When comparing Balderdash vs Carcassonne, the Slant community recommends Carcassonne for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Carcassonne is ranked 12th while Balderdash is ranked 30th. 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 A great party game
Balderdash has been around since 1984 and has proven itself to be perfect for all kinds of gettogethers. The game is simple and filled with plenty of socialization, bluffing, ridiculous answers, and laughter.
Players receive points from other players, so it’s entirely possible to move forward on the gameboard only because of others applauding what you’ve written. Players can often get some laughs and points out of everyone by making their answers little throwbacks to previous answers.
When everyone has chosen an answer, the correct one is revealed. This can lead to plenty of hilarious discussions about how another answer appeared more probable.
The game is very easy to teach and accessible because there really isn’t much to it. The basics are straightforward – you take a card, roll dice, and choose the category on the card that matches the rolled number (if a player rolls 6, they can choose the category). Then you say whatever is written under the category to the other players – a word that requires a definition, a movie that needs its plot, etc. While the players are writing their answers, you write down the real one. Once everyone has handed in the answers, you read them aloud. Then the players vote, and you write down which player voted for who. After that points are distributed.
If nobody managed to guess the correct answer, then the “dasher” (the person reading the answers) receives three points which translates to three moves on the gameboard. If a player’s written answer was correct or very close, they receive three points and their answer is not read aloud with the others. Otherwise players receive a point for every other player voting for their answer. Two points are given to whoever guesses the correct one. The first person to reach the finish space on the gameboard wins.
Pro Decent replayability
You will never play the same game of Balderdash twice. The box of the game includes 280 cards with 5 categories on each. Even if you manage to draw the same card in a different game, chances are the dice roll will make you read out a different category anyway.
Pro Allows one to be creative
When writing down answers the player gets to be as creative as they like and the game tends to encourage silly as well as ridiculous answers.
Pro Good with larger groups
The description says 2-6 players but it's really fun with a group of 4+, if more than 6 just pair up the players and it will still be a hilarious time.
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.
Con Highly group dependent
The game requires people to understand it, socialize, be engaged, and have fun with it. If a person isn’t really invested into making creative answers, or just isn’t particularly good at Balderdash, then it can be very easy to spot which answers are incorrect right off the bat, which kind of ruins the experience.
Similarly, if a player is just unfamiliar with the game or maybe just learned it, then their experience also won’t be as fun and pleasant as that of an experienced player who knows the ins and outs of the game. For example, the way the correct answers are formulated, common tendencies, etc.
Con Not suitable for younger children
Balderdash might not be the best fit for children under the recommended age of 12. It’s a smart game that requires some higher language comprehension and general knowledge of many things, for example, movie plots and laws, to be able to effectively bluff as you write and formulate your answers.
Con Not fun with two people
The game devolves into a pure guessing game when played by two people. The gameplay consists of one player writing down the false answer and the true answer and making the other person guess which one is correct. While it keeps some of the bluffing elements, it really takes a lot of the laughter and light-heartedness out of Balderdash.
Con Components included are very sparse
Balderdash, for its price should include more in the box as not even including pencils means the game can not be played without outside equipment.
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.