Bruce's Carcassonne Variants & Wonderments

Musings and explorations related to my favorite board game.

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Variant #21: Balloons

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
Each player receives one balloon figure with their meeple supply at the beginning of the game. Rule changes:
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): No changes.
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): A player may deploy a meeple as usual. If a farmer is deployed, the player may also place their balloon in the field next to the farmer on the same turn. The balloon has no effect on the farmer unless the player launches a flight in a subsequent turn.
On any turn when the player does not deploy a meeple or otherwise move wood, there are three new options:
i. If the player has a farmer with a balloon, the farmer may be placed on the balloon, abandoning the farm to create a piloted balloon , which must immediately fly according to the following rules:
a. Move the piloted balloon two tiles in one direction and one tile in the orthogonal direction (in the same way that a knight moves in chess).
b. During the move, the piloted balloon may pass over holes in the landscape but must end on a tile. If this is not possible, the farmer may not become a pilot on this turn.
c. The piloted balloon may end a move on an occupied tile but has no effect on control nor scoring of features in that tile.
ii. The player may again fly a piloted balloon, following the same rules as for the original move.
iii. If a piloted balloon is on an unoccupied tile, it may land, allowing the pilot to exit the balloon and deploy to any feature on the tile, even if that feature is already occupied.
Immediately after landing, the balloon is returned to the player’s
supply to be available for future deployment.
• Phase 3 (Scoring): A piloted balloon has no effect on control of features or scoring. Only after the balloon lands and the meeple has been deployed to a feature is the meeple again relevant to scoring. All features are scored as usual.
• Final Scoring: Neither an unoccupied balloon nor a piloted balloon has value at the end of the game; both are simply removed from the landscape. A balloon must land prior to the end of the game in order for the meeple to occupy a feature and affect scoring.
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Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:30 pm
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Variant #20: Labor Markets

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Medieval economies began to see craftsmen and laborers seeking better work and wages. In this variant, Carcassonne has thriving labor markets, with a worker moving every time a city is scored.
Definition (What?)
Each player begins with 2 regular meeples in the market reserve. The Market Type tile (image at top) is placed to the side of the landscape with FIRST YES facing up.
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): No changes
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): No changes
• Phase 3 (Scoring): For each city that was scored , there is a labor auction. The market type determines whether players are bidding to add or subtract one meeple in exchange for subtracting or adding points, respectively. The active player becomes the auctioneer. Bidding starts at 1 point. The auctioneer gestures to the player on their left and says, “1”. The player must say “Yes” or “No”. Then the auctioneer gestures to the next player and says, “2,” and that player must respond, and so on. This continues until the auction is completed according to the condition for the active market type.

The player who wins the auction adds or subtracts points and moves a meeple to or from the market reserve , as appropriate. If a player wins a FIRST YES auction but has no meeple in their supply, they must remove a meeple of their choosing from the landscape, scoring no points for the incomplete feature. If a player wins a LAST YES auction but there are no meeples in the market reserve, the points are deducted but no meeple is moved: the player has simply paid to stop another player from adding a meeple.

After each auction is completed, the market type is switched, so that successive auctions are always of a different type.

• Final Scoring: No change.
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Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:33 pm
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Variant #19: Das Gift

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

This expansion adds clever bluffs and tense exchanges of Bad Gifts (German Gift = poison) and Good Gifts (English gift = present).
Definition (What?)
There are 24 "gift" tokens: 6 of each of 2 "German Gifts" and 2 "English gifts", for a total of 24 tokens placed in a small bag. The face of each token identifies the type of Gift, while the backs are identical. New rules:
• Setup: Players each draw 2 tokens from the bag and look at them privately before placing them face down with their meeples.
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): Tiles are placed as usual. If a tile placement causes any feature with at least one unopened (face-down) Gift to have more meeples than it had before the tile was placed, then all unopened Gifts in that feature must be distributed among the meeples in the feature who do not already have an opened (face-up) Gift. Without looking at any of the Gifts, the player who placed the tile decides which meeples receive which Gifts. Any meeple receiving a Gift must open it, by turning the token face-up, and placing it next to their meeple. Each Meeple receiving a Good Gift remains in place; each meeples receiving a Bad Gift is returned to that player’s supply, but the Bad Gift remains on the tile.
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): A player may deploy a meeple as usual. If the meeple is deployed to an incomplete city, road, or farm, (monks may neither give nor receive Gifts), the player may also on the same turn place a Gift from their own supply face-down on the tile next to their meeple.
• Phase 3 (Scoring): Before scoring, any unopened Gifts are returned to the player whose meeple has the Gift. When determining control of a feature, an opened Good Gift increases the strength of the meeple by one. An opened Bad Gift has no effect on scoring, as the meeple has already been removed. After scoring, all meeples are returned as usual, but the opened Gifts remain in place.
• Final Scoring: Follow the same steps as scoring for a completed feature.
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Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:06 pm
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Variant #18: Urban Warrener

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Wild rabbits (coneys!) have invaded Carcassonne! Earn points by capturing them from roads or gathering them into urban warrens, or lose points when they linger on farms at the end of the game.
Definition (What?)
Place about 36 coney tokens into a bag by the side of the playing area. Rules changes:
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): Tiles are placed as usual. If a tile has a single field with no roads, a coney is placed in the field. A coney is also placed in any field region on the tile being placed that contacts a field region on an adjacent tile that already has a coney. No field region on a tile may ever have more than one coney, but a tile may have multiple coneys.
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): A player may "move wood" as usual. If a player has a warrener (placed in step 3 of a previous turn, see below) and the player does not deploy a meeple or otherwise move wood, the player may move one coney from a neighboring field into the warren, with each coney placed on a different tile in the city that houses the warren.
• Phase 3 (Scoring): There are three new elements for scoring:
i. The score for a completed road is increased by one point for each coney on a tile that is counted in the road score, provided that the coney is on a field segment that borders the road being scored. After all roads are scored, the coneys that were counted for scoring are removed from the landscape and returned to the supply bag.
ii. Completed cities score as usual. If a player is the only player to score points for a completed city, they may create a warren in the completed city, leaving a meeple in the city as an urban warrener, placing the meeple prone in the city, in the same way that a farmer is placed in a field.
iii. If each tile in a city that houses a warren contains a coney, the warren is complete and scores two points for each coney. The warrener meeple is returned to the player and the coneys are returned to the supply bag.
• Final Scoring: There are also three new elements here:
i. Coneys have no effect on the score of incomplete cities or roads.
ii. An incomplete warren scores one point for each coney in the warren.
iii. Farmers score as usual, except that one point is subtracted from the total farm score for each coney in the field.
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Sun Aug 15, 2021 8:14 pm
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Variant #17: Wyvern’s Veil (a Tileless Dragon Variant)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

A (slightly) less mean dragon variant that requires no additional tiles.
Definition (What?)
The dragon tiles (Expansion #3) are not used. The dragon figure becomes the wyvern, which is set aside to start the game. Unlike the dragon, the wyvern does not kill (remove) a meeple with which it shares a tile, but temporarily conceals it. Here are the rule changes:
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): After placing a tile with a pennant, the player must move the wyvern from its current location to a tile with a meeple that occupies an incomplete feature. The wyvern may not be placed on a tile with a pennant. The meeple remains veiled until the wyvern is moved again. If there is no permissible tile on which to place the wyvern, the wyvern is set aside out of play until the next pennant tile is placed.
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): The player may place a meeple as usual, except that a veiled meeple does not prevent placement on the same feature.
• Phase 3 (Scoring): The tile occupied by the wyvern is not counted in scoring any completed feature and a veiled meeple does not count toward control of any feature nor earn points for the feature, but the veiled meeple is returned to the player when the feature it occupies is completed. The wyvern is removed from the board at the end of the game, so no meeple is veiled during the end-game scoring.
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Tue May 4, 2021 5:48 pm
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Variant #16 Hatteras Captains (A Tower Variant)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
Use any number of tiles from the Tower (Expansion #4). On the table, set out as a shared resource the same number of tower floors as you chose tower tiles, and place the unused tower floors and tiles back in the box. The following rules replace the official tower rules:
• Phase 1 (Tile Placement): after placing a tower tile, the player must place a tower floor from the shared supply onto the tower base. Unlike official rules, this happens automatically and has no relation to the player’s meeple placement. This is the only time that a tower floor is added to the board.
• Phase 2 (Placing a Meeple): The player has 4 choices in this phase of the turn:
1. place a meeple on a feature (road, city, monastery, farm) of the tile just placed, as usual.
2. place a meeple as “captain” on the tower floor that was added to the tile that was placed.
3. move an entire existing tower on which the player has a captain, onto an unoccupied tower (at least one floor) anywhere on the board. This leaves the vacated tower base tile with no tower floors, so that it can never again have a tower.
4. convert any one of the player’s captains to another role by moving it from a tower onto the unoccupied base tile of that tower into any feature (road, city, monastery, farm) on that base tile, regardless of whether that feature is already occupied by any meeples on other tiles.
• Phase 3 (Scoring): Any tower that has more than 5 floors collapses, leaving the tiles scattered in the tile on which the tower stood, and returning the captain meeple to the player. At the end of the game, captains in uncollapsed towers earn 1 point per tower floor. Otherwise, score as usual.
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Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:30 pm
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Variant #15: TinyCarc (48-Tile Game)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
• Use the 48 tiles from the base set shown on the right in the photo above. This leaves a very close approximation to the Tiles used in Carcassonne für 2, which are shown on the left.
• Use only 6 regular meeples for two players, or 5 meeples with three or more players.
• Add any combination of variants 1, 2, and 5-14 which were all designed and play-tested in TinyCarc.
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Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:58 pm
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Variant #14: Archabbot

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
The Abbot becomes an Archabbot with the following changes in rules:
• The Archabbot may be placed in a city, road, or field, under the same conditions for placement, and with the same effect on scoring, as a regular meeple.
• On any turn when the player does not place a meeple, the Archabbot may be removed from any incomplete city, road, or field, scoring no points.
• The Archabbot retains the power of the Abbot with respect to placement and scoring of monasteries and gardens.
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Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:32 am
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Variant #13: Stacked Decks (a Tileless Tower Variant)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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From gallery of kothmann

Definition (What?)
Each player begins the game with 5 tower floor pieces called "decks" that are placed as "stacks" on standard tiles. The tower tiles are not used. All of the rules related to stacks affect only phase 3 (scoring) of a player's turn.
Creating a new stack:
• If a player has a single regular meeple in a road or city that was completed by the tile placement, and there is no other meeple in that feature, they may choose not to score the feature as usual, but to erect a stack on the tile just placed.
• The stack must be built to a height equal to the number of points that the feature would have scored. If the player does not have sufficient decks in their supply, they may not erect the stack and the feature must be scored as usual.
• The meeple from the feature is moved to the top of the stack and will be scored on subsequent turns as the stack is dismantled.
Scoring for an existing stack:
• If the player has any stacks that were constructed prior to this turn, they must remove one deck from each such stack, scoring 2 points per deck and returning the meeple to their supply when the final deck of any stack is removed.
Other scoring:
• All other features score normally.
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Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:22 pm
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Variant #12: Citadels (a Castles Variant)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
Pennsylvania
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Definition (What?)
Citadels follow the rules for castles from Expansion #8, with these changes:
• A citadel may only be placed on the player's own turn in a completed "football city" that contained a regular meeple of the player placed on a previous turn.
• A citadel may be completed and scored on the same turn it is created.
• A citadel is completed, and the sentry returned, when any feature in the 6-tile fief of the citadel is completed. But a player may not score points derived from the same feature twice.
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Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:09 pm
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