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These variant rules are inspired by those recommended by BGG user Ralph Hyde in this thread:
What follows are his variants as I have adopted them after playing Caravelas myself. (These will be available as a download in the "Files" section shortly.)
Setup (For use with the new destination cards distribution rule from the game designers - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/60803/caravelas-new-ru...)
With a 4-player game, each player draws 3 destination cards from each pile instead of 4. Thus, 8 destination cards will not come into play.
Placing a discovery monument in a port costs 1 navigation marker.
Loading a goods cube at a port costs 1 navigation marker.
When using an action card (or receiving a bonus move from another player’s action card), players ignore blue and red event card symbols, pirate symbols, and the effects of currents. Placing discovery monuments and loading goods each still cost 1 of the bonus "moves".
When a ship enters a hex containing a blue event card symbol and plays the event card, only players with ships in sea zones on either side of the line of blue event card symbols are affected by, or receive a bonus from, the event card. (A "sea zone" is an area of the ocean that is bordered by 2 rows of hexes containing blue, or blue and red, event card symbols.) If another player’s ship is on a hex with an event symbol, it is considered to be in both sea zones on either side of the border. (The group of hexes containing blue and red event symbols south of the Cape of Good Hope count as a single border for this purpose.)
If a player has 4 red cards ("Storm" or "Calm") OR a total of 12 or more negative storm points in the hand of event cards, s/he can visit any port to "refit" the ships. While at the port, the player may discard 2 navigation markers to discard his/her hand of navigation cards and draw an equal number of new cards. If these new cards also fit the above criteria, the player must sail to a different port in order to attempt another refit.
The Black Ship (For use with The Black Ship expansion rules)
To play with this expansion, all that is required are a copy of the rules... http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/60658/black-ship-dutch... ...and a token to represent the Black Ship (such as a ship from Merchants & Marauders or Catan: Seafarers, for example).
When the Black Ship enters a hex containing a player’s ship, instead of rolling the red die, the player must move up 3 navigation markers on his/her player card. On that player’s next turn, s/he thus has 3 fewer navigation markers to use. (This also applies if a player voluntary sails into the hex containing the Black Ship. If a player wishes to avoid the penalty, s/he must first spend 1 or more navigation markers to move the Black Ship out of the hex.)
At the end of the game, the player who has discovered the most ports receives a 10 VP bonus for being the "Greatest Explorer". (If tied, divide up the points evenly amongst the tied players and discard any remaining points.)