Anatomy of a Game: The Carcassonne Standalones, Part Two: Rules Changes

Welcome to what just might be my last game design article on Carcassonne. In case you’ve missed them I’ve written five previously. The first four extensively covered the main game and its expansions while the last article instead looked at the standalone variants, and examined how their tile selection and scoring differed.

This week I’ll be continuing my look at the six standalone Carcassonne games and taking a look at how each one offers different answers to some major game design questions. I’ve identified three major elements, each of which differs quite a bit from game to game. Examining them offers some interesting insights both into game design and how the Carcassonne series has changed and evolved. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Game: The Carcassonne Standalones, Part One: Tiles and Scores

Last year I wrote a series on game design articles on the original Carcassonne and the expansions for that game. If you haven’t read them yet, those articles are:

I’ve long intended to to follow those articles with another part or two talking about the game design of the Carcassonne stand-alone games, and now I’ve finally been encouraged to do so by the publication of my Carcassonne overview in Knucklebones Magazine.

So, what are the Carcassonne expansions, and what do they bring to the original game?

This week I’m going to start off by talking about the games, the tile distributions, and scoring, particularly focusing on how changes to the tiles and scoring change the feel of the later games. Then in two weeks I’m going to finish up the topic by talking about more far-reaching rules changes.

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MiniReviews: Factory Fun, Monstermaler, On the Underground

As I wrote last year in My Life in Gaming, I’ve had quite a few gaming interests over the years, prime among them roleplaying, board gaming, and computer gaming, in approximately that order. Roleplaying had been at a low ebb for several years, but in the last year or so I’ve been growing more enthusiastic for it, and as a result I’ve started doing something that I hadn’t done seriously in about a decade: writing for the RPG industry.

Currently I’ve got two different major RPG projects on my plate, a book for RuneQuest and a book about the history of the RPG industry. As you might expect, this is taking up a lot of my free time. It’s one of the reasons I’ve dropped back to biweekly here, and it’s also caused me to drop back the frequency of my board game reviews to about one a week.

The downside of that is that I’m not reviewing a lot of the coolest board games that are coming out. So, I’m going to try and correct that in brief this week (and probably again in the future) by writing some mini-reviews.

Following are discussions of three of the best games that I’ve played over the last few months. They’ve just got two plays each, and so I haven’t come to a final decision on them, but nonetheless after two plays enthusiasm remains high. Continue reading