Spotlight on Games
Variant for the Michael Schacht board game
Goal of the Variant
Kontor is a challenging two-player game with a nicely-realized
nautical and trading theme.
Sometimes play tends to feel constrained, however.
This variant may appeal to those who want a more wide
open game with more tactical options. Starting with less
money should make players worry more about bankruptcy.
Having fewer cards should force more planning.
Rules for the Variant
Play the game as described in the original rules making
only the following changes:
Freewheeling Kontor for 3-4 Players
- Initially, instead of the cross pattern,
the Harbor Center card (anchor) is the only card
on the table. The Ship begins on it and the Ship rules are used.
- Instead of always starting with 4 coins, each player begins with a number of coins
equal to the number of players in the game.
- The board is of size 7x7.
- Shuffle all of the special cards into the Water deck.
- Deal each player 2 cards from the Water deck and 2 cards from their Docks deck.
- The hand size is 4.
- Use the Free Choice rule so that players may replenish their hands from either
the Water or the Docks deck.
- Choose the first player randomly.
- Play is conducted sequentially, not simultaneously. That is,
a player turn is a player playing a card, resolving it,
and replenishing with a new card. Play then proceeds
in clockwise order.
- When a player places a coin card, every other player must pay a tax of 1 coin.
If a player is unable to pay, he instead places an unused
warehouse atop his cards in hand on the table. When it is his turn, he
turns in the warehouse instead of taking a turn.
- It is now permitted to use bridge and flood cards to affect
- No area is scored until the game is over. Players may wish to use
the warehouse keepers as indicate who is currently dominating
each area (i.e. place the red pawn on the distribution center
which is currently dominant).
- The Crane card does not have to be placed orthogonal to an existing
card. It may instead be played in a diagonal relationship to
a played card.
- The Tavern card permits its owner to move any warehouse in the area
to its original card and place a coin (taken from the bank or
the player's pocket) under it. The workers
at this warehouse are drunk and therefore do not count. The
owner of the tavern may change which warehouse is affected
at the start of his own turn before playing a card. If the
affected warehouse card is removed or isolated from the area
containing the tavern, the warehouse is no longer "drunk" and
the coin is removed. The same thing happens
if the ship takes the tavern card.
- All areas are scored as long as they have a size of at least 2.
For a 3- or 4-player game,
use all of the above variant rules with the addition of the following:
- In this variant, each player plays for himself, not for a partnership.
- Each player must provide some uniquely-colored tokens.
- Shuffle the two Docks decks together to form a single Docks deck.
Players are dealt their docks from this deck.
Each player can play any Docks card. The player then places
one of his tokens over the card number in order to show that
these docks belong to him.
- In this version, the relative values of commodities are changed. Now,
Spice is always more valuable than Tea and Wine.
Tea is always more valuable than Wine. (To help remember, Spice
comes from the faraway Spice Islands and so is most valuable. Tea,
coming from slightly nearer China, is only slightly less valuable.
Wine comes from relatively close France and Germany.)
- If both agree, two players may declare alliance in an area, combining their warehouses
into a single distribution center. The alliance competes as if it
were a single player. A player may only join or leave
an alliance before playing his card on his own turn.
No more than two players may be in
an alliance. If two or more areas become joined with the result that
one player is suddenly in alliance with more than one other player, then
all the involved players must break the alliances and return their warehouses to
their own distribution centers. Then players may begin to form
new alliances on the next player turn.
- At the end of the game, alliances that win areas split the points
achieved evenly, including any customs houses.
If there is an extra point left over, it goes to the player in
the alliance who contributed more warehouses. If the number is
the same, then the point is lost.
By the way, the card distribution in the game is as follows:
|3-4||3x Commodities (ship)|
|5-10||2x Commodities |
|11-28||1x Commodities (6 have ships)|
|33-38||1x Commodities |
|39-52||Water with ship|
|53-66||Water with coin|
|82-87||1x Commodities (ships)|
Picture credit to
als "Freie Hand" (letze Überarbeitung: 22-Nov-1999) --
with some very minor
rule changes, e.g. an added requirement that each player must
retain at least one of each card type in hand (which to me seems
an unnecessary restriction).
- Designer Michael Schacht maintains a
Kontor web site.
- More pictures at
Fri Jun 28 15:52:55 PDT 2002