So Carcassonne is a quick playing tile laying game – more on it in my review. However, if you have played it a few times, here are my thoughts on how to use the tiles that come up and ways to score points.
During the game:
Roads; The road tiles offer a chance for quick points – sometimes as simple as connecting two junctions and getting two points. Most of the time you will want get a meeple on the road when there is (a) already an end to the road at one side and/or (b) a chance to score between 4-7 points (road tiles) from that road. You want to avoid though, the roads that lead to areas of the board which are already full of other tiles – specifically areas where your next piece can become impossible to place. Keep your options open at the open end of the road.
Castles (or Towns for the purists); Quick points as well by just joining two castles at a single edge to get double points for each tile included. Watch out though if you try to build a bigger castle – they are susceptible to be taken over by other players and if they grow they are good targets. The best way to avoid being taken over is to start with one that leads to a single edge – two edges is okay, three edges is bad. The easier it is for you to close off and defend the less likely someone will come after you. Conversely if someone else starts one with two / three edges, then look for adjacent tiles that might allow placement – after all, you can’t place and join that castle /town in a single move, you need to build around it.
Monastery; Scoring points for each tile around it, that’s nine points up for grab and that can be scored mid game. These are powerful tiles, but you need to get them into the centre of the action or focus on building around them. Picks areas where 3+ tiles are already in play and use roads to complete the build out. These can also be useful tools late game to join up fields and capture farmers of other players with your greater numbers (more on that below).
Farms; Normally a part of each tile and the player with the most meeples laid down in a connected field scores 3 points for each castle. You want lots of completed castles and a big area of control – you also need to be the player with the most meeples. Don’t rush to place these too early as they are down the whole game and people will build road walls or just build away from your farmers. Late game us monasteries, corner roads and castles to join up previously unconnected fields and spread the impact of your farmers. Just make sure you don’t get outnumbered!
Keep in Play; There is nothing worse in Carcassonne than finding all your meeples are trapped on the board. Keep one guy back for the simple and quick road / castle opportunities that will arise. Close of other meeples when you get the chance. Recycling meeples means you are scoring points, and you could be laying a farmer as you score a castle.
Don’t Help your Opponent; It sounds obvious, but sometimes that castle you just placed added to your opponents farm – that means the four points you scored, gave him three! Or the road you added was next to her monastery – that’s a point each! Watch out for playing into your opponent’s hands or cutting off your opportunities.
Cutting off your Opponent; Likewise, there are opportunities to cut off your opponent and this friendly game has a lot of bite. Stop them from finishing a road or a castle, or just make it harder – roads can often do this by building them at tricky angles into the tile. Also, look for opportunities to get them to commit extra meeples to a fight between each other – this can allow you to glide passed without any trouble.