Carcassonne – A Blast from the Past?
Tested version: 2
Latest version: 5
Requires Android: from 1.6
Carcassonne is set in the Middle Ages and you play the role of some sort of blue blooded tyrant who rules the land. It’s up to you to prove if you are capable of ruling–and most importantly that you are better at it than other players!
Features & Use
Test device: LG Optimus Speed / 2x
Android version: 2.3.5
Carcassonne was adapted for Android from a parlour or board game; you can imagine that transforming that kind of game so that it can be played on a tiny smartphone screen is quite a challenge.
The game has two game modes. Let’s take a look at the ‘Basic’ mode first.
The game can be played in horizontal or vertical screen mode. A tutorial in which everything is explained is available for first-time players. I’ve listed the most important rules for you:
You play with others (real players or AI) and you lay out tiles alternately.
Place followers on your tiles in order to gain points.
Every player starts off with seven followers.
Once you’ve placed a follower on a tile you will only get him back when the street, convent or city has been completed.
Whoever has the highest number of followers on a street, convent or city is the rightful owner.
Convents are completed when they are surrounded by landscape tiles.
The area that can be used for laying out tiles expands with every new round.
I recommend watching the tutorial twice just to drill these rules into your brain. Once you feel you’ve understood the gameplay you can go ahead and start playing a round.
The great thing is that you can play against friends as well as AI (change the settings from ‘Computer’ to ‘Person’ in order to do so).
It isn’t possible to change the level of difficulty when playing against a computer, which is unfortunate as this might make things a bit too challenging for new players. (Please not that I read in a few of the Market comments that other players were finding the AI opponents to be ‘stupid’, i.e. not challengin enough.)
The player who begins is selected at random every time you start a new game. Once that’s done every player gets a turn to lay down their tiles. The goal is to claim as many streets, convents and cities as your own.
It is imperative that you don’t lay out all of your followers–if you do it can become an issue when it comes to completing one of your constructions, because you won’t get any of your followers back, which in turn would mean that you can’t collect any more points.
So what does ‘completing’ something mean? Well, it’s different for every map. A city is completed when it is surrounded by a city wall; a street is completed when it leads towards some sort of structure, building, etc.; a convent is completed when it is surrounded by green tiles.
And that’s about all there is to say about this mode. Truth be told, I found this mode to be challenging when I first started playing, but I got the swing of things fairly quickly.
The second game mode is called ‘The River II’. The rules or generally the same as when playing the basic mode, the difference being that you have to lay out river maps as well as the normal one.
Let me say right off the bat that the tutorial for this mode is rather disappointing. My main issue is that it would seem that followers can be played on the river tiles, but I don’t quite get why, and the tutorial doesn’t provide any explanation.
Another thing I found puzzling: sometimes some free spaces will kind of break, making it impossible to lay out any maps/tiles. I’m a Carcassonne newbie and have to admit that I have no idea why this happens. Perhaps some of you old-stagers out there know what’s going on...? If so, let us know in the comments below or in the forum.
There are also 12 accomplishments as well as a few settings options such as setting the music volume and the speed of the animations. The music is really nice and totally helps set the mood.
Carcassonne is an interesting game and it has been adapted for smartphone in a, well, smart way. If you’re a newbie like me you may also experience some initial confusion as the tutorial/instructions are somewhat below par. That being said, old hands shouldn’t have any trouble with the game.
Screen & Controls
The controls are quite simple–once you’ve understood the gameplay, that is. The controls elements are located near the bottom of the display, an indication that the app was originally designed for older Java phones.
The Carcassonne graphics are reminiscent of an old fashioned board game, and seeing how a lot of users will be used to flashy designs this might feel somewhat boring. The game on the whole feels a bit anachronistic.
Speed & Stability
I tested Carcassonne on a high end smartphone but despite this I experienced some bumpiness in the menu. The game itself runs smoothly, though. The loading times are totally digestible and there wasn’t any lagging or crashing.
Carcassonne can be downloaded for EUR3,99 // US$5,46, and because it’s our app of the week it’s on special offer for only EUR1,99 // US$2,72 which is a pretty sweet deal for a pretty great game.
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