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Author: Reiner Knizia

Hans im Glück 2003

Awards: none



When I made my visit to the HANS IM GLÜCK VERLAG at the SPIEL 03 at Essen I was quite surprised to find that a new game had been published in the Carcassonne-Universe, the new two-player game Carcassonne - Die Burg. Even more surprising, this new game was not from the original Carcassonne-inventor Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, but instead by the German Star Author Reiner Knizia.

Already while studying the rules I could quickly discover that seasoned Carcassonne-players will find many similiarities between the standard Carcassonne-Rules and the rules of the new two-player game Die Burg. However, the game is set up in a slightly different way, since a playing area will be defined by a multi-part Castle-Wall which is set up at the beginning of the game and which also serves as a track for the victory points. After the Castle-Wall is set up, all landscape-tiles for the game are mixed up and furthermore some additional wall markers will be randomly distributed face down on each of the towers of the Castle Wall. With these prepositions met, the game can start.

Like in traditional Carcassonne, a player's turn here consists of three phases: drawing and placing of a landscape-tile, (possibly) placing one of a player's seven henchmen on the freshly placed tile and then (possibly) scoring victory points.

As for the placement of the landscape tiles, these show three different kinds of prevailing landscape-elements: Towers, Buildings and Courtyards. Furthermore, minor elements like roads, wells or a market may also be displayed on a landscape tile. Basically, a freshly drawn landscape tile needs to be placed next to an already placed tile or at one of the 7 inner gates of the castle. The newly placed tile must be aligned in a way as to match the landscape features of all neighbouring tiles, so that especially roads will need to be continued.

After having placed a new landscape tile, the active player may decide to put one of his henchmen at one of the landscape elements of the newly placed landscape. He may put his henchmen at a Tower (to become a Knight), at a building (to become a Squire), at a road (to become a Herold) or at a courtyard (to become a trader). However the player will need to observe that he may not place a henchman at a particular landscape feature if this feature expands over several landscape tiles and if the other player already has one of his henchmen on that particular feature (the only way to have several henchmen on the same landscape feature is by joining two separate features together by the placement of a matching landscape tile). The henchman will stay where he is placed until the landscape feature is evaluated.

If, at the end of a player's turn, a landscape feature should be finished (meaning that it cannot be expanded any more by the placement of new tiles), then the landscape will be evaluated. The player who has most henchmen on that particular landscape will receive victory points, depending on which type of landscape was completed. He will thus receive 1 victory point for each landscape tile a building consists of, 2 victory points for each landscape tile a tower consists of, and 1 victory point for each landscape tile a road consists of (but 2 if the road is adjacent to a well). The players then may take back their henchmen to their stockpile, but since the courtyards will not be evaluated until the end of the game a henchmen placed as a trader will stay on a courtyard for the rest of the game.

The player who got the victory points then will be asked to adjust his victory point marker on the castle wall according to the number of points he had gained. However, if the victory point marker gets to land exactly on one of the towers which still contains one of the wall markers, then the player is entitled to take this marker and use it. Some of these markers give the player a small advantage during the course of the game (for example allowing a second turn or to double the points when finishing a certain type of building), whereas other of these markers allow the player to gain some kind of benefit at the end of the game (for example turning an unfinished landscape feature into victory points).

Another important element is a player's palace. If a player has finished a building, then he will get to place his special palace marker on that building. However, if he should finish a bigger building later during the game, then he will be allowed to shift his palace marker to the bigger building. The markers are of importance when the game comes to an end.

The game will end when the last landscape tile has been placed, and then some additional victory points will be distributed. Thus, the players now can turn in some of the wall markers which they got during the game, and furthermore now also the Courtyards will be evaluated. Like with other typed of landscape features, the player with most henchmen on a courtyard will get the victory points for the courtyard, and he will get 1 victory point for each landscape tile a courtyard consists of. However, he will also get an additional 3 victory points for each market which can be found on that courtyard. Finally, both players will need to compare their palaces, and the player with the bigger palace will get a special kind of reward: he will receive victory points equal to the largest number of adjacent empty spaces which can still be found within the castle. The game then will be won by the player with most victory points.

While building on the traditional Carcassone-rules in their essence, it becomes quickly visible that the new game Carcassonne - Die Burg is much more than just another Carcassonne-clone. As a major difference, it is a game for just two players, and what is more important, is that by the introduction of some additional rules a quite well functioning game had been created. Die Burg is a good strategy game which succeeds to captivate players both with its interesting rules and also with its design as a whole, and I can definately recommend the game to a larger audience than just seasoned Carcassonne-players.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany