The Plague (1st edition)
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General info and comments
The Plague was originally released in Spielbox in 2010.
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) or 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 a latent epidemic region, rather than the supply.
Eradicating further Outbreaks
After eradicating an outbreak, an additional outbreak (and always the token with the lowest number currently in play) may be eradicated if there are no latent flea tokens which could be moved at the start of a player's turn, but only if more than one outbreak is still active. 
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.
The plague and the double turn
During a double turn (see Traders and Builders), you perform the actions associated with the plague as follows:
- You spread the plague once at most (it can only happen at any time after placing a tile in any part of the double turn, if the tile wasn't a plague source)
- You may take flight from the plague only once (at any time during the double turn)
- You may eradicate outbreaks once at the beginning of your turn (this guarantees there will always be an inactive flea token to move unless it is the special case scenario).
Question: How does the plague behave in a double turn granted by the builder?
Answer: During a double turn, you only spread the plague once (at most). If one of the tiles is an outbreak but not the other one, you do it too. You may also take flight from the plague only once. You only eradicate the plague once at the beginning of the turn. (8/2021)
When spreading the plague, the following scenarios may happen, depending on the tiles placed:
- 1st tile: plague source (you cannot spread the plague on the first part of your turn)
- 2nd tile: plague source (you cannot spread the plague on the second part of your turn)
- 2nd tile: non-plague tile + you spread the plague (mandatory)
- 1st tile: non-plague tile + you decide to spread the plague
- 2nd tile: any (you do nothing, you already spread the plague on the first part of your turn)
- 1st tile: non-plague tile + you decide to not spread the plague yet (you wait until the second part of your turn)
- 2nd tile: plague source (you cannot spread the plague on the second part of your turn)
- 2nd tile: non-plague tile + you spread the plague (mandatory)
This section puts together all the actions described in the rules and shows how they fit togther during a normal turn and a double turn -where some actions can only happen once. The table summarizes all the actions and below you may find some diagrams that explain the main actions in full detail.
(linked to steps)
(linked to turn)
|1. Placing a tile||Step 1A. Begin turn. (C) Eradicating outbreaks|
Spreading the plague is not allowed before the tile is placed. If the tile placed is not a plague source, the active player will be able to spread the plague at any time during the rest of the turn [note 1]
|Step 1B. Draw a tile|
|Step 1C. Place a tile. (A) Adding an outbreak (a plague source cancels spreading the plague action)|
|2. Placing a follower
|Step 2B-1. Placing a wooden follower (not allowed on plague source tile)|
|Step 2B-2. Placing a phantom (not allowed on plague source tile)|
|3. Scoring a feature||...|
Diagram (A) - Adding an outbreak
Diagram (B) - Spreading the plague
Diagram (C) - Eradicating outbreaks
Total Outbreak Tokens: 6
Total Flea Tokens: 18
For Icons explanation and licensing 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.
- ↑ This sentence indicates no follower can be placed on the outbreak tile on that turn but it does not limit the placement of other figures not affected by the plague. Since the plague affects other player figures that aren't followers (pig, builder, shepherd), they should not be allowed to be deployed to a plague source tile just placed.
- ↑ 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 Carcassonne, 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)
The plague affects other player figures that aren't followers (pig, builder, shepherd).
Question: Does the plague affect special figures such as the builder, the pig and the shepherd? Are they removed if a flea token is placed on the tile they occupy?
Answer: Special figures such as the builder, the pig and the shepherd are affected by the plague. If a flea token is placed on a tile with one of your special figures, the figure will be returned to your supply.
Your builder and your pig will also return to your supply if a flea token removes your last follower on the same feature. (8/2021)
Spreading the plague is not allowed before the active player knows the tile being drawn. If it is a plague source with a valid placement, the player will not be allowed to spread the plague this turn.
Question: We assume a follower may take flight from the plague at any time during your turn, since the rules do not specify a particular moment. If this action is performed before knowing the tile you drew, you could run into a rules conflict, since you could move a flea token before knowing you will place a plague source on the same turn. Should this be allowed anyway?
Answer: No, it shouldn't. In order to avoid rules conflicts, spreading the plague [at any time] is not allowed before you know you didn't draw a plague source tile [and the tile drawn has a valid placement]. The rule allowing you to spread the plague at any time during your turn wouldn't make sense [if it could generate conflicts], so I'd skip this possibility explicitly. (8/2021)
The player may choose any follower in the playing area no matter if the feature is directly affected by the plague or not.
Question: Is any follower in play allowed to take flight from the plague or only those on features affected by the plague?
Answer: Yes, any follower can be chosen. (8/2021)
- ↑ 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)
- ↑ This sentence was mistranslated in the CAR, allowing a player to flee across an active Outbreak. This was the wording before the correction: "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."
Since a follower cannot flee to a tile with a flea token (either active or latent), it seems reasonable to infer that a follower could not be deployed to a tile with a flea token by means of a magic portal or a flying machine. The rationale behind it would be that flea tokens can become active or inactive at any time, so no follower should be allowed on a tile with a flea token.
The same reasoning could be applied to outbreak tiles. In this case, a follower could only be deployed to an outbreak tile once inactive, since its state will not change.
Special figures such as the builder, the pig and the shepherd may also take flight from the plague. In this case, the sheep tokens will move along with its shepherd.
Question: Are special figures such as the builder, the pig and the shepherd allowed to take flight from the plague as well?
Answer: Special figures like the builder, the pig and the shepherd may also take flight from the plague instead of a follower. Followers and special figures may share the same feature on a tile when taking flight. (8/2021)
This wording was updated according to the author (Christwart Conrad) to properly describe the scope of the outbreak eradication process. This process should be repeated one outbreak at a time (starting always with the oldest one still active) until at least one latent flea is generated. This iterative process will be interrupted if there is only one active outbreak left. This is the special case defined in the rules, where all the 18 fleas are active and connected to the same outbreak.
As a result, when spreading the plague, a player will either:
- Place a flea token from the supply, if available; OR
- Move a flea token in latent state (the outbreak eradication process will ensure there is at least one available when possible); OR
- Move an active flea token if and only if all the flea tokens are active and connected to the same outbreak.
The wording in the CAR didn't clarify you have to keep eradicating outbreaks when possible until there are latent flea tokens available. The wording in the CAR is as follows:
"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."
- ↑ This tile could be occupied by a means of a magic portal (see The Princess and the Dragon), a flying machine (see The Flier (Flying Machines)) or a crop circle (see Crop Circles). There is no rule that forbids it once the source has become inactive.