Nostalgic Fun with the Official Solo Mode for Carcassonne
Create cities and winding roads through the countryside with the classic tile placement game of Carcassonne.
One of my first purchases to get into modern board games was Carcassonne, which quickly grew with my collection of expansions! Alas, it’s more of a friendly face on my shelf nowadays… Until I finally decided to try out the official solo mode that was released in the last couple of years. I eagerly returned to these familiar green fields and cities!
Game Name: Carcassonne
Publication Year: 2000
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Artist: Doris Matthäus
Publisher: Hans im Glück and Rio Grande Games
Solo Mode: Official Solo Rules Variant
In a simple but intriguing formula, each newly drawn tile must connect to matching features as the map grows. Meeples claim ownership of areas like cities, cloisters, and roads. The solo mode adds strategic depth with a trio of different meeple colors and unique scoring requirements!
June 18, 2018
March 17, 2023
32" x 20"
Back to the Old Days
Oh, memories! I know that upgrading to the latest edition is often recommended to take advantage of new content, but I’m firmly sticking with this first edition.
This is even the exact copy I first picked up. I can recall the day when I played with my brother at our kitchen table and realized how much board games had evolved.
Previously, I tried out some unofficial solo variants that worked nicely, but I never learned the official solo mode.
It uses simple rules and packs a punch with strategic decisions and difficulty… As I was about to find out!
A Trio of Colors
Meeples in 3 different colors form the foundation for play. Turns rotate, and each newly placed tile must have a feature claimed if it isn’t already connected.
Only a few meeples are available, yet scoring isn’t as obvious! The meeple with the lowest score is only able to earn victory points, so planning ahead is crucial.
There are a few other small caveats, but I was already jumping into tricky decisions within a few turns.
I’m surprised it took this long to release an official solo mode like this: It’s clean, simple, and very challenging.
To say I played a lot would most certainly be accurate. Turns flew by, and I had no trouble simply flipping over the tiles and resetting in a matter of seconds.
One minor tip: The rules state to split up the tiles into stacks for each meeple color, but it’s much easier to simply draw from a shared pool. Quicker, too!
I picked up on some useful decisions, like starting cities nearby so they could be connected. Shared victory points!
But luck was a big piece of the puzzle, too, and sometimes I lost after drawing about 10 tiles… C’es la vie.
The general layout of my maps almost always ends up pretty similar, but the details always seem to change. Cities might be big or small, spread out or close together.
One of the nicest parts of this solo mode is the complete lack of farmers. They aren’t used, so the final scoring to count cities touching fields is gone… So much quicker!
I found myself playing over and over as I tried to get a higher score or get closer to using all of the tiles.
This is an older game with simpler mechanics, yet it’s earned its place as a top title that stands the test of time.
The Value in Keeping and Playing Older Games
There have been all sorts of advances in the hobby over the years, from interesting mechanics to entirely new sorts of components. Yet earlier games played an influence and aren’t obsolete. I know there might be an argument to make that new games replace older ones, and we keep moving forward in an endless cycle… But I disagree in some ways.
Shelf space is always limited, so I still believe that a game can be replaced with a newer one if it’s similar enough but offers more fun. That makes sense! It’s more when I see discussions about how older games simply aren’t as good and aren’t streamlined like the newest titles being released. In a sense, it’s like they somehow get retired due to old age.
Tons and tons of new board games are released each year. Looking at my own preferences and purchases, this has slowly led to more and more complex games. Maybe they do things bigger and better, but they’re also… Bigger. There are more rules, which can lead to even more interesting game experiences. Yet new rulebooks are rarely under 10 pages.
I still have a bunch of older games that I try to play every few years, or more. There’s value in seeing some inspirations for newer games, recognizing the flaws, and appreciating the early simplicity. Maybe I won’t have a 10-minute turn with chained actions, tons of resources, and repeated worker placements… Yet I don’t need that all the time.
Play Number: 55-88
Solo Mode: Official Solo Rules Variant
Outcome: 34 Losses
Such a challenging little puzzle! Play time flew by, though, so I felt like I could keep doing better. I definitely came close, nearly hitting 50 victory points and using 50 of 70 tiles. No definite victory yet, though! Instead, I took pride in some of my completed cities, like this rambling monster that managed to score points for all of the meeple colors. I’m in need of a break for now, but am absolutely thrilled to know that this official solo mode works well!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Play time flies by, especially with setup lasting a matter of seconds with flipping over all of the tiles.
- There are a lot of strategic decisions to make with the scoring and limited meeples, yet it all moves quickly.
- Simple rules place the focus on learning how to do well and adjusting play styles to score more victory points.
- Although the game itself may seem a bit dated, it stands up well and offers a very engaging sort of puzzle.
- Even knowing all of the possible tiles still leads to unexpected turns with the ways they get connected.
- Virtually no rules questions pop up after the first few plays, except possibly to look up a specific, rare situation.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Every tile draw is random and entirely down to luck, which can immediately end in a loss with no mitigation.
- The play area can sprawl out in unexpected directions at times, although this isn’t usually a major issue.
- Only the base game is covered with the official solo mode, leaving the expansions to be experimented with.
- Keeping track of scores on the score track is a little odd at times with the way the path weaves and winds.
Place Every Tile
- Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 40 points.
Score at least 50 points.
Score at least 60 points.
Win at least 1 game.
Continue the Conversation
What do you think of Carcassonne? Are there other board games that got you involved in the modern hobby? It’s pretty awesome to see that this one continues to offer a fun experience, even up against a lot of other tile-based puzzle games. I appreciate the release of the official solo mode, and hope it gives the game many more years of success!