Inspired by the medieval fortress in southern France of the same name, Carcassonne is a tile-laying game in which players fill in the countryside around the fortified city. Players choose from tiles that depict cities, roads, monasteries, and fields; each new tile placed creates an ever-expanding board on which players can then add their followers. Players score points by having followers on features as they're completed. The player who makes the most strategic placements of tiles and followers will score the most points and win the game.
Followers can take many different roles in Carcassonne—knights, monks, farmers, or thieves—determined by the type of tile on which they're placed. Each role scores points differently, so you'll need careful planning to make the best use of your followers. For example, thieves are placed on roads and score one point for every tile making up that road. On the other hand, monks are placed in cloisters and score nine points—one for each tile surrounding the monastery—when the last of those nine tiles is placed. You have a limited number of followers and, once placed, you don't get them back until the feature they're on is completed. You'll need to consider whether to go for quick scores of low points that leave you with more available followers, or work toward higher points that commit your followers long-term.
Winter Edition brings snow to the familiar Carcassonne setting, with knights still patrolling the cities, farmers still trying to feed the nation, and highwaymen who even travel on roads behind the city walls. Carcassonne: Winter Edition, which plays the same as the Carcassonne base game, includes the same 72 tiles as Carcassonne in addition to twelve new basic tiles.