Game: Carcassonne: South Seas
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Carcassonne: South Seas is a 2-5 player tile-laying game in which you collect bananas, fish and clams by building a map of the islands then sell the goods to trade ships. If you have played Carcassonne then you will find South Seas very familiar, islands play like cities, bridges like roads, trade posts are like cathedrals and seas are a revamp of fields. However while the main gameplay is similar, the method of obtaining points is very different.
Tiles can have a combination of 4 symbols, bananas on islands, clams on bridges, and fish/fishing boats on sea tiles. Each turn you take a random tile and add it to the map, ensuring you match the terrain (Islands can’t suddenly stop and turn into sea). You then can place one of your workers on the tile you played. Workers can collect one the 3 resources or work on the market tiles, regardless of what they are doing they do not score until the area is complete. Though unlike regular Carcasonne you can take them back without scoring, should you need some workers to place in future rounds.
Fishing boats add a nice bit of variation to the fields of Carcassone, which many feel are unfair and confusing. When you place a fishing boat in a sea you can score it immediately (rather than having to finish an enclosed sea), take your worker back, take your fish, and cover up one of the fish symbols with a boat token. In this way the scoring of fish is kept fluid, and tempting seas full of fish can actually be completely emptied of aquatic life towards the end of the game. The fact that some tiles may have an island with no bananas, or bridge ends with no clams can actually lead to tactical choices where you finish your opponents island to prevent them from making a larger, and more valuable area which is a healthy change to the game.
|Here the red player has a banana picker standing on the island and a clam collector on the bridge, some fishing has been done toward the north of the map.|
|Our map at the end of the game, there's no denying that South Seas results in a beautiful tropical map by the end of it.|