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Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

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No. of Players:
2 - 5



As it seems, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede still has not lost his taste in creating ever-new expansions for his award-winning bestseller game Carcassone, and after the introduction of rivers, merchants, builders, towers and even a fearsome dragon through various expansions he has now returned with a somewhat changed new basic game: Carcassonne - Das Schicksalsrad

The title of this new game translates to "Carcassonne - Wheel of Fortune", and it is meant as a playful tribute to a historic novel which deals with the blessings and sorrows of a young woman living in Carcassonne in the Middle Ages. In Germany the game actually was sold as a bundle together with the novel, but like many other book-to-boardgame-conversions the new game comes with a whiff of being more of a merchandise article and less of a games novelty. But let's look at the hard facts….

Carcassonne - Das Schicksalsrad comes with the full equipment included in the standard basic game of Carcassonne, and all the rules from the basic game are in force without changes. Thus, if you are not familiar with the rules of the basic game, it might be advisable for you to have a look at my review of CARCASSONNE. However, a new element in this game is the Wheel of Fortune landscape tile, coming in a size of 4 times 4 standard tiles and serving as a big starting tile around which the players must add all other landscape tiles during the course of the game.


However, apart from this use as a starting tile, the Wheel of Fortune also depicts the six different events which may be triggered once or more often during the game, and here some additions were made which supplement the well known basic rules. Thus, a small pig-shaped figure is placed on the outer border of the Wheel of Fortune at the beginning of the game, and whenever a player places one of the landscape tile which bears a small "Wheel of Fortune"-symbol, the pig will be moved clockwise around the wheel for as many steps as indicated on the landscape tile which triggered the move of the pig.

As might be guessed, the arrival of the pig triggers the event associated with this space, and here the effects for the players may vary:

  • Fortuna: The Goddess of Luck awards the active player with three victory points.
  • Taxes: All players receive one victory point for each of their knights, plus one additional point for each emblem in a city with a knight.
  • Famine: All players are awarded one victory point for each finished city next to a farmer.
  • Thunderstorm: All players receive one victory point for each of their vassals which is still in their stockpile.
  • Inquisition:All player receive two victory points for each of their monks.
  • Pestilence:Each player must take one of his vasals back to his stockpile.

As you have seen, in comparison to the standard game the Wheel of Fortune events mostly focus on the triggering of additional scorings during the course of the game. However, while the introduction of such occasional evaluations certainly can increase tension, the rules for the operation of the Wheel of Fortune are depending highly on luck so that the Wheel of Fortune really lives up to its name. Thus, the players certainly may speculate on the arrival of the one or other event, but since the movement time and distance of the event-pig is determined by the random drawing of the landscape tiles it is very difficult to say whether and when a specific event will be triggered, even though it is the next space of the pig's movement path. Thus, the players loose the possibility to make strategic use of these additional scorings, and so everybody still will concentrate mainly on the situation on the gameboard in order to generate victory points there. In effect, the game becomes somewhat unbalanced since the happenings on the Wheel of Fortune are pushed to the side because they are out of the player's control, while at the same time a lucky player may harvest a good score of victory points by the timely arrival of a desired scoring. It is somewhat unnerving to see that this may decide about the final winner of the game!

Klaus-Jürgen Wrede certainly found a way which allowed him to include several events of the novel without distorting the general spirit of his game. The new rules around the Wheel of Fortune have added a much higher speculative element, and to increase this effect even further, the players now even can place one or more of their vassals on free spaces of the Wheel of Fortune instead of making a placement on the gameboard. If the Pig of Fortune should stop on such a space the player will receive his vassal back, together with a victory point bonus.

On a more positive note it should also be mentioned that players owning Carcassonne - Das Schicksalsrad certainly have a possibility to play the game either following the new speculative rules around the Wheel of Fortune, or they may also opt to stick to the standard rules. The new rules are marked and can be identified quite clearly, and since the game contains the same number of landscape tiles as the standard game in a slightly different mixture, even seasoned Carcassonne-veterans may be surprised when an unexpected tile appears.

Overall, the dual usability of Carcassonne - Das Schicksalsrad makes it possible to recommend the game to all players who do not yet own Carcassonne, since the players will have the possibility to include the Wheel of Fortune variant at their own liking. Players owning Carcassonne should be a bit more careful, since the impact of luck certainly is strongly increased by the new rules, and not all veteran players might actually like this change.

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany