Die Hanse



The unique feature of this game is also the source of many players' frustration with it. Each player owns a whole ship, but he gives half of it to the player on his left and the player on his right gives half a ship to him. On his turn, the player moves both of the ships in which he has an interest. The trouble with all this is that the two players may not agree on the direction the ship should go. Usually it does not rear its ugly head in the early going, but later if a player looks like a winner, this can be quite frustrating and even result in a ship essentially spinning in a circle and not get anywhere. More player upset has been generated by this game than any other that has ever appeared on the table. On the other hand, it is both gorgeously-illustrated and covers a little visited topic, i.e. historical sea trading in northern Europe. These features make it a good candidate for a variant.

Additional Components

Setting Up the Variant

  1. Make manageable stacks of all the commodities at the corresponding ports.
  2. Each player receives one ship half of a unique color and coins having total value of 4.
  3. As usual for this game, shuffle the Wind cards and deal one face up to the wind space in the middle of the board.
  4. Give each player a Kaperbrief card and a Privilege card.
  5. Shuffle the Wind cards and deal each player one.
  6. Shuffle the New Products cards and deal each player one.
  7. Shuffle the Harbor cards and deal each player one.
  8. Shuffle the leftover Wind, New Products and Harbor cards together into a single deck and place it on the board.
  9. The first player generates four demands and chooses two for himself. During this initial setup phase, if the size of a demand is indicated to be greater than 3, adjust it so that it is exactly 3. (See Generating Demands and Claiming Demands below). It is allowed to discuss this choice with other players.
  10. The next player generates two new demands, chooses two from the four now available and also chooses two for himself.
  11. This proceeds until each player has chosen two demands.

Goal of the Game

The game ends as soon as any player has the required number of coins, including unplayed cards, in Lübeck and no uncompleted claims. If more than one player has the required amount, the one with more coins wins. If they are tied, it is considered a tied victory.
Number of PlayersRequired Coins

Playing the Variant

Sailing and Hauling

All ships start in Lübeck and move as in the normal game. When arriving at a port, they may freely pick up as many product tokens as they have space in their ship's hold. After entering a port to pick up or deliver, a ship having remaining movement points may continue moving on the same turn.

Ship Size and Crew

A ship always requires 4 coins to hire out the crew.

Initially the player has only a half ship with three product slots. If two players wish to share crew costs, they may combine their two ship halves into a single ship which sails for the same crew cost. This ship's position on the board is indicated by one of the player's tokens and moves during this player's turn. The ship's movement must be agreed upon by the two players. If they cannot agree, the ship is moved by the player to the left. Once the ship returns to Lübeck the two ship halves are returned to their previous owners and the ship loses any leftover movement. (Note: both players in this case would receive a card.)

If players sharing a ship both claim the same demand and because they are sharing a ship deliver them both at the same time, only the player whose current turn it is gets paid.

If a player wishes to buy the second half of the ship in his own color, he may do so at any time in his own turn when the original half is in Lübeck. The cost is 10 coins.

Generating New Demands

At the start of the game the players must generate new demands using the dice and the following table. All four dice are rolled and the results written into the Demands Sheet which should be plainly visible by all players. To utilize the table:
  1. First, examine the two white dice and subtract the smaller from the larger. Write this amount in the Number column of the first empty line on the sheet. If both dice show the same number, write the number instead of writing a "0".
  2. Total the two white dice to find the corresponding row under the "White Roll" column. This provides a port that is seeking the commodity. Write this port name in the "Port" column.
  3. Then, using this row, cross-reference the red dice individually with the columns numbered 1 through 6 to determine the product being sought. Write these product names in the "Products" columns just to the right of the port. If the two results are the same, make one of the products the next column to the right, or if the number was "6", the product in the "1" column.
RollHarbor 123456
2, 9Bergen BeerClothFurGrainOreSalt
3, 10Bremen FishClothFurGrainOreSalt
4, 11Danzig BeerClothFurFishOreSalt
5, 12London BeerFishFurGrainOreSalt
6Lübeck BeerClothFurGrainOreFish
7Novgorod BeerClothFishGrainOreSalt
8Stockholm BeerClothFurGrainFishSalt

Explanation of Demands

A single line on the Demands Sheet shows two separate demands. They indicate that a particular port wants two particular commodities in a particular number. The first player to deliver on one of these demands receives payment for it.

Claiming Demands

At any time during a player's turn he can claim a particular demand by circling it and checking the column of his color. However, to do so he must be carrying the necessary load and the other demand of the line may not be already circled. Once a demand has been claimed, the following rules are strictly applied:
  1. The other demand can never be claimed or delivered.
  2. The products used to do the claiming cannot be voluntarily jettisoned or delivered elsewhere.
You must always claim a demand before you can deliver it. More than one player can be working on the same claimed demand at the same time. (Interesting races may develop.) The first player to deliver a load gets the payoff; other players who have also claimed the load must still deliver it and may not jettison the products until they do so. If however the demand has already been satisfied and the player has lost part of it due to cardplay, only the remaining part need be delivered. If the demand has already been satisfied and the entire load has been lost, it is not required to deliver at all.

The initially chosen demands are privately claimed; only the player who took them can deliver those demands. It may be convenient to mark with a "#" the corresponding space in other players' columns to help them remember that this demand is not available. Also, the players should take the tokens for such demands immediately, flipping them upside down on their ship card until the port from which they come is actually visited.

Pool Size The number of demand lines in the pool must constantly be monitored in order to satisfy the following rules (in order):

  1. The pool size ranges from 2 x N and 3 x N (inclusive).
  2. The number of unclaimed demands is 2 x N (exception: the initial pool is allowed to exceed this).
Whenever there are are fewer than 2 x N unclaimed demands, generate new demands so that there are 2 x N unclaimed demands, except do not go above 3 x N locked plus unlocked demands.

Note that demands which have been completed by at least one player, but not by all players claiming it, are not considered to be part of the pool.

To help the track these numbers, use two tokens and a printout of this track.


Upon delivery, the player cross-references the port of delivery with the product being delivered and receives that number for coins for each token delivered.

Harbor BeerClothFishFurGrainOreSalt
Bergen 33---6655
Bremen ---246656
Danzig 5662---24
London 2---47766
Lübeck 444433---
Novgorod 577---316
Stockholm 56613---5

In addition, the player turns the wares over and receives their value in extra profits. This money is placed on the ship and is unavailable to the player for upgrading purposes until the ship returns to Lübeck. At this time the coins should be removed from the ship and placed in the player's general pile.

The ware tokens are then placed at the bottom of the stacks at the port of origin.

Players might find it convenient to draw a line through a completed demands line, perhaps with a wide marker.

Whenever a ship sets out from Lübeck, it must again pay the crew cost of 4 coins, regardless of ship size.

Pitching Demands

A player who has no claimed demands may give up his entire turn and mark complete three unclaimed demands of his choice. The player may immediately claim demands (new demands or remaining old demands) using the products he currently has on board. If claiming causes more demands to appear he can claim those as well.


A player may play 1 card at any point during one's own turn. Keep in mind that a ship's movement allowance is calculated from the wind card and position it had at the start of its move, so playing a Winds card during movement will not affect the ship's speed.

The Kaperbriefe [Letters of Marque cards] and Privilegienkarten (Privilege cards) have the same meaning as in the original game, although now that Harbor cards do not need to await arriving in a port to play, the no. 3 special advantage is rendered meaningless. If not used, these cards are worth coins at the end of the game as follows:

Privilegienkarte: 6
Kaperbrief: 3

Players receive 1 new card whenever they return to Lübeck after having first visited another port.

The Hansa Day card works the same way with two alterations.

  1. Players who do not meet the Hansa Day requirement to return to Lübeck must pay 20 coins from general store.
  2. At the end of Hansa Day, each player must announce the total value of their coins in general store. Except for this time, the exact amount that each player holds is private, although the stacks should be left viewable.
Pirate Cards:

These cards work the same way with the following alterations:

  1. The initial player to move the pirate moves it just one space, the second moves it two, the third three, etc., even if the pirate card specifies a different movement rate.
  2. To determine what the ship caught by the pirates loses:
    1. Roll the red die and multiply the result by 10 to find the percentage of wares lost.
    2. Roll the white die and multiply the result by 10 to find the percentage of coins on board lost.


  1. Very Large Ships:

    Players may increase their ships even past size 2 using ship colors which are not in the game. Each additional ship half added costs 15 coins. If there are not enough to go around, it is first-come, first-served.

  2. No Writing:

    Writing things down can be avoided with a little work up front. Make up 60 cards to form the city deck, the name of each of the 6 cities appearing on 10 of them. Then make up a further 60 cards to form the wares deck, each of the 6 products to appear 10 times. Finally, procure a number of dice equal to the number of players times 3. Generating a new demand is now just a matter of drawing a city card to determine which port is demanding the wares, drawing two ware cards to determine which wares are desired (discard and draw again if a ware which is produced at that port is drawn) and rolling a die to indicate how much of the wares is desired. Lay these four items out in a row so that all players can see. Players can use markers colored the same as their ship to mark which demands they are claiming. When a claim is fulfilled, discard the cards, unless another player is still required to deliver it, in which case place the four items in front of him until he does.

Last update: Thu Sep 20 16:21:11 PDT 2001