Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Klaus-Jürgen Wrede


No. of Players:
2 - 5



If you enter the name of the game Carcassonne into the query space of the Boardgamegeek-database, you get the astonishing sum of 69 hits. A few of the matching entries are compilations which offer a collection of several Carcassonne-expansions in one box, but most of the other entries are links to unique products belonging to Klaus-Jürgen Wrede's world of Carcassonne. Back in 2001 Carcassonne has won the Deutscher Spiele Preis and several other prestigious awards, and after this success publisher HANS IM GLÜCK followed a unique marketing strategy of releasing one or more (mini-)expansions each year. Some of these expansions could be purchased, others were giveaways at conventions, and the constant flow of new tile-sets kept the game in players' minds and on the table for all these years. While the sheer number of expansions has grown too large to host all of them within the scope of a single game, a lot of interesting variants has been created, ever changing and variying the classic playing mechanism of Carcassonne. However, after all these years the time has come to re-visit the classic game, and I would like to do this by checking Carcassonne Südsee, the youngest addition to the Carcassonne family.


In Carcassonne Südsee the players have exchanged the medieval setting of the classic game for the beautiful South Sea, and instead of farming or building walls, roads and cathedrals the players now go fishing, collect shells, harvest bananas or open a market. All this is done following the "classic" Carcassonne-rules: during his turn the active player will draw a new landscape tile and add it to the display of already played tiles on the table. The new tile will show a combination of ocean, islands and bridges, and the active player is allowed to place one of his islanders onto one of these features, provided that no other player has an islander on a different tile which shares the same feature. An evaluation will take place if an island is completed, a bridge is framed by crossroads or an ocean area is totally enclosed by bridges, and now the player with an islander present on the completed feature will be allowed to collect some corresponding goods. So, and that's the point where we are leaving the classic Carcassonne-rules, different quantities of goods will be printed next to the landscape features, and a player who profits from a completed feature now will gain bananas (island), shells (bridge) or fishes (ocean). A conflict may arise when a newly placed tile connects tiles with the same feature but occupied by islanders of different players. In this case only the player with most islanders on the feature will be allowed to take the profits.

The collected goods will be kept by the players, and at the end of his turn the active player is allowed to check four randomly revealed trading ships for their current demands. If he has enough good to match the demands of s ship, he may take the ship token and the ship's value now will count as victory points at the end of the game. A new ship token then is revealed, allowing the following player once again to choose from four different ships when his turn is over.

A second possibility to collect a ship token arises when a tile showing the market feature is surrounded by eight other tiles. It's market day now, and the player with a in islander on the market may deliver goods to a ship, just like the end of a normal turn. The ships come with quite a few different combinations of wanted goods, ranking from clearly defined lists to more open requirements which may be matched by delivering just a certain number of goods. Apart from a few balancing points from remaining goods high amounts of victory points only can be scored by making deliveries to the ships, and so the players will strive to complete landscape features which give them access to the types of goods required to take the most valuable ships.

If you compare Carcassonne Südsee to classic Carcassonne on the blank rules level, you will discover that Carcassonne Südsee adds some playing depth by the use of the different kinds of goods. In classic Carcassonne victory points were score immediately upon the completion of a landscape feature, but now the players first need to collect goods which may be turned into victory points at a later stage. This small extension of the classic rules allows for a bit more tactics and suspense, since the players now do not just worry whether they might loose a possibility to make a good tile-placement, but they will also have to compete for the most valuable ships. I am not sure whether there exists an expansion for Carcassonne which comes up with the same variant, but for my liking the new additional rules have revamped the older classic to stand a comparison with more modern tile-placement games. In effect Carcassonne Südsee can be recommended to all modern players who enjoy to have a bit more of complexity in tile-placement games, and especially players who do not have classic Carcassonne in their collection probably will be served better with Carcassonne Südsee because they will not be tempted to hunt down the dozens of mini-expansions available for Carcassonne.

However, it seems that no Carcassonne-game ever will come without a mini expansion, and so Carcassonne Südsee is accompanied by Freitag, a collection of six special tiles and a meeple which can be obtained from HANS IM GLÜCK at various conventions. The six new tiles will form a special island, whereas the normal playing tiles now will be divided into a total of 11 piles. All players are required to draw from the same pile, and whenever one of these piles is finished the Freitag-meeple must be moved to a different tile of his own island. All tiles on the Freitag-island will give an additional bonus to all players as long as the meeple stays there, and the players may try to make best use of these boni in order to gain more goods or more expensive ships.

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Copyright & copy; 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany