Spotlight on Games > Translations
English Translation
Sat Jul 28 18:43:49 PDT 2001
Die Hanse

Pfeffersäcke und Vitalienbrüder

[The Hansa; "Pepper Sacks"* and the Vitalian Brotherhood]

Die Hanse is a family game for 3-6 players aged 10 and up. Game time approx. 1-2 hours.

First edition 1993
Author: Tom Schoeps
Co-Author: Henning Sachse
Editing: Bernd Dietrich
Assistance: Kapitän a.G. Günther Knorr
Graphics and layout: Frank Gerwin
Text: Rainer Gladys

[English Translation: Rick Heli. All translator additions in brackets.]



The players, as merchants in the time of the Hanseatic League try to carry salt from Lübeck to commercial ports and exchange them for needed products. The exchanged goods must either be brought back for domestic storage (on the storage card) or to trade offices in other harbors, in exchange for other needed products.

On the storage cards each Hansa merchant finds the products which he must in the course of the game, put in storage. Once a merchant fills his storage card, the game ends and the winner is determined.

During this time period, wares were transported in sailing ships, cogs or later holks. To reduce the risk of such a dangerous and uncertain journey, merchants formed so-called companies with one or several partners and thereby distributed valuable loads on several ships.

In this game each player shares a Hansa cog with his left and righthand neighbors. And there are risks to the voyage on all sides. Whether it be the feared pirates, the Vitalian Brotherhood as they were known, wreaking havoc, whether storms rage over the North and Baltic Seas, or a harbor is blocked, a thousand things can cause difficulties in the life of an honorable merchant...

Game Preparation

Board. The board depicts the most important trading area of the Hanse: the North and Baltic Seas with the lands which border them. All ships move on the hexagonal fields. Some particular features of the board, are listed below: Product tokens. The game contains 144 round product tokens. On one side is a colored symbol, which determines the product type. There are seven different product kinds. On the reverse side is a number which indicates the value of this product. Only salt has no numerical value, merchants obtain salt in Lübeck for free.

Products should be sorted out by type Then each product group is individually mixed and placed at the harbor on the board with its corresponding symbol so that the numbers of the product tokens are concealed.
Ware Values
We recommend the products not be laid on the water spaces, but put on the adjacent land area where they do not disturb play!

Playing cards. Next all 64 cards must be sorted out. Each player receives 1 Kaperbrief card and 1 Privilegienkarte card. If there are fewer than 6 players, lay the rest of these cards to the side.

All of the other cards are termed Hafenkarten [Harbor cards]. Remove both of the blank cards from the deck. Then sort the harbor cards into 3 piles: Wind cards [20], "Neue Warren" cards [new product cards, 12], and all remaining harbor cards [18: 3 pirate cards, 9 blockade cards, 4 storm cards, 2 return to Lübeck cards]. These 3 piles should be shuffled individually and one card from each pile dealt face down to each player. [Each player show now have five cards all told.] A wind card is drawn and placed on the board. Finally all three of the undealt harbor card decks are combined, shuffled and placed face down in the space at the upper left of the board.

Storage cards. The ten storage cards present the task which each Hansa merchant needs to fulfill. Each card differs in the product symbols and uniquely determine which six goods the player must acquire in trade. Once a product is put in the storage card, it can no longer be exchanged. Naturally, the storage houses of each player are in Lübeck. Thus, each merchant must carry with his trade goods back there, in order to unload and pick up new salt. The ten storage cards are shuffled and each player draws one of these cards which he places down in front of him for all to see.

Game pawns. The six ship pawns and the pirate ship are fit into the wooden stands.
They will indicate the current position of the trading cogs on the board. The black pirate ship and the round blockade token should be set to the side. They come into play later. Each player selects a colored ship pawn (the youngest player begins).

Ship loading. For each ship pawn there is a two-part cargo area card of the same color. The ship cargo area is halved and each half can hold up to three wares.
Each player takes the cargo area cards that match the color of his ship pawn and then the ship pawns are placed in Lübeck (or as near as space allows). As the last step in set-up, each merchant gives the person to their left the bow of their ship (the right half of the divided ship card).
Thus each player now participates in exactly 2 cogs. A player has, for example, a red stern and a blue bow cargo area before himself. Thus, on his turn he moves the red and blue halves together as a single ship.
Then each player loads the cargo areas lying before him with 6 salt (3 per half).

The Goal of the Game

All ships set out from Lübeck loaded with salt. Each merchant has a storage card, which must be filled with specific products. Through favorable planning of the ship routes and smart trading the players try to fill their own storage as quickly as possible and thus obtain the most points.

The Game Turn

Start. Each player fills both cargo halves before him with three salt product tokens. All cogs begin their journey in Lübeck. The youngest player starts and play continues clockwise.

Movement. Each merchant on his turn moves both ships which in which he half participates. The sequence in which he moves the two ships as well as the direction he moves the ships remains entirely up to him! The merchant can sail therefore in a circle or remain in place.
The cogs may be only be moved on the hexagon fields. These may be sea hexes, harbors or the canal between the North and Baltic Sea.

On the sea a ship sails at most the number of spaces indicated by the current wind card, which is displayed on the board, and applies to all players. The values will differ between the North (Nordsee) and Baltic Seas (Ostsee). The maximum movement of a ship is determined by where a ship begins its turn. If a ship begins movement from the North Sea, use the movement value on the wind card for the North Sea, even if ending in the Baltic. Accordingly, the same applies for the Baltic.

At sea, only one ship may occupy a hexagon at a time. Only in the harbors and in the canal may several ships rest in the same space at the same time. In the Helgolander Bight and Lübeck's Bight more than one ship may occupy a hex if driven there by a storm (see Harbor cards). Ships may move through hexes occupied by another ship.

When a ship comes into a harbor he stops and any remaining movement is lost. It is however allowed to exit a harbor and in the same turn re-enter the same harbor.
Note: The Hanseatic cities Hamburg and Wismar do not count as harbors in this game. They merely represent the entrance and exit to the canal.
On the canal all ships move only one hex per turn. The values on the wind card are meaningless here, and the rest of the points lost as long as one is moving in the canal. That is, as soon as one enters the canal, movement ends automatically on the first canal space. During the entire canal passage the ship may not change direction. A player must, if on his turn he finds his ship in the canal, continue on through one hex per turn. Not moving, perhaps with the goal of annoying one's partner, is not allowed.

Harbors. As soon as a cog reaches a harbor both partners can transact trades one after the other. First is always the player who moved the ship into the harbor. This player must play a Harbor card after the close of all trading.

  • Returning to Lübeck. As soon as a cog returns to Lübeck both partners may unload their products completely or partially into their own storage cards. Surplus products can be returned. Free cargo area may now be filled with salt.
    Once products are placed on a storage card they may never be exchanged out. Only as "penance" in the case of a missed Hansa Day can a product can be removed from the storage card.

  • Privilegienkarte and Kaperbrief. [Privilege Cards and Letters of Marque] At the beginning of the game each player receives one Privilegienkarte and one Kaperbrief. When and whether to play the card is decided by the player.
    These cards may be played if the turn of one's own or another's cog has just ended, including trade and play of a harbor card.
    If more than one player wants to play a Privilegienkarte or Kaperbrief at the same time, the cards are transacted successively clockwise beginning with the player who last moved his cog.
    Each card offers different possibilities from which to choose. Once played, a Privilegienkarte or Kaperbrief must be discarded.

    The Privilegienkarte affords the following three possibilities:

    1. An extra turn with one of your own cogs. The player who played his Privilegienkarte may immediately move one of his two cogs, including all actions which he can take with it, e.g. trading and play of a Harbor card.
    2. Remove the blockade. The blockade token may be removed from the board. It will first appear again via a new blockade.
    3. Play a harbor card. A Harbor card may be played from the hand even if the player has not moved a ship into a harbor.
    If a merchant has not used his Privilegienkarte by the end of the game, it is worth 1 bonus point.

    The Kaperbrief affords the following three possibilities:

    1. A Pirate turn. The player may place the pirate ship on one of the three islands of Gotland, Helgoland or Rügen as he prefers. Then he moves the pirates up to to 6 hexes. If no cog is reached, his lefthand neighbor has an additional movement point, thus a range of 7 hexes. The pirate round continues until a cog is plundered, each player adding one to the movement allowance.
    2. Remove the blockade. The blockade token is removed from the board. It will first appear again via a new blockade.
    3. Play a harbor card. A Harbor card may be played from the hand even if the player has not moved a ship into a harbor.
    If a merchant has not used his Kaperbrief by the end of the game, it is worth 2 bonus points.

  • End of Play. As soon as the storage card of a player is correctly filled, all of the other players have one more turn. Then add up points.
    First add up the tokens in one's own storage card. The merchant who first filled his storage card receives a bonus of 5 points. The partner with whom he shared the cog with which the first storage card was filled receives a bonus of 3 points. Players receive the printed bonuses for unplayed Privilegienkarte and Kaperbrief cards
    All of the points are added up and the player with the highest total wins.


    Quickstart Rules

    Harbor Card Translations

    Hansetag in Lübeck
    (Hansa Day in Lübeck)
    Jeder Kauffahrer mus in der ubernachsten Runde in Lübeck vertreten sein, sonst verliert er eine Ware aus seinem Speicher. Each merchant must have at least 1 ship in Lübeck by the end of the second round or lose a product from storage.
    Sturm auf der Nordsee (Storm on the North Sea) Alle Koggen, die sich auf der Nodsee befinden, ziehen sofort in den nachsten offenen Hafen und setzen dort 1 x aus. All cogs currently in the North Sea are immediately moved into the nearest open harbor and must wait there for 1 turn.
    Sturm auf der Nordsee (Storm on the North Sea) treibt alle Koggen, die sich auf der Nordsee befinden, in die helgolander bucht. Hier furfen jetzt mehrere Koggen stehen. All cogs currently in the North Sea are immediately moved to Helgoland Bight. Multiple ships may be in this hex for this purpose.
    Sturm auf der Ostsee (Storm on the Baltic Sea) Alle Koggen, die sich auf der Ostee befinden, ziehen sofort in den nachsten offenen Hafen und setzen dort 1 x aus. All ships currently in the Baltic Sea are immediately moved into the nearest open harbor and must wait there for one turn.
    Sturm auf der Ostsee (Storm on the Baltic Sea) treibt alle Koggen, die sich auf der ostsee befinden, in die Lübecker Bucht. Hier durfen jetzt mehrere Koggen stehen. All ships currently in the Baltic Sea are immediately moved to Lübeck Bight. Multiple ships may be in this hex for this purpose.
    Blockade vom Sund (Blockade of the Strait) Konigin Margarethe von Dänemark last den Sund für alle Hanseschiffe sperren. Queen Margaret of Denmark has blocked the strait for all Hansa ships.
    Blockade von Stockholm (Blockade of Stockholm) wird von den feindlichen Danen belagert. Alle Erze werden daher für den Bau von neuem Kreigsgerat gebraucht. Stockholm is besieged by hostile Danes. All ore is needed for the building of new war machines. [Stockholm blockaded]
    Blockade von Bergen (Blockade of Bergen) Konig Håkon erhebt drastische Steuern und Zolle, daher meidet die Hanse diesen Hafen. King Håkon drastically raises taxes and duties; thus, the Hansa avoids this harbor. [Bergen blockaded]
    Blockade von Danzig (Blockade of Danzig) Der Deutsche Orden ist gerade damit beschaftigt, einen Aufstand niederzuschlagen. Keine gute Gegend fur friedliche Handler. German soldiers are busy putting down a riot. Not a good area for peaceful traders. [Danzig blockaded]
    Blockade von London (Blockade of London) Farber, Weber und Kuper arbeiten nicht mehr, weil die karge Bezahlung nicht ausreicht. Es gibt zur Zeit keine Tuche mehr. Dyers, weavers and cloth makers are on strike due to falling prices. There is no cloth available. [London blockaded]
    Blockade von Nowgorod (Blockade of Novgorod) wurde von Piraten erobert und geplundert. Wegen der rechtlosen Zustande ist dies kein Hafen mehr fur ehrliche Handler. Novgorod has been conquered and plundered by pirates. Because of the lawless conditions this harbor is not fit for for honorable traders. [Novgorod blockaded]
    Blockade von Bremen (Blockade of Bremen) Die Hinrichtung Stortebekers zog viele Menschen an. Daher wurde alles Bier nach Hamburg verkauft und dort ausgetrunken. An execution has attracted a great crowd. Therefore all the beer has been sold and drunk in Hamburg. [Bremen blockaded]
    Blockade von Lübeck (Blockade of Lübeck) Wegen der grosen Pestepedemie darf Lübeck nicht angefahren werden. No ships may enter Lübeck due to plague epidemic. [Lübeck blockaded; this card nullified by Hansetag]
    Vitalienbrüder auf Kaperfahrt (Vitalian Brotherhood on a raid) Das Piratenshiff startet mit 5 Zugpunkten von Helgoland. The pirate ship is placed in Helgoland and starts with 5 movement points.
    Vitalienbrüder auf Kaperfahrt (Vitalian Brotherhood on a raid) Das Piratenshiff startet mit 4 Zugpunkten von Gotland. The pirate ship is placed in Gotland and starts with 4 movement points.
    Vitalienbrüder auf Kaperfahrt (Vitalian Brotherhood on a raid) Das Piratenshiff startet mit 3 Zugpunkten von Rügen. The pirate ship is placed in Rügen and starts with 3 movement points.
    Neue Waren in: (New products in) [Place the appropriate number of new products in the harbor listed on the card. Fish (Stockfisch), Beer (Bier), Grain (Getreide), Cloth (Tuche), Fur (Pelze), Ore (Erze).]

    [* "Pfeffersäcke" is a slang term for very wealthy merchants.]

    Thanks for the suggestions of Steffan O'Sullivan.