When comparing Carcassonne vs Puerto Rico, the Slant community recommends Carcassonne for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Carcassonne is ranked 10th while Puerto Rico is ranked 33rd. The most important reason people chose Carcassonne is:
The rules are pretty basic for Carcassonne, with first time players being able to grasp its concepts quite quickly, making Carcassonne a great gateway game. Every turn the player draws one tile from the pile. They then must place the tile adjacent to a tile that has already been placed in a way that the edges match. There are four types of terrain on the tiles – roads, cities, monasteries, and grassland. After the tile is placed the player can choose to put a player figure, a.k.a. a meeple, on the tile to potentially score points. If a meeple is placed on a road, then the player will score one point for every road tile until the road ends in an intersection or a city. If the meeple is placed on a city, the player will receive two points for every city tile until the city is fully walled off. If the player chooses to place the meeple in a monastery, then they will receive one point per tile until the monastery is fully surrounded by tiles. Lastly, if the meeple is placed on grassland, then it’ll only score points at the very end of the game, giving three points for every city in the field. The player with the most points wins.
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Pro Easy to learn for beginners
The rules are pretty basic for Carcassonne, with first time players being able to grasp its concepts quite quickly, making Carcassonne a great gateway game.
Every turn the player draws one tile from the pile. They then must place the tile adjacent to a tile that has already been placed in a way that the edges match. There are four types of terrain on the tiles – roads, cities, monasteries, and grassland. After the tile is placed the player can choose to put a player figure, a.k.a. a meeple, on the tile to potentially score points.
If a meeple is placed on a road, then the player will score one point for every road tile until the road ends in an intersection or a city. If the meeple is placed on a city, the player will receive two points for every city tile until the city is fully walled off. If the player chooses to place the meeple in a monastery, then they will receive one point per tile until the monastery is fully surrounded by tiles. Lastly, if the meeple is placed on grassland, then it’ll only score points at the very end of the game, giving three points for every city in the field. The player with the most points wins.
Pro Detailed with polish
The board game pieces are highly detailed and colorful, be it lush grassland, a fortified medieval castle, or a monastery in the middle of nowhere. The game is themed after southern France in the medieval ages and the actual fortified city of Carcassonne and the landscape around it. There is definitely some forethought put into the polish of this game that makes much of it intuitive and a pleasure to look at.
On a more practical note, the back of the tile with which the game starts is in a separate color, so it is easier to find when starting the game.
Pro Simple, but allows for lots of thinking if you want
The game is very accessible to beginners, but it allows for quite a bit of strategic play when you get more familiar with the concept. You can either go for long-term strategies with farms, or for quick point-grabs; you can build your own cities in peace or try to mess with your opponent whenever possible. A lot of tactics come in the form of cutthroat play – trapping other players’ meeples, stealing cities, and getting to share points.
Moreover, the last turns of the game can also influence the outcome a lot – players receive some points for unfinished creations as well.
Pro Quick to play
In a regular expansion-less game of Carcassonne it can take 30 – 45 minutes to blast through the approximately 70 tiles.
The gameplay is dynamic, and everyone’s constantly engaged, managing their meeples and calculating which part of the board is worth fighting over.
Because of the simple rules Carcassonne is very easy to get back into even after big breaks and it’s great to teach to other people. This means that the people you play with can change without any problems and you can play the game with anyone – children, your parents, your friends, or your partner.
Pro Near-endless replayability
Carcassonne will pretty much never feel dull, there are so many possibilities and variables in the game not only because of the randomness, but also because of the simplicity and the variation count.
Carcassonne is going to be a different game every time because of the tiles you and your opponents draw and where you choose to place them. There are over 70 tiles in the base set, which amounts to a lot of possible combinations.
Carcassonne has been around for a while, and this has led to the release of many expansions throughout the years. Each of these provides more tiles, rules, and other variables to the game.
Lastly, you can even introduce many variations that’ll change up the game without owning any expansions, for example, instead of drawing one tile and placing it every turn, have the players manage a hand of four tiles.
Pro Simple to learn, but plenty of strategy
The basic game flow of choosing Governor roles each round is easy to grasp, but in its simplicity, it offers much depth. Sometimes choosing between a role which will benefit you at the moment versus a role with the bonus money can make you pause and plan ahead. Perhaps you might even consider taking a role that you know your opponent wants, just to prevent them from getting ahead. This constant analyzing allows for plenty of strategy to take hold even if the game play itself is rather simplistic.
Pro Offers exciting possibilties during game play
Building new buildings, trading goods, and taking control of the shipping market can offer some intense gameplay. Deciding what role to take each turn for maximum benefit can be exciting - there is a limited supply of everything. Goods take time to produce and there is only limited ships for use in exporting them. If someone else takes the role you wanted that turn and ruins your shipping or trading plans, you'll have to adjust your strategy on the fly. This can result in some pretty exciting gameplay where you're always thinking of multiple paths to victory.
Pro Each round you'll get to try something new
On each round, players go around the table and choose among seven Governor roles such as builder, captain, trader, and more.
Each role has its own special ability and benefit - for example, builders can erect buildings with money and captains can ship goods. At the end of each round, there will always be three or more roles which were not chosen. These roles are given bonus money for the next round in order to encourage players to choose them on the next round. It's a simple mechanic, but being able to try a new role every round ensures you'll have plenty of ways to play out each round.
Additionally, there is a Governor token that is passed to a new player every turn. This token allows you to choose all roles on the round you're in possession of the token. This has to the potential to be a very fun and lucrative turn.
Pro Smooth game flow thanks to balance
There are several aspects of balance that make the game play out incredibly smooth.
First of all, each role can only be selected by one player per round. No two players can choose Captain on the same round, for example. This means no one player can ever dominate a role since it's likely they won't get to choose that role during the next round. The addition of the tempting bonus money to unused roles from the previous round pretty much means all roles will get used eventually.
Secondly, when you go to ship your goods if you choose the trader role, each ship can only hold one type of good. So if you are focusing on sugar exportation, you won't have to worry about your opponent who is farming something else hogging all the ships.
Lastly, while players go around the table and roles are executed in order, their benefits do not take place until after the round is over. This means even if someone acted before you that round, he or she will not necessarily have the advantage.
Pro Easy to teach your friends to play
While there are intricacies and strategies that are learned over time, the basic premise and simple rules are very easy to teach. Getting your friends into the game is quick and easy, even if they've never played before.
Pro Tense thanks to a hidden scoring system
Score chips are placed face down on the table and are worth 1 or 5 points. Only you will know your own score. Even if you know how many chips your opponent has, you won't be able to tell their point total since the chips are worth variable points. This keeps things tense from start to finish.
Pro Everyone can participate
Time wise, the game never feels dominated by a single player. Everyone gets to choose a role for their turn and there's never any scenario or situation where a player is left out or forced to sit out a round. This makes it a great game for any group or get together.
Con Risk of accidental tile moving
If the game is not played on a flat surface or if you accidentally apply more force to the tile when you're placing it adjacent to another, then everything can shift, which can be annoying to fix.
Con Small official scoreboard
The official scoreboard that comes with the base game only stacks up to 50 points, but proper games of Carcassonne go way past that mark – a game without any expansions can easily reach over 100 points. If you add expansions to the equation, then the points can stack up even past 400, but some expansions feature scoring tokens that help resolve this issue.
Con Highly random
As is typical for a game with a drawing mechanic, almost every action in the game is influenced by whatever tile is drawn and where a player has chosen to place it, so it’ll benefit him the most. The randomness is enhanced by the fact that the players only draw one tile at a time, so you must take what you get.
Con May be a little light for hardcore boardgame players
The game itself is not very deep in design or play, which may be a turn off for the more hardcore of boardgame players though can be good for newcomers.
Con Takes a long time to set up
It takes longer than the average board game to set up. This is compounded by the fact that each player has their own board. When playing with multiple new players, helping each one set up their board for the first time can be quite a time sink.
Con Not a lot of visual appeal
The board colors are washed out and very bland. Buildings and other resources are simply cards with text. It's definitely not an exciting game to look at, and that may make some people hesitant to want to play.
Con Requires a minimum of three players
You will need a minimum of three people to play, however even with this number, the game might feel slower than intended due to all the unused roles every round. The game is played best with 4-5 players so that more roles are filled and the game can speed along.
Con It's hard to catch up if you fall behind
It's very easy for more experienced players to quickly take the lead with proven strategies. New or inexperienced players that are trailing behind may never be able to catch up. Since everyone can play all the roles, there's not really any random luck that will allow you to take the lead out of nowhere.