CMSC 22001: Carcassonne Rules

Carcassonne (picture from Wikipedia)

Carcassonne is a tile-laying game for two to five players. During the course of the game, players build a map of the city of Carcassonne together and score points for occupying structures (cities, roads, cloisters, fields) on the map. Each turn consists of 3 steps.

  1. The player receives a random tile and adds it to the map.
  2. Optionally, the player may place a meeple on the tile.
  3. Any meeples on completed structures are returned to their owners for future placement and points for those structures are scored.
Play continues in this manner until there are no more tiles, at which point incomplete structures are scored and the game is over.

Initially, a player has 7 meeples. The player may play a meeple on their tile as long as there is a legal position to play it (explained below), and as long as they have some meeples that are not currently placed on the map.


Each tile contains a part of a field (or multiple fields) and cities, roads, or a cloister. Here are four example tiles:

The first is the initial tile. It contains a piece of a city on the top edge, a road across the middle and two field sections (cut by the road). The second tile contains a cloister, a road leading up to the cloister and a single field. The third tile contains a piece of a city along the top and three fields, separated by the junction of three roads. The final tile contains a field along two edges and city that along the other two edges. The city in that tile has a shield, which affects the scoring the of the city (see below). All of the tiles with an S in the identifier have such shields.

Each tile can be placed in the map rotated by 90, 180, or 270 degrees. See the tiles page for a list of all of the tiles in all rotations. It also shows the number of each kind of tile in the game.

Tile Placement

The first tile is always CRFR50. After that, tiles must be placed so that they share an edge with an existing tile, and all edges that touch must be the same kind, either road edges, town edges, or field edges. For example, this is a legal configuration:

but this one is not (the tiles do not touch on an edge):
and neither is this one (mis-matched edge):

Meeple Placement

After placing a tile, a player may place a meeple on one of the regions on the tile that was just placed, as long as there is no meeple (regardless of color) on that region anywhere else on the map. A region may be a city, a field, a cloister, or a road and regions span multiple tiles (except in the case of a cloister -- cloisters are always just in the center of a single tile).

For example, assume the configuration on the left is the configuration before the red player takes a turn and the configuration on the right is the configuration afterwards.

There are three field regions in the left-hand map. The first is on the upper parts of the top-left most part of the map. The second touches all of the tiles on the left-hand map except the upper-right one, and the third field is a tiny sliver on the right-hand edge of the upper-right tile. The newly placed tile does not change the number of regions, but the first two regions both get a little bit bigger.

The yellow meeple near the cloister is in the second region, meaning that the red player cannot play a meeple on the right-hand field on the newly placed tile. But, there is no meeple in the first region, so the red meeple can be played on the field on the left of the new tile (as shown).

Note that the rules allows a region to grow and contain multiple meeples as the game progresses. It is only at the moment that the meeple is placed that the rule is checked. For example, imagine the the next play after the right-hand map above was to put a cloister on the left edge:

At this point, the first and second fields merge, meaning that the red and yellow meeples are in the same field, which is legal.

Impossible Placements

Occasionally, the next tile picked from the pile will have no legal placements. For example, if the map is currently the two tiles on the left, and the tile on the right is the next tile chosen, there is no where to play it. In this case, the tile is discarded (and never used in the rest of the game) and a new tile is chosen.


Completing Regions and Scoring Complete Regions

After the tile and meeple have been placed (or the player has decided not to place a meeple), any newly completed regions are scored and meeples on them are returned to their owner for placement on subsequent turns. Because meeples are placed before regions are scored, if a player has no meeples, but plays a tile that completes a region and returns a meeple, the player may not use that meeple that turn. In contrast, if a player does have a meeple and plays a tile that completes a region, the player may play in that region immediately, get the points for the complete region and get the meeple back immediately.

Each completed region scores points for the players whose meeples are in the region, but only if the player has the largest number of meeples in the region. If multiple players have the largest number of meeples, they each get the points for the region. For example, if a region worth 4 points is completed, and it contains 2 blue meeples, 2 yellow meeples, and one black meeple, the blue and yellow players each get 4 points and the black player gets no points.

Fields. Fields are never considered to be complete (even if there is no way to add tiles to them), so meeples placed there remain until the end of the game.

Towns. Towns are complete when they have a wall all the way around. For example, the town on the left is incomplete, but the town on the right is complete.


A complete town is worth two points for each tile in the town and two points for each shield in the town, except in the special case where the complete town consists of only two tiles. In that case, the town is worth only 2 points, instead of 4 points. The above town on the right is worth 14 points (five regions and two shields times 2 points each).

Roads. Roads are complete when they have no open ends, either because each end of the road stops in the middle of a tile, or because the road forms a loop. As examples, the road on the left is incomplete because it has two open ends, on the bottom right and on the top right. The long road in the center map is closed, because the cloister tile closes one end and the junction is considered a terminus for the road. (Note, however, that the two little roads in the bottom right tiles are only closed on one end, so are incomplete.) The road in the right map is also complete, because it forms a loop.


Complete roads score one point per tile. So, the middle road is worth 6 points and the road on the right is worth 8 points.

Cloisters. Cloisters are complete when they are surrounded on all eight sides by tiles. The cloister in the upper left is incomplete (only surrounded on 3 sides) and the cloister in the center is complete.

Complete cloisters score nine points.

Endgame Scoring

At the end of the game, all of the incomplete roads, cloisters and towns are scored. Incomplete roads score one point per tile (just like complete ones), incomplete towns score one point per tile and one point per shield (half of the points for a complete town of the same size) and incomplete cloisters score one point per tile that surrounds it, plus one point for the cloister itself (for example, the incomplete cloister above is worth four points). As with complete regions, the teams that tie for the most meeples in an incomplete region all get the points for that region.

In addition, the fields also score points by bordering cities, and thus being able to supply them with grain. The scores of the fields are based only on the complete cities. For each complete city, consider each field that touches the city (there may be multiple such fields). The players with the largest number of meeples in all those fields each score 4 points for that city. As with other regions, if there is a tie for the largest number of meeples, all of the tied parties get 4 points.

As an example, consider the map below. It contains three complete cities and one incomplete city. The incomplete city scores no field points. The two tile city is bordered by just one field, and that field contains a red meeple and a yellow meeple. Therefore, both red and yellow receive four points for that city. The four tile city is bordered by two fields, the main one containing a red and a yellow meeple and the one just to its right, containing a red meeple. Accordingly, there are two red meeples and one yellow meeple that can supply that city, and so only red gets the four points. The three-tile city in the upper right is bordered by three fields with a total of two red and two yellow meeples, so both red and yellow get the four points for that city.

Playing Carcassonne

AsoBrain provides Toulouse, a Carcassonne knock-off. You can get closest to the original game by disabling the extras, but there are still additional tiles that we won't use.

If you want to shell out $30 or so, you can pick up a copy from Amazon or from Gamer's Paradise on the fourth floor of the water tower at the northern end of the mag mile (across the street to the south from the Hancock).

Thanks to Dan Becker for his excellent Carcassonne web page and tiles thereupon.
Robby Findler