Board Game Review: Carcassonne App for iPhone

The home screen.

I'm sure that most board gamers have played or at least been exposed to Carcassonne, one of the very first super-popular and widespread "Euro games," in the same scope and level of success as The Settlers of Catan.  To be honest, Carcassonne was my very first Euro game experience.  I picked it up at a LGS when I lived in Oklahoma on a whim, and that kicked off my entire board game hobby/habit/lifestyle/obsession.  I'm not going to spend any real time on game rules or review of the actual game play here.  I like the game quite a bit and have played it a bunch.  Instead, I want to talk about the iPhone App incarnation of this popular board game and give you my thoughts on its execution.

A 4-player game in progress.
The Carcassonne App was designed by a company called The Coding Monkeys.  This company has had some minor success with a few other apps, but Carcassonne is by far their most ambitious and lucrative one to date.  And for good reason: this is a really quality app!  I purchased this app the day it launched (Yeah, I know - NERD!), sometime back in early summer 2010 and I got it for $4.99.  It has taken a giant price leap up to $9.99, which I think is still a livable price point for dedicated board game fans, but probably puts off a more casual audience.

The app offers four game modes: local pass-and-play, internet play with friends, internet quick play with random opponents, and solitaire.  Pass-and-play works great for a pickup game to kill time when you're hanging out with someone or to play against computer opponents to brush up on your skills.  Solitaire is interesting - it's a skill contest based on playing the lowest amount of tiles possible and to reach a certain point goal while leaving as little empty space as possible.  However, this app truly shines with internet play.

The invitation screen - I love the wax seal!
You can play with quick, random opponents which is cool, but all of your plays are on a timer.  If you don't finish your play in a set amount of time, you forfeit the game.  This can cause you problems if you can't sit and play a full game.  When you play with friends, though, there is no limit - you just get your plays in when you can.  I love this feature!  I have around 3 or 4 ongoing games with my friends that I'm constantly playing on a few times a day.  It really provides a way to kill time and enjoy yourself.

If you're a stat monkey you'll enjoy the way the app tracks your stats.  There are, of course, rating systems that are kept that are separate for all your various game modes, which is nice - you get a chance to see how you stack up to competition in compartments.  However, your  Player Detail screen gives you an overall score that you can check out, along with your points breakdown and a total tally of how many points you've scored thus far.
My profile as of March 20, 2011.

It's also really cool to note that the art used in the app is the original art from the game - pretty neat.  I like the original art and it has a very distinct style that made it an easy choice to port over.  The mechanics translate really well, the board is a good fit for the iPhone, and I think it succeeds as an excellent port from the table to a device.

Where this app succeeds:
  • Good looking app using the original art
  • Great multiplayer options and interesting solitaire mode
  • Keeps track of stats, which keeps you playing to improve your numbers

Where this app fails:
  • High price point - $9.99 is not going to attract casual buyers
  • I don't like the quick play turn timer, but I get it

Final Thoughts: A quality app that is spot-on port from your table to your phone.  Search me by email - chris.one10[at]gmail[dot]com - if you have the app and want to get a game in!