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



Klaus-Jürgen Wrede &
Karl-Heinz Schmiel


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Over the last few years Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and HANS IM GLÜCK have enriched the world of Carcassonne with nearly a dozen smaller and larger expansions, and even some additional offsprings like Mayflower or Die Burg were created in the wake of the game's success. Following a modern trend which could be experienced with games like Samurai or San Juan, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede now has made a joint development with Karl-Heinz Schmiel, and together they have now created Cardcassonne, a new card-based version of Carcassonne.

In a way, Cardcassonne introduces the players to an inverted version of Carcassonne, since the players do not place landscape tiles and vasals, but instead they place lines of cards which feature people, animals and buildings. These cards come in four different coloured identical sets of 30 cards each, and at the beginning all these sets are shuffled into a big deck from which each player receives a fixed number of cards at the beginning of each round. Also, part of the playing preparations is the placement of four small gameboards (one for each card colour), and at the beginning a total of ten cards from the deck is revealed and these cards are placed in lines adjacent to gameboard of the matching colour. Finally, each player receives a mere two vasals ("meeples"), but the smaller figure only is used to keep track of the victory points, whereas the only figure remaining with each player is a slightly bigger meeple.


At the beginning of each round the players first try to evaluate the cards available on the table, and taking turns they then are allowed to add one card from their hand to the line of the cards matching the colour of the card played. This way the lines of cards on the table grow, until a player decides that a line has become profitable enough and places his vassal on the card which was played last in that line. However, card placement continues until all players have used up their current hand of cards plus their vasals, and so a round ends which each player being rid of both his cards and his vassal.

Now comes an evaluation, and in this evaluation each player is allowed to collect all cards which have been placed into the line where the player's vassal is standing. However, here the restriction applies that only those cards may be taken which were placed prior to the placement of the vassal. Later cards remain in the line, so that it is actually possible that a second player who has placed his vassal later into the same line may get some cards as well. And if these later cards are not taken, they will remain in the line for the next round.

The different types of cards which may be collected by the players cause different kinds of scorings. The game features people cards with either one, two or three people, and during the evaluation a player adds up both the number of people cards and the number of people shown of the people cards. He then multiplies both numbers with each other, and adds the total to his current score of victory points. Animals are collected in a similar manner, but here the number of victory points which can be scored simply depends on the number of animal cards which are collected, and as a further difference people cards are discarded after an evaluation whereas the animal cards are collected during the course of the game. In this manner a player's stockpile of animals of the different colours slowly is growing, and new victory points are generated by all animals of a colour whenever a player acquires an animal of that colour.

The third category of cards are the buildings, and these cards score quite differently. Thus, all building cards are collected face-down under a player's treasure chest marker, and they are not evaluated at the end of each round but instead at the end of the game. When the game is over, each player tries to construct as many decks of different coloured building cards as possible, and each deck will score points depending on the number of different coloured buildings available in the deck.

Apart from these normal cards, there also exist some jokers for buildings and animals which the players may use to replace a card of a colour of their choice, and in addition the deck also features a dragon and a fairy card which both score an instant value of 10 victory points upon their collection.

The game is quite easy to access even for occasional gamers, and I was surprised to discover some palpable parallels with Carcassonne even though the playing components of cards and the restricted number of meeples might suggest a quite different type of game. During playtesting I found my initial impression that the game is an "inverted" version of Carcassonne to be close to the truth, but in difference to the well-known classic I felt that Cardcassonne did put up an even higher speculative challenge. Due to the restriction of one vassal for each player the players now are hard pressed to decide whether it might be worth to place an additional card or to secure the available cards through the placement of the vassal, but I found this challenge to be quite competitive since the players where eagerly watching each other's actions in order to spot a good opportunity for the placement of a vassal while at the same time not giving the competitors access to too many remaining cards. Speculation is increased even further by the fact that each player must place his first card each turn face down, and so even a small element of bluffing comes into the game since the real value of a card only is revealed upon the evaluation at the end of a round. Overall, I found Cardcassonne to be played slightly faster than its grandfather, and even seasoned Carcassonne players in my gaming groups liked the different angle which the game took on the theme.

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Copyright & copy; 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany