Carcassonne and a Geeky Conundrum

Playing CarcassonneMy roomates and best friends have long been asking for me and my wife to join them in playing some board games with them. After reading a recent GAS post on 5 geeky games perfect for a game night, I was inspired to take up my friends offer to play a game of Carcassonne. This is a turn based strategy game designed by famous game designer Klaus-Jürgen Wrede that centers around laying tiles that contain elements of cities, fields and roads and playing game pieces called “Meeple” to score points. My wife and I quickly learned the basics of play, and after a few short bouts were anxious to start including more and more of the numerous expansions available for this game. The next weeks in our house centered around the table in the evening once we had all unwound from our work days, ready to do battle in the medieval city of tiles. The friendly smack talking and ruthless cut throat tactics thrilled us as we battled it out through the basic version, through the expansion sets of Traders and Builders, Inns and Cathedrals, employing all kinds of different winning strategies. But eventually, it felt like everyone had other things to do, or was too tired to break out the set, lay out the tiles and play…except for me. I tried playing against myself as both players, but that didn’t really hold the same thrill of competition.

Going Digital

This led me to think that perhaps I could find the game in a digital format, so that I could continue the excitement even though I didn’t have any human competitors around to play in a traditional style. So my search began, and while I did find that you could get the game via Xbox 360, I unfortunately don’t own the console. So I continued my search and found that Koch media had actually opened Carcassonne to a free online version.

Nintendo DS

In my searches I often also saw reviews and posts about a Nintendo DS version of the game, but was left dazed and confused by a purported October 2009 release date… and yet I still couldn’t locate the game for sale at any online vendor. After several hours of digging it became clear that the Nintendo DS version of Carcassonne was only available in Germany. However, I was not going to be deterred, so I tracked down the .de extension of Amazon where it can be ordered, and confirmed with some other enthusiasts on a couple of gaming forums that once it arrives it can be switched to an English language mode, Eureka!

A Geeky Conundrum

hangin' with my meeple

In my searches and reading it seemed that I found a surprising opinion among the comments, reviews and forum posts that a number of geeks don’t like the digital version of the game, and advocate very vigorously for playing the table version instead!  Geeks are most often directly connected to technology, so it struck me as odd that those people who are most thought of as likely to embrace technology were pushing for non-digital game play.

How about you, do you prefer the back and forth banter over a tabletop or the more involving sweep of a digital interface? Do you like the personal interaction or the convenience of playing where and when you like?

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10 Responses to Carcassonne and a Geeky Conundrum

  1. I've only ever played it on the 360 and we love it.

    Only problem is the online element is all or nothing. you can play 4 players on 1 console offline or 1 player on 1 console online. which kinda sucks if you are trying to include a friend who can't make it.

    Catan is available as well it's pretty nifty. I've played boththe board game and the demo of the XBox game. Can't really justify paying for it on the XBox given how many expansions I've paid for of the board game.

    The Xbox is dirt cheap these days and a good gaming platform for casual games as well as your more traditional ones.

  2. I’ve only ever played it on the 360 and we love it.

    Only problem is the online element is all or nothing. you can play 4 players on 1 console offline or 1 player on 1 console online. which kinda sucks if you are trying to include a friend who can’t make it.

    Catan is available as well it’s pretty nifty. I’ve played boththe board game and the demo of the XBox game. Can’t really justify paying for it on the XBox given how many expansions I’ve paid for of the board game.

    The Xbox is dirt cheap these days and a good gaming platform for casual games as well as your more traditional ones.

  3. I know what you mean about the expansions, luckily my roommate shelled out for the "Big Box" which includes a few of them, but there are an un-ending supply.

    I'll be ordering the Nintendo DS version, and will follow up with a review to see how it fares. I think the capability of the DS to multi-player with several consoles from one cartidge could fix that "all or nothing issue".

  4. I know what you mean about the expansions, luckily my roommate shelled out for the “Big Box” which includes a few of them, but there are an un-ending supply.

    I’ll be ordering the Nintendo DS version, and will follow up with a review to see how it fares. I think the capability of the DS to multi-player with several consoles from one cartidge could fix that “all or nothing issue”.

  5. I used to play the PC version on my own when no other players were around.

    We own the "Big Box<", the regular version + another expansion and the DS version.

    With friends we play – of course – the table version. But the DS version (which we bought recently) is great for a quick round for 2 while lying on the bed or couch.

  6. I used to play the PC version on my own when no other players were around.
    We own the “Big Box<", the regular version + another expansion and the DS version.
    With friends we play – of course – the table version. But the DS version (which we bought recently) is great for a quick round for 2 while lying on the bed or couch.

  7. I don't know about the table-top strategy games–I don't play them–but I think I know why some people don't like to play the tech versions.

    Part of the fun of games like that–I'm including things like D-n-D, trading card games, and live action RPGs–is the connection you get with other people. You're face to face with these people, they like the same things you do, and there's this connection that is pretty much impossible to get on the internet.

  8. I don’t know about the table-top strategy games–I don’t play them–but I think I know why some people don’t like to play the tech versions.

    Part of the fun of games like that–I’m including things like D-n-D, trading card games, and live action RPGs–is the connection you get with other people. You’re face to face with these people, they like the same things you do, and there’s this connection that is pretty much impossible to get on the internet.

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