The Plague (1st edition)
- 1 General info and comments
- 2 Contents
- 3 Rules
- 4 Tile distribution
- 5 Footnotes
General info and comments
This expansion reaches deep into the game. The devastating plague makes the very layout of the land important. After a seemingly harmless incubation period, one might soon come to the conclusion that it is impossible to score any points in the face of the plague. But don’t be deceived! It is possible to guide the plague in the direction of one’s opponents and—on the other side of eradicated infestation—to protect oneself and accumulate points without further hinderance.
Starting from six Outbreak tokens, the plague spreads throughout Carcassonne. As soon as an Outbreak tile comes into play, every player must spread the plague further in his or her turn. A follower on an affected tile is removed without scoring. However, one can attempt to take flight from the plague—on the same road, farm or even with a city. Over the subsequent course of play, the players may eradicate an Outbreak, so that the plague may no longer spread in certain regions.
- A plague source tile with an active Outbreak token, and all adjacent red flea tokens, forms the region of an active plague region. An active Outbreak token without adjacent flea token also counts as an active Plague region.
- Adjacent pink flea tiles represent a latent plague region.
- A plague tile with a passive Outbreak token (field) is secured against the plague. It is never part of a Plague region.
- 6 land tiles with plague doctor symbols, from which the plague breaks out (“plague source tiles”)
- 18 flea tokens which show where the plague has spread to (red side = active, pink side = latent / inactive)
- 6 Outbreak tokens: front (numbered 1-6, with rats) = active outbreak, reverse (farm) = outbreak eradicated
Place the starting tile. Mix the tiles of the basic game,  and set aside 17 tiles. These tiles should be played first. Then mix the new plague source tiles with the remaining tiles.  Place the tokens beside the playing area.
Playing the game
The first Outbreak
As soon as a player has drawn and placed (according to the usual rules) a plague source tile, an active Plague region is created. The Outbreak token with the number “1” should be placed face-up on the tile’s plague doctor symbol. The player may not deploy a follower.
Note: An Outbreak token never divides a farm.
The Plague spreads
Once the first Outbreak token has been brought into play, the plague spreads in every subsequent turn (if possible), beginning with the player to the left of the one who placed the first source tile. During his or her turn, each player should take a flea token from the supply and place it—active side face up—on a tile which is adjacent (horizontal or vertical, not diagonal) to the Outbreak, and which does not yet have a flea on it.  
As play continues, one may alternatively place a flea on a tile adjacent to one with an active flea token. If a flea token is placed on a tile containing one or more followers, they are returned to their players without scoring.    
The active player decides at what point, during his or her turn, the Plague will spread.
Taking flight from the Plague
Once the Plague has broken out, every player may allow one (not more) of his or her followers to take flight per turn. The follower may be moved to another segment of the same road, city, or farm—no matter the distance.  
Note: If a thief takes flight, it may not cross junctions or crossings. If a farmer takes flight, it may pass under a bridge, but may not cross a road or leave its farm. Monks in cloisters cannot take flight.
The follower may not take flight to or over a tile with a flea token (either active or latent), nor to a tile with an active Outbreak. It may take flight to a tile on which there is already a follower. Naturally, a follower may not take flight over areas where there is no tile.
When a player draws and places another Plague source tile, the Outbreak token with the next highest number is placed on it. The Plague will now spread from here as well. The player who drew the tile may not place a flea token in this turn, having instead the privilege of choosing where the Outbreak will occur. From now on, each active player has a choice of which active Plague region to expand.
Note: A flea token may never be placed on a plague source tile.
Eradicating an Outbreak
When, at the start of a player’s turn, there are no more flea tokens left in the supply, the Outbreak token with the lowest visible number should be eliminated – turned onto the ‘field’ side. However, as there must always be at least one active Outbreak, after the first plague source tile has been placed, an Outbreak remains active if it is the only active one currently in play.
The region affected is now an ‘inactive’ Plague region. All adjacent flea tokens should be turned onto their ‘latent' sides; from this point on, flea tokens must be moved out of an latent epidemic region, rather than the supply.
Eradicating further Outbreaks
The next Outbreak (and always the token with the lowest number currently in play) is only eradicated when there are no more latent flea tokens which could be moved at the start of a player's turn.
It is also possible to divide a swarm of fleas by choosing to move one of them. As soon as an active flea token is no longer connected to an active Outbreak, it is turned onto its passive side. Therefore, fleas which are not connected to an active Outbreak are always inactive.
Merging Plague regions
It is quite possible for two or more Plague regions to merge together. When several active Outbreaks come to belong to the same region, all except the token with the highest number should be turned over. If inactive fleas become connected to a region with an active Outbreak, they should be turned onto their active sides again. As such, fleas which have become inactive can become active again through mergers. It is also possible for parts of a epidemic region to become cut off, in which case the flea tokens must be turned onto their latent side.
Eradicated Outbreaks can never become active again. A source tile with an Outbreak token on its ‘farm' side remains spared from the plague until the end of the game. A flea token cannot be placed on a plague tile, so one is secure from the Plague there.
Should all 18 flea tokens be part of the same Plague region, one of them should be moved to a new tile on each player’s turn. The new tile must naturally be adjacent to the active Plague region.
If a new plague source is later drawn and placed in an unconnected position, the old Plague region will become inactive. The Outbreak token should be turned onto its field side, and all 18 flea tokens should be turned onto their latent side.
If a part of a structure is afflicted by the plague, it has no impact on scoring, as long as the followers themselves are unaffected.
Total Tiles: 6
Total Outbreak Tokens: 6
Total Flea Tokens: 18
For Icons licensing and explanation please visit Icons page.
- In a response to a question, a representative of HiG noted “The Plague was not meant to be played together with other expansions.” Official rulings were still provided, so obviously the game won’t come crashing down on you, but complications may arise.
- Obviously, this assumes that you are only playing with the basic game. No matter how many expansions you are using, however, it is safe to say that you should not play a plague tile among the first 18 tile placements of the game. Whether you count river tiles (for example) as part of the first 18 tiles or as an additional set of “safe” starting tiles is up to the players.
- Given current interpretations regarding placement of the dragon and followers on features outside the City of Carcassonne and the Wheel of Fortune, it seems that the plague should also be allowed on the outside portion of these tiles. However, this is unofficial. (1/2013)
- Normal rules apply in the cities, roads, and fields outside the City of Carcassone, Wheel of Fortune, and School – placements of followers, the dragon, plague tokens, etc. occur as normal, though the special features themselves are protected.
- Followers in castles are safe from towers, the dragon, and the plague, as those things affect the tile directly, and a castle is not placed on a single tile.
- The plague does not affect the dragon or other neutral figures.
- The plague does not affect the barn, because the barn is not placed on a single tile, and the plague only affects a single tile at a time. (11/2013)
- It is unknown if the plague affects other player figures that aren’t followers (pig, builder, shepherd). (updated 4/2014)
- The rules are not clear about whether any follower anywhere in play may take flight—or only those occupying features which have been affected by the plague. Common sense would lead to think it’s the former, but an official ruling is necessary, and attempts at clarification and re-translation have been contradictory.
- As the features outside the City of Carcassonne and Wheel of Fortune can now have followers deployed to them, presumably fleeing followers could also move there. (1/2013)