Carcassonne: Hunters & Gathers is a stand alone game in the Carcassonne family. The game includes a scoreboard, 30 followers and 10 huts in 5 different colors, 10 wooden discs, 79 basic playing tiles, 12 bonus tiles, and 5 50/100 scoring tiles. The tiles feature forests (similar to cities), rivers (similar to roads), and meadows (similar to farms). They also feature lakes with fish, animals in the meadows, and gold nuggets in the forests.

The starting tile features forest on two adjacent sides, a river on one side, and a meadow on one side. Just as in the regular Carcassonne, players draw a tile on their turn and place it next to a tile(s) already in the playing area. They may then place a follower on one of the features that is not occupied by another follower, or they may place a hut in a river system that is not occupied by another hut. The game rules allow for huts to be placed on the same feature as fisherman, and vice versa. Followers placed in a forest are gatherers, or placed on a river are fishermen, or placed in a meadow (laying down) are hunters. Huts may only be placed on lakes or rivers.

Completed forests give 2 points per tile to the player with the most gatherers in the feature. The player who places the tile to complete the forest which contains a gold nugget, gets a bonus turn by selecting from the stack of bonus tiles and immediately places the bonus tile following the standard rules. Completed rivers (ending at a spring or lake) give 1 point per tile plus 1 point per fish in terminating lakes to the player with the most fisherman on the feature. Gatherers and fishermen on uncompleted features at the end of the game score no points, which is different than the base Carcassonne.

Hunters in meadows and huts on river systems only contribute to end game scoring. The player with the most hunters in a meadow score 2 points per Auroch, Mammoth, or deer (not eliminated by a tiger) in their meadow. Only deer are eliminated by tigers in the same meadow. The wooden discs are used to cover deer/tiger pairs to help when scoring. While individual rivers end at lakes and springs, a river system includes all connected rivers and lakes. The huts score 1 point per fish in all of the lakes in the connected river system to the player with the most huts in the river system. Once the points are tabulated, the player with the most points wins.