Carcassonne is one of those classics that almost every board game enthusiast has somewhere in their collection. It’s the pinnacle of tile laying games, easy to learn, and depending on the number of expansions you play, gameplay is relatively short. Though admittedly we all have that one friend that takes an age to lay one single tile, before going back to place it at the first place they had tried it out for size and thus expanding a half-hour game to several long tedious hours. But even with this in mind Carcassonne remains one of, if not, it is my favourite board game(s). Although in a strange parallel my favourite genre of board game is cooperative. So just imagine my excitement when I received Mists over Carcassonne for Christmas. The only version of Carcassonne (at least to my knowledge) that plays cooperatively.
What's In The Box
So, let’s talk about what's inside the box. Upon first glance, everything looks very similar to any other Carcassonne game, right down the art style. But upon closer inspection there is a bit more of a haunted feel about most of the parts. Even the score track is decorated with ghosts and tombstones. Personally, I don’t usually go in for spooky, but in this case it very much fits the theme of the game.
The basis of the game is simple. Along with your regular roads and cities, mist also features within the stack of tiles. As you place mist into play, ghosts spawn upon it, marked by ghostly meeple. If the pile of 15 ghosts runs out during play, then the game wins, and you have lost. To win you must score a specific number of points before that happens, or the tiles run out. Ghosts can be gotten rid of though, by ‘completing’ a bank of mist. This leads to a constant push and pull between you as a team attempting to win points and trying to fight back the ghostly infestation.
It is this push and pull which is in equal measure the compelling and frustrating part of this game. Do you build up that city you've been working on, or do you work on capping off that mist bank with its ever-expanding number of ghoulish inhabitance. Me and my wife played 3 times over, I also played several more times solo and I am yet to have won a game. The supply of ghost meeple just seems a little too short in supply, but once you lose your first game with points only in the 20’s (you need 50 at level 1) you just want to set back up and start again. It's almost like the game dares you to try just once more. We set back up and lost again, but this time got just a few more points. As with most games you learn as you go and get slightly better each time, but this isn't by any stretch of the imagination an easy win.
And this is only playing at the imaginatively named level 1. Level 2 requires you to earn even more points and forces you to consider placing mist around castles for a few extra points. There are 6 levels in total, each with increasing difficulty. It is advised to play through levels in order which gives that video game feeling of level completion and accomplishment at each step. The only difference is that I can see that ‘game completion’ at the end of level 6 won't feel like a finished game never to see the light of day again. It is the beauty of Carcassonne. The randomness of each game, never knowing which tile will be drawn next or how the board will look by the end of game. No two games of Carcassonne are the same, and mists of Carcassonne is no different icon that score. There is no reason that you couldn't come back to this game time and again.
It's also a quick game. The box says 35 minutes, but my guess is that would be the time for a winning game. Some of the losses I have suffered have only lasted 5-10 minutes. So, this game is perfect for a quick play when you don’t have a whole 3 hours for those other games in your collection. It’s also perfect for those times when you just don’t feel competitive.
If you do feel competitive then this game has you covered there too. Its components can be used as an expansion for the original Carcassonne and can even be played alongside other expansions.
Overall, this is a great little game. It's challenging but fun. Just be prepared for a lot of losses before you get those wins.
That concludes our thoughts on Mists Over Carcassonne. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Mists Over Carcassonne today click here!