Carcassonne App Review – Up Your Game
Until recently, I wasn’t really a one for gaming apps. My phone is actually pretty sparse when it comes to apps. It is a personally preference, and so only a few tools live on the phone. It has Audible, WordPress, and the odd productivity app – and that’s about it.
That was until life got really busy. Recently, it has been harder to find the time to game and so I have taken to downloading a few apps instead. This includes Lords of Waterdeep (off the recommendations of some of the readers of this blog – speaking of which, Dave, it’s your turn), Tsuro, Pandemic, Tokaido, and Carcassonne.
As a game, Carcassonne is an absolute classic. It is a game of luck, strategy, and trying to best use the space on the board for maximum points. It is a very well made board game, and one that everyone should play at some point, making this app an great companion for a gamer on the go.
What is the Carcassonne App?
This app is, needless to say, the digital version of the classic game Carcassonne, by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede. In it players take turns placing tiles, building up the city and surrounding area of Carcassonne. Points are scored both throughout the game and in the end game, using four distinct strategies, each one completed by committing a meeple to the board. You can complete a road, build a city, complete a coister, or build a farm.
Since Carcassonne is played one tile at a time there are both elements of strategy and luck. You need to pull the right tiles, of which I have done a tile analysis before, to aid your goal; however, you also need to put each tile in a place that will benefit your wider game.
Where Carcassonne was designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, and published (as a board game) by either Rio Grande or Z-Man Games, the app was created by the parent group, Asmondee Digital. The Android version of the app cost £3.69 on Google Play. I haven’t played it on IOS, so this will just be looking at the Android version.
The app contains online play. If you sign up for an Asmondee Digital account (which I ended up doing) you get the Abbott expansion for free. There are two other expansions within the game – The River and Inns & Cathedrals. These are both behind pay walls.
The game was played, and the screenshots taken, using a Huawei P20.
What’s it like playing Carcassonne on Mobile?
One of the reasons I am writing this review is because I have been playing a lot of board game apps recently. My phone has become a treasure trove or gaming memorabilia, and I have to admit that the Carcassonne app is one of the best board game apps I have come across.
What this ultimately means is that, as a game, it ports over to mobile really well. As such it is enjoyable, with very few negative points to say against it. That being said, in order to ensure this is a fair review there are still a few things worth pointing out.
So, first, the good. The Carcassonne app really helps bring the game to life. As you can tell from the pictures, the background is a wooden surface, and the pieces of the app look like pieces in the game. That being said, they are new and improved, with 3D graphics that help the game visually pop.
There are a few nice additions as well that aren’t possible in the real world. Cities and roads remain in a state of semi completion until they are complete. At which point, they bulk out. Cities have a little fanfare with castles and flags in your colour being erected. Roads become paved. Nothing specific happens with cloisters or farms, but those small changes with cities and roads make it feel like you are really building Carcassonne from the ground up.
Another nice touch, one that you can’t get in real life, is that when you get a tile you can see your options for placement. This makes the game slightly easier, as you aren’t always trying to figure out if a tile is a legal placement or not. That being said, it is a really nice addition for casual game play.
Finally, in regards to additions, on each tile little meeples in your colour appear to show you where you can legally place them. This is really useful, especially with farms, where you can see what is a viable farm or not. Meeples remain active, jumping around once they are placed, also making them easier to see.
Okay, so what about the opponents. There is both local and online play on the app. Local play pits you against an opponent of your choosing. The AI opponents play logically, so even on easy they are competitive.
Online, it is a different story. There are lots of ways of creating filters on a game, and these are great in theory. What I’ve found though, as a new player on the digital format, is that a lot of online games are set up with restrictions on them. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time online, but the reason for that is I am yet to find an actual game I can join as a rookie to the app. It feels a little bit like going for your first job out of uni – every job wants you to have experience before you can get the experience needed for the job.
That being said, my experience so far, with the Carcassonne app is generally positive. I’ve never really been a fan of online gaming with strangers, so the online “rookie wall” doesn’t really bother me when the core game has been refined.
TL;DR – Concluding this Carcassonne App Review
The pros, cons, and neutral points to the Carcassonne app are fairly easy to lay out, and probably a good way to finish this review off.
- This is a really strong version of the game.
- Core rules are the same, and expansions are available.
- The animation helps bring the games to life.
- AI is challenging but not overwhelming.
- Additional tweaks to the gameplay enhance the experience.
- It feels like you are building Carcassonne, making the game less abstract.
- Offline play is great.
- The expansions are behind a pay or login wall.
- Online play can be frustrating due to high barriers to entry.
So, there we have it. It is a great game turned into an equally great app. If you have the app, or end up downloading it, and see StartYourMeeples in the online play then feel free to challenge me to a game.
So, what are your thoughts? Is this an app you own? Are you interested in owning it? What do you like? What are your frustrations? Let me know in the comments below.