Board games don’t belong on computers. They’re a refuge from the screens that bore into our eyeballs and our lives, a chance to bask in the musky glow of fleshy humans. But sometimes those humans are far away, and sometimes stores give digitised board games away for free. The Epic Games Store is handing out the tile-laying town-planning sheep-appreciating Carcassonne, along with the railway-building Ticket To Ride. Ticket’s fine, but Carcassonne is way better.
Epic were originally going to give Pandemic away too, but issued a press release saying they’d scrapped those plans until “a later date”. Presumably someone rethought the optics of using a game about global infection to advertise their store during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Carcassonne is very chill. You’re building up the French countryside, adding roads and churches and towns one tile at a time. It’s nice and streamlined, where players take turns drawing a single tile and deciding where to put it. Points are scored for building long roads, surrounding churches with other tiles, or – often the juiciest play – finishing a town. You don’t want to give other players an opportunity to do that if you can help it, though. It’s very pure. Neat. Simple.
Ticket To Ride is simple, but a bit messier. You’re trying to build railways by playing cards from your hand, connecting stations together based on targets you pick at the start of the game. They’re interesting games to compare, because Carcassone works by placing so much focus on every individual turn. There’s a limit to how far you can plan ahead, whereas that’s what Ticket is all about. Your plans aren’t very flexible, though, so you wind up butting your head against obstacles while you wait to draw the right cards. It’s a much less dynamic puzzle.
I wouldn’t turn down a free copy, though. Both games have been adapted from cardboard by Asmodee Digital.
Next week’s freebies will be a double bill of Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Aztez. Epic plan to continue weekly giveaways through 2020.