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Suburbia meets Magic: Compete to build & manipulate a magical, shared city for big end-game bonuses




You are a member of the goblin 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.


What players are saying

“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 (objective cards)
  • 3 Scoring Cards and 6 sliders
  • 3 Reference/Information Cards
  • 48 Ownership Tokens (3 colors)
  • 24 Karma Tokens (magical pollution)
  • 3 extra baggies to keep it all tidy
  • Box big enough for everything plus future expansions


You and your opponents construct and manipulate a shared city. On your turn, you take 2 actions from the options below (Build/Achieve/Impel/Purify). You may take the same action twice.





Ending the game

When a player reaches a score of 53 gold, or the Mandate draw pile runs out, the other players each get 1 more turn. Then all players score their Mandates again and determine the winner.


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

Why are players so delighted?

Solo mode

Cartref includes an automa that plays a simple set of rules. Build a city and practice your crafty ways even when playing on your own. Player feedback about the solo mode has been just as positive as for the game as a whole. It feels like playing against a very challenging opponent that you can try to manipulate in ways not possible with a human.

Limits on spamming

Invoking a card creates pollution (karma) that prevents using a building's magic. 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.

Score mandates twice

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 providing a framework for strategic planning through the very last turn.


Need to try it first?

To get a taste of the game's mechanisms and art:

About the creator

My prior work includes:

I really enjoy creating and sharing games. Making them look cool is particularly satisfying. I also love watching peoples' eyes light up, especially when a game nears its end because the players have figured out how they're going to win.

-Chris Scaffidi


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Average Rating 2 reviews
Publish Date July 17, 2023
Edition First
Department Games
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More Info Cartref web site

Why buy this?

Winner of the 2023 BoardGameGeek 2-Player Print-and-Play Contest

  • “It is puzzly, replayable, and makes me feel quite clever."
  • "I really like how the Automa works. It is very smooth."
  • "You get a real sense of progression."


See It In Action

Ratings and Reviews

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Own It Played It Fun Priced Well High Replay Value Well Written Rules Nice Artwork


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