Tile-based boardgame (and its numerous sequels) in which players compete to control and complete cities, roads, and fields. Part of the Euro Game genre.
It takes place in the southern France medieval city of Carcassonne, with each player representing the land developers responsible for the city's famous architecture and layout.
The gameplay has players drawing tiles with roads, cities, fields, and farms on them, and placing them on the table to match other tiles. When a player places a tile, they can put one of their "meeples" (small wooden pieces representing workers) on one of its features. When a given feature is completed (trails having two endpoints, cities being completely enclosed, etc.), the player with a meeple on it scores points and retrieves their meeple. The game ends when every tile has been placed, and the player with the most points is the winner.
This Euro Game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Art Evolution: Compare the art of the original to the art of New World. The latter is much more vibrant and detailed.
- Artifact Title: Several expansions and sequels don't have much to do with the eponymous city anymore. One reason for the Market-Based Title below may have been to avoid this.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Building massive cities (10+ tiles.) They can potentially get you a ton of points, especially with Expansions that add Cathedrals, Commodities, and the like to cities, but can easily be disrupted and made impossible to finish by a single stray tile placed by an opponent. It's generally best to close cities as quickly as possible for this reason.
- Despite tiles having to match previously placed ones (see Patchwork Map, below), the random nature of the game can lead to cities that have very strange shapes or roads that loop pointlessly or wind in odd ways. There is also no obligation to finish features, so dead-end trails and cities with missing walls can show. Even more common in New World.
- One tile has a standard narrow city segment crossing from one end of the tile to the other — and then a second one crossing over it by means of an enormous bridge of masonry held up by a pillar built in the middle of the first segment. Whether it ends up being two separate cities with one straddling over the other or one city crossing back over itself for some reason, it's a pretty weird architectural choice.
- Boring, but Practical: Roads. Most players groan when they draw a road tile, but roads are a decent secondary source of "now" points and can be used defensively to split your opponents' fields and disrupt their cities.
- Cherry Tapping: Roads again. Your average road will likely get you about 3-4 points, but because you may only need to place one or two tiles to complete a road, it can give you a small influx of "now" points which can add up over the course of a game.
- The Chessmaster: The best players are always thinking a few steps ahead. Do you see that guy with his meeple spaced around the board on random bits of cities? Give him a few turns and suddenly he'll be sharing your cities, stealing your commodities, and plunking cathedrals down in your other nearly-finished cities to make sure you get no points from them.
- Death-or-Glory Attack: Placing a Cathedral in one of your cities. If you're able to complete that city, it will be worth 50% more. If not, you get no points for the city during the final tally. Placing an Inn along a road is similar, but less severe since it's generally easier to complete a road and roads are generally worth less than cities.
- Enemy Mine: Actually a good strategy when playing with more than two players. For instance, Alice, Bob, and Charlie are all playing. Alice is in the lead with 60 points. Bob has 50 and Charlie is in last with 20. Charlie has a city nearly completed and Bob draws a piece that can finish Charlie's city while also allowing Bob to share it. Bob places the piece so that he and Charlie both get 20 points from it. Bob is now ahead of Alice by 10 points while Charlie is still too far behind to matter. That said, beware that Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is possible, if not likely...
- Exact Words: In the Expansions with Commodities, the rules state that whoever closes a city gets the Commodities. It doesn't matter if you have no claim to the city at all. Your opponent who does own the city will still get points for it, but you'll get the (potentially much more valuable) Commodities. And if your opponent is only one piece away from finishing a city anyway, it's likely in your best interest to do this to prevent them from getting the points AND the Commodities.
- Expansion Pack: The original game has 20 expansions of varying size and complexity; some just add new tiles, while others add whole new mechanics and pieces.
- Extra Turn: The Builder piece added by the Traders and Builders Expansion allows this. You can place it on a claimed city and from that point on, until that area is completed, you get an extra turn whenever you add on to that property.
- House Rules: As with any board game, most groups of players develop some of their own.
- Not playing with Farms is a common house rule. Farm scoring is one of the more confusing aspects to inexperienced players, so they are often left out.
- Playing from a "hand" of 3 tiles rather than always playing the tile you draw is another. It allows for a bit more strategy and downplays the luck elements slightly.
- Loophole Abuse: Players are not allowed to put a meeple on a feature if it already has one there. They are, however, encouraged to put them on different features and connecting it later. This is arguably a core part of the game rather than just a loophole, as the rulebooks specifically note how scoring works in this situation: if there is a tie for most meeples, all tied players score full points, but if one player has the most meeples only they get points for it.
- Kingmaker Scenario: Almost inevitable when played with more than 2 players. Players who fall significantly behind in score can still help or sabotage the winning players.
- Nice Hat: Every meeple in New World has a top hat.
- One-Word Title: Named for where the game takes place.
- The Place: The game's named for where it takes place.
- Patchwork Map: Averted. The board is built from randomly-drawn tiles, but the features on each newly placed tile have to match the ones on the previously-played adjacent tiles.
- Volcano Lair: Whenever a volcano is placed, the dragon flies towards it.