$10.00
Recommend
56 
 Thumb up
 Hide
18 Posts

Catan» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review of changes to the new edition rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jason Levine
United States
Cartersville
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
A NEW SETTLERS

Last November, Mayfair Games released an new, updated version of the classic board game Settlers of Catan. This is a review of the changes made to the basic game and its 5-6 Player Extension*. It assumes that you are already familiar with Settlers; if not, there are countless "overview" reviews in this very forum which explain the basics of game play.

(* Note that "Expansion" is now reserved for add-ons which change the game itself -- an add-on that only increases the potential number of players is an "Extension". While I doubt anyone will bother using the distinction in casual conversation, it is a small step towards improved clarity.)

YOU OPEN THE CHEST AND FIND...

The new Settlers box takes up the same footprint as the old one, but is an inch deeper, and is adorned with a painting of three settlers looking down a road which passes by fields, hills, etc. (representing the game tiles) as the sun sets. I find the new cover more attractive and professional, though perhaps a bit less evocative of a "medieval" feel. The back of the box has a picture of the board in play, some of the cards, and a description of the game.

Upon opening the box, the reason for the depth is clear -- Settlers now includes a plastic insert to hold all of the pieces in place. After punching out and bagging the components, everything fit very neatly into its place. Two recesses hold the hex tiles; one holds the Robber; one holds the dice; a long recess holds the frame pieces (and we throw the bags of wooden pieces underneath them); and a large square recess holds the building cards, miscellaneous pieces, and the box of resource/development cards. The insert is made of thin but sturdy black plastic, of the same quality found in most mainstream games.

Frame pieces? Yes, you no longer have to buy an expansion to prevent your Settlers board from falling apart every time someone accidentally kicks the table. The six-piece frame snaps together with puzzle-piece style connectors, forming a hexagonal border for the hex tiles. This replaces the sea tiles from previous versions. At first we were concerned, as the frame bows a bit once assembled, but when you actually build the board and then snap the frame around it, it lies flat and stable. We rocked the table and blew on it, but nothing short of picking it up caused the hex tiles to fall out.

Speaking of hex tiles... the look of the new tiles has been improved significantly. The color and pattern on each hex is still evocative of the resource which it produces, but the artwork is more realistic. The forests have a clearing with a small village inside, the hills have cascades of elevation where the settlers have mined for clay, and so on. The artwork even varies (slightly) from hex to hex -- such as each forest having a different creek running through it. The difference is noticeable, though it is less so when actually playing, since one tends to look at the board with a gamer's eye rather than an art connoisseur's.

The cards and wooden pieces have not changed significantly. The number markers, hex tiles, and frame pieces are all made of the same sturdy cardboard as in previous editions. The hex tiles have not changed in size, so mini-expansions should work fine; we've played with Fisherman of Catan without issue. The back of every cardboard piece is plain ocean, for those who want to set up variants and scenarios involving inland water or islands.

LOOKS AREN'T EVERYTHING

The new edition is more than just a facelift, but not much more. There are a few subtle differences in game play.

By now, you may have realized that replacing the old sea tiles with a new "sea frame" means that the harbors are fixed. This didn't bother us, since (A) the tiles are already randomized and (B) the number markers are more-or-less randomized if you start on a different edge every time (since they'll change when skipping the desert), so it doesn't really matter if the harbors change or not. Still, for those bothered by this, the game also includes harbor markets which you can shuffle and place over the pre-printed ones on the sea frame, for extra randomness and fidelity to the original way.

The only real rules change is one that's been floating around as a house rule for years -- you can move the Robber to the desert if you wish. Since it sometimes makes sense to do so (e.g., if that's the only way to steal a card from an opponent without hurting yourself or your 'allies of the moment'), this is a logical addition, though I hope it doesn't lead to new groups playing too pacifistically.

The game otherwise plays the same as earlier editions, which is a good thing in my opinion. When it comes to a true classic, you don't mess with the basics.

MORE! WE NEED MORE SUBJECTS!

The 5-6 Player Extension adds another 11 hex tiles, two sets of wooden pieces, 36 cards (which merely beef up the existing ones without drastically altering any ratios), and a whole new set of number markers, just like the old edition.

What's new are the four small frame pieces, which insert between the six large ones in a predefined manner, making the frame large enough to hold both batches of hex tiles. (And yes, the Extension includes four harbor pieces for random harbors as well.) You also get several blank number markers, one blank hex tile, and two blank cards to replacing lost or damaged ones, or to make your own homebrew pieces. (I turned the hex tile into a two-sized Jungle/Volcano, and made one number marker into a "1-6 Wizard's Tower", all for the respective variants.)

The good news is that the entire Extension fits in the main box's insert with only a little thinking required. The wooden pieces all fit under the frame tiles; the two sets of number markers (in baggies) fit under the hex tiles, and everything else goes where it should. The bad news is that there's no easy way to distinguish between which pieces are part of which set, so once you've mixed them together, it can take a bit of effort to separate them. (This is not a change for the worse, mind you, but it does seem like an oversight -- I would have expected them to correct this in a new edition, perhaps by altering the color of the border around the hexes and cards in the Extension.) I ran a marker around the edges of the Extension hexes to remedy this, though it may not be an issue for every group.

Aside from the placement of the sea frame pieces (and the optional random harbor placement which follows), there are no rules changes from the old edition.

MR. FOREMAN, HAVE YOU REACHED A VERDICT?

In my opinion, every change made in this new edition is a change for the better. The board looks nicer and holds together much better. The insert is useful and practical, both to streamline setup and to prevent pieces from getting dinged up as they shake around. The one rules change is unobtrusive and sensible (and already in use by many groups). In short, this edition is a clear improvement over the original.

But should you buy it? Well, that depends...

If you already have Settlers, I can't wholeheartedly recommend running out and buying this new edition. The new differences are primarily cosmetic and functional, with no real change to game play. Frankly, unless (1) you find the artwork on your tiles so drab and dull that it actively bothers you when you play, or (2) you find yourself regularly complaining about how horribly the Catan board holds together (and about how often you have to fish roads out from between hex tiles which seem bound and determined to simulate tectonic movement), you probably don't need this new version. It might make a good wishlist item for your friends to know about, though.

If you don't have Settlers, and are heading out to purchase it right now, then you definitely want this new edition. Even if you can find the old one cheaper, I'd spend a few extra bucks for the improvements which this version brings to the table. After all, you're probably going to have this game for a long time... it's a classic.
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Williams
United States
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
pkitty wrote:
The number markers, hex tiles, and frame pieces are all made of the same sturdy cardboard as in previous editions.


I could've sworn the hex tiles are thinner than they used to be, but I've not had the opportunity to compare them side by side. My group has had a problem with the hex map not resting comfortably within the frame, a hex or two seems to want to pop up.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremiah Lee
United States
Sylvania
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the info, I was wondering what the changes were, but I wasn't going to go buy a new set. I'm very happy with the art in the version I have (can't complain), and we don't really have much issue with the hexes coming apart. It's a great game, until I wear it out, we don't need a new one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jean Comeau
Canada
Laval
Quebec
flag msg tools
mbmb
Sergo wrote:
pkitty wrote:
The number markers, hex tiles, and frame pieces are all made of the same sturdy cardboard as in previous editions.


I could've sworn the hex tiles are thinner than they used to be, but I've not had the opportunity to compare them side by side. My group has had a problem with the hex map not resting comfortably within the frame, a hex or two seems to want to pop up.


I like the review above. I have bought the revised edition and I also have the same problem as the hex tiles do not seem to lay flat on the table. I wish the makers of this game would come up with plastic hex tiles instead, because I am afraid cardboard tiles bend out of shape too easily.

Otherwise this is a great game that I compare to Monopoly with more strategy and less randomness. You have to think twice before placing your initial settlements.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eryn Smit
Canada
Ohio
flag msg tools
NOT compatible with 3rd Ed. - upgrade kit coming soon
Do NOT buy the 4th Edition 5-6 player extension if you have the 3rd Edition game!

I had no idea that there had been a major revision to the game - I thought it was a cosmetic box upgrade - and bought the 4th Ed. 5-6 extension to use with my 3rd Ed. game. Big mistake! The hexes are significantly different in appearance which made for confusing game play for my newbie friends and the outer ring pieces don't fit at all.

I contacted Mayfair about this problem, and their customer service rep. said, "in February we will be releasing an "upgrade kit" so that you can play your 3rd edition Settlers game with any 4th edition expansions (the one you have and anymore you may purchase) this is particularly important if you ever plan on purchasing Seafarers as that is only compatible with this add-on." This is good news if anyone who has made the same screw up is looking to have it rectified.

BTW... anyone looking to trade their 3rd Ed 5-6 player extension for a 4th Ed version, please contact me ASAP - racheryn@cogeco.ca.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul M
United States
Elkhart
Indiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Sergo wrote:
pkitty wrote:
The number markers, hex tiles, and frame pieces are all made of the same sturdy cardboard as in previous editions.


I could've sworn the hex tiles are thinner than they used to be, but I've not had the opportunity to compare them side by side. My group has had a problem with the hex map not resting comfortably within the frame, a hex or two seems to want to pop up.

Every devoted gamer has at least one Settlers-map-sized piece of plexiglass. Use yours! laugh

My question - is it easy to tell the number markers from the base set apart from the number markers in the 5-6p expansion set? Or are they pretty much the same in that if you mixed them together, you would be in deep doo doo?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Deemer
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Do anyone know if the 4th Edition Cities and Knights is compatible with the 3rd Edition main game?

Thanks,

Bry
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick James
United States
Cape Girardeau
Missouri
flag msg tools
mb
Are the 4th edition sheep compatible with 3rd edition wood?

(Sorry. Just. Had To.)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
tim
United States
hudsonville
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
When I first purchased the 4th edition game it did not always sit flat on the table. Now that the game has been broken in and played about 100 times it sits flat and stays together almost all the time, its a definite improvement. I've had the third edition and fourth side by side and the quality of the cardboard, the cards, and the bits all seems to be the same. I prefer to play with the fourth edition but have no problem going back and forth.

In the 4th edition the number chits from the 5-6 player look identical to the number chits from the 3-4 player. Mixing them would be very difficult to unmix.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon M
United Kingdom
Hitchin
Herts
flag msg tools
brydeemer wrote:
Do anyone know if the 4th Edition Cities and Knights is compatible with the 3rd Edition main game?

Thanks,

Bry


Yes it is. It is just some wooden tokens and the flip charts. There are no hexes therefore there are no compatability problems.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Tolloty
United States
Unspecified
Ohio
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Wow....did Mayfair miss the boat on this one. They focused on the minor problem of ensuring that players don't mess up the board with an accidental bump, but not the larger one of clearly identifying which pieces belong to which game (Settlers, 5-6 player extension, Seafarers, etc.). The tear down of the 5-6 player extension as well as the Seafarers (Especially the latter) has always been painful....in fact, my group likes Seafarers but it's typically avoided because of the hassle associated with setup and teardown....trying to figure out which pieces belong to which set....and add in the 5-6 Seafarers extension, and it gets worse. However, it is good to hear that they finally added an insert in order to neatly put the game away.

Mayfair should have learned from Rio Grande's Carcassonne Big Box....all tiles have a little identifier in order to show which expansion it belongs to. I know, I know, I can mark the game up myself in order to distinguish pieces (that's what we did with the 3rd edition), but why can't Mayfair do that for me?

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr. Mike
Canada
Langley
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The number Chits on my 4th edition set are different between the base game and the expansion.

the base game numbers are black and red and the 5-6 extension is brown and maroon,

it is only a slight difference but is easy to distinguish between the 2
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Levine
United States
Cartersville
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
homer73 wrote:
The number Chits on my 4th edition set are different between the base game and the expansion.

the base game numbers are black and red and the 5-6 extension is brown and maroon,

it is only a slight difference but is easy to distinguish between the 2

Y'know, I hadn't noticed that. I never put the Base numbers and Extension numbers side-by-side to compare, but they're clearly two (slightly) different colors. I threw one in with a handful of the others, and picked it out easily. So no worries there.

I definitely think that the terrain hexes should've had differently colored borders or something, though. Of course, I guess if you mix them all together, you can just know to take out two of each plus one Desert -- but I'd rather be able to tell from looking at them (hence my using a marker around the edges of my Extension hexes). The cards aren't a big deal, IMO, because frankly, I don't take them out for a 3-4 player game. I think running out of resources is an annoyance that doesn't improve game play, so I don't mind having plenty of extra cards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Schrodinger's Dog
Canada
Medicine Hat
alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review!

One thing I noticed about the new version that you hadn't mentioned was that the scenarios included have a greater range of play(when comparing a complete, fully expanded and extended set) in the 4th edition than the 3rd edition. I own the third, and perhaps it's only because I've played the scenarios to death, but when a couple whom we hooked on Catan recently bought the new set, I thoroughly enjoyed scenario play again.

I like the artwork, layout, and overall feel the new edition contains, and agree with your recommendation to all new buyers to seek out the new edition over the older ones. If it weren't for the fact that I have collectively shelled out over $300 Canadian for all of my expansions and extensions, as well as any little add on for the game, I would seriously consider upgrading, if only for the little things that make the game easier to play.

Oh, and in regards to comments above about mixing 3rd and 4th editions, no, none of them have matching art, although if you really can't find the old 3rd editions to finish your Catan Collection, I can't see why they wouldn't function together...

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
tim
United States
hudsonville
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
nichos wrote:

Oh, and in regards to comments above about mixing 3rd and 4th editions, no, none of them have matching art, although if you really can't find the old 3rd editions to finish your Catan Collection, I can't see why they wouldn't function together...

Mayfair is now selling a compatibility kit to make 3rd edition work with 4th, I'm not sure what all it includes. I think its new cards and a border.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United Kingdom
Berkshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
btolloty wrote:
Wow....did Mayfair miss the boat on this one. They focused on the minor problem of ensuring that players don't mess up the board with an accidental bump, but not the larger one of clearly identifying which pieces belong to which game (Settlers, 5-6 player extension, Seafarers, etc.). The tear down of the 5-6 player extension as well as the Seafarers (Especially the latter) has always been painful....in fact, my group likes Seafarers but it's typically avoided because of the hassle associated with setup and teardown...


I'm really surprised to have seen several comments about people wanting the pieces of the extensions to look different (and going as far as to mark them!), so I thought I'd add a contrary view. Personally I would find it really annoying if the bits in the extensions were marked as different, and I feel it would confuse new players. I like the complete interchangeability of the pieces, and want my set to look like one single seamless game.

We just keep all the bits for our current settlers series together (Base game, Cities and Knights, and Seafarers, plus their 5&6 player extensions; all 3rd Ed) and pull out the bits we need for a particular scenario. You need to do this for all the Seafarers scenarios anyway (as they use differing tiles) and its not much more trouble to do it for the basic game setup as well.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
tim
United States
hudsonville
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Lukie wrote:

I'm really surprised to have seen several comments about people wanting the pieces of the extensions to look different (and going as far as to mark them!), so I thought I'd add a contrary view. Personally I would find it really annoying if the bits in the extensions were marked as different, and I feel it would confuse new players. I like the complete interchangeability of the pieces, and want my set to look like one single seamless game.
I've marked the edge of the tiles for the 5-6 player expansion and a different color on the edge for seafarers, plus another color for 5-6 player seafarers. This just makes it really quick and easy to sort out what tiles I need for each game. These marks are not visible while playing. I still have to manually remove cards from the development and resource decks depending on the number of players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Infinitum 3D
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
Yes, I know this review is 3 years old, but I wanted to make an update.

The Gallery Edition states in small letters on the box that it is a Stand-Alone game only, and is NOT compatible with expansions nor extentions.

The Gallery Edition is only $29.99 at Toys R Us this year, but the Settlers of Catan is $41.99 at Target. I almost returned the 4th edition for the cheaper one until I noticed the difference.

Just an FYI.

~I3D
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.