Do you love claiming roads, building cities, and playing tiles to create a unique map in the game Carcassone? Looking for other games like Carcassonne that you might want to try? Check out these 9 cool titles!
Welcome to the fourth installment in the “Games Like…” series.
Similar to Games Like Ticket to Ride, Games Like Settlers of Catan, and Games Like Pandemic it will be my goal to break Carcassonne down into 3 core elements, and then match up 3 games for each of those attributes. If you came here looking for a Carcassone clone, you’re not going to find it. But it’s my guess that if you want a Carcassonne clone… you’d probably just go and buy something like this anyway.
Let’s jump right in – who knows, you may discover your next new favorite game!
1. If Selecting and Laying Tiles is Your Jam
It’s the obvious similarity, right? And while sometimes I stay away from the obvious picks, for Carcassone the tile laying mechanism is indeed THE core of the game. So let’s look at 3 other tile laying games you might enjoy.
Alhambra is super similar to Carcassonne as throughout the game players build a map (in this case a walled city) and score points based on how many specific types of tiles they control. However, it is also dissimilar to Carcassone in plenty of ways that make is stand out as a completely separate experience.
First, tiles aren’t drawn randomly from a bag in a way that gives players no options, but instead they are purchased from a market place.
Second, each player works on their own map instead of one giant community map.
And Third, the scoring feature in Alhambra is triggered at 3 separate points throughout the game. For me, it’s this scoring system that adds an extra challenging dimension to the game.
In Kingdomino players place tiles like Carcassone but build their own little map like in Alhambra. However, Kingdomino takes the constraining elements of Carcassone’s tile placement (you can only place a road on a road, city on a city, etc.) and cranks it up to 11.
Not only do you have to follow similar terrain placement rules as Carcassone, as you place tiles in your kingdom, but you are also limited to never going outside of a 5×5 grid! There won’t be a sprawling map at the end of a game of Kingdomino, but you will test your brain a little bit as you try to put all the right pieces in all the right places.
Kingdomino also has a really cool tile drafting system that gives players just a touch more decision making when it comes to selecting what tiles they are going to play each round – which I always like better than drawing tiles randomly from a bag.
One of my absolute favorite parts of this game is that it only takes 15 minutes to play, but it gives you a lot of mental gymnastics in that short period of time.
Throughout the game of Topiary instead of creating a map out of a blank canvas, player take turns claiming a tile in a row, column, or diagonal segment, on a 5 x 5 grid of tiles. Then they replace the face down tiles in the grid with face up ones.
If one of the aspects of Carcassone that you enjoy is figuring out a way to steal one of your opponents huge cities, roads, or farms, then Topiary is something you are going to want to give a try. While it doesn’t scream “Take that” it has a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, dose of it. But in my opinion it’s not enough to turn off the player who hates “take that” elements in games.
All in all – Topiary will challenge your brain in simple ways like Kingdomino, while still incorporating a little bit of the “luck of the draw” that you find in Carcassonne.
2. If You Like Building and Claiming Things
Carcassonne is a big game of building and claiming. It’s a smidge of “territory control” without all the fighting of a game like Risk. 🙂
Yes, you lay down tiles like I discussed above, but if for you the real magic happens as you toss a thief down on a road, set a farmer to work in a field, send a monk to a cloister, or protect a village with your knight, then you may want to check out some of these games.
I Like to call Small World “Risk in under an hour.”
In this game the map is all laid out for you, and each player is going to have a multiple tiles of their fantasy race. Each player will spread out throughout the region by placing their tiles in adjacent spaces (unless their race gives them a special rule breaking ability) and try to control as much territory as possible.
There’s no fighting. If you place more tiles in the territory than the other player has there, you take the territory.
At the end of their turn the player will score points for how many territories they occupy.
Now if this sounds bland, let me assure you that there is more to the game than what I described above. Not only does each player control a variety of races throughout the game BUT each race will have unique traits that are will be paired differently each time you play!
Kingdom Builder is a super simple, and just as easy to learn as Carcassone. While the map is set up at the beginning of the game, it has a cool modular feature that will make the maps, and associated special tiles, different every game.
The game play is very similar to Carcassone. You draw a card that will have a terrain type on it, and then you must place 3 “settlements” (wooden bits) of your color on three spaces of that terrain type.
Players take turns doing this until someone runs out of settlements and then the scores are calculated…and the scoring system is one of the 2 things that I really enjoy about this game.
When you start the game you deal out 3 unique scoring cards that will tell you how points can be scored. It could be having settlements in a horizontal line, or by having the most in particular quadrant of the map. There are several scoring cards that come in the deck so it’s going to be different every time you play!
The other thing I enjoy about this game is the single rule that gives you a small sense that you CAN have a strategy even though you are still constrained by the luck of what terrain tiles you draw. That rule is the “Adjacent” rule. I’ll let you discover that on your own, but I promise you not 3 rounds will pass before you are cursing the “Adjacent rule.”
This is a game that belongs in every collection. It’s easily a household name when it comes to games where you build and claim things.
In Ticket to Ride your map is once again pre-set and you do not place tiles like you do in Carcassone. Instead, players race to claim routes across the map by drawing and playing cards, placing train cars on selected routes between cities, and striving to achieve their secret route objectives.
Now some like to play this nice and not block anyone on purpose (because the number of routes in and out of cities are limited), but if you like to block, I say have at it! I’m just going to have to find a way around you.
One of the best parts of this game is that you can pick it up from your local Target! 🙂
3. If You Want to be Able to Score Points Multiple Different Ways
In all of my “Games like _X_” posts I usually pull one aspect of the game that is a little bit more obscure. By that I mean, a “hardcore gamer” may look at what I list below and think these games are nothing like Carcassonne. So before proceeding, let me explain why I do this to any of those gamers who may be reading this post.
I believe that when someone comes up to me and says “Hey, I really like Carcassonne, do you know of any other games like it?” that in reality they are talking a whole lot more about the experience they got more than a complete combination of mechanics and theme. So sure, I could load them up with 20 tile laying options – or I could even give them a list of Carcassone expansions.
Now, back to games like Carcassonne!
With Carcassonne, you may have encountered, for the first time, a game that gives you several ways to score. Whether it’s a farm, city, road, or cloister, you have a bit more to keep track of than your typical game.
Here are 3 games that take that idea of multiple point options and run with it.
I was introduced to Viticulture in 2017 when I started a monthly game night on Tabletopia. It scratched this multiple paths to victory itch so hard that it quickly ended up on my Board Game Wishlist so that I could play it in person with friends!
In this game each player has a vineyard and throughout the game they plant vines, harvest grapes, make wine, and sell it. The first time I played it I thought the person who sold the most wine would be the winner. While that can be true, you can also win this game without selling a single bottle. You can score points for a number of things, including giving tours, selling grapes, not to mention via special abilities that are given by various cards throughout the game.
If you like the idea of multiple scoring paths, and want to pull out a game that’s going to challenge you quite a bit more than Carcassonne, then you should give Viticulture a look!
7 Wonders is the ultimate “Multiple Paths to Victory” game.
At the start of the game each player is dealt 7 cards. Everyone selects one from their hand and lays it face up in front of them simultaneously. It is the first card in their civilization. All the hands of cards are passed one player to the left, and you do it over again, each player slowly building up their civilization.
At the end of 3 decks of cards, players will have a civilization of 21 cards laid out in front of them…but all these cards score differently. The blue “culture” cards will score the victory points listed on them. The science cards will score for any sets of them that you have. You will score your military strength cards at the end of each deck of cards based on whether or not you are stronger or weaker than the players to your left and right. and so on with the other card options.
After my first couple plays of 7 Wonders, I thought there was a sure path to victory. And then I tried it, and discovered that I was wrong. Another great aspect to this game is that you can play up to 7 players with it! Something many “games like Carcassone” don’t offer.
Full disclosure, this is a game that I have not yet had the privilege of playing. But… even though it includes dice it’s a game that is on my list of games that I really want to try out!
In part because this game has the multiple scoring paths that I have come to love in so many board games.
Throughout a game of Castles of Burgundy players are given many options with which to score points. From completing regions, filling spaces of a given color, or selling goods, you have plenty of point scoring opportunities!
I’m so happy that you love Carcassonne! And I’m even happier that you’re looking for something new to add some variety to your game closet. Here’s what I want you to do next. Try something out! It doesn’t matter if it’s on this list, something you found at Target, or something you found somewhere else.