W. Eric Martin
BoardGameGeek has a small crew in Nürnberg, Germany to record game overview videos of several dozen titles that will be released in the first half of 2017 — and later in the year, too, since we're looking at whatever we can and some publishers already have SPIEL 2017 titles to show off.
In any case, I didn't make it to the Spielwarenmesse today to start taking photos of the games on display, but I did look at a few upcoming titles during a dinner event, with one of those being Carcassonne: Manege frei!, the tenth expansion for the long-lived and still quite popular Carcassonne series from Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and Hans im Glück. Here's my summarization of the rules, which likely won't use the right terms as I was translating from German on the fly. (My game German is often sufficient to do this. German for other purposes...not so much.)
Carcassonne: Manege frei! consists of twenty landscape tiles that are mixed with whatever assortment of tiles you're using, along with one wooden tent, one ringmaster figure in six different colors, and 16 animal tokens. During set-up, shuffle the animal tokens — which are mostly numbered 3-6, along with a single 1 and single 7 — face down and leave them on the side. Give each player a ringmaster figure along with their other meeples.
Whenever you draw a tent tile, place it on the board legally, then place a face-down animal token on this tile without looking at it. Place the wooden tent on top of this token to make it easy for others to spot where the circus is currently taking place. When another tent tile is drawn, place a new face-down token on this tile, move the tent, then reveal the token just exposed. Each player with a meeple on that tile or any of the eight surrounding tiles scores the listed number of points for each such meeple. Yay, you got to see something at the circus!
Whenever you draw a pyramid tile, place it on the board legally, then choose whether you want to place a meeple on one of the two spaces. A player who places any subsequent tile in one of the eight surrounding spaces can either place a meeple on that newly-placed tile as usual or place a meeple on the pyramid tile. When the third such meeple is placed on this space — thus forming a pyramid of acrobats — all three meeples are returned to their owners, who score 5 points for each acrobat returned.
Finally, you can place your ringmaster on a tile as if it were a knight, robber or monk, and when that feature is scored, you receive both the points for the road, city or cloister as usual, along with a 2-point bonus for each circus tile in the eight surrounding spaces.
What's next for the Carcassonne tile monster? Something with traveling musicians? Bears on pogo sticks? Traveling ice cream wagons?!