How to Play Carcassonne (because the rules are terrible at explaining this)

We play a lot of board games around these parts, and whoa are there a lot of games to play. Carcassonne is somewhat of a classic, but I’ve picked it up a few times over the past few years and not really grokked how to play. After we finally figured it out, I realized the difficulty – the rules don’t explicitly tell you the most important thing you need to know in order to play the game. There is also an excellent iOS version of the game, and the tutorial also inexplicably leaves out this information! But never fear, you’ve made it to the inner sanctum of truth.

These are Meeples:

By Júlio Reis (User:Tintazul) - Original File, CC BY-SA 2.5,

And the important thing you need to know is this.

Meeples are how you score points.

Maybe this is obvious, but it’s never spelled out, and it frustrated us to no end. The game is actually pretty simple. On your turn, you get to place a tile, and then you can place a meeple on one of the structures on the tile (field, castle, road, monastery, etc…). You can’t place a meeple in a structure if there’s another meeple in the same connected structure already. If it’s a structure other than a field, you get the meeple back into your pool when you complete the structure and score it. If it’s a field or the structure is incomplete, you leave it down until the end of the game and score it then. That’s it! The rest of the rules are implementation details, and you should read the manual.