A while back we reviewed Carcassonne, a beautiful and simple game which would easily appeal to both seasoned board gamers and those new to the hobby. The rules were highly accessible to pretty much anyone, so much so that our review was done from the perspective of playing it with my (then) 3 year old, albeit with slightly simplified rules.
So how do you make a beautiful game even beautifuller (I’m pretty sure that’s a word…) while still keeping the charm of the original?
Simple. Make it snow.
The funny thing is, that’s pretty much the only main difference between the original Carcassonne and the Winter Edition. Gone are the green miles of countryside broken up by small settlements and roads, and in come wintery looking snow-covered acres of… well, countryside broken up by small settlements. There are 12 new tiles which are quite nice and have different animals on them (which my now 4 year old loved when they came up) but aside from that the game plays the same. Your little meeple dudes can be placed on roads, fields or wherever and gain you points when each feature is completed or closed off; you still need to marry up the edge of your latest tile with those already on the map, and you’ll still track those all important points on the matching snowy scoreboard.
So why should you buy it?
Well, that depends. If you don’t own a Carcassonne version and really like the art style (which is great) then it’s possibly a good point for you to jump in, but bear in mind that with every other edition of this, and most of the add-ons available, there’s no snow and as such these tiles won’t mix well with others from the Carcassonne family. There is the Gingerbread expansion available for the Winter Edition, but there are several others with which this just won’t play ball. You could combine them, but it’s look very odd.
Other people who will want to pick this up will be those who like a full collection, and are already heavily invested into the Carcassonne series. The fact that this game is still so easy to pick up, learn and play means that it could easily form a whole new part of your gaming evenings, and the lovely new art style could wow your gaming friends all over again; remember that the tactics and rules here are unchanged, so the same group of players can still enjoy their tile placing while still loving the new look.
So it’s a bit tricky to come up with a solid conclusion for the Winter Edition of Carcassonne. It’s akin to buying a new car just because it’s a different colour to the one you’ve got, or stopping off on the way home from work to buy a new shirt just so you can add an extra colour to your wardrobe. But you know what? Sometimes it’s nice to have a little more of something you love, and so many people – myself included – adore playing Carcassonne that there’s very little reason not to buy the Winter Edition. And as long as you go into your purchase knowing that you’re just getting a repainted version of the same game, you’ll almost certainly be delighted that you chose to pick it up.