Carcassonne review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC
Publisher: Asmodee Digital
Developer: Asmodee Digital
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-6
Online: Yes

It should come as little surprise that much of what I wrote about Ticket to Ride on PS4 could apply just as easily to Carcassonne on the Switch. Both are hugely popular, well-regarded board games making the jump to current gen platforms. Both come from Asmodee Digital. Both lack online multiplayer. Both are a little more expensive now than they would be if you bought them for your mobile device or your Xbox 360. Basically, if you were to compare every single video game in the world, it’d be fair to say that Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride have more in common than most other pairs of games.

Perhaps the most important similarity, though, is that Carcassonne, like Ticket to Ride before it, is still pretty fun, even if it has some obvious flaws. This, of course, is because Carcassonne, also like Ticket to Ride before it, is such an exceptional board game that all Asmodee really had to do was port it over and not screw things up too much. Considering how games like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble have fared in their video game outings, this may be a harder task than you’d expect — but in this case, it’s a pretty faithful representation.

If you haven’t played it, the gist of the game is that you’re drawing tiles to try and build a medieval map. You set down roads and city walls, and try to connect them in ways that give you the most points. You win if you have more points than your opponent(s).

At least, I think that’s the gist of it. Despite the fact I’ve played Carcassonne on the Switch a whole bunch, I’m still terrible at it, even playing against the easiest AI opponent possible.

This highlights the game’s major flaw: it doesn’t do a great job of explaining itself. Sure, there’s a brief tutorial, but it lasts only a couple of minutes, and doesn’t guide you any more than is strictly necessary to get you through your first few turns. You’ll be able to pick up the rest fairly quickly — though not so well that you’ll be able to consistently be competitive against the AI (which, I guess, is reason enough to play with living, breathing opponents). With not too much digging, you’ll be able to find the written instructions, but it feels like the whole experience would have been improved if they’d put more of the game into the tutorial. That goes double for the two expansions, The River and The Abbot, which tweak the experience just enough that more obvious explanations for newcomers seem like they would have been welcome and useful additions.

These, however, are just minor quibbles with how Carcassonne is presented, rather than legitimate gripes concerning serious issues. If you’re a Carcassonne fan who wants the game on your Switch, you should be happy to discover that the version that’s made it over offers a pretty faithful simulation of the real deal — and if you’ve never before played the game and you’re eager to learn (and don’t mind the easy AI kicking your butt repeatedly), then this is a pretty good time to start.

Asmodee Digital provided us with a Carcassone Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B