Bruce's Carcassonne Variants & Wonderments

Musings and explorations related to my favorite board game.
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Variant #12: Citadels (a Castles Variant)

Bruce Kothmann
United States
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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.

Examples (How?)
Examples use a white cube to denote the citadels.

Example #1: As shown below, Yellow places the CRRR tile and chooses to place a citadel in the completed football city. Blue earns 5 points for the completed road with a Blue meeple, and Yellow earns 9 points for the completed road with the Yellow meeple, plus 5 points for the Blue completed road, because it is in the fief of the Yellow citadel which is thus completed. Note that the Yellow citadel cannot claim 9 points for the larger road, because that would be a double-score of the same feature. Also note that the citadel was completed and scored on the turn it was created.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #2: As shown below, Yellow places the CFCF tile and chooses to place a citadel in the city on the right, and also to place a meeple in the city on the left, which immediately scores 4 points. Yellow would have preferred to score 4 points for the city on the right and place the meeple and citadel on the left, because of the large Blue city in the fief of the citadel on the left. But the city on the left is not eligible for a citadel, because it contained no meeple at the start of Yellow's turn.
From gallery of kothmann

Continuing Example #2, below, on the next turn, Blue completes the Yellow road rather than Blue's own large road, and Yellow earns 2 points. Because the road lies within the Yellow citadel's fief, the citadel is also completed and the meeple removed, but Yellow earns no additional points because the road points may only be counted once.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #3: Shown below is the placement of a CCFF tile, completing the large Blue city and the Yellow football city. If it is Yellow's turn, Yellow may create a citadel (the meeple was already in place) and immediately score the same 16 points that Blue earns for the large city. But if it is Blue's turn, Yellow may not place the citadel, and earns only 4 points, while Blue of course still earns 16 points.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #4: Yellow places a CCFF tile and creates a citadel in the neighboring football city. Blue earns 10 points for the large completed city and Yellow earns these points because of the just-created citadel. Completion of the Yellow citadel also triggers completion of the Blue citadel, but Blue earns no additional points, because that would be double-counting points for the large city.
From gallery of kothmann

Explanation (Why?)
The changes are intended to make the citadel a little less powerful and volatile than the castle, while retaining a lot of the interesting tactics.

Restricting citadel creation to a player's turn makes it slightly easier to defend a city against invasion, as described here and in Example #3 above.

The requirement that a meeple already be in the city makes creating a citadel slightly more difficult, which is offset by the possibility of scoring the citadel on the turn that it is created. (See Note 1)

Restricting the citadel to a "defensive" role eliminates the possibility of double-scoring a large feature, such as a cathedral city or long road with an Inn, which can effectively end the game when using a small number of tiles.

Options (What if...?)
For a while, we experimented with a "mandatory citadel" concept, where the castle tokens were a shared and unlimited resource. Any time a football city containing any meeple was completed, a citadel was automatically created. This was interesting, and sometimes allowed a player to trap an opponent's meeple in a citadel that could never be completed! But particularly for small games, we prefer a more limited role for the citadels.

Interactions (With Whom?)
This variant seems to play nice with all of the expansions we use. I don't know of any new issues introduced by the small rules changes.

Citadels comply with the "fixed wood" paradigm discussed in Variant #8: under certain conditions, a player may deploy a citadel during the tile placement stage, and the citadel wood remains in place for the duration of the game. These are the same as the rules for deploying bridges, gates, walls, guesthouses, lodges and even pigs (see Note 2).

We take "wood" literally and use small cubes to represent the citadels.

2021-04-16: Original Post

1. Allowing the citadel to score on the turn it was created is actually a big change, because it results in the equivalent of a city invasion even when the player draws a city-dividing tile. On the other hand, if an opponent draws a city dividing tile, the citadel is not created, so repelling the invasion is also made easier. Overall we think this tactical balance is good and the citadel adheres to the fixed-wood paradigm.
2. I didn't post a formal Pig variant, because we don't usually use the pig, or we forget to play it. But the pig can easily be treated as fixed wood by simply making it modify the field scoring equally for all players, like the pig herds.
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