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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Have Fun Stormin' Da Castle!

For this week, we returned to The Well off of 116th St. in Fishers and partake in caffeine to assist us in building more castle walls.  We seem to be building lots of walls lately.  This will be no exception in this review either because we are playing the popular yet out of print tile-laying game, Carcassonne: The Castle.  It's always nice to play in public locations, as we generally have strangers who approach us asking about the games we are playing.  This happened with a few people today and we are always glad to see others taking an interest in tabletop gaming.  As far as the beverages, we both enjoyed the spicy snowmen which were white mochas with spicy cinnamon.  They were sweet and had a pleasant kick of spiciness to them.  Very recommended if you stop in!  While there are obvious parts of this game that overlap with the original Carcassonne, there are some differences that separate it.

Just like regular Carcassonne, we are still building roads and walls, except this time within a castle parameter, along with markets, rooftops and wells. One fact that most people know about Carcassonne is that it has a large plethora of expansions, but The Castle is no expansion. This is a stand-alone version with similar Carcassonne mechanics, but specifically adapted for two players. You and your opponent will make your way around the castle wall, which also happens to be the scoring tracker. Along your way you can also collect items off the wall which can aid you as the game progresses. This is certainly one thing that I really like about The Castle version compared to the base game. As you continue to increase your movement along the scoring wall and building the castle, whenever the last tile is drawn, players will count out their scores and whoever has progressed the furthest after all scoring is accounted for, is the winner.

If you’ve played the base game of Carcassonne, you know that it’s anyone’s game and people can take the lead or catch up in a heart beat. It all depends on where you land and what you draw. This round Claire ended up being the victor and beat me 99 to 79. While I do like the score tracker along the walls, the enclosed game area doesn’t make for as much diversity and unique map layout since you remain constrained inside the same walls every game. It’s up to the tiles you draw that will assist in making the game slightly different every time. Because of this more condensed area, it makes scoring at the end of the game a lot easier for people who become overwhelmed by the vast scoring details. We do like how the bonus tiles can quickly add a twist to the scoring whether you can double your score on a completed structure or score for a single, uncompleted structure. The players keep (largest house built during the game), scores points for the largest contiguous undeveloped area (empty tile spaces) at the end of the game. These variants do add a new approach to Carcassonne and in my opinion do help compensate for some of the more minor drawbacks. The artwork is what you would come to expect from Carcassonne just as the box is a minimal size for easier transportation. It’s a little confusing how you are allowed to direct roads straight into the castle walls depending on the tile and how many you have placed in a single area. Something like that is definitely not allowed in the original and it tends to throw me off almost every time I come back to playing The Castle version of Carcassonne. All in all the game is very good. We love Carcassonne in general so this will find its way into a fairly good rating for us. The Castle won’t rank quite as high as the original for us, but for all of the right reasons, we would recommend this one for you if you’re a Carcassonne fan and if you can manage to find it.

Carcassonne: The Castle
Overall Meeple Rating: 6.5/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Tile Placement
2) Area Control

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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