Play This: Carcassonne

I first heard about Carcassonne as a board game. I had no idea it was a real city until I went to Anouck’s wedding in the south of France. My husband and I were looking for places to visit while we were in the area, and found Carcassonne on the map. I pointed at the city and looked at my husband. “Yes, it’s a real fortress city,” he said. He knew about it, and yet he didn’t tell me? How dare he. So we took a train from Montpellier and spent a day in the 12th-century fortress city of Carcassonne, watching Canadian kids on summer vacation with their plastic helmets and spears fighting within the city’s stone walls. The sights, the history, the heat, the local rosé, the cassoulet, the Canadian kids with plastic spears—I loved all of it.

Anyways, back to the board game. I love the simplicity of it. You take turns placing tiles with the goal of completing roads, cities, lands, or cloisters.

You begin with a random starter tile, then connect subsequent tiles. With every tile you place, you can place a follower. A follower placed in a city segment is a knight, on a road segment is a thief, on a field segment is a farmer, and in a cloister is a farmer.

The key is to complete the segments, whether they’re roads, city, lands, or cloister, because incomplete segments don’t add up at the end of the game. Another thing to keep in mind is that follower types affect your tally at the end. For instance, a farmer that supplies several cities adjacent to his or her farm will net more points.

The game gives you a handy board to tally up the score.

Carcassonne is recommended for ages 10 and up, but with adults in the mix, younger kids can easily participate. Fun for the whole family! And I hope you have the chance to visit the real Carcassonne. You might even run into some young Canadians dressed up in plastic helmets and spears.

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