to play with, there are still several different ways to play Carcassonne!


#x: How many copies of Carcassonne have been sold around the world?

With the publication of the new art base game came a statement printed on the box claiming that more than 10 million Carcassonne games/ expansions have now been sold worldwide. This was in 2014 so the number is likely to have risen significantly since then considering how much boardgaming as a hobby has taken off over recent years. Furthermore, it's unclear how many of these sales relate to the basegame, to expansions, or even to spin-offs (assuming these are included in the total – we just don't know) so it's difficult to draw any overall assumptions without factoring in such wide margins for error as to negate any usefulness of doing so.

EDIT:
As of 2020, the front of the new-edition basegame box (pictured here: https://cundco.de/media/image/09/61/e5/Carc_II_Basis-2020_3D_Box_Rechts_RGB.jpg) boasts sales of 12+ million sales. Thanks Meepledrone for pointing this out :(y)


#x: How many different languages does Carcassonne have official rules for?

Carcassonne is available through approximately 15 different publishers around the world, who offer the game and its expansions in 20 – 22 different languages between them. It is also available in some countries where unlicensed and inferior copies of the game are made and sold, but despite being aware of these I haven't included any of them in my numbers here as they're unofficial.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 05:19:53 AM by danisthirty »

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2020, 07:41:54 AM »
#x: What is a "U-Turn" within the context of the River/ River 2 expansions?

When playing with the River expansion which is now included with most editions of the Carcassonne basegame, it isn’t always clear whether a particularly tile placement counts as a u-turn and consequently whether it is allowed. The official rules explain that it is only immediate u-turns that are forbidden, and that u-turns are permissible where any two river bends that cause the u-turn are separated by at least one other tile. The reasons for this are explained in the pictures below:





In general, it’s easiest to play that the river should continue to flow in whichever direction the first river tile points it in (eastwards for example), with bends being used to change the direction of the river either up (north) or down (south), but never back on itself (west).

Offline jungleboy

  • Viscount Chevalier
  • ****
  • Posts: 3037
  • Merit: 89
  • Nine points!
    • View Profile
    • English in 10 Minutes
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2020, 11:26:32 AM »
Amazing job Dan!

Offline Sinscerly

  • Viscount
  • ****
  • Posts: 669
  • Merit: 22
  • Loving to play.
    • View Profile
    • WikiCarpedia - Wiki-CAR
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2020, 02:24:40 PM »
That was a lot to read. Amazing work :) Well done a merit from me :(y)
"What things can you find? Things that are hidden?
Join the current league: 2020 Basegame Knockout League

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2020, 03:17:02 AM »
Amazing job Dan!

That was a lot to read. Amazing work :) Well done a merit from me :(y)

Thanks chaps. I had a lot of fun putting it together, but it's still considered a work in progress so please post here if you can think of any questions that should be included. :(y)

Offline Sinscerly

  • Viscount
  • ****
  • Posts: 669
  • Merit: 22
  • Loving to play.
    • View Profile
    • WikiCarpedia - Wiki-CAR
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2020, 04:24:46 AM »
Thanks chaps. I had a lot of fun putting it together, but it's still considered a work in progress so please post here if you can think of any questions that should be included. :(y)
Point 1:
What is the connection between Carcassonne the place and Carcassonne the boardgame? -> What is the connection between Carcassonne, the place and Carcassonne the boardgame?

Point 13:
You could add, a link to more house rules we have written down in the wica: http://wikicarpedia.com/index.php/Base_game#House_Rules

point 15:
I think you could refer to some guides about using JCloisterZone to play Carcassonne, as that is the most used thing here on the forum. (this is in addition to point 15 and could be added there)

Point 20:
The timeline has included all the expansions / carcassonne things related on it: http://wikicarpedia.com/index.php/Timeline


Oh and I should add the "X" questions to the main post. As those are great explanations :(y)
Furthermore I've nothing to add for at the moment.

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Re: Carcassonne FAQ
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2020, 08:26:51 AM »
#x: What is "Mega Carcassonne"?

Since there's no official definition determining what Mega Carcassonne really is, it's a term that has come to mean different things to different people. For many people, Mega Carcassonne is simply a large game of Carcassonne with multiple expansions, although others are quite specific that it must include at least one copy of every official expansion (leading to difficulties regarding how so many different sets of rules interact between themselves). The lack of a solid definition means that the number of tiles required to play Mega Carcassonne will vary wildly and may range from perhaps as few as 150 to as many as several thousand if multiple copies of the basegame and expansions are included alongside fan-made expansions or even some of the spin-off games such as Carcassonne: Winter Edition (and expansions)!


#x: How many tiles were included in the largest ever game of Carcassonne?

The record for the largest game of Carcassonne is generally accepted to be 10,007 tiles that were placed across 48 tables during a special event as part of Gothcon in Sweden in March 2016. The game took over 25 hours to play and ended up with the majority of the tiles fitting into a 108 x 92 tile rectangle. It was a three-player game with final scores ranging from 11,886 to 9,402 including an 855-point city and a 35-point road.

Understandably, compromises had to be made to ensure that sufficient time was available to see all of the tiles placed before the end of the convention. This meant that while multiple copies of many expansions were included, most expansion rules were ignored and as such much of Carcassonne's additional "wood" (meeples) and other tokens such as bridges, castles and little buildings were not used in their intended way. It also meant that farmers were completely excluded, a decision that surprised and disappointed many Carcassonne fans considering what a big part of the game they are. A final time-saving mechanism that the games organisers came up with allowed the players to disregard the usual sequence of play such that players could take multiple consecutive turns as they wished during specific phases of the game.


Share via delicious Share via digg Share via facebook Share via furl Share via linkedin Share via myspace Share via reddit Share via stumble Share via technorati Share via twitter

  Subject / Started by Replies / Views Last post
xx
Carcassonne & Co. Newsletter - announcing a new "Spiel '14" Carcassonne tile

Started by wamboyil

60 Replies
26768 Views
Last post January 20, 2015, 04:39:08 PM
by eddebaby
xx
My First Carcassonne

Started by flipshot

0 Replies
1227 Views
Last post August 24, 2017, 12:32:53 PM
by flipshot
xx
Carcassonne for Mac

Started by Jéré

20 Replies
8667 Views
Last post October 15, 2015, 01:55:32 AM
by sheeple
xx
CAR for Carcassonne v2

Started by totor66

61 Replies
16198 Views
Last post May 12, 2017, 11:26:29 AM
by Vasek
xx
Anyone using the OSx Carcassonne?

Started by Maash

0 Replies
1047 Views
Last post January 26, 2018, 11:54:29 AM
by Maash