When comparing Carcassonne vs Munchkin, the Slant community recommends Carcassonne for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Carcassonne is ranked 2nd while Munchkin is ranked 13th. 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.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
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. Even the kids stay engaged since the winner is usually not obvious untile the very end.
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 Encourages both cutthroat and cooperative play
On top of casual banter, you’ll be actively talking with the other players throughout the whole game. You'll want to gang up in earlier rounds to defeat monsters, but tensions are bound to rise nearing the end of the game.
At the start players are too weak to take on most monsters so it’s best to band together, but, obviously, not everyone wants to help you for free. You will haggle for the price of assistance – a share of the treasure, an equipment item from the player, or anything else. It’s up to you, you can even, say, make a player complete a dare you just made up.
The end of the game can get loud -- even the game’s box states that it revolves around backstabbing your friends. Some comments are bound to fly around as players announce what cards they’re using to flip the round in the monsters’ favor and take away that sweet victory that was just about to be achieved.
Pro Amazing replay value
The game offers a lot of variety because of the big card count, which ensures that every game will be different. There are 168 cards in total, which include monsters, player classes and races, equipment items, special cards, spells, and much more.
Furthermore, Munchkin has a lot of expansions. Each of these offers even more cards with all kinds of different mechanics.
Pro Hilarious theme
The game is a parody of fantasy role-playing board games in its purest form, and the art on the cards reflects that. The game is filled with all kinds of funny characters and references that parody the board gaming culture. For example, there’s a card called “Whine at the GM” which makes you go up a level. Also, every expansion comes with a brand-new theme filled with more humorous content to bring to the table - the wild west, holiday-themed stuff, and yes, even hipsters. All the cards are illustrated by the popular cartoonist John Kovalic.
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 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 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 Very long play time
Munchkin is not really a game you can quickly play out before doing something else. A normal match takes anywhere between one and two hours, but some people have reported playing for up to 5 hours. This is mostly due to the social factor – almost every action in the game is impacted by whether the other players choose to help you or undermine you. This is especially true for the end-game where each player is looking for the lucky draw to win and everyone else is trying to deny the win by enhancing the monsters.
Con Highly luck-based
Whatever you draw will directly impact the game, as is typical for a card game. Some games will just not go well for you, be it not getting good equipment cards, tackling monsters too strong for you, or other players drawing the right cards either to win or mess up your game.
Con Not very accessible
Munchkin isn’t something that people would call a great gateway game. The basics are not too difficult, and the mechanics of the cards are purposely simple, but there is simply too much to take in for a complete beginner.
If the player happens to be playing with more experienced players, then he’s at a huge disadvantage. There’s quite a lot to explain – levelling up, equipment, combat, and, most importantly, cooperation to defeat monsters. There are many variables to everything. For example, almost every equipment piece has some conditions and exceptions tied to it.
The beginner is probably unsure of the value of the cards in his hand either, which is very crucial in a game where every card matters. There’s a lot of reading to be done to find out what each card does, and this gets worse if you’re playing with expansions.
Con No easy way to keep track of levels in non-deluxe versions
Though the deluxe version comes with a handy gameboard and character figures, the regular game really lacks a universal and convenient way of following progression. The game can get intense at times, which can make some players mistake their level and miscalculate attacks. Most players end up using a piece of paper to mark the levels, others use coins or poker chips.
There’s an official mobile app that resolves this problem and, on top of that, helps track attack values, but it comes for an extra $5.00.