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Carcassonne: The City» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Limelight Reviews: Carcassonne: The City - Just Add Wood! rss

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Type of Game: Euro
Number of Players: 2 - 4
Length of Game: 60 mins



The Overview:

It's Carcassonne, in a city! The game plays much like any previous version, with players laying a tile in their turn and then deciding if they wish to place one of their precious meeples on the tile in an effort to score points with roads, markets and so forth. Later in the game the board becomes limited due to the introduction of walls, which close off tiles, score points through their length and by the guards who stand on them.

The Winning Conditions:

The winner is the player who at the end of the game has scored the most victory points through the cleverest positioning of their meeples.


Wonderful, tactile components.

The Component Quality:

Carcassonne: The City is similar, yet stylistically different to every other version of Carcassonne so far. The tiles have a more subdued colour to them and the tiles feel heavier and look prettier. In addition the city's towers, walls and gate are made of wood and give the game an extra level of beauty and interest that is not present in the other versions. This is the bee's knees edition of the game, the one that looks great on a summer day, the one that feels so darn good when you play it and the one that draws cries of envy and admiration from the adoring public who gather around to watch you play, just like bees around a beautiful, pollen-laden flower.

So, bee related analogies aside, Carcassonne: The City (which I will call The City from now on) is a beautiful piece of board gaming experience with great art and lovely components. I have the wooden box version, but I have seen the second edition release and I feel the change in box doesn't take anything from the game and makes it more affordable.


Another city comes to completion

The Rules:

Carcassonne has always been a success on the basis of its rules, the core of the game is the simple mechanic of draw a tile, place it, decide if you want to put one of your meeples down on the tile and then score any points for features that tile has completed. These rules are easy to grasp and simple to explain, which makes them a winner in anyone's rulebook.

The City's features for scoring are Streets - which work like roads (1 point per tile involved), Markets - which are the "cities" of The City, but score depending on the number of tiles multiplied by the number of different market types (up to a maximum of three) and Residential Areas run by Stewards ( which work just like Farmers, scoring at the end of the game for every market their area touches). It is worth noting that markets can border onto residential areas with their straight 'exposed' edge, unlike cities in the original Carcassonne, which must never have a city edge touching directly onto a grass area.

But the main deviation from the game comes in the city walls, at the start of the game the tiles are split into three stacks and once the second stack is started the walls loom in to bring their influence, changing the focus of the game in a significant fashion because once someone scores a feature it becomes time to place walls. This is done in the first scoring instance by placing the gate (scoring player's choice) and from then on players expand by putting down walls and occasionally scoring the length of these with towers.

As I mentioned earlier, the first function the walls provide is a way of completing features (roads and markets) by providing a hard edge for them to butt against and provoke scoring. The second function is caused by towers; the Player who triggered the wall placement has the option to spend one of their towers, placing at one end of a wall section and then gathering 1 point for each wall section between their tower and the gate/previous tower.

However, the most significant part of the wall placement occurs with the Guards, when any player places a wall, they have the option to place one of their meeples balanced on top of the wall, this not only looks cool and satisfies component balancers (you know who you are), but the Guard will score points at the end of the game depending on the number of historically significant buildings he stares at. Guards look only in a straight line, so they care only about the row or column directly connected to their wall - the scoring for public and historic buildings (as the game calls them) is significant and as such there is serious competition to get a Guard on the more desirable columns/rows - competition made stronger by the fact that you can't place a Guard on a column/row that already has one on the other end.


There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a complete city at the end of the game

The Good Parts:

I'm going to lay it straight out here; The City is the best Carcasconne experience I have had, as it's a tactile sensation with art and components that appeal. Compared to the other variations this is the game that will draw people in and attract interest. It's also significantly different to it's brethren, feeling tighter, more claustrophobic and yet more complete.

There is everything in this that makes Carcassonne enjoyable, but it feels more complete, the game doesn't have any expansions, and if I'm honest, it doesn't need any. This is the optimal version of Carcassonne as far as I'm concerned; it's a game which satisfies on every level.

The walls are a superb introduction to the game, previously I have found games of Carcassonne a little 'incomplete' visually, I find the edges of the game, where outlying cities hang about half finished, to be frustrating. Here though you get to see the area enclosed in a fashion that feels somewhat like the growth of an urban environment. First come streets and markets, which expand, resulting a village, which grows into a town and then finally the walls appear with their guards and at the end of it you have your city. There's a real narrative to the game and while it's not exactly a story based game, you still have an experience of story when playing it. The game feels less abstract than its brethren.


"You shall not pass!" - The City practically forces you to have fun playing and messing around with its beautiful parts.

The Weak Parts:

The City is not quite suitable for playing with beginning players, the scoring of walls and guards is not hard to get to grips with, but the Stewards have the same explanation issues as Farmers do and in The City there's not really an option to play without them because the game is lacking the Cloisters that help keep the weight of the game up. It is possible to play teaching games without Stewards, but it may well be easier to teach via a copy of vanilla Carcassonne instead.

The City also has no expansions, on one hand this is pretty great - some of the later Carcassonne expansions have added little to the experience of playing the game and it might be argued that some of them even detract from the experience. This is a game without the greatness that is The River, Inns and Cathedrals or Traders and Builders. So while it can be argued that the standalone nature of the game is a benefit, it can be also argued that the experience isn't as deep as it could have been.

Finally, if you did not enjoy Carcassonne, there's nothing that The City does that will swing you back around. The experience is very similar.


A couple of Guards look across the city they are pledged to score protect!

The Summary:

I'll go on record saying that this is the most enjoyable version of Carcassonne I believe you can play, it takes everything that makes the original game great and tightens it up even further. The addition of the city walls enhances the experience and the game is a beauty to watch unfold. It's Carcassonne, refined and steeped in culture.

For Further Limelight Reviews check out [geeklist=115369]this Geeklist[/geeklist].
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Matt Leach
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Re: The Limelight Reviews: Carcassonne: The City
Great review. Makes me want to buy this one despite promising myself not to succumb to more Carcassonne buying given the gradual descent of the game's expansion path to shark jumping and/or banality. Lucky my birthday coming up in a couple of weeks time
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B Mendez
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Re: The Limelight Reviews: Carcassonne: The City
I was lucky to get one of the wooden boxed versions on Ebay last year and haven't opened it yet ... Thanks for reminding me of this one. Good review.
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Re: The Limelight Reviews: Carcassonne: The City
mattxboard wrote:
Great review. Makes me want to buy this one despite promising myself not to succumb to more Carcassonne buying given the gradual descent of the game's expansion path to shark jumping and/or banality. Lucky my birthday coming up in a couple of weeks time :D

Thanks, this one comes from an era pre-expansion 'shark jumping' (2004, also known as BOC or "Before Our Catapult") and it's self contained so I think it's a great game to own. Also the new edition's price is very enticing.

basm22 wrote:
I was lucky to get one of the wooden boxed versions on Ebay last year and haven't opened it yet ... Thanks for reminding me of this one. Good review.

I think you need to rectify that as soon as possible.
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Jeff Eberlin
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So the new version still has the wooden pieces I assume, right? I just ordered this off of Tanga yesterday and I'm hoping it still comes with them even though the box is not.

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