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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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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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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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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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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C&K - barbarian invasion leaving robbers behind

Jörg Baumgartner
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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.
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Sun Apr 7, 2013 9:19 am
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Up The Rivers Scenario Idea

Jörg Baumgartner
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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, 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
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Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:00 pm
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Cities and Knights Variations Reviewed - PDF Release V0.5

Jörg Baumgartner
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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., 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
If you understand some German, here is the thread on,10360,-siedler-spielplan-g...
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.
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Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:23 pm
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Oversea Trading Cities Prototype Cards

Jörg Baumgartner
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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.
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Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:16 am
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Cities and Knights Variations reviewed

Jörg Baumgartner
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I have started a general review of all the C&K Variants, scenarios and additions that I have found so far, whether on BGG, or private websites.

It takes a lot longer than I suspected to put together this file, which originally was meant to be a blog post here. I decided to make a sneak peek pdf available after more than 2 weeks of revisiting and expanding that file, but it is still very much incomplete and under construction.

I try to give links to the original upload sites or at least forum threads dealing with the scenarios, whether in German, English or some other language I can decipher.

Quite a few of the older German scenarios were on, a site that unfortunately seems to have been infected. I think I managed to save all the scenarios there to my harddisk, but I cannot place them online without risking copyright issues. Using the wayback machine on might be a work-around for avoiding the infection. If not, contact me via BGG for additional info - possibly also help with translations.

Scenarios for C&K include scenarios from other Catan expansions that are playable with C&K without changing anything but the victory points required to win the game, the combination advice for T&B with C&K, setup suggestions for combinations of Seafarers and C&K.

Quite a few variants add or alter some aspects of the game without much need for new material, and can be easily implemented.

There are quite a few variants available that add new progress tracks and progress cards. I try to describe each of them enough to give an idea what can be expected. Some variants are thoroughly playtested (HZD and KGR are in their 3rd revisions, and have expansions themselves), others are still in a draft state. I try to present the ideas in these variants so that C&K players can compare similar themes and decide which ones they want to use or adapt.

If you know about a variant or scenario I have missed so far, feel free to comment. I may have it already on my to-do-list, but any help is appreciated.
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Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:06 pm
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Placing Magicians on the Hex Board

Jörg Baumgartner
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A while ago I posted an English translation of my rules draft for magicians in the board game. Revisiting that file, I noticed that I failed to provide at least examples for the development and progress cards for that expansion here on BGG, and that the German community didn't fare much better. It is one thing to scrawl a few notes on blanco cards for a concept test, but producing a finished product takes a lot more effort. Since I have way more ideas and concepts for Catan scenarios than I have time to produce classy looking gaming material and rules, the production side suffers quite a bit.

I have started to remedy this lack of material support, but this will take some time since I'm trying to do this quite right. Don't expect any fancy artwork, but I plan to use a few photographs of game situations and material to illustrate the rules.

Sample development card (translated to English)

I'm not at all talented at drawing, the best I can manage is a doodled magician's hat, which I combined with the landscape for that wizard (using German 1st edition hex fields).

This idea originally came from a much more complicated concept to convert Gloranthan magic to the Catan board game, with magician units tied to one of the Gloranthan runes, and each player's tribe allied to slightly different deities granting different rune magicians. (Don't get me started rambling about Glorantha...)

The variant I posted is a lot closer to the magicians in the card game - units placed on landscapes next to a citadel, earning magic when that landscape receives a resource. Apart from two variants directly using the card game components for the board game, I haven't found anything like this concept in board game variants - most variants I have seen use magic as a progress track in an expansion for Cities & Knights, powered by magical crystals (or similar) earned as commodity on certain hex types (most commonly hill hexes).

I may have gone a bit over-board with my tomes for reusable magic - that's the roleplayer expecting some continuity in the magic used by a (group of) magician(s). Meanwhile, I have encountered one other (also German language) C&K expansion which uses magical actions bought for magical energy, called Fischer, Feldherren und Fiskus (Fishermen, Strategists and Exchequer), strangely keeping silent in the title about the magic rules.

The German forum thread about this expansion can be found here:,10490,686dc6a63b4fcf0bf603...

Originally, my plans were to produce another C&K variant for magicians, but I realized that it didn't seem right (or fair) to use magicians against an entirely mundane threat like the ship-borne invasion in C&K. There also was the problem that I wanted to distribute the progress cards quite early in the game, and adding another type of progress card to the event die lowers the probability to draw a card of that type.

That's why I decided to start with an expansion that replaces C&K rather than adding to it. It keeps the focus on the magic and doesn't cause more confusion when there are two different threats to be fought. Ultimately, I plan to create a rules set which combines these wizards with C&K, but first I want to fine-tune this magic.

I did inherit the threat mechanics from C&K - activated units to fight a threat, a threat slowly advancing on the island depending on an event die which otherwise will grant new progress cards. I had to create a new threat, and one that would keep the family-friendly tone of the Catan games. Luckily, there lies a lot of horror in vaguely disturbing descriptions, so I simply called the invading magical foes shadow creatures.

The magical tomes (or spell books) are one type of progress card I wanted to use. Here is an example:

The card background is used for all progress cards (the development cards keep their white background unless someone feels inspired to produce an artistically more pleasing set of cards). The image of the book and the magical sparks are inherited from the card game, as are the other illustrations currently used on the progress cards I have so far (provided to me by "Bastelmaus", another poster on the German forum on who helped greatly in developing the idea to the point I would translate it to English).

There are two magic costs marked on the card. On the top, next to Tome, there is the cost for laying out this tome. Next to the book is the cost for activating the tome, putting the spell into effect.

I wanted to make the spells available again after some time, so I decided on a simple mechanic to reactivate a tome - the magic points for activating the spell are placed on the tome, which is turned upside down to indicate its deactivation. On the end of each following turn of this player he may remove one magic point from the tome. When there are no magic points left on this tome, it is active again. The more expensive (and powerful) the spell, the longer before it can be reused.

There is no limit how many spells may be activated on a player's turn (other than the magic points available), nor is there a limit how many magic development cards may be bought or held, or played - unless they were bought that turn. There is a limit to how many progress cards may be held (3, not counting tomes played out), and there is a limit how many tomes may be played - as many as the progress track has advanced.

Tome cards, dragon cards (other than black dragons) and magician cards are counted to determine the player with the greatest magical power, which is worth a 2 victory point card Greatest Magical Power - just like the Greatest Army VP card.

Another type of progress cards are magical actions - these too cost magic points to be played, but the effect is instant, and afterwards these cards are discarded.

I hope to be able to provide printable sets of game cards for both the German and English versions soon. The cards will be the small size of the German edition of Settlers of Catan.
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Thu Mar 7, 2013 4:06 am
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