Joerg's Settlers of Catan Ideas

I have been toying with Catan variants for years, and I'd like to get some feedback from other people who created scenarios and variants. One thing I like about the Settlers of Catan game is that it makes it easy to create playable variants without having to produce a new game along with the game material from scratch. Mostly when I look at a new member of the Catan family I tend to look at the rules as modules that can be used with other modules. Any input appreciated.

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Crop Trust scenario

Jörg Baumgartner
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I just watched the Crop Trust videos from GenCon - both the one in the description of the game here, and one from the Game Trade Media channel on youtube

The Crop Trust a worthy NGO endeavor in the real world which stores all manner of seeds in a vault on Svalbard to ensure that future farmers will be able to plant these crops should some epidemic destroy all existing crops, and is the recipient of any proceeds from the sale of this scenario beyond production cost.

In this regard, the scenario is similar to the ecological infotainment of the Oil Springs scenario for Catan. Which is all nice and well, but too much of an Aesop for me, and not quite keeping with the iron age/medieval feel of the Catan game.

Fortunately (for me), this struggle to maintain enough of a seed stock to be able to replant is a problem as old as agriculture with cultivates of grain and other food plants, and applies to all eras of Catan gaming except Settlers of the Stone Age (which is pre-agricultural). For my gaming, an image of a stabbur (the Norwegian style barn) for the seed management will likely replace the Food Trust vault entrance.

Now that the rules for this scenario are available for download, I'll check my observations. I also replaced a defunct link to a playtest picture on a trader's site with this picture showing the contents (for the German/continental version of the game):

So this is my somewhat educated guess at what components will be in the scenario:

- One fields hex to replace the desert hex of the basic game, in the Mentzer optics of the most recent international editions.
- Seed type chits - these are placed on the field hexes, in your vault tracks, and in the vault (from which they can be re-distributed to field hexes).
- Ecological consequence chits - these are placed under your stock of settlements and cities, very much like in Catan: A Game of Thrones: Brotherhood of the Watch. When you place a settlement or city, you flip the chit below it and apply the results to the board. If the parallel to the Game of Thrones rules holds, one such chit will also be flipped each time the Longest Road or the Greatest Army switches owners.

One thing shown on the trader's pre-release image of the game appears to have gone from the published version:
- A set of production number chits to replace those of the basic game, with the dots replaced by crop symbols which indicate the starting layout of the crops on the board.

From what has been shown and told in the videos, this scenario (or variant) makes a nifty combination of a number of ideas that have been around for a while.

Depending on the number chits on the grain fields (which appear to be replaced from the normal number chits, judging from the image of the game board above), up to five types of food crop are placed on a field hex.

When food is harvested, the harvesting player removes one type of crop from the field. He can then decide whether to use that crop as a food card or whether to store it as a seed in the seed bank.
The videos don't state who removes the seed type (my guess is the active player, but possibly every player who has a settlement or city on that hex).

No food can be harvested from a grain hex without seed tokens. The game ends with a loss to all players when there are no seed tokens left on the board (and presumably none in the vault).

In order to be able to deposit a seed in the seed bank, a payment of one wood and one ore appears to be necessary. The reward for placing a seed is a token on your vault bar. Each player has two rows of this bar.

It looks like once you have deposited a seed in the vault, four seed tokens are put in the vault. In a later turn (I suppose) the player may distribute these seeds to the field hexes. I have no idea whether the initial seed types on the number chits restrict the type of seed you can grow on a hex, but I would guess that that's not the case. It is possible that there is a limit to the number of seed tokens you can place on a field hex equivalent to the production dots of the hex, but that too is speculation at this point.

For the second seed deposited that way, the vault must have been emptied first, the player must have refreshed the field hexes with that type of seed.

This doesn't seem to be the case.

The game starts with for pieces of one seed type per player deposited in the vault. That way, harvesting food won't immediately remove it from the game. In a four player game, all plant types but wheat can be re-distributed.

Depositing a seed for the second time in the vault will earn the player a development card. Two rows of the vault suggest you have to do this first for both vault slots before you can approach the higher rewards: victory points.

Theoretically, you could gain 6 victory points from storing seeds in the vault and distributing them on the fields of the board. Altruism can pay...

Each player appears to be able to store up to two different types of seed in the vault. It isn't clear to me whether the vault can be emptied of seeds when such seeds still are available on the board, or whether some such seeds remain in the vault, or whether only such seeds can be emptied that can allocate all the seeds on the board.

Edit with hindsight/insight to the rules: Every player can store each type of seed twice in his vault. The first of each type goes into the first row, the second into the second row.

Storing a seed type is independent from harvesting food. Once per turn a player may spend one wood and one ore to take a plant token from one of the field hexes he has a settlement or city on and place it in his rewards card.

As soon as a fruit has been placed on the rewards card, that player places four seeds of that type on the free field of his color in the Vault. Then he takes the (up to) four seed chits from the other field in the vault and distributes them to four (of the five) different field hexes. Each field hex can hold up to seven fruits, and may contain several fruits of one kind.

One thing under-explained in that video are the four types of calamities that occur whenever a settlement is built or upgraded:

Type one affects all field hexes with the resource number shown on the chit (which may be only one), and which type of plant is eliminated from those hexes.

Type 2 demands that two plant chits of the indicated kind are removed from anywhere on the game board, type 3 demands that three such plant chits are removed.

Type 4 eliminates any monoculture - field hexes with only one type of plant chit are removed. It isn't entirely clear whether this is applied to all field hexes that qualify (I suppose it is), or whether the player can choose which hex to affect if more than one field hexes qualify.

Like in Oil Springs (or Catan:Game of Thrones), it is possible that all players lose when there are no more productive field hexes.

The rules have two conditions that end the game:

Three field hexes are left without any plant (due to either greed or hit by calamities)
Two types of harvest plants have been removed from the game.

Otherwise, the player who reaches 10 Victory points in his turn without triggering either of these two conditions when earning the missing victory point wins the game.

Any player who triggers one of the loss conditions in the harvest phase (or through unwise choice of storage of a plant type) automatically loses. This can be multiple players. The player with the most plants on his reward tablet wins, with victory points as the only tie breaker. If two or more players have the highest amount of plant chits on their reward card and the highest number of victory points, both (or even all) win.

This scenario is a good study how to integrate concepts from earlier games into a scenario and create something new from that. When I list the inheritance, this is in no way meant to indicate a lack of new ideas by the designers, but instead meant to highlight how looking at existing variants for concepts and combining them creates something new and worthwhile, without having the players required to relearn new concepts every time.

Adverse consequences of building activities are an old concept first seen in the Desert Riders scenario from Die Siedler von Catan: Das Buch zum Spielen, taken over in the Great Wall scenario in Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien II and Barbarian Attack in Catan: Traders & Barbarians. This scenario uses the same method as A Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch (the modernized version of the Great Wall scenario), placing consequence chits under the building stock.

The two vault tracks are a variant of the mission bars introduced in Catan: Explorers & Pirates and applies them to another Catan game variant.

The concept looks like it is workable with any of the official expansions, though possibly requiring some DIY for games with more material for consequences or seed tokens.

I wonder whether a similar mechanic for the pasture hexes, with different types of herds, might be useful for my (right now) shelved idea of cattle raiders for a Catan variant.
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Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:20 am
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So I tried out Game of Thrones Catan

Jörg Baumgartner
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Yesterday I had my sister's family over for my birthday, and I got them to play a game of Game of Thrones Catan (German language edition).

My sister's family is a weird mix - my sister insists I received all the gaming genes running in our family, but her older daughter is as much a gamer as I and her father are.

I guess I'll stop forcing my sister into these games.

Anyway, to the gaming experience itself. Given the title of this blog, I skipped right over the basic game option of that box and went for the Brotherhood game.

Production value

The German material doesn't have any production problems that I could find. The hero cards are fine, and if there is one road less than in the standard game, nobody noticed. The game is designed to end quite likely before any player could reach 10 victory points.

The size of the resource cards was unfamiliar for European gamers. While the Development cards actually have enough space to print the full rules on them, smaller cards mean less space beside the player assets is used up.

For comparison, we also played Khan of Khans, another game with the rules of the card printed on each card, doing fine with the smaller scale cards.

The lack of certain development cards for the basic game is a huge non-issue for me. I own several decks of development cards that rarely see use, due to my preference for Catan: Cities & Knights.

I like the graphics used for this, and the fact that all backsides are useable as ice desert. The hexes can make for a good reclamation and discovery game "After the Winter", of themselves or in addition to another Catan game.

I am not a big fan of plastic miniatures. The color choice for this game is definitely unfortunate, blue and black are pretty hard to tell apart in less than ideal lighting. The wildlings are fiddlier than I expected. Their bases suffice to block the production numbers, though. Adding a small bit of black paint to the climbers' might make them stand out much better. Painting twenty axe bearers in identical pose individually isn't something I would consider, not at that scale.

I know it is a different and much smaller market, and it would have pushed the price range right into the scale of Petersen Games' Cthulhu Wars and Glorantha: The Gods War, a bunch of minis useable for other purposes would have been nice, and might have kicked off a sideline rpg line with the AGOT license with no extra cost for the minis molds. Same for the guardians. As is, these minis will see use for this game only, except maybe for the giants.

The wildling movement numbers were invisible behind the wall pieces. While those are supposed to look epic and impressive, less might have been more. In the end, these are just hollow plastic blocks blocking the view to what goes on behind the wall. In a way, this captures the spirit of the game premise, but in usability this is a minus point.

The frame is fairly massive, but functionally so. It offers the best stability I have seen so far in a Catan product. Unfortunately, this makes it incompatible for combination with other Catan games. The same goes for its cards, unless you use same size Mayfair card decks and sleeves with opaque backsides, hiding the nice backside artwork.

The English language version is getting a lot of flak for its components.
Absence of the Monopoly development card is fine for the full game. The game without the wall is really a training wheel run to bring AGOT fans who are ignorant of Catan up to date with the basic income mechanics. Playing this game as is without the wall is pretty pointless. A Seven Kingdoms Catan would look different.

Game play

The Heroes make a big difference, and offer good tactical options. Having them reusable rather than as two-time gimmick as per the legacy game of Legend of the Sea Robbers makes them a fairly dominant portion of the game, adding a surprisingly tactical element. Samwell made a huge difference for the first few turns - trade or resource replacement options aren't worth much if you have no excess cards to trade off.

I have played the old version of the Great Wall (Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien II) before, though none of the other players had. This game has a variable board and can be played with three players, too, making it more accessible than the fixed layout for the Great Wall scenario. Another improvement is the cooperative nature of the wall defense.

Or, as it turned out in yesterday's game, lack of cooperation. Of four wall segments, the initial guards (except for mine) were placed on the same segment of the wall, safely behind the backs of players who set up earlier. I quickly upped my guard complement to four, but failed to place the fifth guard. I lost one guard to a giant, having set up first on three of the four wall segments, which meant that in the end game I only was even with two other players when the wall finally broke, and had less VP because I had less VP development cards. I should have used Benjen Stark to remove that giant, rather than rely on Ser Alisar to allow me to up my number of guardians. The wisdom of hindsight...

(I did hold "largest patrol", though - rather unusually for my normal gaming style, which is more a longest road type.) If I had allowed other segments to remain unguarded, I might have won earlier in the game, but I am a builder at heart, more so than a competitive cutthroat. (Enough of that though that I have yet to play a game of Gods War and not win it...)

Placement of the trade stations was a bit unfortunate using the proposed layout, but with the heroes allowing various other trade or resource substitution options, the trade stations were hardly that much of a game changer.
Usually I hate it when trade is dumbed down to "3:1" basic trade with the bank, but this game had enough of theme going on for that aspect not to matter much to me.

Theme and license: worth it.

Limiting the game to the Brotherhood was a damn smart move. The overall theme of the Catan game and the Song of Ice and Fire don't have much in common, but in this regard, it actually works.

There are a few similar themes in earlier Catan scenarios - check out Kelvyn Chung's most recent Scenario guide (announced and linked here) for Desert dragons and The Great Wall, but the three distinct types of Wildlings, the concept of three different camps to gather them all have been inspired by the situation at the Wall. Without the theme, we would have only one boring type of invader, now we have two different ones, and a special attack on the wall forces. Overall, the game profited from the setting adaptation.

Would another theme have created this variation of threats? I doubt it. Neither Hadrian's Wall nor the Germanic Limes would have provided this, and the Great Wall of China only had one tactical type of threat, too.

Use of the Helper cards and re-theming them for the Wall was shrewd. The Helpers haven't missed a single Catan spin-off since Merchants of Europe, and they do add to the game. What kept me so long from using them? Right, C&K.

I think I like the legacy limited use of Helpers as in Catan: Seafarers Scenario – Legend of the Sea Robbers a bit better. Rather than always having a helper to draw from common pool, each player has his own, hard earned collection of helpers to play with, with each helper only twice in the entire game, but having a choice of helpers for each round.

More about this elsewhere in this blog.

Potential for reuse of material and concepts

I mentioned the lost chance of producing a set of wildling minis in roleplaying format. Admittedly, the giant pieces would probably rival the Cthulhu Wars greater monster "miniatures" in size.

As the game is presented, wooden meeples in standard player colors would definitely have been an option. I like the giant mini, but the other two variants are just ok. Catan: Traders & Barbarians offers barbarian pieces for the standard wildlings in sufficient numbers, and Catan: Explorers & Pirates has the units to stand guard on a wall tha could be produced from a profile wooden sectional strip. offers fortress pieces to use rather than churches if you wish to remain true to the theme, and all that is missing then are meeples for the climbers (why not use Carcassonne ones?) and for the giants.

All this token replacement thoughts wouldn't have been necessary if the player colors had stuck to standard Catan colors, though. Even if white and orange aren't that popular. I cannot imagine that this color scheme is any more friendly to red-green weakness than the original set.

Catan game components: Land hexes, and having the ice desert (or salt desert) as a new resource hex type, offers a number of possibilities when combining with material from a normal Catan game. It is a pity that the theme forbids sea front sides for the hexes - a discovery game into a shelf ice with a hidden land of plenty under the ice might make a nice pulpy/magical theme for a scenario. Put it on my to-do-list, or pick up that scenario idea and show me how it is done.

Mixing in components from other Catan games might be possible, but would detract from the theme. I could see a crossover with Traders and Barbarians from the T&B box. Having the patrol with the rider figures from the Barbarian Attack scenario might be a nice idea, too, but given the rather stringent "three strikes" concept for the breakthroughs and the concentration of wildlings near the wall sort of prohibits that. But if the reavers from the iron islands were to invade the coasts... nah, too much going on then on too limited space.

Adding more helpers from a second set with a limited use like in Legend of the Sea Robbers might make the initial game phase fairer than limiting the aqueduct function of Samwell Tarly to one player only. Passing on the dice without having done anything should be a player's decision rather than forced by lack of hand cards. The Starfarers of Catan used a support stack of cards, this game's initial phase might be sped up by something like that, too.

(Funnily, we experienced a similar effect in our first run of Khan of Khans yesterday, with hardly any herds in our possession when those special cards cropped up - definitely a factor in de-motivating my already listless non-gamer sister.)
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Thu Jan 4, 2018 11:59 am
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Resource Brokers of Catan - speeding up the game.

Jörg Baumgartner
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Reviewing yesterday's run of Game of Throne Catan, I lost myself pondering the income problem in Catan, and I thought about adding a basic income card to enable people to do something on turns. Without at least two or three resource cards, you cannot do anything on your turn.

Production in Catan games is too random. Even as someone who accepts this as a feature rather than a flaw, it detracts from the gaming experience if all you can do on your turn is to feed resources to other players and then pass on the dice.

So, why not add a few more dice to reduce randomness? And yes, I am serious.

Take the dice from the Catan dice game, or take an ordinary D6 and roll on a table, matching the numbers to the resources and gold. Gold can be traded with the bank 2:1 for a resource of your choice up to two times on your own turn.

Optional: If gold is not used for other purposes in the game (like paying road tolls or buying off the privateer in E&P), gold pieces held in excess of 5 are eligible for raiding by the robber. When a seven is rolled, half of the gold pieces in excess of 5 are lost as taxes. (City walls don't help against this, helper cards do.)

Each player rolls one resource die each turn, and the active player rolls two dice.

However, those aren't resources you are allowed to keep (unless you are badly lagging behind in VP), they are to be traded away. Only when traded away, the rolled resource is transformed into a resourcce card or a gold piece.

The active player may trade his dice with other players. Once the dice change hands, they are transformed into resource cards.

He may also allow or forbid trade between two other players, earning 1 gold for each such trade. That's half of a resource of his own choice just for saying yes.

Dice resources cannot be traded for anything but dice resources.

As a catch-up mechanism, players lagging badly behind (three VP behind the leader) may roll an additional trade die. On their own turn, players 3 points behind the leader may transform one of their rolled dice directly into a resource card. Players 5 points behind may transform a second such die.

Given the presence of "gold" on these resource dice, why not go the whole hog and introduce the gold income from E&P, and possibly have some building types produce gold rather than additional resources?

With this extra wealth of income, there might be the need for extra things to spend them on. Like e.g. an extra set of Development Cards (as e.g. in the Heroes & Capitols (fan expansion for Settlers of Catan), or itens adapted from the Catan card games. And maybe also introduce the event die from the card game for two.

Once again: random resource production is a feature in Catan, not a bug. But sitting around with nothing to do for lack of resources is a bug, not a feature. This idea might speed up the building side of the game, calls for increased interaction of players, and offers some opportunity to introduce additional material or difficulties.
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Thu Jan 4, 2018 10:37 am
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Looking for possible legacy elements in Catan: Kingdom Builder Score Cards

Jörg Baumgartner
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An image search for Catan helper cards in English (which I don't own) also brought up an image of Kingdom Builder score cards. Unaware of the origin of those cards, I wasted some time trying to find a Catan fan expansion using such score or mission cards before I could identify the origin of these cards. (I have rather few plays of Kingdom Builder under my belt, and with a German edition, so I didn't recognize that.)

Let's have a look at those cards. The image shows 10 cards, and browsing Kingdom Builder's images I found two more which may have come from expansions.

Fishermen: Build settlements on the waterfront.
1 gold for each of your own settlements build adjacent to one or more water hexes.

Sure, that would work for Catan. Whether "gold" is the currency to decide upon the victory point total, or just contributing to a prestige total resulting in VP or legacy points can be postponed.

Miners: Build settlements next to a mountain.

This made me think about a variant of the Specialists variant from e.g. Das Buch zum Spielen or Catanimals.

Best Fisher, best Farmer, best Shepherd, best Miner, best Brickmaker, best Lumberjack, best Gold Washer - all of this exists in the "Specialists" variant, providing a victory point (or for a campaign, possibly a prestige point) and a nice but not overpowering ability to earn 1 item more of a specific form of income across the whole board. (The fishers are a later addition, but work fine with the same mechanic.) In the existing variant all of these are for the grabs for everybody, and only the first and best gets to keep these specialists. The Green Folk friend cards from Starfarers offer the same abilities, but without the VP attached.

Farmers: Build settlements in all sectors.
No such thing as sectors in a game of Catan, but I have played variants which had three distinct islands (Transport Settlers), and derivatives thereof, so this could be pointing to an idea for one of the bigger games I like to play. (Those games may end up less short-term competitive than the ones preferred by people who complain about the game length of Catan, but those players aren't exactly my target group for this kind of campaign play.) The rest of that card's text doesn't make that much sense.

Citizens: Create a large settlement area.
Get a bonus for your largest road network. Ok, once more this relies on having non-contiguous settlement areas, created by moveable ships or land units carrying settlers or outposts.

Lords: Build the most settlements in each sector.
This works fine on distributed islands.

Merchants: Connect location and castle hexes.
Such hexes exist in the Traders and Barbarians scenario from the T&B box, which offers other such location hexes, too. Other variants have special locations like the council island in E&P, too, and in C&K the three metropolises can act like locations.
So, how to connect them? E.g. by creating public highways - a variant I am working on, taking the Nürnberg concept of toll roads and the Merchants of Europe trade routes to a variable hex game.

Workers: Build settlements next to location or castle hexes.
Use "locations" like for the merchants above, and define "next to" as a maximum number of edges away from the locations (or offer less of a reward the further away you are), and you're ready to go.

Hermits: Create many settlement areas.
The opposite of citizens. Manageable with mobile units able to found new settlements.
An alternative reading might be "gain points for settlements (rather than cities or other upgrades) on the board."

Knights and Discoverers both are quite specific to Kingdom Builder, but are easily replaced by activities typical for Catan.

The score cards work differently from the specialist cards. You don't have to be the best at the task printed on them, but you will be rewarded by how good you performed completing these tasks. And not everybody will have access to these, but you may have two or three of these influence groups powerful in your faction to reward you for those activities.

And that's exactly what a legacy mechanism in a campaign of Catan games is meant to provide - individualized factions, able to play the same game as the other players, working both to the goals and inside the restrictions of the scenario, but also fulfilling some personal agenda.

Do these individually held score cards promote "playing their own solo game on the same board while the others are playing a competitive game" (quoted from Phil Fleischmann's comment in Re: The Settlers of Hyrule , and a valid criticism of such game design)?

Yes, to a certain extent. But other variants or scenarios have similarly individualized projects, like e.g. Seafarers' Wonders of Catan scenario, or in the various variants named "Nations of Catan", "Civilizations of Catan", "Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlacht)", or the various Fantasy Settlers.

Looking at the Legacy mechanism used in Legend of the Sea Robbers, a helper card may be used only two times in any "chapter" of the campaign, and "Legend of the Sea Robbers" is the only implementation of Helper cards that allows a player to have more than one helper card in play at the same time, and only allows use of a single helper (or friend) card in the same turn. That is a maximum of 8 possible uses of a friendship card in chapter 4 (provided you managed to get the extra friendship card in chapter 2).

The Friend effects in Starfarers are as a rule a lot more powerful, lasting for the rest of the game. They do require activation through docking to the respective trade harbors, which is a race for the cheapest position. Only the Diplomats and the Wandering Folk (from the 5-6 player game) have one use cards which feel a bit like losing out.

Such abilities may be too strong to inherit actively from the beginning. The faction may still be able to activate such an ability, but that should require some effort and accomplishment.

Score cards like the ones from Kingdom Builder are a lot more subtle. They provide extra victory points or legend points at the end of the chapter without providing a power during the game. They may decide which strategy a faction might favor in a given chapter scenario, though.

Story-wise, these cards reflect the satisfaction of certain influence groups within your faction. In order to be able to play them as bonus options for a chapter, your faction must have fulfilled some minimum requirement to obtain this card in a previous chapter.

These cards might come in different levels of achievement, and their requirements might rise over the course of the campaign, but so might their reward.

There could be a limit to how many score cards a faction may use in any given chapter. Some interest groups might be totally unsuited for a given scenario - like e.g. fishermen in a scenario about finding and colonizing oases in a vast desert. The exact mechanics for including these cards need some further thought, as do their exact requirements and rewards, possibly adapted for each step, and possibly modified by the chapter scenario.

There might be a game mechanism that allows to play a second or even third score card at some later point in the game, allowing the player to adapt to his situation on the board, or to further a legacy component rather than the primary goal of the chapter. Similar rules could exist for other legacy elements in a given chapter. These events could be tied to an achievement either by all players (cooperative), by a leading player (competitive but unlocking for all players), or by individual activation.

More on competitive vs. solo game on common board:
While the chapters are supposed to be competitive, there should also be some minimum chapter achievement reached in the chapter in order to allow the factions to gain legacy elements from this play of the chapter. A failed chapter might be reprised later in the campaign, somewhat modified, especially if there are legacy elements in the chapter which are later built upon.

How has Klaus Teuber handled such ideas in his Catan games?

The Rivals for Catan: Age of Enlightenment has a scenario "The Era of Prosperity" which tracks the satisfaction of the two principalities. The satisfaction of the populace is measured in stars (which might trigger some pre-school memories for people), which act as a currency and thereby as a prerequisite to use certain abilities.

The card games usually rely on discrete settlement expansions or city expansions to earn special abilities or victory, economy or military points. The old card game introduced magical power, the Rivals have owls (for wisdom) and stars (for prosperity/satisfaction).

In keeping with my post about legacy cards with both positive and negative effects, a variant where negative satisfaction points must be reduced in order to be able to end the game is possible.
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Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:50 pm
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Temples of Catan: Helper Deities as mixed blessing?

Jörg Baumgartner
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Another variant idea in the making - this post might be edited a lot as the idea grows into a variant, but I would appreciate feedback for this idea while working on it.

Revisiting the Legend of the Sea Robbers thanks to the publication of official C&K combination rules on, I wondered whether there should be something like "negative helpers" in a Legacy game.

The previous post in this blog, An Overview over the Helper Cards in the Catan games to date was created in research for the Helper abilities used in various Catan games so far.

Each player faction might have an ancient nemesis, or possibly have a debt to a helper from an earlier game. Each such card will have a condition that will render the negative ability (one that might be paid for by other players, or triggered by dice rolls or some activity) neutralized, and possibly yield a positive ability that the owning player can pay for.

So, each such nemesis or debtor needs an ability that harms or hinders the player's faction, a condition to pay the debt off, and some positive effect afterwards (like a positive ability or a victory point). Or maybe using the concept of Heroes & Capitols (fan expansion for Settlers of Catan) hero cards with a separate event/income die added for the subsequent benefit.

If you play in a fantasy version of Catan, you might have gods rather than people as helpers - that's how Ancient Egypt introduces its themed Helper cards. Deities want temples, of course. So, analogous to the Seafarers scenario "Wonders of Catan", each deity may have their own progress track with building costs for each stage, and possibly an extra point for "Blessing of this deity" if you lead in building these stages, or a negative victory point for lagging behind in your devotions to this deity.

The cardgame "Rivals for Catan" has expansions which deal with the old belief in the Aesir, so why not create a couple of deity cards for this pantheon? And maybe the continental church as well.

So lets take a shot at assigning the gods of Valhalla to re-theme the Helper cards from the previous post to the Aesir:

Move a Road: Odin - chief god, master of the ways
Special Trade Pricing: Freir - god of wealth
Resource Compensation: Freya - goddess of fertility and love
Protecton from "7": Heimdall - the guardian
Forced Trade: Tyr - god of war
Makeshift road (or ship) building: Thor - thunder god
Shipyard: Njörd - god of the seas
Double Raid: Loki - the trickster
Alms for the Poor: Frigg - wife of Odin
Swords into Plowshares: Baldur - the bright one
Choose Development Card:The Norns - the weavers of fate and luck
Banish the Robber: Hel - goddess of the underworld
Smithy: Wayland the Smith

However, I wanted to have a negative ability at first, building cost for getting into better graces with that deity, and a positive ability when in better grace. Plus a positive victory point for the best (first) builder of temples to this god, and 1 negative victory point for all players who share the last place (unless they built the temple to the maximum).

The extra victory points maybe not for all of the gods, but for the three main deities of the pantheon, Odin, Thor and Freir. And for the christian church. These major deities' temples may have 3 or 4 stages.

Alternatively, those greater gods may each have a communal building project (similar to the pyramid in Ancient Egypt) that the players can contribute to. In that case, there might be different steps that need completion (changing building cost as the projects advance), and on a "7" neutral pieces might be inserted, possibly switching the building requirements.

Lesser deities don't give negative VP, but still make a player vulnerable to their wrath until at least an altar is built (stage 1). Stage 2 may grant a benefit. First player to build a temple (stage 3) gains a victory point.

How to distribute deities?
The three main deities plus the church should be common to all players, whereas lesser deities may be selected from a display, or possibly a limited display. Whenever a player finishes at least the first stage of a lesser deity's buildings, he must select a new lesser deity.

What bad things happen, and how are they triggered?
The Events for Catan have bad things and good things that may happen.

The Specialists rule could be used to define 5 lesser deities' favourite resource. While the deity is ignored, its curse may be activated. When its temple is built, the specialist bonus applies.

Maybe whenever a double is rolled, a die from the dice game for Catan could be rolled (or a D6 against a table with all resources plus gold), and the relevant curse is activated. If gold is rolled, the curse of the great gods may strike - maybe roll again whose curse strikes. Likewise, when a seven is rolled the great gods might demand some attention if their temple isn't in the best shape - e.g. a sacrifice of a resource card or two (depending on the nature of their displeasure).

Which resource for which god might be rolled with resource dice (from the Dice game, or using the table on a D6). For each of the four gods where But what penalty if the player is unable to pay up? Maybe a Sabotage (old rules) of one of his cities.

On a different mechanic, Nürnberg's Road Toll mechanic might be a way to do this displeasure thing - the owner of the "Blessed by lesser deity" card may receive votive gifts from all other players who have that lesser deity displayed. With five lesser deities, every player might get the chance to gain one of these majorities.
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Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:06 am
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An Overview over the Helper Cards in the Catan games to date

Jörg Baumgartner
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While toying with a new type of Helper card (soon to be seen here), I found no complete list of the various Helper cards from Catan games.#

Edit: while still lackimg the Rickshaw Run version of helpers, I included the four new helpers from AGoT Catan 5-6 player expansion.

The original package "Helpers of Catan" showed characters well known to players of the computer games, and IIRC they also ended up in the big box of the German 3rd or 4th edition (Frenemies did for sure).

The first other edition of a Catan game to include this Helper mechanism was Star Trek Catan, where we get the crew from the original series acting as helpers.

The next incarnation of Catan to use helper cards was Ancient Egypt, where the gods of the Egyptian pantheon grant these abilities to their worshipers.

Legend of the Sea Robbers uses Helper cards renamed as Friendship cards for its legacy mechanism.

Most recently, A Game of Thrones Catan has used Helper cards as Hero Cards, adding a few special cases.

Here's a list of the Helper abilities, with the characters attached to the ability, and similarities to similar abilities in other games of the Catan family. Some of the names may differ - I used German cards for half of these entries, so the translations may be off. I didn't clarify specific resource changes for Star Trek or Ancient Egypt.

Forced Trade
1x on your turn you may demand 1 ressource card each from up to 2 players. The cards must be the same resource type. For each resource card you receive, give the respective player 1 resource card of your choice in return.
Helpers: Nassir
Star Trek: Uhura [1]
Ancient Egypt: Horus [1]
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Jeor Mormont [1]
(similar to the C&K yellow progress card Trading Port)

Makeshift Road Building
1x on your turn, when building a road you may substitute one lumber or one brick with any one other resource of your choice.
Helpers: William
Star Trek: Montgomery Scott [2]
Ancient Egypt: Ptha [2]
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Ser Alisar Thorne [5]: Recruit 1 Guardian easier
1x on your turn when recruiting a guardian you may replace 1 of the 3 resources for 1 resource of your choice.

Resource Compensation
If any production roll is not a "7" and you receive no resources, take any 1 resource card of your choice (before any other helper card is used).
Helpers: Marianne
Star Trek: Spock [3]
Ancient Egypt: Atum [3]
Legend of the Searobbers: Oda the Healer [1st chapter]
AGoT: Samwell Tarly [3]
(C&K green progress track level 3: Aqueduct)

Move a Road
1x on your turn you may remove 1 of your roads from the board (as long as 1 of its 2 ends is not connected to any of your pieces - ignore opponents' pieces when checking) and rebuild it for free.
Helpers: Louis
Star Trek: Hikaru Sulu [4]
Ancient Egypt: Osiris [4]
Legend of the Searobbers: Olaf the Builder [1st chapter]
AGoT: Othel Yarwick [4]
(similar to C&K blue progress card Diplomat)

Protection from the "7"
When any "7" is rolled, you may immediately use this advantage.. If you have more than 7 resources, you do not lose any, otherwise, take any 1 resource of your choice.
Helpers: Sean aka Siegfried
Star Trek: James T Kirk [5]
Ancient Egypt: Isis
AGoT 5-6: Jon Snow
Legend of the Searobbers: not present, but thematically similar Reiko [chapter 2]

Protection from the "7" variant in Legend of the Searobbers
When a 7 is rolled, you can use Reiko to hold four resource cards more than the maximum.
Legend of the Searobbers: Reiko the Strong [chapter 2]
(C&K City Walls, also Trade Certificate from Legend of the Sea Robbers chapter 4)

Choose a Development Card
1x on your turn when buying a Development Card, you may replace 1 of the 3 resources for 1 resource of your choice. Take the top 3 cards from the Development Card deck and pick one to keep, return the other two to the deck and re-shuffle it.
Helpers: Candamir
Star Trek: Leonard McCoy [6]
Ancient Egypt: Thot
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Melisande [6]
(in combination with C&K: when drawing a progress card, receive the top 3 progress cards from that stack and choose 1, return the other to to the bottom of the stack)

Alms for the Poor
1x on your turn, after your production roll has been resolved, you may look at the hand of resource cards of 1 opponent who has more victory points than you and take 1 resource card of your choice.
Helpers: Hilde aka Hildegard
Star Trek: Christine Chapel
Ancient Egypt: Maat
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Mance Rayder
(similar to C&K yellow progress card Trade Master)

Banish the Robber
1x on your turn, before or after resolving your production roll, you may move the robber to the desert. You receive 1 resource of the type produced by the land that the robber left.
Helpers: Lin
Star Trek: Pavel Chekov: Transport Klingon to Asteroid Field
Ancient Egypt: Bastet
Legend of the Searobbers: Nyala the Diplomat [chapter 2 special]
AGoT: Thorin Halfhand: Return Tormund to his camp
(in Events for Catan or Nürnberg)

Special Trade Pricing
On your turn, choose 1 resource type. You may exchange that resource type with the supply at a 2:1 rate as often as you like during this turn.
Helpers: Jean
Star Trek: Janice Rand: Free Border Post
Ancient Egypt: Amun
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Thorin Halfhand: not present
(C&K yellow progress card Trade Fleet)

Swords Into Ploughshares
1x on your turn you may discard 1 displayed Knight card and either build a settlement for 1 lumber plus 1 brick or upgrade a settlement to a city for 2 ore plus 1 grain.
Helpers: not present
Star Trek: Sarek
Ancient Egypt: Hapi
Legend of the Searobbers: not present
AGoT: Yoren: Turn 1 Border Patrol into Guardian
1x in your building phase: place 1 of your already played Patrol cards on the discard pile and place 1 Guardian piece of your color on the Wall.
(in combination with C&K, applicable to an active knight)

Social Justice
If at least one player has two more victory points than you, take two resource cards from supply.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Gerhild the Brave [chapter 2]

Resource Swap
1x on your turn trade 1 of your resource cards for 1 card of your choice from the supply.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Hakon the Trader [chapter 3]
AGoT: Bowen Marsh [2]

Looting Luck
1x in a turn take an extra resource when playing a treasure chest counter.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Captain Devers [chapter 1]

1x in a turn pay only grain and sheep when buying a development card.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Jerok the Smith
(C&K green progress card Smithy works similar. In combination with C&K, pay only 1 sheep to build a passive weak knight or to upgrade a knight, 1x in a turn)

1x in your turn you may move a second terminal ship, or you may build one ship for either one wool or one wood.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Isa the Shipwright [chapter 2]
(similar to C&K blue progress card Diplomat)

Greedy Robber
When moving the robber, you may take one resource card from up to two players affected by the robber.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Suna the Devious
(similar to C&K blue progress card Bishop)

Take one random resource card from the leading player’s hand
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Lias the Crook

Double Raid
When playing a knight card, move the robber twice, taking one resource card each time from one of the affected players.
Legend of the Sea Robbers: Wulf, Terror of the Robber

Remove Wildling from the Gift
Remove 1 Wildling from a hex south of the Wall and place it back in the Frost Fangs.
AGoT: Ygritte
(similar to Robber to the Desert)

Remove Wildling north of the Wall
Move 1 Wildling from a clearing or a campfire back to the Frost Fangs. Then flip one Wildling chit from the supply and place the Wildling.
AGoT: Benjen Stark
(similar to Robber to the Desert)

Force a re-roll of the Wildling die
On any turn you may: After the dice are rolled, ignore the result of the Wildling die, and force the player to re-roll it. You must accept the second result.
AGoT 5-6: Gilly
Something similar could be done to the C&K Event Die

Reposition Guards on the Wall
Before or after your own production roll you may: Move one of your guards to another section of the Wall. You cannot move a guard if it would immediately cause a wildlin breach.
AGoT 5-6: Aemon Targaryen

Steal from the Wildlings
Take one resource (each) from up to two wildling-occupied hexes adjacent to any of your settlements/keeps
AGoT 5-6: Osha
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Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:13 am
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Resources, Gold, Commodities, Ingredients and Products in Settlers of Catan

Jörg Baumgartner
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I am going to use this blog for a couple of posts stating the obvious in order to get a good overview over available variants. By maintaining this file, I can keep up to date with my collection of variants. (This draft has been lying inactive for quite a while, so I gave it a short makeover.)

These are some thoughts about the various currencies used in the games of the Settlers of Catan family, and their purposes and possible variations.

The purpose of any of these currencies in Settlers of Catan is to purchase game board elements, actions, development cards, improvements, prestige points or prestige objects, or victory points.

Whenever a new resource, commodity or ingredient is introduced, whether as hand card or as a token, it ought to serve a purpose, and be it as a secondary currency that allows to buy the regular currency through trade.

Production in Settlers of Catan knows 5 regular resources (grain, sheep, wood, bricks/clay and ore) for the 5 regular hex types. These resources can be spent on building roads, settlements or cities, or on the purchase of development cards.
Later expansions added other things to spend resources on:
[floatleft]ships in Seafarers,
bridges and wagons in Traders and Barbarians (plus knights errant via development cards),
knights (directly rather than via development cards) and city walls in Cities and Knights).
Explorers and Pirates adds port settlements and transport ships, units and settlers.
Legend of the Sea Robbers repeats the units, adds outposts, and allows upgrading the military power of the fleet buying incendiary kegs.

Various expansions have added to this short catalogue.

One of the earliest additions was gold - either as gold coins (as in the Historical Scenarios I and Nürnberg) or as a "pick your own resource" production hex in Seafarers. In these early incarnations of gold coins, gold was traded 4:1 with the bank for other resources, or 3:1 at the unspecific trading harbors.
The coins had other uses, too:
In Historische Szenarien 1:Cheops, you paid gold to use other players' trading ports or pyramid construction sites, provided you had a road (or ship) connection from one of your settlements.
In Historische Szenarien 1:Alexander, gold could be used in any auction.
In Die Siedler von Nürnberg, gold was required to build the city walls and towers along with bricks and for the towers also wood (earning reputation points, which translated into victory cards), and as payment for road tolls (which could be triggered by events or by sales).
Nürnberg also had a special way to earn gold - you could produce export goods from resources, which then were traded along one of the three trade roads to the cities of Venice (buying paper and geegaws), Franfurt (buying helmets and instruments/circles) and Prague (buying armor). The player controlling the trade road would receive a road toll of up to half the regular price of the export goods, but if you owned a craft shop in one of the specialist quarters of Nürnberg, your superior work would receive twice the price without increasing the road toll.

In more recent Catan expansions, gold coins are included, too, but now with an exchange rate of 2 gold for any 1 resource. This goes for T&B, E&P, SoA and MoE. This gold usually is not received from gold hexes (indeed, only Cheops, Alexander and E&P do so explicitely), but from other activities. In E&P a player receives a gold piece if none of his hexes produced anything (on a roll other than a 7).

A bit of the odd man out is Struggle for Rome with its 3:1 exchange rate for gold coins replacing another resource once per turn, with gold also financing oversea movement and development cards. Gold can be earned by plundering Roman cities or by leaving a barbarian tribe doing nothing (drawing either 2 gold or one resource card).

There are German C&K variants which use gold cards as resource and/or commodity (see below, or rather the pdf linked in this blog post).

Stand-alone variants of the game have reduced or changed the resources.
The Settlers of the Stone Age knows four terrain types - hills (yielding meat), forests (yielding hides), plains (yielding bones/ivory) and mountains (yielding flintstone).
Catan Histories: Settlers of America – Trails to Rails replaces bricks with coal as the product of hill hexes, and re-themed sheep into cattle. It also uses gold coins (at 2:1 exchange ratio for other resources).
Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe replaces hill hexes with salt gardens and salt. It also uses gold coins (at 2:1 exchange ratio for other resources).
Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome does away with hill hexes and makes forest hexes unproductive, but exchanges sheep with randomly drawn horses or cattle. It also uses gold coins (at 3:1 exchange ratio for other resources).
The Starfarers of Catan redid the resources to carbon, food, fuel, ore and the slightly separate trade goods which have a 2:1 exchange ratio with the bank while all other resources have a 3:1 exchange ratio. Starfarer's ore works like standard Catan's wood (for hulls) or bricks (clay for amphorae), fuel as sheep (wool for extra sails) or wood (extra oars), carbon works like ore, food much like grain, and trade goods mostly like gold except that it comes as resource cards (and in re-themed games usually occupied by the odd resource left - in my version using woolen sails for speed that would have been ceramics made from clay/bricks, in Fenolin's version that's cloth from sheep/wool).
The re-themed Starfarers by Fenolin.

Other variants have re-themed the resources without altering the game mechanics (e.g. the Mallorca Geographies replacing wheat hexes with almond hexes but still using wheat resource cards, the Scotch whisky themed "Wasser des Lebens" or Star Trek Catan).

Hex types and their resources:

Mountains: ore
Hills: brick/clay
Forest: wood
Fields: grain (wheat)
Pasture: sheep (wool/meat), horses (SfR), cattle (SfR, Mayfair Settlers of Catan, SoA)
Gold River: player's choice (Seafarers), gold coin(s) (E&P, Historical Scenarios) or gold (nugget) cards (C&K fan variants)
Sea: none, fish
Fish grounds (coastal as in T&B or high sea as in various fan expansions): fish
Marsh Lands: none (T&B river mouths), reeds (MeepleEater's The Marshes), peat
Jungle: none (Chocolate Market), discovery chits (desert riders, The Colonies, also in Das Buch and Atlantis)
Volcano: none, player's choice
Oil Spring (actually a hex addition): oil (chits) (Oil Springs)
Bogs (Drie Handelsteden): ore
Vineyards (fan expansions): grapes, wine

Castle, Quarry, Glass Hut (T&B): none (transport chits: sand, tools, marble, glass - see below)
(Some variants use the resource of the land type in the background - pasture for castle, hills for quarry, forest for glass hut.)

Multiple terrain hexes: either choice of the resources depicted, or resources as per hex corner the settlement/city occupies

Resource-less hex fields
T&B directional castle
Plantation (MeepleEater's scenario): none/trading opportunities
Oasis/Trading Post (Principalities of Catan): none/trading opportunities
City hexes (Nürnberg, Drie Handelsteden, Königsstadt): none, player's choice

Both Cities and Knights and some the Geographies have introduced commodities to Settlers.

In the Catan Geographies, the commodities provide an extra income for certain hex fields - sometimes only on a special roll, sometimes only one commodity token per hex, player and turn. The main function of the commodities is similar to gold - a special income that can be traded with the bank or via trade fields or trade towns. Sometimes these commodities may be traded with other players.
Catan: Indiana & Ohio uses gold, which is earned either instead of a second resource card for cities on the university sites, or instead of a resource card for settlements or cities on the Ohio River or the Great Lakes. Gold is traded 2:1 for resources.
Catan: Delmarva produces seafood commodity tokens on a roll of 7 for wetland hexes and coal commodity tokens on a roll of 7 for hill hexes west of the Appalachians. These commodities may be traded among players, or with the bank (at 4:1 ratio without any port or trade road, at 3:1 at a 3:1 trade road, or at 2:1 ration if you occupy one of the sea port city sites).
Catan: Penn/Jersey has iron as a commodity produced on certain hexes (in addition to the regular resources), which can be traded 2:1 if you settle on one of three Steel Trade sites, 3:1 on 3:1 trade roads, or 4:1 with the bank.

Catan: Cities & Knights introduced commodity cards for the three commodities paper (from forest hexes, in the earliest German edition as books), cloth (from pasture hexes) and metal/coins (from ore hexes) as replacement of the second resource usually taken for a city, leaving hill and field hexes alone.
The commodities in C&K have mainly one use: to advance on the related progress track (green: science, built with paper, yellow: trade, built with cloth, and blue: politics and intrigue, built with coins/metal). Advance on these progress tracks allow the random acquisition of progress cards and to build the metropolis for this progress track, worth 2 extra victory points.
Other than that, they only serve as a secondary currency that may be traded with the bank or other players.
Commodity cards and resource cards share the same backsides, and count together for the maximum of hand cards.

The concept of progress cards and progress tracks was soon jumped on by fans who didn't mind or rather searched out the extra complexity.

In the German Catan community, a series of expansions is popular. My overview can be found linked from this blog post (the direct link changes with updates, which won't be serviced here).

Here's a short list of landscape hexes and C&K commodities produced.

Mountains: metal/coins (standard C&K, most expansions)
Forests: paper (or books in the early variants: standard C&K, most expansions)
Pasture: cloth (standard C&K, most expansions)
Fields: bread (KGR, Bread and Buildings, Principalities of Catan), beer, meat (MMN), spice
Hills: magic crystals (HZD) or mana essence (MMN), stones/marble/refined bricks (Bread and Buildings, Die 6 Metropolen, Siedler86's variant, C&K Forums thread), pottery/ceramics (Principalities of Catan, C&K Forums thread)
Gold River: gold bars, jewelry
Sea/Fish Grounds: fish (Siedler86's variant)
Desert: incense (Principalities of Catan)
High Mountains (fan expansion hex): magic crystals (Die 6 Metropolen)
Vineyard (fan expansion hex): wine (Trauben und Wein)
none (7 rolled, or welfare variant): beer (WMC2)

The concept of Ingredients occurs both in Die Siedler von Catan: Der Schokoladenmarkt and in the Candamir boardgame. Ingredients are hand cards that have a separate hand limit from resource and commodity cards, but may be stolen by the robber instead of resource or commodity cards.

In Schokoladenmarkt, the players may build production facilities for 1 ore and 1 wood and place them on a hex field of that type next to one of his settlements or cities. When the production number of that hex is rolled, each owner of a production facility on this hex (maximum 1 per settlement or city) may draw one ingredient card of that type per facility.
pasture hexes yield milk as ingredient
forest hexes yield nuts as ingredient
hill hexes yield grapes as ingredient
field hexes yield sugar as ingredient
jungle hexes (regardless whether they produce a resource or not - as in regular Schokoladenmarkt) yield cocoa as ingredient
These (chocolate) ingredients may be combined in different recipes, yielding a reward according to the production track and changing the demand.

In Candamir: The First Settlers, the three ingredients herbs, mushrooms and honey may be collected during movement if the movement card indicates so. The adventuer can brew healing potions (honey and mushrooms, skill potions (herbs and mushrooms) or mead (herbs and honey) during his production terms.

Other tokens:

The Fishers of Catan (in T&B) provides fish chits from fish grounds randomly drawn in denominations of 3, 2 or 1 which may be exchanged for certain advantages (at different costs).
(Aside: thumbs up for this variation of the lake tiles and the high sea fish grounds)

In the recently published Catan: Hawaii (Szenario für Seefahrer) a different set of fish tokens are available, and a set of slightly different fish market rules.

In the Traders scenario in T&B, the players receive cargo chits that must be transported to the appropriate location: sand (produced at the castle and the quarry) to the glass hut, tools (produced at the castle and the glass hut) to the quarry, marble (produced at the quarry) and glass (produced at the glass hut) to the castle. At completion of the transport, the player receives that cargo chit as a victory point token as well as an amount of gold depending on how well the wagon was developed.

In Die Siedler von Catan: Das Buch zum Spielen various scenarios introduced chits that could be collected or produced. (Also in Atlantis and the various Dutch excerpt scenarios)

In The Colonies the overseas settlements produce colony resource chits depending on hex type.
gold river produce gold chits, which may be exchanged in the motherland for 1:1 any one of wood, sheep, grain or brick resource cards (but never ore).
mountain hexes produce ore chits, which are exchanged in the motherland 1:1 for an ore resource card.
(overseas) desert hexes (with a number chit) produce gems, which may be exchanged 2:1 for a development card
jungle hexes produce discovery chits, which may be exchanged 3:1 for a victory point.
volcano hexes produce a choice of any of the above (which might balance the risk of losing the settlement to an eruption)

In Treasure Hunters (Schatzsucher) treasure chits can be collected by connecting a ship line to that intersection. (This concept was also used in the Multicatan online game, and reappears in SDE).
The treasures include
gold (2 free resources)
victory point
development card

Similar treasure tokens are used in SDE Treasure Islands or Into the Unknown:
2 free resources
development card (or progress card)
1 free resource
roadbuilding: 2 free roads (or ships for ship line)
1 brick 1 grain 1 sheep

Legend of the Sea robbers offers another implementation of treasure chest, limiting their trade-in to once per turn:
- build a ship or a road for free. (4x)
- take one resource card of your choice (4x)
- take one development card (4x)
- take the two resource cards printed on the counter. (2x sheep and grain, 2x grain and wood, 2x wood and ore, 2x ore and sheep)

Catan: Seafarers Scenario – Legend of the Sea Robbers offers yet another set of treasure chests.

The scenario "Oil Springs" has oil tokens as an additional resource. This resource may be used for a player's gain (and is essential for building that scenario's version of a metropolis) but also causes lasting and accumulating ecological damage, which may trigger a catastrophe. Rather than spending oil tokens, they may also be sequestrated, counting as prestige points towards a victory point card.

The scenario "Frenemies" awards random guild favour tokens for certain altruistic actions (moving the robber to an unoccupied field, gifting a weaker player with a hand card, connecting two differently coloured road systems) which may be traded according to the various guild abilities.

The scenario "Coffee/Diamonds/Cloth for Catan" has tokens representing that themed commodity. The commodities in the geographies mentioned above are also represented by tokens rather than commodity cards.

"Explorers and Pirates" has tokens for deep sea fish and spice.

Various fan scenarios use the resource (or commodity) wine, often from special vinyard hexes.

The fan scenario Catan con Carne by Alain Miltgen has meat commodity chits that can be gained from slaughtering husbandry (the scenario uses camels from T&B, but eurogame animeeples will do just as well). Other fan scenarios suggest the use of tokens (e.g. Mayday Games' Yucatan wooden tokens, or printed cardboard tokens)

Both Merchants of Europe and Settlers of America use unspecified trade good tokens as victory point markers.

Settlers of the Stone Age has discovery tokens which may result in desertification in Africa or extra victory points for the player discovering them, which are also kept as prestige objects.

Struggle for Rome uses plunder cards defining both the losses of the attacker and the rewards (beyond taking the plunder card as a prestige object).

Virtual products are used in Siedler von Nürnberg (triggering an immediate gold payment) or in Candamir (allowing the player to place a victory point marker on a gifting track). The chocolate brand in Schokoladenmarkt is another example for a virtual product.

I have used these virtual products in my overseas trading cities variant, and added or altered a few products. I'm not quite that happy with the prices yet - leaving out both the road tax and the doubling effect of the Handwerkshof/craft shop placed in the city probably calls for some re-balancing, or additional fiddling.

A few C&K variants have gone beyond commodities and introduced Luxuries.

Adel, Pest und Luxusgüter (Nobility, Pestilence and Luxuries) by the Cuxtan Clan introduces luxuries for the three commodities of standard C&K: garments (pasture), steel (mountains) and tools (forest) that can be traded for. These luxuries may buy the services of special characters that help in evacuating the island, gaining prestige VP.

Similar trade opportunities are touched in the variant of Siedler86. Here we get trading opportunities for beer, pepper, wine and silk, presumably collected for prestige VP.

Personally, I regard the citizens of Catan as the thrifty, producing kind of people rather than the importing kind. Luxuries would be a natural third level of hand cards that could be produced by metropolises or other advanced city expansions, possibly creating advanced progress tracks. I still lack a definitive rules set for this kind of game, but that's one direction I am pursuing with my ideas.

Rivals for Catan: Age of Enlightenment offers two new currencies for intangible goods: wisdom (owls) and satisfaction of the population (stars)
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Fri Dec 8, 2017 7:22 pm
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Tinkers of Catan - idea for a variant

Jörg Baumgartner
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Migrant workers are an old phenomenon, like e.g. migrant tinkers. Why not have these in a game of Settlers?

This is a yet untested idea for a variant.

Building a tinker costs 1 wood and 1 sheep, the requirements for his cart.

These workers may be represented by some meeples, whether units (from E&P or Legend of the Sea Robbers), knight disks, or Carcassonne meeples, in player color. In addition, some other tokens in player color are required for the visit tokens, and some sort of cardboard chits to place below the tinker meeples to indicate their productivity. In addition, a mission bar granting extra VP for tinkers placed actively or passively is required, and placement markers for that mission bar.

Tinkers use the wagon movement rules from the Traders and Barbarians scenario in T&B (skipping the road tolls), including the wagon upgrade cards. However, they aren't placed on edges, but on intersections, and they interact with the robber (and/or pirate) rather than with road barbarians.

The tinkers can stop at structures of other players and start working there. A structure can support as many tinkers as it is worth victory points, so a settlement may support 1 tinker, a city or harbor settlement 2, and a C&K metropolis 4. (An Oil Springs metropolis would be able to support 3 tinkers).

When a tinker is placed next to a structure, two chits (e.g. coins, unused cardboard chits) are placed under the meeple. Whenever the structure generates income, the tinker will generate income like a settlement, but one of the chits below the meeple gets removed.
When both chits below the meeple have been removed, the tinker is placed on an intersection one edge away from this structure, leaving a non-productive token of the tinker's color at the structure. This token prevents the player to place this or another of his tinkers in this place, but it is removed when another player's tinker (including a tinker of the same color as the structure) is placed there.

While a tinker sits next to another player's structure, both the owner of the structure and the owner of the tinker gain a step on a mission bar for tinkers, giving bonus VP for 1, 3, 5 or 7 tinkers placed (actively or passively). When a tinker is removed, the score is adjusted accordingly.

A tinker placed on a harbor intersection may elect to give up one of his chits for a single use of that harbor.

Tinkers don't affect the criteria for the harbor master special victory point card (if that is in play).

Adding the tinkers to any Catan scenario should add 2 or 3 victory points to the victory point total required.

Tinkers and the Robber

When the robber is placed on a hex adjacent to a structure with a tinker, all tinkers immediately leaves that structure to an adjacent intersection, leaving a visit token, regardless how many chits the tinker may have been able to earn at that site. The mission bar is adjusted accordingly.

Unlike the wagon from T&B, a tinker may not move the robber, but he may come to an agreement if he rolls the combat number indicated on the wagon card. This is required to place a tinker on a structure currently affected by the robber.

Moving across an edge next to a hex occupied by the robber costs 2 extra movement points, unless the tinker manages to come to an agreement with the robber (rolls the combat number). If this roll fails, the movement stops for this tinker.

A structure with a defensive perimeter (like the city wall from C&K, or the variant palisade (basically half the effect of a city wall) for a settlement) protects the tinkers at that structure from the robber.

Palisade variant: (original suggestion by Bastelmaus on
A palisade may be placed under any structure. It costs 1 brick and 1 wood and increases the hand maximum for a rolled 7 by 1. It also protects any tinker associated with that structure from being chased away by the robber (or suspicious citizens of that structure).

A palisade may be upgraded to a city wall (as per C&K) by paying the normal price for a city wall.

The palisade can be represented by a cardboard token placed under the structure, or by one of the wooden rings that serve as city walls in the Viking edition meeple set for Cities and Knights. A player may build up to four palisades in addition to up to three city walls.
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Fri Dec 8, 2017 11:58 am
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More Legacy Catan Design Musings

Jörg Baumgartner
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I just found the proof (in the German forum that I discussed a campaign game for Catan back in 2013, using Helpers and other elements, long before Legend of the Sea Robbers was presented, so please believe me that I am not just riding the production of that 20 years anniversary game with these thoughts.

I do admit that the way the Teubers managed the Campaign or Legend in their variant has overtaken my still quite vague ideas, mainly because of the concentration on a manageable episode in their timeline of Catan (as per the expansions in Rivals for Catan). Splitting the chapters into short separate games certainly is an alternative to convoluted and complex scenarios similar to the concept behind Timelines of Catan (, but I agree with a complaint voiced by the people of Siedlerinsel ( that the recent big publications are dumbed down for the mass market rather than building on the package of C&K plus Seafarers plus additional elements (which have seen official support only in Die Siedler von Catan: Schätze, Drachen & Entdecker.

So, how to proceed with my wild ideal to play through the history of my alternative Catan using all the history and thematic variants, official, from other fans, or out of my own weird imagination?

I guess I will go for "smaller scale episodes" like in Legend of the Sea Robbers, and return to my ideas for taking the concept of The Settlers of the Stone Age to a variable Catan game playing this in small steps.
Starting with this theme also helps me "break" the Catan games as they are now to re-assemble them the way I would like to do my campaign game. Settlers of the Stone Age has only four types of usable terrain, plus a few variations of terrain that doesn't produce any resources.

Settlers of the Stone Age offers quite a few complexities, some of which I don't want to re-create (like diversification into the four out-of-Africa phenotypes presented in the standalone game), but retaining the expeditions of hunters to collect "been there done that" experience chits.

The episodes should go like this:
Immigration into a fertile lowland away from the ancestral lands to develop new hunting grounds as initial, all basic scenario.
Follow the herds as you deplete them in your hunting grounds. I guess I will add a mechanism stealing from Fishermen of Catan and AGoT, where different kinds of beasts need to be hunted, after learning the technologies for that. Possibly including the domestication of the wolf. Probably with limited numbers of prey chits for the hunting grounds. Possibly coupled with shamanic spirit quests, or possibly with a similar scenario about shamanic magic.
Rising Sea levels - leave your coastal settlements, just as you discover semi-sedentary life as fishers.
Discover farming and clearing the land - still using the four original landscapes, using production facilities next to their camps or settlements.
Stone Age Monuments - megalithic tombs and observatories, the Wonders of the Neolithicum, or a race for various monuments as in Catan: Germany or Catan: The Netherlands.
Entering the Age of Metals - and possibly some aggressive migration or early empire building.
Some sort of Friendship cards and development of hero characters (as in Candamir: The First Settlers to be built in, so that your tribal identity can grow up.

And so this mini-campaign would end in the period leading to Cheops/Ancient Egypt (and I really ought to have an episode where a group of guests in Egypt gets involved in pyramid building) and the Classic Age represented by Alexander or Struggle for Rome, and a few inofficial theme sets for the old Card Game found on the Leinhaus. But that's another story arc, with different and new types of terrain, leading over into the Migration/Iron Age/Viking Age where the "Rivals of Catan" history of Klaus Teuber's Catan starts.
I mean to bring in quite a few of my magic concepts, and also to explore the early grand feats of engineering of Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and Baghdad/Cordoba, and the founding of the great religions, and their early schisms. This might mean stealing from KGR and similar C&K variants.
Military themes are a must here, too (as well as for the later iterations).

There will be empires, and empires collapsing or self-destructing. The story lines will cover both the inside and the outside of those empires.

One thing I hope to establish with the different terrain types inherited from Settlers of the Stone Age and Ancien Egypt is to lead the players and the game to leave the five plus a few productive terrain types and maybe establish a number of less random methods for generating income. I probably will keep the production die rolls and a healthy dose of unexpected resource income, but I want to add other, at least short range reliable ways of getting the required resources, and possibly suffering from overexploiting the resources, like in the premise for the Greater Catan scenario (originally from Seafarers, now part of Schätze Drachen Entdecker).

I plan to join a number of story-lines, through inherited friends or deities from the past, technologies adapting to new challenges, and creating tribal identity from fusing a new people from quite diverse origins. Maybe that's my idealistic premise, not all idyllic, but strength through acceptance of diversity.

Anyway, so back to work. I have new terrain types or terrain variants to design, possibly creating my own artwork.

For the migration and testing of the borders, I need a somewhat variable setup which channels exploration and gaining insights from the edge of the explorable world. There can be different rules for heroic exploration and for tribal migrations. There might be hooks for future scenarios from leaving portions of the tribe behind while the story focus group wanders on. There is a BBC production available on Youtube which creates a heredity of its story through a similar concept, and I will definitely steal that idea. It also fits my Gloranthan vibes of interconnection and ancient ties between unlikely allies. I have been wanting to tell such a story through games for quite a while.

So, how to channel settlement and exploration? If you look at the Geographies series, these have limited choice for where to settle, much like Settlers of the Stone Age has with its diversity point chits spread over four continents. I want there to be some sites too good not to occupy, but also the freedom to spread otherwise and grow just like in a freeform settlers game.

One device to get there is a concept an expansion idea by Franke Broersma has inspired - providing a smaller cardboard piece to place on intersections where a settlement is built or expanded, to house additional markers for village or city expansions as in the card game. These could be spirit sites (like thermal springs), joker opportunities like salt licks (attracting more huntable game than to be expected from the production numbers), or struggling native residents or abandoned nomad sites where the player tribes interact with others, and possibly gain new inheritable features.

I plan to give up on the city calendar model from C&K reimplemented by Settlers of the Stone Age with its pre-determined sequence of improvements that decide upon cultural advancement, and instead use a choice of concrete game applications which, when collected, become a measure for the cultural advance. This means stealing the concept of rituals from Cthulhu Wars or heroquests from Gods War (same concept, slightly different realisation). Stacking these in different sequence to complete a cultural advancement scheme might result in different side effects even when two players have the same building stones, only in different sequence.

I also want to show how the central places of a region (defined by the intersection with a settlement, camp, city or whatever) are mostly self-sufficient (at least in their initial, small stages), how building them up to greater complexes might need trading connections with other central places through caravan routes (naval as in ship lines, or overland) or roads, possibly shared road complexes with a side order of the Frenemies incitements. It should be possible to go into debt of some aspects with calculated detrimental effects on some locations in your realm sacrificed for a greater goal. Famine or other scarcity striking situations resulting in downgrades or at least imposed zero growth in some regions might be a necessary prerequisite to achieve a bigger goal.

I have an idea about using non-regenerating, limited amount resources like the bog iron chits used in Legend of the Sea Robbers chapter two. Especially when migration is an overarching theme, this is a good concept to get the player moving his assets without railroading him into this, and leaving a healthy and strong community behind when emigration is the main theme of the scenario might have positive repercussions in later scenarios when other branches of the lineage get the spotlight.

Another idea is to use the concept of different value of the income, giving a good chance to draw at least minimum income of all necessary resources in a turn, but the chance to strike bigger luck with some. There is a hint of this in the Fishermen of Catan fish chits which have values from 1 to 3, and again in the recent Hawaii Geography, which I want to expand to other resources - especially when it comes to hunting, and possibly in a later, pastoral game, herding, too.

For a Stone Age game, there might be hunting and gathering results which mix in bonus yields of material expected from other landscapes with a slight draw-back in the primary resource expected there.

All of this takes quite a lot of preparation just to prototype this for a test game, so don't expect quick updates.

Comments and suggestions welcome, as always.
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:04 pm
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Legend of the Sea Robbers

Jörg Baumgartner
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I have taken a look at the rules published on the Kosmos website, and I translated or rather summed up the rules.

Here we go:
The Legend of the Pirates

A first look at the rules.

The German language rules are available on the Kosmos web page, so we are able to see what we are going to get from this expansion of an expansion.

The main components are nothing intrinsically new. There are a couple of land-colored frame pieces, a story-tailored set of friendship cards that make up the majority of the legacy game, a new set of treasure chest counters, passenger counters, a few building cost and victory point cards, a ship strength track, a quest reward track for gold digging.

Game pieces (plastic for most of the world, assuming this gets translated) include 15 (neutral) pirate galleys and for each of the 4 player colors 3 units (as in E&P), 2 victory point markers (as for the mission bars in E&P), 1 outpost (as in The Colonies), for a total of 39 new pieces.

The campaign has a number of rules changes:
- Sea hex edges can be occupied by up to two ships, but not of the same color.
- All bank trade is 3:1 (imagine that the mandatory coastal settlements have a 3:1 harbor each)
- Friendly Robber: the robber cannot be placed adjacent to the settlement of a player with only 3 victory points
- You start the game with three settlements, one of which has to be placed on one of the marked coastal site and starts with a ship rather than a road.

The friendship cards are a major component of the legacy system. In each of the chapters, you have to fulfill a certain task that allows you to pick a friendship card. You may use this card twice (A side and B side), then it goes into your color’s legacy bag, available again for the next game. Chapter 2 offers an extra friendship card for gold washing.

Treasure Chests: there are four types of treasure chests:
- build a ship or a road for free. (4x)
- take one resource card of your choice (4x)
- take one development card (4x)
- take the two resource cards printed on the counter. (2x sheep and grain, 2x grain and wood, 2x wood and ore, 2x ore and sheep)
Treasure chests cannot be cashed in on the turn they are discovered. Only on chest can be player per player turn. One chest counter and one development card can be played in the same player turn.

Outposts can be built on overseas intersection for 2 wood and 1 wool in the chapters 1 and 2. They are worth one VP and don’t need to follow the distance rule. The ships beween an outpost and a settlement or city form a closed ship line and cannot be moved any more.
Outposts cannot be upgraded to settlements or cities.

Units can be gained from rescued crew (chapter 1) or built for 1 ore and 1 wool (chapters 2 and 4). They can act as miners, gold diggers or traders.

The campaign consists of four scenarios, or chapters:
Chapter 1: The Shipwrecked
Chapter 2: The Raid (a misnomer, really – The Gold Rush would describe this much better)
Chapter 3: The Battle against the Pirates
Chapter 4: The Spice Islands

In Chapter One, there is no ore on the available portion of the starting islamd. (The unavailable portion of the starting island has land hexes rather than sea hexes, and the victory point track.) There is a barren island two hexes away from the coast. Each player gets five ships only, one more than minimally necessary to reach the opposite coast, but before getting there and closing your shipping line by building an outpost you may want to collect some of the treasure chests that are found on the intersections on the way there.
Placing your outpost means you may chose a friendship card from the selection for chapter 1. You can also check one of the crew cards per turn and decide whether to pay the amount of resources printed on the back side or not. No trading or use of treasure chests or development cards is possible once you take a look at the rescue cost.
There are 9 (for a 3-player game) or 12 (for a 4-player game) counters standing for shipwrecked crew members of Captain Dever, the story persona for the camaign. Each counter has specific requirements to be paid for their rescue. A player may rescue up to three crew members and turn them into units of his color. These units may be used to mine ore at the outpost.
The first player to rescue three crew members receives 2 VP chits. Every other player receives 1 VP chit when rescuing the third shipwrecked crew member.
For mining ore, you need to ship one of your units over to the lifeless islands for an item of food (a sheep or a grain card). In your next turn, that unit will return to your coastal settlement (or city) carrying one ore card. In order to get more ore, you need to send the unit back to the outpost with new food – this can be done in the same turn that the unit returns. You can delay returning the miner in order to keep your hand maximum low.
The game ends when one player reaches 11 VP.

The rescuees have the following requirements:
2 grain
1 grain 1 wood
1 grain 1 brick (2x)
1 grain 1 sheep (2x)
1 sheep 1 wood
2 wood
1 wood 1 brick
1 sheep 1 brick
2 sheep
2 bricks

Legend effects of the outcome of Chapter 1:
The player(s) with the most VP gains 4 legend points
The player(s) with the second most VP gains 3 legend points
The player(s) with the third most VP gains 2 legend points
The player with the fourth most VP gains 1 legend point.
Each player but the first gains an extra VP if they rescued all three rescuees.

The total number of rescuees influences the amount of bog iron that can be harvested from pasture fields in chapter 2. If all rescuees were recovered, 5 ore can be mined from a pasture field, for each unrescued crew member the amount sinks by one, to a minimum of one.

Chapter 2: The Raid
This chapter name is a misnomer. While the story background does mention a raid, this scenario is about washing enough gold from a different barren island off another ore-deprived coast of Catan. While there is some ore on the home island, the numbers are lousy (1 or 2 dots). Once more there are pre-defined settlement locations on the coast from where a ship line of up to 5 ships needs to be built to install an outpost. The location of the outpost decides about the travel cost of the units to the panning areas in the hinterland of those islands. On the way to this shore, treasure chests can be picked up.
Upon building the outpost, another friendship card can be chosen from this chapter’s crop of friends. (Another friendship card goes to the first playher reaching 13 points on the gold river trail.)
Units (gold washers) can be placed next to the players outpost (same intersection). Up to 3 units may be built. The units can be moved on the offshore island for food (grain or wool). One food card will move a single unit for up to three steps.
The panning areas have cards with two and with three gold washers – that’s the number of units necessary to flip one of those cards and harvest the gold. Units of different color may jointly wash gold.
Each time one or more players succeed at flipping a gold card, they may advance the gold washer marker for as many steps as printed on the gold chit for each of his units. If the marker ends on or crosses a field with a catan chit symbol, he gains one VP.
The game ends when a player reaches 12 VP on (the end of) his turn.

List of gold washer chits:
2 units: 4x 2 points, 2x 3 points (per unit)
3 units: 2x 2 points, 3x 3 points (per unit)

Gold washer track: VP chits for 2, 7, 12, 17 and 22 gold, the friendship card Nyala the Diplomat for 13 gold (for the first player to cross this mark only).

Legend points:
The player(s) with the most VP gains 5 legend points.
The player(s) with the second most VP gains 4 legend points
The player(s) with the third most VP gains 3 legend points
The player with the fourth most VP gains 2 legend point.
Each player (but the first) who has gained at least 12 gold will get an extra legend point.

If the players managed to mine at least 10 gold per player (on average), they will receive a choice of 2:1 harbors in chapter 3 during setup.

Chapter 3: The Battle Against the Pirates
The players set out to destroy the pirate fleet with catapults mounted on their fleet. Each catapult costs 1 ore 1 wood and is marked with a mission marker on the cutout viking ship.
15 pirate galleys are guarding treasure chests around four smaller uninhabited (gold river) islands (with tasty resource numbers). These ships can be attacked when the fleet (ship line) from the coastal settlement (or city) points toward a hex with a pirate galley.
Pirate combat is resolved as the last action of a player turn by drawing combat cards and comparing the result to the number of catapults the fleet mounts. There are two decks – an easy one for players who have overcome 0 or 1 pirate galley so far, and an advanced one for players with 2 or more pirate galleys destroyed.
If the player fleet has less catapults than the combat card requires, the foremost player ship is destroyed.
If the player fleet has the same number of catapults as the pirate ship, he must move his foremost ship elsewhere. The pirate ship remains in position.
If the player fleet has more catapults than the combat card requires, the pirate ship gets destroyed, and the player receives the treasure chest the ship was guarding.
The first player to destroy 3 pirate galleys get the bonus victory point card “greatest pirate terror”, following the same rule as the “greatest army” VP card.
When a player fleet reaches one of the small islands, he can build a settlement on the island, receives a bonus VP and gets to select one friendship card, for the first island so settled only.
The game ends when a player reaches 12 VP on (the end of) his turn.

List of combat cards:
Easy: 3x 1 point, 3x 2 points, 2x 3 points
Advanced: 2x 3 points, 3x 4 points, 2x 5 points, 1x 6 points.

Legend points:
The player(s) with the most VP gains 6 legend points.
The player(s) with the second most VP gains 4 legend points
The player(s) with the third most VP gains 3 legend points
The player with the fourth most VP gains 1 legend point.
Each player (but the first) who has sunk at least 2 pirate galleys (3 in a 3-player game) will get 2 extra legend points.

Did the players manage to sink all but one pirate galley? If so, there will be no pirate lair in chapter 4, otherwise there will be four in the hidden water hexes.

Chapter 4: The Spice Islands
A discovery game with ship lines, with two discovery areas containing each 2 spice hexes, 2 gold river hexes and 4 (or 3 for 3 players) sea hexes.
Discovery: pointing a ship of a ship line to an unknown hex flips that hex. If the discovered hex is a spice hex, the active player receives a spice card. If it is a gold river hex, the player draws a number chit and receives a resource card of his choice. It the discovered hex is a sea hex, it may contain a pirate lair. If it doesn’t, the active player receives a treasure chest chit.
Pirate lairs are inherited from chapter 3 if more than one pirate galley could make its escape. If that is the case, the first four sea hexes discovered will have a pirate lair in their centers. To remove a pirate lair, that hex needs 4 adjacent ships. Each player who has at least one ship adjacent to the removed pirate lair receives a treasure chest chit.
Spice hex intersections may not contain settlements, nor may roads be built along their edges (ships are allowed). They can be occupied by units. Units need to be placed on a ship line of the player and close that line towards its origin. A unit placed on a spice hex acts as a trader – the player may choose one of the available trade option cards and place it openly before him. If two spice hexes share an edge, no units may be placed on the intersections of that edge – each unit must be clearly associated with a single spice hex.
Gold river hexes can be settled regularly, and may be blocked by the robber.

Once per player turn a set of three spice cards (all matching, or all different) can be traded for 2 VP chits. Spice cards cannot be traded for with the bank except through the trade options, which allows the trading player to draw the top card of the spice stack. The owner of a trade option may trade as loften for spice cards as he can pay. Only spice cards can be bought through trade options, resource cards can only be traded for at 2:1 harbors.
Spice cards cannot be traded for resource cards with the bank. Trading with other players is allowed. Monopoly cards can be used to demand one type of spice card. Otherwise they are normal hand cards and are affected by the robber, the pirate, or a rolled “7”.

The game ends when a player reaches 14 VP or more at the end of his turn.

List of Trade Option cards: 2 each of a pair of matching resources for a spice card. Each trade option increases the hand limit for taxation by 2.
Spice cards: Ten cards each of cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg.

Legend points:
The player(s) with the most VP gains 7 legend points.
The player(s) with the second most VP gains 5 legend points
The player(s) with the third most VP gains 3 legend points
The player with the fourth most VP gains 1 legend point.
The player(s) (excepting the player(s) with the most VP) who earned the most VP chits for trading in spice gains 2 legend points, unless all players collected the same amount.

The winner of the campaign is determined by adding up the legend points from all four chapters. In case of ties, the player who earned the most victory points in total wins. If this is tied as well, all players who are tied for the lead win.

List of the Friendship cards
Chapter 1:
Oda the Healer: If you don’t get a resource at any roll but a “7”, take a resource card.
Olaf the Builder: In your turn you may move a terminal road, or you may build a road for either one brick or one wood.
Capten Dever: Take an extra resource when playing a treasure chest counter.
Jerok the Smith: Pay only grain and sheep when buying a development card.

Chapter 2:
Isa the Shipwright: In your turn you may move a second terminal ship, or you may build one ship for either one wool or one wood.
Reiko the Strong: When a 7 is rolled, you can use Reiko to hold four resource cards more than the maximum.
Gerhild the Brave: If at least one player has two more victory points than you, take two resource cards.
Suna the Devious (Listige): When moving the robber, you may take one resource card from up to two players affected by the robber.

Nyala the Diplomat: Move the robber back to his starting hex. Take one resource of the hex you moved the robber away from.

Chapter 3:
Lias the Crook (Schlitzohr): Take one random resource card from the leading player’s hand
Wulf, Terror of the Robber: When playing a knight card, move the robber twice, taking one resource card each time from one of the affected players.
Lea the Gambler: roll a die – on 1 or 2, you lose a resource card, on 3 to 6 you gain 2 resource cards of your choice
Hakon the Trader: In your turn, you may once trade one resource card for a resource card of your choice.

These friendship cards are a major component of the legacy system. In each of the chapters, you have to fulfill a certain task that allows you to pick a friendship card. You may use this card twice (A side and B side), then it goes into your color’s legacy bag, available again for the next game. Chapter 2 offers an extra friendship card for gold washing.

In the previous games, a player may accumulate a maximum of four friendship cards for chapter 4.

Otherwise, the legacy rules determine the availability of bog iron ore in chapter 2, the availability of 2:1 harbors in chapters 3 and 4, and the presence of pirate lairs in chapter 4.

So, what do I think about this campaign game or its legacy mechanism?

The idea of a campaign was promoted by the second (Kosmos) edition of the Seafarers rules, and explicitely introduced in the computer game. However, other than a high score for the most VP one harvested in one of those games, there wasn’t any element of legacy.

I have been musing about a campaign game for Catan for quite a while, part of which went public in this blog post.

Using the friendship cards as limited legacy abilities is a quite good idea, and looks to me more palatable than the rather random availability of friendship cards under their normal rules.

Being a sandbox roleplayer, I would prefer to make the legend points some kind of experience currency that can be invested in abilities of your nation, slowly building a basic competence for each new step in the game.

But enough of this, let's get this published. More in the discussion.

Catan: Seafarers Scenario – Legend of the Sea Robbers
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Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:47 pm
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