Game type: tile-laying
Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Publisher: Hans im Gluck, Rio Grande Games
Date: 2000

This is a fun, interesting tile-laying game with a weak theme. Presumably players are building the environs around the French town of Carcassonne, one tile at a time, matching city, field, and road sides in the process. They then occupy these spaces with their "meeples" (wooden pawns). Points are made by completing cities or roads which you occupy or dominate, surrounding cloisters you control, or by dominating fields with the most contiguous completed cities at the end of the game. I feel there is a bit too much randomness when players play that they must draw and place one tile at a time per the rules; I have played many times instead where players have a hand of three tiles. This works fine with experienced players because though this tends to slow things down a bit, people who know the game counterbalance it by playing faster. For newbies, the game might slow to a crawl. Though there are many expansions and alterations, I still think the original is the best (Hunters & Gatherers is often said to be superior because the confusing rules about scoring fields have been simplified, but why they took out the cloisters I don't know). Farming is somewhat imbalanced in this game, as pretty much anyone who is good who adopts a farming strategy wins, in my experience.