What can you do with "grown-up" board game and small children? Bend the rules and play anyway!
Here's the game description on BoardGameGeek:
Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister, grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etcetera. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of his meeples on one of the areas on it: on the city as a knight, on the road as a robber, on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.
During a game of Carcassonne, players are faced with decisions like: "Is it really worth putting my last meeple there?" or "Should I use this tile to expand my city, or should I place it near my opponent instead, giving him a hard time to complete his project and score points?" Since players place only one tile and have the option to place one meeple on it, turns proceed quickly even if it is a game full of options and possibilities.
The game is of course way too complex for small children, but the placement of the tiles in itself is interesting.
Symmetry, rotation, curves, left/right etc. those are already taxing for a young child.
We mostly play collaboratively, my son telling me what he intends to do while I help him find the correct tiles for it. Again and again, making up stories as we go, naming the cities and devising on who is living in there is a big part of the fun.
Recently, we started placing figures on the cities that are finished. This had the effect of pushing him to focus on closing cities instead of just laying down tiles.
Have you ever modified a board game like this? I'd love to hear about it!
ImageSource: The board game family