Carcassonne is an iOS adaptation of the popular German board game by the same name. Available as a Universal app for iPhone and iPad, it faithfully replicates the classic tile-based strategy game digitally.

In Carcassonne, the goal is to score the most points by building and claiming castles, roads, farmland, and monasteries. You gain points based on the size of your properties, as well as whether you manage to complete them.

It’s an addictive and often frustrating game. You have to keep track of what everyone else is doing in order to thwart their construction plans while simultaneously building your own.

You can play by yourself, against any of several AI characters with varying levels of cunning, or against other players (either locally or over the internet). You can even mix-and-match, adding a computer opponent or two to round-out your match. A game can have anywhere from two to five players. Be forewarned about the AI: the computer opponents take no prisoners.

The developer did a great job in programming the game setup screens. If you chose to play a local game against your friends, the app will automatically determine whether to use WiFi or Bluetooth with no user input required. Depending on which radio is enabled and the number of players, it will determine the best option and take care of the tedium behind the scenes.

The app is beautifully-designed, from the game screen to each individual menu, with an obvious medieval theme. It looks especially impressive if you have a Retina Screen device like the fourth-generation iPhone or iPod Touch. The design goes deeper than mere eye candy, of course. The interface is intuitive and very responsive.

In-game chat is something that is difficult to get right on a device with a small screen. The Coding Monkeys put together a nice modal dialog that slides up at the tap of a word bubble icon, showing a chat history and a text input. Incoming messages drop into the game board screen and then fade out after a comfortable delay, so you won’t miss any.

When I bought my copy of Carcassonne, it cost $5.99. I thought that was a good price, but it has since gone up. The developer recently turned it into a Universal app (meaning it has a secondary interface for the iPad) and raised the price to $9.99. While that is unfortunate for those of us without iPads, I have to say that this is probably the one iPhone game that I would pay $9.99 for.

If you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games, Carcassonne is well worth the price. If you need to see more, there’s a video on the official website.