Carcassonne Star Wars Edition Review
It’s no secret that when it comes to modern board games, there are some games that are revered. They are credited with not only being amazing games with ground breaking ideas but also for shaping board gaming into the hobby it is today. Carcassonne is one of these; it has deep strategic gameplay from minimal components; easy setup, lots of expansions for experienced players and, most importantly, it is responsible for the coining of the term meeple! It also goes without saying that there are various versions of Carcassonne designed to capture players who have yet to experience its legacy. Carcassonne Star Wars Edition is the latest in these versions and probably the most surprising. A game about building a French farming town and a Sprawling space epic seem unlikely bedfellows, but like I said, it is surprising and surprises are normally good things.
Carcassonne Star Wars Edition is exactly what the name suggests; a Star Wars themed version of the base game of Carcassonne. The farmland of Carcassonne, France is replaced with a galaxy far, far away; cities are replaced with asteroid fields, monasteries become planets and roads become trade routes. In terms of gameplay alterations, farming has been removed completely whilst a new battling mechanic (applicable to meeples occupying the same feature) has been added.
For those not familiar with Carcassonne, it is a tile laying game where two to five players take turns drawing a tile and placing it beside other tiles already played to build – in the case of Carcassonne Star Wars Edition – a map of the galaxy. Each tile will contain at least one of three features and needs to be placed on the playing area so that the edges of each tile connect logically i.e. Trade routes connect to trade routes, asteroid fields connect to each other and empty space connects to empty space. After placing a tile, a player may then claim any feature on that tile by placing one of their four meeples on it. Players will score points for completed features and the player with the most points at the end of game wins.
Each feature is completed and scored differently. Asteroid fields are completed once it is surrounded by space and there are no gaps inside the field and will earn players two points for each tile used in the field. Several tiles have faction symbols (Empire, Rebellion or Bounty hunter) and you will score an additional two points for each of these in your asteroid field. Planets are scored once there are surrounded by eight tiles and will score nine points, unless it has a faction symbol that matches the player which increases it to eleven points. Trade routes are scored when there is an end point, intersection or it completes a loop at a rate of one point per tile used. Again, any faction symbols on your trade route will garnish you with bonus points. Features are scored as soon as they are completed and meeples returned to the players so that they may start building new features. The game ends when either the final tile is played (there are seventy seven tiles in the game) or a tile cannot be legally placed. There is a final round of scoring at the end of the game where incomplete features receive points usually based on the number of tiles making them up and at a lower rate than completed features. As mentioned before, the only addition to the gameplay is the battles. These occur when you need to determine control of a feature. As a rule in Carcassonne Star Wars Edition, only one meeple can occupy a feature at any time. It is possible however, that two separate features join up. In this case the owners of the meeples will roll one to three dice each to determine who gains control of the feature with the highest die result winning the battle. The number of dice you get to roll is determined by a combination of which size meeple you have in the battle and whether your faction symbol is present in the feature you are battling for.
Carcassonne as a game is one of the greats. Its core game is easy to teach and offers an intense strategic experience even with first time players. I am happy to report that Carcassonne Star Wars Edition loses none of that. The space theme translates well into the objectives of Carcassonne with the tiles beautifully designed. The sight of your completed galaxy at the end of a game is rather cool. Although the space theme feels good, it does feel that the Star Wars part of that is lacking. Making the meeples certain character from the franchise is a nice touch, but giving each one a specific power for use in the game would have made it special. The newly added battle feature of the meeples does not feel forced at all. Given that Carcassonne can be played in a competitive manner with players closing opponent’s features prematurely, the battle feature feels like a natural and welcome addition.
If we were to highlight a negative with Carcassonne Star Wars Edition, it would be the character meeples. Instead of having the character printed, the game comes with a sticker sheet and the idea that you peel off and stick the character to the appropriate meeple before you very first game. The issue we have with this is that the sticker sheet was not cut properly. This resulted in Luke Skywalker being ripped in half and Yoda losing an arm. The sticker sheet does come with two extra stickers, but even with those we still have at least one of every colour meeple that is missing its stickers. And although it is not a deal breaker, it is a very frustrating experience it you are not expecting the stickers to be faulty and you end up with what feels like an incomplete game.
As we alluded to in our opening, Carcassonne Star Wars Edition is a surprising entry into the world of Carcassonne. The license has been applied carefully and with a lot of thought so that neither the Carcassonne nor Star Wars suffers as a result of the pairing. The game is a perfect entry point for newcomers looking for their own copy of Carcassonne. And with the addition of the new battle mechanic and rumours of a forthcoming expansion it might just be enough for Carcassonne fans to add yet another version to their collection.
8 wooden Stormtroopers out of 10