Design and art by Chris Scaffidi

Medium-weight, passive-aggressive city-builder

1-3 players / Ages 13+ / 33-53 minutes

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You are a goblin land baron and member of the Hut Barons guild–purveyors of magical real estate for weefolk, bigfolk, and everyone in between. Use your wits and magic to amass the greatest wealth in the budding city of Cartref.

If you enjoy building a city as in Suburbia, or displaying and manipulating a tableau of cards as in Magic: The Gathering, then you’ll probably enjoy Cartref, winner of the 2023 BoardGameGeek Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest.

Distinctive Mechanics

Players score Mandates (objective cards) twice–once when initially achieved and again at the game’s end. This creates the tension of a race while also provides a framework for strategic planning through the very last turn.

Invoking a card creates pollution (“bad karma”) that prevents invocation. This creates a need to purify before re-invoking, serving as a “burn down” mechanic to limit spamming. It also indirectly generates wealth, as the guild rewards players for cleaning up pollution.

Player Feedback

“It is puzzly, replayable, and makes me feel quite clever at times.”

“It’s a unique, quick, easy-to-learn engine-building game.”

“The game was fun and easily understood by everyone.”

“I really like how the Automa works [solo mode]. It is very smooth. “

“It’s a competitive boardgame without being too mean! It’s easy to pick up, but it takes multiple attempts to develop good strategy.”

“It is an interesting card placement game that works well solo.”

“The cards look Great! They are easy on the eyes and I can quickly identify icons and tokens. The drawings are especially nice. “

“I liked being able to invoke and that it didn’t take up the whole table. Because the game finishes quickly, you feel ready to play again and do better.”

I liked the synergy between many of the building types, their inhabitants and the mandates. It’s a dynamic game!”

We liked the fact the rewards are ‘doubled’ and the potential strategy of getting early a mandate that is not so rewarding in the first moment but can prove very valuable when the game ends.”

“You get a real sense of progression with buildings improving future turns as the city forms in front of you.”

Cartref is a unique mixture of city building, card synergy, and more, all within the landscape of a fast-pace, dynamic board.”

“Like the other games Fervent Workshop has developed, Cartref delivers a well-paced, nicely-balanced game suitable for anything from a relaxed game with friends to a fierce battle between rivals.”

“Individual strategy can vary widely; the routes to victory are limited only by the wit and creativity of the competitors.”

“A player may win handily with a steady, straightforward strategy, but the game provides opportunities for those with devious minds who prefer to lie in wait and win (or lose) it all in a single, risky, long-plotted, game-ending trap. Whatever your preferred play style.”

“Cartref delivers a fun, memorable experience and will make a great addition to any board game collection.”


  • 45 building permits
  • 15 Mandates
  • 3 reference/information cards
  • 3 scoring cards
  • 6 sliders for score-tracking cards
  • Rule booklet
  • 48 ownership tokens (16 x 3 colors)
  • 24 karma tokens (pollution)
  • Box with enough space for future expansions

Status: Published

The Print-and-Play is available on Itch, and the standard edition launched on 8 Aug 2023 at The Game Crafter.

How to play

A detailed video that includes setup and gameplay for solo mode…

Interview about the game…

Spanish overview of the campaign…

Photos of prototypes

The first few are from playtesters, Federico and Nani… (Thanks, Federico & Nani!)

January prototype
January prototype
December prototype
March prototype
April prototype