Bruce's Carcassonne Variants & Wonderments

Musings and explorations related to my favorite board game.
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Variant #20: Labor Markets

Bruce Kothmann
United States
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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.

Examples (How?)
The following is taken from the rules PDF posted at Carcassonne Central. Consider a four-player game with playing order Red, Yellow, Green, Blue. A city is completed by Green, who becomes the auctioneer. Here are sample bidding sequences and outcomes for each type of auction:
From gallery of kothmann

Explanation (Why?)
This idea was prompted by many interesting posts at Carcassonne Central which seemed to me to share the common theme related to the value of a meeple. In particular, the Scrooge musing by @Decar got me thinking carefully about this. Rather than setting an explicit price, I wondered if we could use an auction to explore the changing value of a meeple as the game progressed.

Options (What if...?)
You could let the auctioneer decide what type of auction to run, thus eliminating the indicator tile.

Interactions (With Whom?)
Only regular meeples may be auctioned. The auction should occur at the end of step 3 of the turn.

We played this a few times and really enjoyed it. See the posts as Carcassonne Central (links under Examples above).

2021-08-15: Original Post
2021-08-16: Fixed Auction-Type Indicator Tile Image

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