Looking for more board games like Carcassonne.
January 18, 2011 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Looking for more board games like Carcassonne.

Me and my wife love playing Carcassonne and have purchased a few expension packs to enhance the gameplay. Now we are looking for other games with similair tile laying mechanics, but enough change so that its not just a rehash of the same game. The main features we like are the tile laying strategic gameplay, option to play with more then 2 players on game nights, but optimized for 2, and games that can finish in under 45-60 mins. Any ideas?

posted by ShootTheMoon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
posted by hwyengr at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about Alhambra? It has tile laying meshed with some economic themes. The major difference you'll find though is that each player has their own Alhambra they lay tiles on rather than a shared space. That may not be ideal for you if you like the confrontation aspect of Carcassonne.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by heatvision at 10:13 AM on January 18, 2011

How about Ticket to Ride? You lay trains instead of tiles, but it's strategic, fun with 2-6 players, and usually takes about the right amount of time.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2011

I've got to admit that I've never played it, but Tigris & Euphrates looks right up your alley.
posted by dudekiller at 10:26 AM on January 18, 2011

Seconding Ticket to Ride. Simple to start, with similar mix of luck and strategy as Carcassonne.

Burrows is a fun tile-laying game that works well for 2, just as well for up to 5. But like Alhambra, each player lays their own set of tiles.
posted by rikschell at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2011

I found Carcassonne to be a good stepping stone to Settlers of Catan. Not really the same tile-laying gameplay, but they feel very similar. To me. Both are excellent games.
posted by phunniemee at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2011

You can get a lot of good advice from the Analogue Diversions blog. The author (a Mefite) focuses primarily on board games that work particularly well with two players. Something there might piques your interest.
posted by Joe Schlabotnik at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second the recommendation of Ticket to Ride, and for a two-player game recommend Fjords. It's by the same people as Carcasonne, involves laying down map tiles then claiming territory.
posted by aimedwander at 10:36 AM on January 18, 2011

Settlers of Catan doesn't work for 2, though there is a card game for 2.
posted by rikschell at 10:42 AM on January 18, 2011

FWIW I like "Carcassonne, Hunters and Gathers" better than straight "Carcassonne", so might want to give it a try.

Yeah "Ticket to Ride" is fun, ther eis at least 3 different versions, imo the "European" one is the best, the "American" one is the simplest.

"Settlers of Catan" is a lot of fun but not for two people (as far as I know)
posted by edgeways at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2011

Came to recommend Ticket to Ride and Alhambra, since those, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan tend to be go-to games among my family. Pleased to see that I was beaten to the punch. :)

That and Mexican Train dominos, with an emphasis on heavy trash-talking. :D
posted by Tknophobia at 10:45 AM on January 18, 2011

One caveat to TTR (USA, at least) is that it sometimes doesn't work well as a 2-player game. If one person's routes are all up north and the other's are down south, you can get 2 simultaneous games of solitaire going on.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, however, is specifically designed for 2 or 3 players.
posted by hwyengr at 10:52 AM on January 18, 2011

I've got to admit that I've never played it, but Tigris & Euphrates looks right up your alley.

Be warned that Tigris & Euphrates is considered a much "heavier" game than Carcassonne, though of course that's all pretty subjective.

Other Knizia games that I think would be good fits are Durch die Wüste (Through the Desert) and Samurai. Samurai especially I've always found lots of fun.

I would also recommend Hunters and Gatherers as a relatively unique and very fun Carcassonne variant.
posted by kmz at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2011

It's only a two-player game, but what about Cathedral?
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2011

The answer to basically any game-related question is BoardGameGeek The advanced search will let you search by mechanic, time, players, etc. and the entries for all the games include recommendations for similar games.

Page for Carcassonne. Recommendations are about 2/3 down the page.
posted by jjb at 10:56 AM on January 18, 2011

Atlantis seems like a good match. I've only played it with 2 people but apparently it is better with up to 4.

Hive is worth looking at as well (2 players only). Very portable and the game pieces are neat thick heavy tiles.
posted by exogenous at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2011

Tigris and Euphrates is, in my opinion, more complicated and games will go longer. It's a great game, but it would be a step up in strategic intensity from Carcassonne. It is a bit less intuitive to explain to friends, so if your guests are very casual gamers, the first go-round will be tougher.

Alhambra is a great recommendation, adds an auction element to some of Carcassonne's mechanics but otherwise is at about the same level.

Metro is a tile-laying game that plays well with 2-6 and has very simple rules. You are trying to create long convoluted subway routes, and you play tiles with short sections of subway track to make your lines longer and your opponents' shorter. (Tsuro is similar, much shorter, plays with 2-8)

If you like the geometric aspects, Blokus is great and plays with 2,3,4. (If you're playing 2 player, each person plays 2 colors; if playing 3 player, players take turns being the "fourth" color.) It is extremely simple to explain.

Through the Desert is another area-control game I enjoy. It's not exactly a tile-laying game (since you aren't building the board as you go) but the board is different every time. It has less luck than Carcassonne but is still enjoyable for a mixed group -- it has charming plastic camels which draw in casual players.

Samurai is a well-thought-of area control game along similar lines, though I haven't played it.
Thurn and Taxis, also well thought of but I haven't played it.

A couple of other similar ones that might grab you if you like the theme -
Attika - ancient Greek. A very tight area-control game, I've never had a bad game of this. Great with 2 and 3 players, a little more random with 4.
Hacienda - cattle ranching

Light strategy games that play well with 2 or more is a list of games similar to what you're looking for. Lots of good suggestions here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:09 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've played Blokus and that's a good game for 2 players (or more) with slight similarities to Carcassone; check it out.
posted by royalchinook at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just a warning on the Settlers of Catan 2 Player Card game, it's not very good. When a large portion of the game relies on trading, and there's only two players it creates an atmosphere that's not very inducive to working out deals, even if you damn the rules and start throwing chores into the mix.
posted by nulledge at 12:13 PM on January 18, 2011

True, Settlers is better with >2 people, but my boyfriend and I play it together all the time. We just play to 15 instead of 10. And there's a lot more port action. If you know what I mean. (Because there's not as much trading...)
posted by phunniemee at 12:15 PM on January 18, 2011

Hive is a great game, one of my favorites, but it is a tactical game for only 2 players, with no luck element.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:21 PM on January 18, 2011

hygner, Sometimes that happens in TTR USA, but we still find it fun because then it's a race to score the most points. We play it as a two player game so often that when we played with three this weekend the different strategy was crazy!

I also think Blokus is great.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:27 PM on January 18, 2011

Taluva is fun with two.
posted by jeather at 12:31 PM on January 18, 2011

Taluva!. My favorite tile laying game, plays 2-4 in under an hour, and every tile has a volcano! One key part of the game is that a tile can be placed on top of other tiles, crushing villagers who were there previously.

Maori is also great - it plays well with two and up to five, and plays in that 45-60 minute time span. Here every player is rowing a community boat around a grid of tiles, which restricts which ones the current player can take and place on their own board. There are a couple of volcanoes too, but they're not as important.

There's also the stand-alone Carcassonne: The Discovery. The big difference is that instead of automatically scoring when the feature you're on is finished, you choose when to pull your meeple off and score the region. I enjoyed playing this one more than the original game.

There are a few other stand-alone Caracassonnes, such as Hunters & Gatherers which was mentioned above.

Gheos is another fun one that was mentioned above.
posted by radicarian at 12:33 PM on January 18, 2011

I have heard Stone Age recommended - it's got the person-placement aspect of Carcassonne and the resource-gathering aspect of Catan, and it takes an hour to play. No personal experience yet, but mine is in the mail :)
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 12:58 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

nulledge: "Just a warning on the Settlers of Catan 2 Player Card game, it's not very good. When a large portion of the game relies on trading, and there's only two players it creates an atmosphere that's not very inducive to working out deals, even if you damn the rules and start throwing chores into the mix."

The card game was just recently revised, streamlined, and re-released as The Rivals for Catan. I haven't yet played it, but I have it and it seems like a good update.
posted by mkultra at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2011

Oh, and Dominion is instantly loved by everyone I've played with, male or female, gamer or not. Best with 3 or 4, but fine with 2.
posted by mkultra at 2:19 PM on January 18, 2011

If you search BGG's GeekLists for "wife," you get oodles of hits for this question. (You get hits for "husband" and "spouse" too, but x5-10 more for "wife"--simple fact :)

Good 2-player variants for multi-player boardgames
My 2-player favorites or "The wife approves" (but it's mostly multi-player games)
Low conflict 2-player games (includes many multi-player games)
Games my wife and I like to play together (includes many multi-player games)

Etc., etc. I have to say, I've played 14/25 of the games recommended in this thread, and most of them are not ones I would have suggested. Dominion in particular I dislike for 2, although I love it for 3-4. But you'll see it on plenty of these lists, so YMMV for sure.

Just incidentally, the games besides Carcassonne that my wife enjoys most are Lost Cities, Battle Line, and Rosenkönig, all of which are very light, 2-player games that present few choices at a time, but a lot of gradual investment and build-up. In that sense, they're all like Carcassonne and worth looking at even though they're not multi-player.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:01 PM on January 18, 2011

Thanks for the link to the blog, Joe! I've actually just put up a post about Forbidden Island, which, while it uses tiles, doesn't really fit your criteria. However, it's worth a look because it does scale to more players and, as board games go, is relatively cheap.

Alhambra is the game that sprung to mind - I haven't played it with expansions, only vanilla, but I have heard that expansions much improve the game. There's a 'big box' with lots of expansions that might be worth a look.

Infinite City is worth a look. I've only played a couple of games, but it's has the tile-laying mechanic and scales to more players. You're laying tiles down similar to Carcassonne, but the tile you lay has an effect - maybe on the tiles around it, maybe moving markers around, drawing new tiles, switching tiles around. It's chaotic, but fun. Be prepared to have your perfect plan scuppered by the laying down of the one tile you didn't want.

Ingenious is an abstract game where you're laying little tiles down and scoring for matching symbols together. You have a score for each symbol, and the lowest of these is your final score. It's a neat game that I never do very well at. There is a two-player travel version, and a bigger version that plays up to four.

When you say you like tile placement, you could, like me, enjoy the feeling that you're building something, just as much as the mechanic of laying tiles. If so, have a look at San Juan, where you're laying cards in front of you to 'build a city', using these cards to help you, and dealing with the dilemma of selecting the best action for you, or the one that scuppers your opponent more. It is a little bit 'multiplayer solitaire', in case that puts you off. Scales to four players, plays very well with two

The default 'game for me and the wife' game used to be Lost Cities. No more. Jaipur is a card game, not a tile-laying game, and two-player only, so it only really fits the 'a game' bit of your criteria. Take a look at it anyway, it's incredibly simple but has a nice amount of depth.
posted by liquidindian at 5:00 PM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers. This should keep us busy for a while :)
posted by ShootTheMoon at 9:13 AM on January 19, 2011

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