Fun Board Games for College Students: The Carcassonne Family

The Carcassonne family of fun board games includes the original Carcassonne, Carcassonne: The City, Carcassonne: The Castle, The Kids of Carcassonne, New World: A Carcassonne Game, and more. Any and all of these are fun board games for college students to play with their friends and family.

Some college students may already be familiar with the basic version of Carcassonne which has meeples (little wooden people) building cities, claiming roads, farming fields, and holing up in cloisters. What they may not be acquainted with are the expansion sets that add a lot more strategy and fun to an already fun board game.

Several expansions exist – Traders & Builders, The River (now included in the base game), King & Scout, The Princess & the Dragon, Inns & Cathedrals, and more. Two of these, Traders & Builders and Inns & Cathedrals, are often considered essential additions to the base Carcassonne. Each expansion adds more tiles and more meeple-like wooden bits to the game. Traders & Builders also adds some home plate (as in baseball) shaped cardboard pieces representing cloth, grain, and barrels of wine.

Traders & Builders

With the inclusion of Traders & Builders, players gain a builder meeple who can grant an extra turn. If you place a standard meeple in a city or on a road and extend that structure on a subsequent turn, you set your builder on that new tile. The next time that you add a tile to the city or road containing your builder, you immediately get to draw and play another tile.

Some of the new city tiles in the Traders & Builders expansion are marked with a cloth, grain, or barrel symbol. The player who completes a city containing one or more of these tiles receives one of the corresponding home plate shaped tokens – even if the city doesn’t contain any of that player’s meeples. At the end of the game, whoever owns the majority of the tokens in each commodity adds a bonus of 10 points to his score. If a player would have the majority for all 3 commodities, he would get 30 bonus points.

You can use the new pig meeple by adding it to a field in which you already have a regular meeple to increase the value of each adjacent city when scoring at the end of this fun board game.

Inns & Cathedrals

The Inns & Cathedrals expansion includes tiles with inns along some of the roads. These are actually more recognizable by the blue pond adjacent to each inn. If you add one of these tiles to one of your roads, you will score double for that road when it is completed. The catch is that, if the road is unfinished at the end of the game, you score zero points for it.

This expansion also includes 2 cathedral tiles which boost point values to 3 points for each tile in a completed city. Once again though, if a city with a cathedral remains unfinished at game’s end, you score zero points.

In addition to the new tiles, you also get a mega-meeple with Inns & Cathedrals. He looks about twice as big as a normal meeple, and his value is twice the normal as well. When you place the big guy in a city or on a road, he counts as 2 meeples making it easier for you to steal a structure from your opponent or to defend yourself against invaders.

Since scores will be significantly higher, even with just one expansion, Inns & Cathedrals provides scoring aide tiles. These have the number 50 on one side and 100 on the other. You award a tile – 50 side up – to a player who completes one lap on the 50-point scoring track from the original Carcassonne board game. If a player completes second lap, flip the tile over. For subsequent trips around the track, simply award more tiles.

Carcassonne: The Castle

Carcassonne: The Castle is the only fun board game in this family that is restricted to a maximum o 2 players. Another restriction is the area in which you can play tiles. To setup the game, you piece together the walls of the castle (which doubles as the scoring track) much like the border of a jigsaw puzzle. You then play all tiles within the confines of the castle walls.

Tiles show 4 areas on which you may place your meeples – tan roads, gray keeps, red towers, green courts. Placing a tile on a road is similar to taking that action in the original Carcassonne. some road tiles include a well which doubles the value of that road. The keeps are worth 2 points per tile and the towers 1 point per tile when each is finished. Just like farming in Carcassonne, lying down on a court inside the castle means you’ll stay there till the end of the game. Here your meeple scores points for each tent in the same area.

On the scoring track, you randomly place some bonus tokens at setup time. If your scoring track meeple lands on a space with a token, you collect it for future use. These tokens mostly give end-of-game bonuses. For example, you may get a token that allows you to score an unfinished structure that would otherwise be worth zero points.

The game ends when all tiles have been played inside the castle walls. There will still be empty squares within. the player who constructed the largest tower gets a bonus equal to the number of squares in the largest untiled area.

Carcassonne: The City

Carcassonne: The City is another fun board game in this family that may appeal to college students. Besides the usual tiles, each player gets several wooden towers that will be placed against sections of the wall that will be built around the tiles in the second stage of the board game.

At setup time, the tiles are randomly divided into 3 groups consisting of 20, 25, and 30 tiles each. You start play with the largest group. When that group of tiles is gone, the second stage begins. Tiles are selected from the mid-sized group, and construction of the wall will soon begin.

Whenever someone scores – completes a structure on the tiles – each player adds a section of wall around the board. The first section is actually a special gate piece, and all subsequent walls are built from it in either direction.

When placing a section of wall (not the gate), you have the option of setting a meeple on top of that wall. This action may score bonus points at the end of the game. If the row or column of tiles stretching out in front of your meeple has any tiles with gray buildings on them, you’ll score 2 points per building and 3 points if the building has a banner attached to it.

When it’s time to build the wall in stage 2, each player adds one section. Then the player who caused the scoring that triggered the wall building has the option of placing one of his towers at the end of the (longest, normally) wall. He scores points for each section of wall between this tower and the previous tower (or the gate).

Many of the tiles have grassy areas (similar to the cities in the original Carcassonne) that have either a red, a blue, or a yellow market on them. When you complete one of these areas, your score is the number of tiles times the number of colors within. so any 2 different colors doubles your score, and having all 3 colors triples it. also, roads that are 4 tiles or longer score double.

When all tiles in the group used in stage 2 have been played, the final group is tapped. Now when you cause scoring, each player places 2 walls (one at a time in turn). the game ends when all tiles are played or the ends of the wall are within 5 sections of each other.

Fun board games like those in the Carcassonne family described here as well as the others that are available are almost certain to find gamers among college students who will thoroughly enjoy the tactics and strategy needed to play well and to win.