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Subject: The Settler of Catan 5-6 Player: To Review and Expansion rss

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The Settler of Catan 5-6 Player: To Review and Expansion

The Settlers of Catan has introduced the masses to the realm of Eurogaming, and along with that honour it has also introduced the concept of game expansions. Expansions are not games in and of themselves but are instead additions which you can buy which enhance already existing games. These additions can simply add new players or more space or they can add all-new game components and mechanisms. They can enhance or altogether change the nature of a game.
Since these expansions are not complete games in themselves, I have been put in the awkward position of deciding how to review them. And so for my first expansion review I have decided to choose the Settlers of Catan 5-6 Player expansion, the simplest of Catan’s many add-ons. This expansion pack allows for the possibility of adding one or two new players to the four-player game which the base game is restricted to. I have decided that instead of repeating a review of Settlers of Catan, I will simply talk about what this expansion adds to the game and a critique on how it affects the game overall. This will be followed by a different rating scale than my usual five star rank.

Additions
The 5-6 Player expansion allows for up to two extra players, which means that two new colours must be introduced. This expansion provides two new sets of wooden pieces in green and brown, both of which are very aesthetically pleasing. There are also extra resources cards and development cards which adjust the number of resources available with the extra players as well as extra terrain hexes and ports.
The biggest change which this expansion brings to the game is the extended island. With more players involved the island needs to be bigger to prevent excess crowding. There is also an added rule which allows players to trade in on-hand resources to build at the end of each persons turn. This negates the problem of being burnt by the robber easily since it takes longer between your turns and you build up more resources in that time.

Critique
The changes to Catan for this add-on are small yet work efficiently in allowing the new players accessibility. The extra hexes which extend the island provide enough room for everyone to grow their colonies with the right balance of space and constrictions which keep the game challenging. The extra trading turn allow players a chance to build even when it’s a while for their turn. This can prevent stagnation between individual turns but can also make the game take a lot longer.
This expansion is great to have when you find yourself in the situation where your group wishes to play Catan but you have too many people for the base game. But when it comes right down to it I have to ask myself, would I rather play with 3 or 4 players, or with 5 or 6? My answer is the former. Catan works better with the base game than is does with more players. The addition of players stretches the length of the game out too much and the downtime between your own turns takes too long, despite the extra build turn in the rules. So in conclusion, this is a good expansion to have if you are a Catan fan and may find yourself in the situation where it’s needed, but the base game is still preferred.
Now for my rating. I have decided to rate my expansions on a 4 star scale which looks something like this:
- - The expansion improves upon the original base game.
- - The expansion provides a differing experience than the base game but neither improves or detracts from the base game.
- - The expansion is effective and provides an interesting new aspect, but the base game is still preferred.
- - The expansion detracts from the base game.

I have also decided to provide the 5-star rating of the base game as well as a 5-star rating for the game along with the expansion.

Expansion -
Base Game -
Base Game and Expansion -
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Edwin Tait
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I agree with this review. I bought the extension (actually before I bought the base game, since one of my friends owned the base game but not the extension) because my wife and I and our friend who taught us Catan (the base of our "gaming group," insofar as we have one) wanted to play Catan with another couple. First time around, the owner of the game sat out and taught the new couple, but this wasn't a permanent solution--hence the extension. I think I've played it more often in the past six months with the extension than with the base game (a lot of my early plays of the base game aren't logged, so I can't check this easily). I like the extension because I often seem to have a big group that wants to play Catan. But I'd rather play it with a smaller group. I hope to get one or more of the expansions (Cities and Knights, Seafarers) but probably won't get the extensions for those. That way I can play with expansions when there's a smaller group while being able to play the base game with up to six.
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Gerald McDaniel
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My experience has been a little different from yours. Our family game group includes 7 people, 6 of whom play virtually every game together. We do not wish to split up into smaller groups, so our games must accommodate 6 players. I have had to find ways to expand many 5-player games to include 6 players. I was very happy to see the 5-6 player expansion for Settlers.

I have played only one game of Settlers (as far as I recall) with 4 players; all other games have been with either 5 or 6 players, using the expansion. The expansion works very well for us, and I have no interest in playing with fewer players. Naturally, this means I would give the expansion a much higher rating than you have, although you gave it good comments.

I believe you wrote a very fair-minded review, and I enjoyed reading it.
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Jonathan Warren
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RedArmyIan wrote:
The biggest change which this expansion brings to the game is the extended island. With more players involved the island needs to be bigger to prevent excess crowding. There is also an added rule which allows players to trade in on-hand resources to build at the end of each persons turn. This negates the problem of being burnt by the robber easily since it takes longer between your turns and you build up more resources in that time.



RedArmyIan wrote:
The changes to Catan for this add-on are small yet work efficiently in allowing the new players accessibility. The extra hexes which extend the island provide enough room for everyone to grow their colonies with the right balance of space and constrictions which keep the game challenging. The extra trading turn allow players a chance to build even when it’s a while for their turn. This can prevent stagnation between individual turns but can also make the game take a lot longer.


Good review. As much as I like the larger board, IMO it is the extra trading turn that spoils the game of Catan. I would not play with more than 4 players for this very reason.
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ian o
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JoffW wrote:


Good review. As much as I like the larger board, IMO it is the extra trading turn that spoils the game of Catan. I would not play with more than 4 players for this very reason.


Perhaps a better rule would have been to simply extend the card limit in your hand, or introduce something similar to city walls.
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JoffW wrote:
Good review. As much as I like the larger board, IMO it is the extra trading turn that spoils the game of Catan.

I would agree if that were the case, but you are not using the rule correctly. In the 5-6 player expansion -- if we are going by the printed rules -- trading is not allowed during the special building phase.
 
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Jack Smith
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Radien wrote:
JoffW wrote:
Good review. As much as I like the larger board, IMO it is the extra trading turn that spoils the game of Catan.

I would agree if that were the case, but you are not using the rule correctly. In the 5-6 player expansion -- if we are going by the printed rules -- trading is not allowed during the special building phase.


I found the additional building phase sped the game up considerably and it took little additional time if people have planned ahead properly. Against that time is the massive time saving of having less chance of being caught out by the thief. I just finished a 5 player game that took an hour and we really enjoyed it. We normally take about 90 minutes for 3-4 player but we are new to the game and that will speed up too. I'm not sure everyone is following the rules correctly. From the reviews I only bought it as we can have up to 6 of us wanting to play and it was a compromise. But I found it plays rather well. I suspect it really depends on the play group. We tend to play longer, more detailed games so we do not have AP and we all try to keep the pace of the game at a reasonable level.
 
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It is my understanding that during the extra added build stage, you can only build and not trade with other players or even with the bank. So it shouldn't slow things down really.
 
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ColdAsIce wrote:
It is my understanding that during the extra added build stage, you can only build and not trade with other players or even with the bank. So it shouldn't slow things down really.


But it does. I think its that you always have to go around the table and make sure no ones building or not. It doesn't seem long, but it adds up and gets tiring.
 
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