Bruce's Carcassonne Variants & Wonderments

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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.

Examples (How?)
Example #1: In the image below, Yellow places the CCCR tile with a pennant and places the wyvern on the tile with the Green meeple. Because this veils the Green meeple, Yellow may place a meeple in the same city. Yellow's tile also completes the Blue road, which earns only 4 points, because the tile with the wyvern doesn't count.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #2: In the image below, Yellow places the CCFF tile with a pennant and places the wyvern on the tile with the Blue farmer. The wyvern may not be placed on either the Blue knight nor the Blue monk, because the city and monastery have been completed by placement of the CCFF tile. Also, the wyvern may not be placed on the Green knight, because that knight occupies a tile with a pennant. Because the Blue farmer is veiled by the wyvern, Yellow may place a meeple as farmer in the same field.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #3: In the image below, Yellow places the CRRR tile, scoring 10 points for the city and 4 points for the road, while Blue scores nothing, because the wyvern veils the Blue meeple and the tile with the wyvern does not count in Yellow's road score. All meeples are returned after scoring.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #4: In the image below, Yellow places the CRRR tile, scoring 8 points for the city and 1 points for the small road; Blue scores nothing, because the Blue monk is veiled by the wyvern; Green scores 6 for the road. All meeples are returned after scoring.
From gallery of kothmann

Example #5: In the image below, Yellow places the CRRF tile, and places a meeple on the road. Yellow and Blue both score 8 points for the city because the second Blue knight is veiled by the wyvern and the tile with the wyvern does not count in the city score. All of the meeples in the city are returned after scoring.
From gallery of kothmann

Explanation (Why?)
The wyvern variant is the final (?) installment of our effort to include elements from expansions into a game played with the base tiles only. We wanted to keep the added tension and “mean spirit” of the dragon, but make the wyvern a bit less severe and use it to increase player interaction.

The wyvern allows one-turn invasions of occupied features: a player may extend an occupied feature, place the wyvern on the tile with the occupying meeple, and then place their own meeple on the tile just placed! Once such an invasion has happened, there is added tension, as the players wait to see if a feature is completed before the veiled meeple is freed by movement of the wyvern to a new location.

Options (What if...?)
• The prohibition on placing the wyvern in a completed feature could be ignored. This would make the wyvern more severe than the dragon in some instances, because it would be possible to complete a feature, veil an opponent’s meeple, place your own meeple, and score for the completed feature all in one turn! By comparison, the dragon only moves and eats after scoring is completed, so points are never stolen in a single turn.

• The wyvern could straddle any two adjacent tiles, veiling meeples on both tiles (if present) and cancelling scoring of both tiles. Again, this makes the wyvern more severe.

• If playing with the Archabbot (Variant #14), it would be consistent with the spirit of those rules to forbid the wyvern from being placed on a tile with an Archabbot.

Interactions (With Whom?)
Unlike most of our variants, this one has a lot of possible interactions.

• Highways (Variant #5, Bridges): If the wyvern occupies the same tile as a bridge, the bridge remains in place, but does not modify scoring of the road. A meeple on the bridge is veiled by the wyvern.
• Pennant Keepers (Variant #6): There seems to be no conflict in playing with this variant at the same time as the wyvern.
• Gates & Walls (Variant #7): Placement of a gate and/or wall happens prior to movement of the wyvern: making the tile compatible with the landscape is the highest priority.
• Guesthouse (Variant #8): If the wyvern occupies the same tile as a guesthouse, the guesthouse remains in place, but does not modify scoring of the road.
• Lodge (Variant #9): same as a Guesthouse—-the lodge remains in place, but no extra turn is granted while the wyvern occupies the tile with the lodge.
• Plazas (Variant #10): the plaza in the base set has a pennant, so choosing to place the plaza triggers movement of the wyvern. We prefer to play the wyvern without the plazas.
• Collectives (Variant #11): The wyvern has no effect on farmer scoring at the end of the game (the wyvern departs the playing area before final scoring). We prefer collective scoring with the wyvern.
• Citadels (Variant #12): We don’t allow the wyvern to be placed on a tile with a citadel.
• Stacks (Variant #13): For simplicity, we don’t allow the wyvern to be placed on a tile with a stack.
• Archabbot (Variant #14): No conflict, but see “Options” above.
• TinyCarc (Variant #15): No conflict, but the wyvern is a variant that works best with more tiles, to avoid overly frequent movement of the wyvern. We like using all 72 base tiles plus the 5 King & Scout tiles, if available.

Discussion
The prohibition against placing the wyvern on a tile with a pennant prevents a protracted back-and-forth between two players drawing pennant tiles. Since a wyvern-enabled city invasion will always involve a meeple placed on a tile with a pennant, that meeple cannot subsequently be veiled: the wyvern move following the invasion will transport the wyvern to a different part of the landscape.

Because the base game pennants are all in cities with 2 open edges, the situation shown in Example #2 above, where a tile with a pennant completes a city, is unusual. But this example nicely demonstrates why the prohibition on placing the wyvern in a completed feature is important: the wyvern never allows a player to steal points for a completed feature in a single turn (but see “Options” above).

Hardware
We don't have Expansion #3, so we got the dragon from spielmaterial.de. Various dragons are also available from meeplesource.

Updates
2021-05-03: Original Post

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