Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Kids of Carcassonne

Plays: 3Px1, 4Px1, 3Px2.

It was by chance that I happened to play The Kids of Carcassonne. Nowadays I don't actively seek out new children's games to play with my daughters (who are 6 and 4). They already have many games at home, and I have also starting teaching them "grown-up games". Some of these grown-up games need to be simplified, some even need rules to be reinvented, but they are able to play some simpler games using the grown-up rules. We were at OTK when I saw a copy of The Kids of Carcassonne lying around. I have heard of it before but never read up about it. I took a look at the rules. They seemed easy enough. Since we were waiting anyway, I asked Michelle and the children to sit down for a game. I liked the game instantly and decided to get one.

The Game

Similar to Carcassonne, The Kids of Carcassonne has no board. Instead, every turn you draw a square tile and add it to the playing area, thus building a mosaic. Your tile must connect to an existing tile. One difference from Carcassonne is that every edge of a tile has a road, so any edge of a tile can connect to any edge of any other tile. I road extending from the edge may run to another edge, or may reach a dead end. Some roads have children on them, wearing one of the four player colours. If you lay a tile such that a road is terminated at both ends, that road is completed, and players can now place their pawns (of matching colours) onto the children on that road. This means it is possible to place your pawn even on other players' turns. It depends on the road being completed. The objective of the game is to place all 8 of your pawns.

The artwork is nice. Only the roads and the children are relevant to gameplay. The buildings, trees, animals and ponds are only decorations.

The Play

The rules are simple and gameplay is quick - about 10 to 15 minutes. Despite being much simplified, there is still some strategy. You need to think about how to increase the chances of completing roads with your children (children in your colour), and also need to try not to help others do so. There are some opportunities for cooperation. E.g. if you add your child to a road which already has children belonging to another player, then both of you can work together to complete the road. Also you can add an opponent's child to a road with your children, to intice him to help you to complete the road.

The rules are simple so the game can be played quickly. Since all edges can match up, there is no need to worry about how to fit the tiles. Younger children may not fully grasp the strategies, but they can still enjoy the game. They may not see the best locations to place their tiles and the best ways to orientate the tiles, but they can still place the tiles easily, and they will still enjoy placing their pawns whenever a road is completed.

It may not be apparent in this photo. The tiles are actually much bigger (and also thicker) than Carcassonne tiles.

The Thoughts

I like that The Kids of Carcassonne still retains some strategy, especially the cooperation part, despite being much simplified. I am impressed. It still retains the Carcassonne feel. This is not a mindless luck-based game. It's not something that an adult gamers group would find interesting, not even as a filler, but it's a game that adults can enjoy playing with children. It works with children of different skill levels, and it encourages thinking and interaction.

Buy from Noble Knight Games. Status: in stock (at time of this post).

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