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Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

Hans im Glück 2000

Deutscher Spiele Preis 2001
Spiel des Jahres 2001



Carcassonne is the name of a town in southern France, famous for its impressive bastions and fortresses dating from roman and medieval times. The game Carcassonne by Jürgen Wrede reflects this background in so far as it has no fixed gameboard, but a gameboard composed of landscape tiles. One of the features shown on these landscape-tiles are city walls, and as luck may have it, during the game quite big cities with impressive walls around them may evolve...

The game is settled before the background of a contest between the players as local nobles, trying to score points by the skilful placement of their vasals on different types of landscapes on the gameboard. As said, the gameboard is created by the placement of landscape-tiles during the game, and each player in his turn adds one randomly drawn landscape tile to the already existing gameboard. However, these tiles may not simply be placed anywhere next to an already placed tile - they can only be played if the landscape-features on all sides of the tile are matching the features of all adjacent tiles. Thus, each side of a landscape tile shows either a part of a city or farmlands, and in addition the farmlands may be crossed by a road. More than one road may meet in the center of a landscape-tile, and if this should be the case a crossroads is displayed. Finally, another feature which may be shown on a landscape tile is a monastry.

After the active player has chosen a place where he puts his landscape-tile, he may decide whether he wants to send one of his vasals onto that tile. Basically, a vasal may take one of the following professions, depending on where the vasal is placed:

  • Knight if placed in a city
  • Robber if placed on a road
  • Farmer if placed on farmlands
  • Monk if placed in a monastry
As said, the player may only place his vasal onto the landscape tile he just placed, and thus he is restricted on placing his vasal onto one of the features available at that tile. However, some additional rules must be observed for the placement of a vasal: Usually a landscape feature will continue on adjacent landscape tiles, and a player may only place a vasal onto that landscape feature if it is not already occupied by another vasal. If a vasal can be placed, the player now has to look whether the landscape feature has been completed and thus scores victory points. A road is completed when it connects two crossroads, a city when it has received a complete city wall. Consequently, the player now receives victory points according to the length of the road or the size of the city. However, it may also happen that the placement of a landscape-tile actually brings about the joining of two different city- or road parts, each of which is already occupied by a vasal. If such a landscape feature is completed, the player with most vasals on that landscape feature will receive the victory points - or all players if there is a tie. A monastry on the other hand scores victory points when all adjacent spaces have been filled with landscape-tiles, and farmland only brings victory points at the end of the game, when farmers will receive victory points for complete cities adjacent to their farmlands. In the end the player with most victory points will win the game.

Carcassonne is a sophisticated tactic-game which on the first look reminded me a bit of the first version of Entdecker. However, as far as gameplay and tactical options are concerned, Carcassonne goes much further and thus demands of the players a higher degree of advance planning and strategic thinking. An element of luck is also kept since the Landscape-tiles are randomly drawn, and this feature effectively counter-balances the otherwise strong tactical design of the game. The author has found a quite entertaining set of rules, and to my mind Carcassonne deservingly did win the Spiel des Jahres awards in 2001.


Some new ideas and variations were brought into Carcassonne through the release of the new expansion set Händler & Baumeister (=Merchants and Builders) in spring 2003. This set features 24 new landscape-tiles, 2 new vasals for each player (Architect and Pig) and 20 goods-markers representing 3 different trading commodities (grain, wine, clothes).

The goods-markers may be collected by use of the new landscape-tiles included in this expansion. Some of these new tiles now show goods-symbols in the cities, and whenever a player completes a city by adding the last missing tile he will be considered as being the Main Trader of the city, allowing him to collect one goods-marker for each goods-symbol included in this city.

When the game is over the players will be allowed to turn their goods-markers into additional victory points. Each of the three commodities now will be evaluated separately, and the player who has collected most goods-markers of a commodity will receive 10 additional victory points. If there is a draw, all drawing players will receive 10 victory points.

The Architect and the Pig can be placed like normal vasals. The Pig is placed onto farmlands and once placed it stays until the end of the game. If the player who has placed the pig also possesses most vasals (Farmers) on that stretch of Farmland at the end of the game, the Pig will increase the value of adjacent cities. Thus, the player now will get 4 victory points for each completed neighbouring city instead of the usual 3 victory points. However, if the player should not have the majority of Farmers there, the Pig is wasted.

The Architect on the other hand can be placed either on a Road or a City, and by placing him there the player will be allowed to take a double-turn. Thus, if a player adds a tile which continues a Road or City on which he has an Architect, he will directly be allowed to draw and play one additional tile. Once the Road or City is completed the player gets back his Architect and can use him again somewhere else.

The new tiles and rules definately increase the depth of the gameplay, and furthermore I would say that at least the Architect has some major impact on the players' strategy. The game now gets faster, and making clever use of the Architect as often as possible becomes a very important factor, because otherwise a player may quickly get into a large lead. However, Carcassonne-Fans should like the expansion because it adds variation to the game.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany