Monday, 12 January 2009


While I am a computer person and enjoy playing computer games I also quite like playing board games. For the younger (or future) generations that may read this post these are games that do not require electricity or a screen!

Over Christmas we bought a new board game as Bryony thought the description sounded interesting. The game is called Carcassonne and involves trying to build and own more farms, cities and roads than the opposition. For those who enjoy computer games think Settlers or any of the Age of Empire type games, only without any fighting. We really enjoyed the game and Bryony started to look see if there were any expansions or other games by the same game designer. It turns out there are quite a few expansions to the game. It was in the description of the catapult expansion that we found the sentence: "Knock out tokens try to remove meeples, seduction tokens try to swap meeples". Taken together Bryony and I know a lot of obscure English words but we had no idea what a meeple was.

It turns out that meeple is a portmanteau word (an interesting word in itself) that merges me and people. Given that the game is played with small wooden human shaped figures this should probably have been obvious but for some reason it wasn't. Interestingly it must be a word mostly associated with the Carcassonne game (even if many other games use similar styled pieces) as the Wikipedia page for meeples simply redirects to the page on Carcassonne.

If you ever find you are short of meeples then do not despair! For all your meeple shopping needs visit As well as being able to buy meeples in any number of colours, you can also buy meeple shaped cushions and pillows, meeples on beer glasses and meeple themed t-shirts. My favourite t-shirts (in no particular order) are: got meeples?, evolution of gaming, and meeples with human game pieces.

And if you don't fancy a meeple t-shirt how about trading wood for sheep?
12 January 2009 at 08:36 , Graham said...

Whilst board games generally leave me cold the town of Carcassonne in France does quite the opposite. It is a beautifully restored (in 1853) fortified town, particularly famous as a Cathar stronghold during the Albigensian Crusades. I've been there several times and hope to return. I wonder why the name association.

12 January 2009 at 10:12 , Mark said...

I should probably have made the description of the game more detailed. Amazon says that Carassone is a clever tile laying game. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its unique Roman and Medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in [the surrounding farms]. Whilst the basic game doesn't actually have a specific representation of the town of Carcassonne one of the expansions starts the game by laying out the town and then expanding around it.

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