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Review: Cardcassonne

Posted by Eisley on 1st December 2009

Cardcassonne is a light filler game of timing and set collecting.  Players lay and collect cards and the core play is whether to claim now or wait for more cards but risk someone else claiming what you want.

At the start of a round, each player has one meeple and a hand of cards (the number of which is based on the number of players, i.e. 5 cards each round in a 4-player game).  During play, there are four coloured rows on the table into which you can place cards – red, blue, green and yellow.

On your turn, you can either place a card at the end of a matching row (i.e. red card at the end of the red row) or you can place your meeple at the end of a row.  Cards are placed face-up apart from each player’s first card of a round which is placed face-down.  Placing your meeple means you get all the cards laid down in that row so far at the end of the round.  Another player can still place a meeple in the same row after another player has played a meeple but they will only get cards placed in that row after any previous claim.  Each round ends when everyone has placed all of their cards and meeple and then players score the cards they receive.

The three types of cards – people, animals and treasure chests – are all scored differently.

People cards are each numbered 1, 2 or 3 and score the total value of the people cards multiplied by the number of people cards. So, people cards of 1, 1 and 2 would score 12 points = (total value of 4) x (3 cards).  Once scored the people cards are removed from the game.

Animal cards are scored based on how many you have – the more animals, the higher the score. Also, you keep animals in front of you for the rest of the game. If you gain more animals in a colour you already have, then all of your previously collected animals also count towards this round’s score too.

Treasure chest cards are only scored at the end of the game when you get points for sets of different colours of chests. A set of 4 different colours scores 30 points, a set of 3 scores 15 and a pair scores 5 points. During the game, treasure chest cards are kept face-down and you’re not allowed to look at them.

The game is over when all the cards in the draw pile are played and the points for the treasure chests are added.  Highest score wins.

Overall, Cardcassonne is a simple and light filler game. The basic premise is: ‘do I claim now, or do I wait for more cards and hope another player doesn’t claim what I want before me’. This is familiar territory for Coloretto and Zooloretto players.  I must say that I like the do-I-or-don’t conundrum but, in Cardcassonne though, I didn’t feel the pressure of this conundrum as much as in some other games.  It did improve as the game progressed as you started to want a specific row because of the animal and/or treasure chest cards you had already collected.

People cards seemed like they could score lots of points but we think our game was unusual as lots of people cards in matching colours came out in close succession.  I focussed on treasure chest collecting and scored relatively low during the game but caught up a lot with my final treasure chest points. So, I can definitely see there are a few strategies you could try to follow.

To me, Cardcassonne does feel almost too light though as there’s not too much deciding to do. A few extra ideas may have given it a little bit more depth: Maybe discarding animal cards to view face down cards, or play face down cards. Maybe some cards which have negative effects. Maybe each player gets a secret card that will affect scoring that round, i.e. all people cards count as 2’s, the first card in each row will not be claimed, and so on. Maybe a set of communal, secret negative effect cards which will be revealed at the end of the game and other cards claimed during the game let you view one of these forthcoming negative effects so you can plan accordingly. I think a little bit more meat on this game would really raise it, and these extras could be optional too.

It must be said that Cardcassonne is absolutely nothing to do with Carcassonne. Personally, I do think card versions of existing games should offer a different game than the original; however, it does need to have some connection because it is the original’s heritage that it is being traded on. I believe the 4 rows are meant to represent cities, roads, abbeys and farms, so there is a link, but this is slight and cosmetic.

Links with Carcassonne aside, Cardcassonne is a light filler game which I suspect has more tactics to it than we discovered during our game. It was definitely lighter than I expected but I do look forwards to playing it again as it is quick and the decisions required in the later turns become more interesting.

James.

[Played with 4 players]

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