- Jackie L.
If You liked Carcassonne you might also like Isle of Skye
Can’t get enough of the neo-classic Carcassonne? The tile laying kingdom builder is easy to learn, easy to teach, and a great gateway game. For players that may not have much experience with Carcassonne; this game allows you to flip tiles over and add them to the designated starting tile in order to create a landscape. Each player has meeples (tiny human shaped wooden figures) that can be used to claim a portion of the scenery. Different elements of the landscape earn players different victory points. The person with the most victory points when the last tile is drawn wins. Carcassonne has released a large number of expansions and mini-expansions that have greatly helped the game’s replay ability. The base game is great, but once you get the hang of it your gaming group will be ready for one of the more challenging versions. What makes Carcassonne unique is how it plays semi-cooperatively. All players are working on the same landscape, but everyone is trying to claim the best parts (read most points) for themselves. This leads to some very interesting looking cities and road systems.
If this type of light strategy game works for you, and you enjoy building a landscape, you should also try out Isle of Skye. This game has very similar mechanics to Carcassonne, but adds a few extra mechanics making it more strategic. Much like Carcassonne, Isle of Skye utilizes small tiles to construct a landscape and a central game board for keeping score. However, instead of adding to one big map players are building their own tiny kingdom. The tile acquisition phase gives players more control over how they are building their kingdoms. Each person draws three tiles and then picks one tile to discard (put back in the draw bag) and assign coin values to each of the two remaining landscape pieces. This is done by placing the three tiles in front of a small player screen and behind the screen setting an axe token and coins in-line with the appropriate tiles. The screens are removed and the players can take a look around the table and decide if they want to purchase any of the tiles other players have drawn. The coins assigned to each tile is the price of purchase. Be careful when assigning coins to the tiles because if none of the other players purchase your tiles you then have to pay the purchase price into the bank. After the purchasing phase there should be one tile left in front of you and that one is now yours to place in your kingdom, along with any purchased tiles. Victory points work differently in Isle of Skye than in Carcassonne, at the beginning of each game four window tile tokens are drawn at random and placed on the windows in the scoreboard. These windows, depicted in the style of stained glass, show pictures of different ways players can earn victory points. The four windows placed on the central game board are the only way victory points are calculated. On each round a combination of these windows will be scored and players will move their markers around the outside track to keep track of their score. At the end of 4 rounds the game is over and the person in the lead wins.
These are both excellent games and great additions to your personal gaming library. Carcassonne has a slightly more cooperative feel to it due to the playing off the same landscape, while Isle of Skye pits you against one another from the get go. The bidding phase creates a whole nother level of competitiveness as one of your strategies can be ensuring that your opponents do not get the tiles they need. This is not an issue in Carcassonne as the tiles are drawn at random. The base game of Isle of Skye has more replay ability than the base game of Carcassonne, but Carcassonne has made up for that with their numerous expansions. The biggest difference between these two games is where players are allowed to place the tiles. In Carcassonne you have to keep the landscape so that it makes sense. Roads have to meet with roads and cities have to be fully surrounded by a wall. This is not the case with Isle of Skye, this game requires you to match up land types such as mountains, or lakes, or grasslands, but roads do not have to match up. This can bother type A players, but since the game is set in Ireland this type of inconsistency makes since. During the the Great Famine of 1845-49 the government commissioned Irish citizens needing help to build walls and roads, well they didn’t really have a plan in place for getting all these starving people fed so the workers would die and then no one would continue the road. For this reason there are many roads and stone walls in Ireland that will end abruptly. This little bit of history makes it so the roads not needing to match up in Isle of Skye makes sense, in a super depressing way.
Next time you stop by Pawn and Pint try out both of these great games and let us know what you think. Do you have a preference between the two games? We would love to hear about your experiences.