Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks

Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 1 -
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 1 -
Some pointers and helpful hints



I recently noticed there are no guides for this game 
I though, why not help my fellow players and give them some basic information and tools 
This is not a masterclass, I’m good but I doubt I’m pro, but it may give you some ideas and help you up your game 
NOTE: I have show all expansions except the princess and the dragon, that really needs it’s own run through 

Your pieces, meet the meeples

So, what are these strange pieces we call meeples and what do they do 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Starting top left, you have your basic meeple, 7 seems a lot, but it can easily be a few shy when you’re 100 tiles in and have too many bits on the go 
Next to him is the abbot, this is a piece you really need to remember and think about, as it’s both the only piece that can score gardens and the only piece you can recall at will, you just have to give up placing a meeple to do so. He can only go down on gardens and monasteries and the temptation is to use him on every monastery but sometimes the cost of pulling him back or the missed chance of a garden is an annoyance. Think how likely this monastery is to be completed, more on this later, and what you have ‘on the go’ 
Next row starts with the big meeple, he counts as 2 normal ones, and at 1st you think, well so what, 1 scores the same as 2 so what’s the ‘big’ deal? As you start sneaking meeples into things, or fight for control of a field that ends up with 9 meeples on it…2 for the price of 1 is a huge deal, knowing where these are and how to use/counter them is important. 
Next to him is the pig, don’t forget the pig, it’s a simple piece to use, drop it in your biggest field, but it’s easy to block off a field forget about it, and occasionally if fields are only 3/4 cities it may be better to do something else 
Finally at the bottom the builder, If you expand a road or city you’ve placed him in you get to take a bonus turn, only one no matter if you add to his feature again. I’ll talk about tile advantage, and this thing is a powerful granter of that, if you can mess with the other players uses of this and maximise yours you could be taking 1.5 turns to their 1, so you get to place 50% more tiles and score more points 

Rollin’ on the river

Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks - Rollin' on the river 
Placing the river gives you a larger play area to start with 
When placing the rivers there area 
4 Road tiles 
3 City tiles (1 double sided) 
1 Monastery (on a road) tile 
1 Garden tile 
So you start the game with maybe 1 or 2 features in play and already chances for shenanigans if you look towards the bottom you can see where I took a city, now if the player before me had placed a meeple on that city I could have placed my big meeple and bullied him out, as no one has I’d risk the normal meeple 
The river spaces things our more and prevents a lot of the instant compressing and fighting for space, I recommend taking any monastery or gardens with the abbot as there is a fair chance you can afford to pull it straight back next turn 
You may also notice there are only 3 tiles that go over the river, if these come out early it can be really worthwhile dropping someone as a farmer, you get a large under your control and this early drop often pays off 
The below also shows why you should consider which way you bend the river, by pointing it left I’ve set up a little fight, now this can end up causing issues and people fight over a city spending resources there and not fighting you – setting up chances like this is just one thing you can do, linking up two road pieces is another which could expand a field or just expand your road 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 

What scores what

Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks - What scores what 
1st your basic 4 
So, in order they came out on the river 
1. Gardens, the same as monasteries are scored per tile around them, so between 2 and 9 points – easy to miss on tiles so keep your eyes peeled, abbots only so if your abbot is on a monastery somewhere, you can miss on 6+ points. Treat these as bonus points, it’s rare you’ll be looking to complete one of these 
2. Roads, 1 point a square, seems low and to be honest it kinda is, but….there’s lots of them, and you’ll end up building at least one, sometimes a 2 point road is the best you’ll get for your turn, ignore them at your peril as 10/20 easy points a game decides games, and end game, still one point per tile…can’t go too wrong 
3. Monasteries, a 9 point maximum as 1 point per tile next to them filled in, and 1 for the monastery it’s self, and easy to get blocked in, forgotten about…high risk and mid reward, if you get a good one, or feel comfortable dropping the abbot they’re great, they also can do wonders for fields as they’re often mostly empty space 
4. Cities, 2 points a tile, +2 points for shields, your 1st instinct is to build giant cities, crazy towns as I call them, mega cities as they’re often known….why not, maximum reward, minimum meeples right? Unclosed they’re worth 1 points a tile and 1 point a shield end game, so an incomplete city is still worth something can’t loose too hard 
BUT – you want to get them closed, if you start going over 5 tiles, people will try to sneak in, bully you out, and suddenly you’ve got 4 loose ends to close, and someones sabotaging you by putting awkward tiles around your city or a big meeple built in and your hard work placing 6/7 tiles being scored by someone else 
Now for the 3 ‘add ons’ 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Goods, goods are good, they’re also important. At the end of the game the person with the most Wine gets 10 points, same with Wheat, same with Cloth. The person who closes the city gets the tokens, so if you can close a rival city with 3 or 4 tokens should you? Depends, but probably, 3/4 tokens can translate to 10/20 points end game, 1 or 2 might not be such a big deal but if you both have 1 Wine and 1 Cloth stealing 1 of each from them can net you 20 points, and it may give them as little as 2, as much as say 6…. 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Cathedrals – famine of feast, if you close a city with one of these in it you get 3 points a tile, and 3 points per ‘shield’ you will fight wars over 10 tile cities suddenly worth 35 points. The downside, they’re worth nothing in the end game if not completed, so you can have 20 tiles in a city and score 0 points, for it, trapping meeples in a city with a cathedral that can’t close is mean, and fun unless they’re your meeples 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Inns – The computer tries to close these quick, 2 points a road tile and it wants to get 4/6 points quick, me I run them long, I tend to have a nice long road to nowhere and sticking an inn on these turns an 8 pointer into a 16 point win. Inns make roads pop, 2 points a tile adds up quick. Talking of roads to nowhere, these are fantastic things, and I love using them for my builder so a boring bit of road isn’t a nothing turn, see below for what I mean, this netted me a lot of bonus turns, and once the inn dropped, 16 points for little work. Only downside, if you don’t end the road, like a cathedral it makes the road worthless end game, so be wary of them late game on long roads 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 

Tricks to pull off and traps to avoid

Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks - Tricks to pull off and traps to avoid 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Sneaking into cities 
The 1st one above, black wants in on my city. and honestly, if I can’t block him out soon I may have issues, it’s not a large city yet but 2 shields (coat of arms, but lets just call them shields) it’s 10 points already, if it didn’t have my builder on it I’d be more inclined to let it go, it’s a bold move looking for chances like this will pay dividends. You can steal the 3 turns taken already building that city and 10 points, and holding a meeple and a builder hostage at the same time, makes this a great move by black 
The 2nd one yellows trying to steal blacks hard work, and I’ve piggybacked that play. Ideally I can close it too and take the 4 goods so, with 2 tiles I can share with yellow 11 tiles of work. That’s the real boon of sneaking and stealing your taking other peoples works and tiles for your own points, the less effort you put in, the more you gain 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
It’s not just cities that you can poach roads too, but there is more that can be done to block me off, but with his builder there red will want to work on that. so at a minimum I’ll get one free tiles worth of work. Now imagine that had an inn on it, and was a couple of tiles longer, sneaking into roads isn’t as rich a reward generally but a couple of points is a couple of points 
All of this is about tile advantage, you want as many tiles as you can to score for you, so you want to be sneaking into other peoples builds, locking them out of yours, and always on the look out for ways to maximise gains 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
However, don’t get too worried about giving up points, in this play I’ve given up 2 points to black, he scores that tile with both of his, but that’s worth 8 points for me, and that city above is an easy close for either black or me, or another player may risk it. If blacks in 3rd place 2 points is nothing, if the best other place I could drop this is 5 or less points then it’s still good, and a straight road is not a rare piece, black will likely get something to fit there easily and likely score the road too. If it was a real awkward piece to find, I’d reconsider. As it stands I got some quick points, black would have gotten a piece easily enough, and likely scored nicely from it so the trade off was worth i. Don’t get so hung up on never giving other players points, but also think ‘how hard is this tile to fill’ if the answer is ‘very’ and it’s only a couple of points, let them sort their mess out 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
This one the loading screens hint at, but it’s a good one to show, getting 2 or 3 monasteries or gardens together means one tile could be scoring 3 or more points and makes closing them easier, and closing monasteries is a big deal and getting that meeple back into circulation, ‘bible belts’ can be found sometimes and they’re good ways to score as many points as you can from what can be one of the trickier ways to build score 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Now time for some dirty tricks, red is likely not happy with that 2nd cathedral I’ve just made things much harder for them, and remember if he doesn’t close that city he’s getting nothing from it. Cathedral dumping is a time honoured tradition, especially late game, be wary of a loose open end that someone could drop one of these death sentences into your nearly finished city, this will also likely attract interest from any other AI as they love cathedral cities and it can bait a lovely trap where 2 player dedicate tiles and meeples and get nothing, while your busy closing off 4 – 10 points over the other side of the map 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Sabotage is another dirty trick, this one backfired a little, as I wasn’t then able to link in the cathedrals, but the tile I put in the black border I placed quite a few turns ago – had I then gotten the tile I needed to link the two I could make these 2 players work meaningless, to be honest yellow set this up with the tile one down and to the right, putting tiles like this around cities, roads directed into them running by them, if you’re not building a road using road tiles to disrupt enemy cities is a perfectly valid trick but be wary spending too much time playing saboteur and not enough time as a builder, if you’re not scoring that’s not good, sure spending a few turns slowing down or better yet stopping them scoring is great but if you’re spending too much time on this it can bite you hard 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
And cautionary tale, sometimes no one wins, I’m down 2 meeples, so’s blue and we’ve both lost our big meeple, blues and black also lost the builder, blacks also only down his big meeple but that’s still a loss, and all for 10 points now, shared with blue. Don’t always get involved in big fights, sometimes just tossing a wrench into the works with a little sabotage is better 

Fields of dreams

I’ve left this till last, and I recommend if you’re a new player, turn it off for the 1st half dozen games. 
Fields make or break games 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
This was an extreme example but 30+ points isn’t uncommon, fields will decide games and when you put down a meeple as a farmer is a difficult decision. He’s never coming back, once committed that’s it no backsies he’s a farmer for life. 
In short each completed city adjacent to a field you occupy gives you 3 points, so in a large field that could be 6 cities easily, especially if you’ve been keeping them small, that example above was mostly one massive field 
A field is blocked by any other feature, if you can’t see green to green the field ends, normally roads and towns act as the main barriers you’ll notice the 2 ends of the river wrap around so a farmer on one side of the river can touch both sides, but the roads will block progress 
End game will be a scramble for fields of 2/3 cities, and making a move early if you see a field with 5+ is worth it, especially if you’ve been taking hostages on features that can’t be completed and avoided it yourself, if you have a meeple advantage you can maybe start a little earlier, and be a little less picky on fields 
Carcassonne: The Official Board Game Basic tips and tricks 
Sneaking into field is no different to cities, if anything it’s easier as more ways and more tiles to do it, which is why you can find yourself with 3 meeples in the same field fighting it out if there’s a big enough one, and if you see another player trying to get into one of your fields do all you can to block that….finding good fields and fighting for them is true advanced play stealing a 6 city field is a potential 36 – 48 point swing as getting a pig into a field adds that extra point, so stealing 24 points from another player can make a massive impact on end game 
There’s a few other tricks to add like looping roads to allow farmers to both sides, capping roads with monasteries to loop fields but they’re kinda rare so I don’t have images 
Probably more I could add but as a quick, dirty few hints and tips, I think this will do 
Have fun, and may you always draw just the tile you need at the right moment 

Written by kaibarnard

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