Not many games let you construct your own board. In the Carcassonne series, building the board is the game—players link roads and build castles to establish their domain by laying down tiles in a bid for most points. The hard part is that all the players are building off the same pieces, and can (and usually do) frustrate each others' plans.
One of the most appealing elements of the Carcassonne games and expansions is the ease of play. Rules are fairly intuitive, and while there's plenty of strategy involved, even younger players can quickly get the hang of things. At the same time, the simplicity isn't restrictive; Carcassonne bears up very well under repeated play.
Besides, who doesn't like castles and princesses and dragons? These elements are brought to vivid life through colorful artwork somewhere between realism and Medieval stylization. Expansions let players build new types of buildings, trade and collect goods, rescue a beautiful maiden (represented by a pink piece of wood), and play with up to six people.
Carcassonne isn't as flashy as Catan or as epic in scope as Dominion, but it offers a nice balance of planning and randomization. Games are typically short, and unlike many games, play between two people is just as interesting as play between three or four. This is a great series to help introduce newcomers to the sometimes difficult-to-navigate world of board games.
Did you find this review helpful?