Catan – The Big Game
I played in the big game at Essen Game Fair, and while I acted mostly as an observer due to a critical oversight, I had fun, and I learned how to use these rules for as few as six players or any greater even number of players for small conventions featuring a joint Catan event.
Essen game fair occupies 4 halls (numbered 1-3 and 7). For this game, another hall (number 4) was reserved over the entire game fair, and rows of tables and chairs waited for just one session of the Big Game. I don't want to guess what that must have cost – 10 square meters for a publisher's stall sold at >1k Euros, and renting all those chairs and tables must have added to the cost. The video screen that was used only during the four hours of that event can only have been an afterthought.
But the game had 1040 participants, a new world record, the first to beat the 1k border, and probably a record to stand for a long time.
I'll add some pictures of the gaming material, from the event and of the goodies when I get the time.
The plastic pieces looked pretty standard to me, although the colors were brighter than the normal ones - I got yellow pieces, other colors were violet, a (fairly ordinary looking) lightish blue, mint green, pink, and a pastel beige/grey. Each set contains 5 settlements, 10 cities, 15 roads and 15 Seafarers ships. I did a comparison with the few plastic pieces I own (I'm a die-hard wooden meeple gamer) and they seem to be from the same cast.
The map board uses Michael Mentzel's European 4th edition graphics. I only took two photos with my tablet, of my own board before play
and of the two next boards to my left
(those to my right were covered with rules etc.). I have no doubt that other pictures will be added by other players over the next days.
Edit: And lo and behold, here's the official news page:
The hand cards for the big game consist of 19 of each basic resources, a full set of basic development cards and lots of extra promo cards (some bearing a victory point), and a deck of dice cards.
Here are the rules: http://www.catan.com/files/pagedownloads/catan_big_game_manu...
If you are familiar with the Multicatan online game on http://www.teuberswebgames.com, the basic premise is very similar – only you don't start on outlying islands, but on defined locations on a central island shared with exactly one other player (to start with).
Rather than passing the active player around the participating players, all players are divided into moon players and sun players. There is one central die roll for all players each turn, presented on a display (which could be a white- or blackboard or even a flip chart for a smaller event).
Each two-player island consists of 18 productive land hexes plus two deserts, surrounded by 20 full sea hexes to make it a rectangle, and four sea hexes that mark the shared border with the next two-player islands to the left and to the right. Each such island has two 3:1 harbors and one of each of the special harbors. For the Big Game, there are three such game boards that are repeated for as many pairings as you have in the game.
I guess there will be uploads of the Big Game rules to BGG soon – if not, I will have to do that. Photographs of the 3 gameboards should be available soon, too.
What else do you need in addition to a Seafarers and Basic Game set of game pieces? 6 extra cities per player color. For wooden pieces, these are easily available from providers of spare parts, for players of the plastic variant, you get four of each of the basic colors from Schätze, Drachen, Entdecker, and nowadays traders like Germany-based spielmaterial.com offer single plastic pieces for sale, too.
Just like Multi-Catan, the game setup defies the use of the frame tiles that come with the current editions of Catan (and even those rectangular frames that came with the earliest editions of Seafarers, unless you create insert frame pieces of two hexes height rather than the four hexes of the long frame tiles for each 2-player setup. The island consists of 11 alternating columns of 5 and 4 hexes.
The Big Game used shadow tables to provide the wrap-around where the long lines of tables ended. For a smaller event, it should be possible to place the boards in a polygon if you put both sun and moon players to the outside. With the slightly larger boards you get from using variable hexes for the boards, two players will easily fit in front of their shared board and card stacks.
Big Game Big Honor
The Goodie-Bag contains a nice little add-on for a four-player game of Catan – a virtual Big Game table where you can place (cheap) settlers (costing 1 grain and 1 sheep each) on the production number you roll. A seven gets a re-roll. If that slot already is occupied by a settler, that settler is replaced. For each settler you can place on that virtual table, you will earn a laurel token when the resource roll produces the number your settler is placed on, up to a maximum of 6 tokens per player.
The first player to get three settlers on the Big Game table gets an extra VP that is passed on if another player first reaches more players.
Laurel tokens can be spent for in-game benefits. 1 token returned to the bank will send the robber back to the (a) desert, 2 tokens will allow you to steal a card from another player, 3 tokens buy you a resource cart of your choice from the bank, 4 tokens buy you a free road (or ship, I assume), 5 tokens buy you a free development card.
There is no material provided to expand this nice add-on for six players, so you would have to construct a five-to-six-player variant using some wooden material. If you have but don't use the C&K expansion, you can use the knight meeples as settlers for the table. I guess I would simply accept the greater fluctuation at the Big Game table rather than adding more slots for some of the resource numbers. Extra laurel tokens would have to be created from cardboard.
Could either of these variants be combined with other Catan expansions?
C&K is the only big expansions that I can see to be used with the Big Game proper, and with strong caveats about a number of progress cards.
From T&B the harbormaster would work. With Fishermen, the numbers would have to be evenly distributed on both halves of the board. I guess the wedges could be distributed fairly by probabilities between the players, but you'd need extra wedges for 3, 11, 2 and 12. Not sure it would be worth the effort, and it creates an asymmetry of resource numbers between the two players sharing an island that the balanced setup carefully avoids. Caravans would be a great hassle with little gain, so no. A set of rivers could be included in the map if done symmetrically on both halves of a gameboard section. No idea if the extra rivers and the gold earned for building along or across them would be worth the effort.
The virtual Big Game from the Goodie Bag could work with any expansion.
Could the Big Game be broken down to normal Catan attendance, similar to the Multicatan(-like) scenarios for variable Catan + Seafarers? Probably yes, but traveling around such corners or taking short cuts through the center could change the effort for settling on another player's turf – if a single player conquers the center with a ship line, all others would be powerless to reach others.
Would such a scenario work with E&P-like settlers landing on distant shores? IMO that would be too easy, compared to the work you have to put into a ship line. Having to build a harbor settlement to start overseas colonisation would mitigate this a little, and give a crappier 2-point upgrade for the single coastal hex.
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.
12 Oct 2015
- [+] Dice rolls
17 Mar 2014
I found this question in a reply to this thread: Expansion Idea: The Principalities of Catan (Catan: Principalities), where this reply would have been off topic.james24eagle wrote:Is there any idea what the next expansion may be after Explorers and Pirates?
I don't think that there are current plans to produce another expansion right now.
I doubt that there will be any expanded version of Cities and Knights introducing commodities for hill, field or other yet unused hexes. While these things exist in abundance in fan expansions, I doubt they would address the same mass market the other expansions do.
This doesn't mean that there cannot be a different expansion introducing more complexity to the boardgame, using other mechanics as C&K. T&B offered two light steps in this direction (Barbarian Attack and Traders and Barbarians), in addition to making earlier mini-expansions (Fishermen, Rivers, Caravans, Harbormaster) accessible to the mass market.
One logical next step would be to carry the theme of mobile units transporting settlers and wares back to the land, exploring unknown land and performing missions or even quests.
This has been done in part - the Traders and Barbarians scenario in T&B uses the wagon to transport chips for victory points, not unlike the missions in E&P (and in a recently seen suggestion for an all-in-one game, handled as such).
E&P is in many ways carrying over ideas from Starfarers to the regular board game with modular boards. Hence a look at other, independent Catan board games for ideas and mechanisms might be fruitful.
The other precedessor E&P inherited from was The Colonies, first published in Das Buch zum Spielen, later as a separate expansion.
A similar theme is in Merchants of Europe (ruleswise a clone of Settlers of America, thematically closer to classical Catan) where you have merchants wandering to pre-defined cities to create offices, then you have wagons relying on trade routes to transport the wares to other players' offices.
Another Catan game which has mobile units wandering the land placing settlements is The Settlers of the Stone Age, again on pre-defined locations and earning a victory point for taking that position (rather than for the camp itself, which may be moved elsewhere later on in the game).
In Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome, the migrating barbarians take income from their current position until they start to conquer Roman cities.
All of these have in common that they work on pre-defined maps, allowing settlement only on pre-defined spots - just like Starfarers did.
Also in Candamir: The First Settlers there were mobile units exploring the land (though not hexagonal), but there was no element of settlement-based production.
Getting rid of the pre-defined map locations in favor of a variable game isn't exactly easy - I'm still stuck with my ideas for making a Stone Age-themed variable game.
Those pre-defined maps also offer more hexes than the standard settlers collection is likely to provide, unless you are a completist owning both Seafarers and E&P and the 6 player extensions.
In some scenarios, variable maps have pre-defined locations e.g. for treasure chests or dragon positions. A similar approach can be made for the places where a mobile unit can be transformed into a settlement or city expansion. This gets worse if there is an element of discovering unknown territory is involved - you might have to create special hex tiles with one or two such sites and direction numbers.
C&K added complexity introducing the progress tracks, offering progress cards, and having a regular barbarian invasion plague the land.
In Rivals of Catan: Age of Darkness this theme was carried over into the cardgame for two players, broken up into 3 different theme sets (Barbarians, Merchants, and Intrigue, with Intrigue the least close to C&K).
The religious theme of Age of Darkness hasn't been explored for the boardgame at all.
Rivals of Catan: Age of Enlightenment offers the exploration theme carried to the board game in E&P, but also has the Era of Sages (replacing the magic in the old card game for two by natural philosophy) and the Era of Prosperity wherein the happiness of the populace becomes an extra yardstick for success. This, and maybe a small dose of Die Siedler von Nürnberg with an extra map for improving the shared capital, might be a way to add to the boardgame without touching much of what was covered in C&K. Getting this done in a way that could be combined not only with the simpler expansions but also with the elements of C&K would be rather tricky, though.
From comments in the blogs about Rivals, I don't think that magic will be re-introduced to Catan. The Rivals campaign describes the history of Catan, and I have the impression that Klaus Teuber will stick to the decisions made there. Whether the sages or the prosperity theme will make a good boardgame, now that's a challenge for us fan designers.
A theme not yet included that history but easily fitting into the spirit of that history would be diplomacy with external forces, and possibly a game of colonization both done wrong (as in too much of the historical record) and done better, to the benefit of the natives in the colonies.
- [+] Dice rolls
14 Jan 2014
On http://www.siedeln.de/phpBB/ptopic,149558.html#149558, there has been some recent activity in a 6-year-old thread about a fan-expansion introducing grapes as a resource and wine as a commodity for C&K.
The current project (not by the original poster in the thread, but taking up the discussions) has vinyard hexes that are interspersed with the standard land hexes of Catan. At the start of the game, these hexes don't receive a number chit - the chits are set aside an a bag or cup from which they are drawn as needed.
In order to harvest grapes, one has to hire workers. (The author suggests using the barbarian pieces from T&B.) One coin commodity will hire two workers for any vinyard hex adjacent to one of your settlements or cities. As soon as workers are placed on a vinyard hex, a number chit is drawn.
A vinyard hex with 1 worker will produce 1 grape for every player (not settlement/city) adjacent to the hex - no matter who hired the worker or placed it there. 2 workers will produce 2 grape resource cards, and 4 workers will produce either 2 grape resource cards or 2 wine commodity cards for every adjacent player (each player gets to choose). A vinyard hex may hold a maximum of 5 workers.
Once per turn every player may shift up to two workers between vinyard hexes he has at least a settlement on. A vinyard hex can hold a maximum of 5 workers, and there is a limited number of workers available (yet to be determined in play testing).
Grape resource cards may be used as wild cards when building something: twice per player turn one resource or commodity card may be replaced by a grape card. Only one city expansion may be bought with the help of a grape card per player turn.
Wine commodity cards are used to advance on the wine progress chart (a ringbook calendar is provided with the German downloads).
In addition, up to 12 wine barrels can be bought for 1 wood and 2 wine cards, which are counted as victory points at the game's end.
Barrels can be stolen using a certain progress card, or with another progress card used to bribe the barbarian invaders, transforming them into Saviour of Catan victory cards.
Step three of the progress chart allows the use of a trader's wagon (cost: 1 ore 1 wood 1 sheep) at an unoccupied port to trade resource cards there as if a settlement had been placed there, and additionally to trade the corresponding commodity 2:1 if it is a special harbor. The wagon may be build before reaching step three on the wine progress chart and starts at the city with the best production number that player owns. Moving the wagon to another intersection costs 1 grain or 1 sheep or 2 grape cards and results in 1 step (1/2 chance), 2 steps (1/3 chance) or 3 steps.
As soon as a player has three facilities that produce commodities (cities or vinyard hexes with 4 or 5 workers) during his turn, he may place a trade contor on an intersection on one of his roads (at no cost). This trade contor will protect up to 3 commodity cards when a 7 is rolled (cumulative with city walls), but not from the robber.
List of Progress Cards (the picture above shows the German text legibly if you zoom in):
Duty on Spirits (Alkoholsteuer, 2x): Play this card against another player. The next time this player spends resources to build or upgrade anything, he has to pay double the amount of one type of resource or commodity.
(This doesn't affect paying for progress tracks or repairing a sabotaged city.)
Brandy (Branntwein, 1x): Play this card on a city that was damaged by the saboteur. The affected city is immediately reduced to a settlement.
(If the owner doesn't have any settlements ready, the city gets placed lying on the side. As soon as the affected player upgrades any of his settlements, exchange the flipped city with the now available settlement.)
Journeyman's Certificate (Gesellenbrief, 2x): Place one worker on a vinyard hex adjacent to one of your settlements or cities.
Guild Leader (Gildenführer, 2x): Choose another player who has to give you a progress card, then toss this card into the air. If it lands text side up, the other player gets to choose which progress card to discard. If the back side is up, you can determine the progress track that player has to choose from.
(The original rules have 2 cards, one giving a 50% chance to discard a progress card of the victim's choice, the other a 50% chance to discard a progress card of the color of the player's choice of the victim's choice. I find that way too weak e.g. compared with the spy.)
Trade Laws (Handelsgesetzbuch, 2x): If present, remove the progress cards 'Printing Press', 'Constitution' and two cards 'Merchant' from their respective progress card stacks, shuffle the rest and place these cards openly on top of their stacks.
Merchant Sale (Händler und Käufer, 2x): If the merchant has been placed on any hex that has one of your settlements or cities adjacent, you may trade 1 resource for 2 resources of your choice.
(Example: trade 1 grain card for 2 ore cards or for 1 brick and 1 ore card)
Wine Tasting (Weinprobe, 2x): Play this card when the barbarian ship arrives at Catan and you have a wine barrel. You may exchange one of your wine barrels for a saviour of Catan cards. The Barbarians retreat without attacking.
(This action replaces the defence of Catan. No knights get deactivated. Only one player may play this card at any barbarian invasion, the player whose next turn is closest to the active player gets preference.)
Wine Tavern (Weinschenke, 3x): Take a wine barrel from another player.
Vintners' Collective (Winzergenossenschaft, 2x): Play this card when the event die shows a city gate but you don't get any progress card. Draw a card from the indicated stack.
(You get the card even though you don't qualify for getting a card due to the red die result. You may draw a card even if you haven't built anything on that track. Draw the card after the regularly earned progress cards have been dealt out.)
Progress Track Wine
1 Wine Cellar
3 New Trade Routes
4 Stock Exchange
5 Hall of the Vintners
Advantage stage 3 and above: the trader's wagon can be moved to an unused harbor intersection (no settlement, city or active knight present) and use the trading advantage for the resource and, if at a 2:1 resource port, also trade the corresponding commodity 2:1.
- [+] Dice rolls
12 Jan 2014
When answering a question about the maximum board size for the 5-6 players E&P game, I experimented a bit with how large a board you can get when you add 2 sets of E&P and 2 sets of Seafarer frames.
Here's an example for an octagonal frame using two sets each of E&P and Seafarers frame tiles:
As you can see, the frame tiles with the sea or sheep hex align nicely to a long vertical border, quite similar to the old Seafarers set with the square frames.
If you also want to use the interior borders of E&P, you can expand the board vertically to 15 (or using the central piece from the 5-6 player extension, 17) rows, with all the six-hex interior frames used. That leaves only 2 of those 3-hex exterior frames of E&P unused - and frankly, you will be hard put to find enough hexes to fill up this monster of a frame:
Here's another one that ought to fit on half a pingpong table. The area to the left of the interior could be used for Seafarers ships, the area to the right for E&P ships only.
I haven't come up with scenarios of my own for these monster boards that would fit only on a pingpong table-sized surface, but I have seen a few monster set-ups by other groups.
- [+] Dice rolls
26 Oct 2013
I had only a few hours time running across the fair today (Saturday), so I hardly had any time to ask pesky questions.
I did pick up this year's geography editions - New England in English, and Korsika in German. I didn't see either the 5-6 player E&P extension at the Mayfair booth nor the I-Pad enabled robber piece from the new basic game Kosmos edition. As mentioned above, I didn't ask about either.
I was a bit surprised to see (most of) the German geographies translated to English, but owning multiple copies of the German language version, I didn't see any need to purchase the Mayfair versions.
My main other board game discovery was Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Wars boardgame (fresh from its Kickstarter), with impressive and quite immense plastic "miniatures". There was a lottery for savings on purchases on that game (and getting your pre-order delivered along with the Kickstarter copies in a container to Europe, at no additional customs crossing and reduced postage within Europe), so I jumped onto that.
The Great Old Ones minis generally are quite big - to somewhat accurate scale towards the 28 mm cultist piece. The various monsters are quite the lookers, more so life than on photos, and Sandy had anecdotes to tell about most of them - e.g. the Undead, which specifically don't resemble the usual shambling ones from Walking Dead, but appeared to be a merger of a mummy and a tentacled mass. While I haven't really been on the lookout for miniatures of Mythos monsters, these game pieces (while plastic) are exquisitely sculpted, and will enrich any pen-and-paper game of Cthulhu, too. It was nice to meet and chat a bit with Sandy and his wife Wendy again, too.
Sandy mentioned the idea to port his game to Glorantha, basically a Gods War miniature game. Boy, to think of the sculpting to be done there...
I would have loved to see more and ask more questions, but after a 6 hour train ride and way too early noise from the alarm clock, both my time and my stamina ran out a bit early.
- [+] Dice rolls
24 Sep 2013
This review describes the Kosmos edition of this expansion.
This box offers the game pieces for the green and the brown player (3 ships, 4 harbor settlements, 1 pirate ship, 9 units, 2 settlers, 3 mission markers), 12 more spice sacks, two more fish pieces,
and 6 sheets of punchout carton containing a 3-hex high council tile with connectors to the inner frame, another 3-hex sea insert, 4 sea hexes counted towards the inner frame, three standard land hexes each with orange and green dots on the back, one extra pirate lair hex for each discovery area, two pirate lair chits with the numbers 9 and 10, three number chits each for green (5, 9, 12) and orange (4, 10, 11) discovery areas, 3 cards for the three ziplock bags (one for the game pieces, one for the discovery hexes, and one for the entire hex and number chit content of the basic 5-6 player extension).
I didn't notice any color discrepances to the 2-4 player version. The pirate lair marker fronts aren't different from those of that version, either.
There are no extra cardboard coins in the 5-6 player extension.
As expected, the four scenarios expand the board vertically, offering 9 rows instead of the usual 7. There is no equivalent for the introductory scenario without any mission bars.
The rules and setup schemes are on a single sheet folded 4 times, offering 8 segments.
The extra building phase is explained on the last sheet section. It takes place after all actions of the active player, and allows exactly the same things as the basic 5-6 player extension - no bank trades, whether cards or coins, no ship movement, no loading/unloading of ships, just the option to build roads, ships next to harbor settlements, colonists or units in harbor settlements or in ships adjacent to harbor settlements, settlements on roads, or settlement upgrades to harbor settlements. (No purchase of development cards, since these aren't part of this game.)
The layout for the undiscovered land makes sure that there are no land-locked hexes - the one for the two scenarios using two mission tracks has interesting fjords formed by the 2 3-hex interior pieces. (I'll post the schematics to the images section.)
One of the sea hexes from each of the unknown land hexes is placed visibly on the top/bottom row, all standard land hexes, one sea hex each, and all pirate lairs make up the undiscovered territory.
The Council island on the central interior frame piece is ignored for this scenario - IMO they could have printed the back side with blank sea hexes. Yes, the frame pieces with notches don't fit quite as well when flipped, but they would have worked.
Spice Islands (with Pirate Lairs) or Fish for Catan (with Spice Islands)
The fjords are produced by placing the 3-hex pieces there. The sea hexes in the top/bottom row are taken from the marked sets (green/orange).
For the Spice Islands with Pirate Lairs, all 8 pirate lairs and all six spice islands are used, and all land hexes from the undiscovered land.
For Fish for Catan with Spice Islands, all 6 fish shoal hexes and all six spice islands are used, all land hexes and one sea hex each from the undiscovered land hexes.
The Full Game:
One Sea hex from each stack of undiscovered land is used to provide a visible sea hex on the top/bottom rows, the other insert is one of the sea hexes for the interior frame. The single sea hex from the interior frame hexes is placed last in the middle row. All land hexes and one sea hex (both from 2-4 players box and from the 5-6 players box), the two pirate lair hexes and six each of the mission hexes (from the 2-4 player box) make up the undiscovered land.
I suppose the exact arrangement of the numbers on the home island can be varied slightly, e.g. by mirroring the number layout top to bottom, or exchanging number chits with the same number of dots.
The Kosmos edition box will probably be used for other purposes, since the new content can easily be fitted into the 2-4 player version of the game, and the three zip-lock bags strongly suggest to do so. Lacking any other storage solution, these accessories (zip lock bags, content cards) probably will help maintaining some measure of order in the boxes.
A test game will have to wait until I get the wooden pieces (of the Mayfair edition) that are marketed in Europe as Viking edition pieces from catanshop.de - still unwilling to give up the wooden pieces. (As a result, I might trade a set of plastic pieces when I get the wooden ones.)
- [+] Dice rolls
This is another yet untested idea I'd like to submit for comments.
In the normal game with C&K the invading barbarians reduce the least defended cities to settlements.
Looking at the history of the Middle Ages (or the classical period), it was very rare for invading barbarians to destroy a city (the only example I can cite right now is Ugarit, destroyed by the Sea Peoples). When invading armies destroyed a city, usually these armies came from a (moderately) civilized country with established rulers and organized armies, such as the Romans in their wars against Carthage, or the burning of Hedeby by Norwegian king Harald Hardrada in his fights against the Danish king Svein Estridsson. Invading barbarians like Visigoths, Vandals, or Hungarians usually were more interested in plunder or conquest (like the game Struggle for Rome simulates).
Using the assumption that the barbarians are in it for plunder rather than destruction, this variant sort of suggested itself:
Whenever the defenders of Catan fend off the barbarians just marginally (exactly matching the invaders), each player draws one hand card (resource or commodity) from his left neighbor and discards it into the bank. These cards represent the plunder the barbarians manage to carry away out of the undefended settlements. Only if the defenders provide more knight strength than there are cities, the barbarians leave empty-handed. (If you are using gold in that game, you may give up 2 gold instead of a hand card – if a player has no hand cards but gold, he has to give 2 gold pieces, or one if that is all he has.)
In case of a barbarian victory, the barbarians (represented by the right neighbor) draw another card from each player who did not provide defenders for all of his cities (prior to the barbarian invasion). Note that this is different from determining the player who loses a city!
A city loss is handled like the old C&K card Sabotage – the city is laid on the head, doesn't generate any second card for income, and it takes 1 ore and 1 wood to repair it – but it still counts towards the barbarian threat. City walls get destroyed. Lacking other cities, even a metropolis can be sabotaged. If the player who provided the least defenders only has sabotaged cities, the next player(s) start to suffer.
Lacking other cities, even a metropolis can be sabotaged. A sabotaged city may not gain a metropolis. If the sabotaged metropolis only had level 4 on the progress track, it may not be secured by spending 5 commodities before the repairs.
Building up progress tracks up to level 3 still is possible with sabotaged cities.
Whenever the barbarians manage to gain some plunder, some of them decide to remain to rob more. A new robber piece is placed by the player who activated the barbarian invasion on one of the hex fields whose number was rolled – in case of a 7 or if all these hexes are already blocked, on a hex field of his choice. He gets to take the resource normally. (If a seven was rolled and a new robber was generated, no other robber or pirate may be moved.)
A player who sits on more blocked hex tiles than he has cities may move one robber to another hex field before his die roll for free.
As long as there are more than one robber on the board, robbers displaced by strong or mighty knights may be driven off Catan rather than just moved off to some other land hex. For doing so, the player receives a prestige point (e.g. a knight card from the basic game). For three such knight cards (or other prestige point markers) a player may gain a special victory card worth 2 VP (use "Largest Army").
An alternative to a knight card the reward for driving a barbarian robber off Catan could be a randomly drawn development card from the basic game. The knight rule above still applies, but there could also be direct VP or invention (2 resource cards); road building or monopoly (treated like the resource monopoly or the commodity monopoly of the yellow progress deck, player's choice).
Optionally, cities or settlements completely blocked by robbers could be excluded from the victory point count.
As another option, a pirate ship might remain on the coast of Catan whenever a barbarian invaseion was driven off without taking any plunder. This ship may block a harbor and (if playing with Seafarers) rob a resource from a ship line. Pirate ships can be driven off using knights, but unless it is the last one, not replaced on the board.
For the extra robber pieces, the barbarian figures of T&B offer themselves.
- [+] Dice rolls
A while ago I announced the idea to explore the area beyond the exploratory islands in a third exploration area. That idea has mutated a bit and has become a different exploration scenario.
Basically, I am adapting an old German scenario – Der Fluss (The River) by Oliver Delfs for combination with E&P.
The original scenario is on the infected site catanien.de, hence the disabled link:
http: //www. catanien. de/ siedler/szenarien/der_fluss/der_fluss.php
The point of Oliver Delfs' scenario is to expand the river from the left gold river field (which doesn't yield any gold, but has two resource numbers, 6 and 8) to the right gold river field (which only gets a number chit once the river has been connected). Whenever a player rolls a 6 or 8, he gets to choose a river hex , place it in the river area and draw a number chit. Areas not touched by the river are filled up with water hexes.
There are two types of river hexes – straight line, and 120 degree curve, in combination with all the landscape hexes. River hexes may be laid only in a way that the river could be continued. If there are no more fitting river hexes, the river disappears underground, and the gold river hex won't receive a number chit.
No intersection adjacent to undiscovered terrain may be used.
My idea sort of reverses this discovery approach – exploration ships arrive at two river deltas and begin to travel upriver. Soon they reach rapids, and only smaller riverboats can proceed further.
On the far end of the river there are two known cities providing special commodities which are required by the council of Catan.
Here's a map what the layout could look like:
The green dot hexes mark the delta hexes, the yellow dot hexes mark the hexes potentially on the course of the river.
I would have liked to reduce the starting island to just one line of hex fields and make all players start from a common city in the center, but that cannot be done using the anchor frame pieces of the S&P extension. In combination with Seafarers it is possible to do such a setup, but with less stability, so I haven't quite decided whether or not to change or build back the starting island.
I havent decided on a theme for those commodities, either. For the moment, let's call the rivers the emerald river (in the southern valley) and the ruby river (in the northern valley).
Like in the original scenario, some kind of construction is required to create the river hexes.
One solution I will have to try is to print and cut out river outlines and laminate them, to place on regular hexes. I'm also toying with the idea for a whole set of new terrain hexes, jungle hexes bisected by the river with clearings for pasture, fields, wood-cutting or brickmaking, possibly also ore mining, but for a prototype those cut-out river overlays will have to do (or alternatively printable overhead sheets)
I'd like to make the voyage upriver one of discovery and possibly overcoming obstacles.
The river is divided into segments, each marked with a dot. Each river segment costs 2 movement points for unpatrolled river segments (without a boat already present), 1 point for patrolled segments. Rapids are 3 dots on the far end of a river segment and (obviously) cannot be patrolled. River boats may be carried up or down the rapids, which takes an entire turn.
Once a settlement has been built on one of the hex corners of a river hex, the owner of that settlement (or city, or harbor settlement) may build river boats (cost 1 wood 1 sheep) for further exploration up the river. River boats are placed on segments of the river and patrol it (finding ways around sand banks etc), giving pilot service for upriver and downriver traffic. For each additional settlement on the river, a player must have at least one river boat patrolling the river. These river boats are placed on a free segment of the river (oversea ships and expeditionary boats don't count as occupying a segment when it comes to placing a river boat).
Settlers of Nürnberg-style right of passage cards could be awarded to the player with the most river patrol boats, given to the first player building one. At special events, this player might receive 1 gold coin or 1 resource/commodity card for each settlement or city built on this river. (The probability should be 2 in 36, so maybe on a resource roll of 2 or 12, alternatively using an event die.)
Settlements may only be placed on intersections that have been fully explored. Only when an unknown hex has been completely cut off from the river a non-river hex may be placed instead. Any river hex below the first rapids may have a harbor settlement. Above the rapids, no harbor settlements are allowed.
In addition to patrol boats, expeditionary boats may be built. These may transport settlers or units upriver.
I guess the easiest way is to use the E&P pieces again, but you may place one upriver of rapids only if you have a river patrol boat anywhere on the river. Ideally one would use a different type of ship for patrols, expeditionary boats and river boats - e.g. the E&P pirate ship in player colors for ocean-going ships, and a black pirate ship with a seafarers ship as dinghy for the player-controlled pirate.
An expeditionary boat would cost 1 wood, 1 sheep and 1 ore. It can only be built locally on the river, and may not enter the open seas. In all other respects it follows the E&P rules, including the spice island upgrades, but using 2 movement points on unpatrolled river segments and 1 movement point on piloted segments, but paying 1 gold to the owner of the piloting ship - the owner may (but need not) accept a resource or commodity card of his choice instead.
Once settlements have been built on the river, they may expand by building roads, or bridges when crossing the river (using T&B rules), but not towards unexplored hexes. The distance rule applies.
Settlements on rapid edges earn 1 mill point (use victory points from Seafarers or Catan Chips from T&B) which may be traded for 1 gold. These mill points may be used for a special victory condition richest/poorest settler. Bridges may earn one mill point, too. Ownership of the right of passage would be worth 1 mill point that cannot be traded.
Here are a few rough prototypes. I've used a jungle hex background found here on BGG:
Top left: Curve,
Bottom left: Long curve,
Top right: Straight section of the river,
Bottom right: Straight section of the river, meandering - this section of the river is winding and takes an additional dot to traverse.
Top left: Left curve with rapids. (The right curve would be the mirror of the river overlay)
Top right: Straight section with rapids.
Bottom left: Delta hex
Bottom right: Y-shaped branching.
On the delta hex, all interior connections between the lighter blue dots can be entered by sea-going ships as well as river patrol boats and exploration boats for two movement points each. The outer edges cannot be entered by river patrol boats or exploration boats and cost 1 movement point to enter for sea-going ships.
I'm not yet sure whether to allow or disallow branchings - if I do, I will have to allow sharp curves, too.
I still have to produce satisfying hex prototypes for headwaters and the destinations.
Right now I have to make decisions how new segments of the river are placed.
The minimum requirement is that the active player reaches the upriver end of a river hex with an expeditionary boat or (below the first rapids) with a sea-going ship.
Normally, only one exploration boat may be placed on any river segment. Open ends and segments adjacent to rapids are different - any number of exploration boats may be placed there.
A ship during portage may be placed across the river on the rapids. No limit for ships in portage, either.
For a random method, a player may draw a river tile from a stack or bag when he reaches an open end. If the tile fits (all open ends pointing to undiscovered hexes or already discovered river entrances), he can play it. If it doesn't fit, he must discard it and wait for another turn. (If playing with sharp turns, the river must not turn back. If playing with branches, a dead end branch may draw a headwaters hex from a separate stack.)
Another way to assign such hexes could be in the style of the old card game or Rivals of Catan: A player may hold up to 3 hex tiles (or river overlays) from a small number of hexes, drawn randomly from 2 or 3 stacks (or, in case of overlays, out of 2 or 3 bags).
Each time an expeditionary boat of his ends the turn on the undiscovered end of a river (or below the rapids), the player may draw a river hex tile. He may decide to play the hex tile, to keep it in his hand, or to discard it below one of the stacks.
He may pay 2 gold to the bank to select one out of the three top hex tiles (or, if drawing out of bags, may draw three tiles and choose one), putting the other two back below the stack.
Once the river has been extended to the target hexes (which may be turned to meet the first river ending there), the expeditionary boats may be used to carry commodity tokens downriver to a harbor settlement below the first rapids, and from there to the council island with a seagoing ship. There might be mission bars for tokens from either river.
Possible complications might be a river pirate (possibly activated by an event die) or events for the river (like low water, blockage, or high water fronts hindering upriver traffic).
The river pirate can be moved between the two rivers (unlike players' exploration boats). The pirate piece will be placed on one of the blue dots, creating an obstacle. If moved there as the result of a player action (chasing the pirate away with the boat), the player may draw one hand card (resource or commodity) from the owner of one adjacent exploratory boat. No new river patrol boats may be placed next to the river pirate, or upriver of it if the player has no settlement upriver of the river pirate. An expeditionary boat may stop to drive it away the next turn, or spend 2 extra movement points fighting its way past the pirate.
The river pirate will demand 2 gold from the owner of the way of right when the right of way event is rolled. He can be chased away just like the open seas pirate, but cannot be controlled.
The ordinary robber would be useable for the river section of the board, too, in addition to the pirate from E&P.
Cities and Knights should be playable with this, as well as special fields like jungle or volcano to fill in the gaps in the river course from Das Buch or Die Kolonien.
As usual, I invite suggestions and criticism in the comments.
Edits: clarifications about the river pirate and ships in portage
- [+] Dice rolls
I have decided to release the current version of my Cities and Knights Variations review/overview. I still have to research quite a few forums for additional variations and ideas, but I think I got most of the ones I wanted to include. (Writing this, I remember at least 2 that deserve mention - I'll change the file later, and then do an upload to BGG as well.)
Update: now available on BGG as well (since my website had upload problems).
I added a few variants I had missed before and created a new file, and there has been an update for the mapping tool - now with almost full E&P functionality, only the discovery areas are yet to place by hand. The links have been updated.
Due to a series of recent updates by the programmer, you might have missed the latest link to the game board generator.
I'll edit this blog post to announce minor changes. When (or if) I get around to a major change (like adding an index to all the variants), I'll make a new blog post.
If you feel that I missed anything cool, or misrepresented some variant, please comment here or contact me privately.
This is a pure text document. I am considering to add a collection of board layouts that I have used or that were proposed on websites that are not accessible any more (like e.g. catanien.de, which now appears to be an infected site).
If I decide to go that way, I'll be using a nifty German language tool created by LInsoDeTeh, a user on siedeln.de.
If you understand some German, here is the thread on siedeln.de:
and here is a download link to the most recent version:
It requires a .net environment to run properly.
The standard edition uses the hex fields of the current German edition, but you can use custom hexes instead.
There is no English language version of this tool, but I think it might be useable anyway - you can contact me for clarifications. I used it to create the maps in this blog, in some cases cheating to overcome the 7 rows limit of the tool.
- [+] Dice rolls
I have explored the idea of Oversea Trading Cities scenario/variant for Explorers and Pirates with C&K in this forum thread and in this comment to my own blog.
I managed to work a bit on my expansion idea for the trade certificates, and have completed some playtest card sheets for trading.
The card above allows a player with a ship pointing to an intersection on any of the three overseas cities to buy as many books as he can afford for 4 gold each.
Not quite finished, but well along are production certificates.
The card above allows a player with a ship pointing to an intersection on the city of the scientists to produce as many circle items as he can pay for with wood and ore, selling them for 3 gold each.
The travel cards still are in a concept stage.
The card above can be played by a player with a ship pointing to an intersection on the city of the diplomats. Once the player manages to place a ship pointing to the council island and pays two coins commodity cards, this card will count as a friendship point for the diplomats and laid out with victory point cards etc. - the first player to get 3 matching friendship cards and afterwards the player with the most cards of that city receives the friend of the ... (in this case diplomats) card worth 2 bonus victory points.
This scenario hasn't been playtested yet (the announced street date for the German expansion is coming Friday), but I would like to get some feedback what you would like to be able to do in such a game.
- [+] Dice rolls