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.
 Thumb up

Salt Marshes and Storm Floods

Jörg Baumgartner
flag msg tools
Salt from the Fens

For centuries salt has been produced in the fens and wadden areas of the North Sea by harvesting salt peat, drying and burning it. The salty ash would be dissolved in sea water, filtrated and the water boiled off over a peat fire. This salt was a sought after commodity and led to the rise of trading towns and even metropolises along the coast.

Harvesting the salt had adverse effects on environment – the coastal country started to sink. When the sinking areas were enclosed with dams and embankments the maximum height of storm floods increased since the water couldn't spread out any more.

Purpose of the Scenario

For my taste the topic of oil springs is a bit too modern for the otherwise medieval Catan. I also am in the process of reading up on the development of the wadden sea, Rungholt and the Grote Mandrenke.

This scenario is meant as an expansion to Explorers and Pirates or Seafarers, but with the focus on recovering and even winning new land from the wadden seas, and (in combination with another scenario theme, Merchants and Trading Licenses) on trading.

The Rules

The rules of Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs apply for the salt harvesting in the fens, using the same material. The main difference is that only the fen areas are affected by the catastrophes, and that there is a way to protect or even repair lost productivity by building embankments.

A salt chit can be exchanged in two resource cards of any one kind.

Salt chits can be used for building a metropolis.

Salt chits also can be taken out of the game by storing them as a state treasure (flipping them). Each stored salt chit moves you on the mission bar “greatest salt treasure”.

The catastrophes can be either dam breaks leading to floodings of single hex fields (if their number is rolled), resulting in the number chit being flipped, or a great flood that affects all coastal fen hexes, destroying all hexes without embankments, removing all settlements adjacent to fen hexes (not counting wadden sea or open sea hexes) without embankments and reducing all cities or trade settlements in such locations to settlements, then removing all embankments from the protected hexes.

Whether single hexes or entire coastal stretches were lost, the lost areas become wadden sea and are navigable by ships.

The flipped number chits can be flipped back to active by recovering the land through new embankments.

Building Dams

An embankment for protecting a dry section of fen land costs 1 brick and 1 sheep. The embankments don't inter fere with that hex field's productivity (unlike in the storm flood scenario in Das Buch).

An embankment for recovering an area of wadden sea for production costs 2 bricks, 1 sheep and 1 grain – more effort and more material has to be poured into the project.

Only hex fields that are directly adjacent to a dry hex field may be recovered. The council island doesn't count in this regard.

Land Reclamation

In order to reclaim a wadden sea hex, the active player has to place two units on the wadden sea hex (by ship), then pay the price for the reclamation (2 brick 1 sheep 1 grain). The units may then be carried away by that ship.

Wadden Sea areas are shallow sea hexes for purposes of ship travel. A ship traveling through wadden sea areas has to pay 2 movement points per edge, since the area is only navigable at high tide.

Once a wadden sea area has received a reclamation embankment, it counts as dry land. If a ship got trapped inland by land reclamation, the owner may place it on an edge seaward of the reclaimed land. Ships carrying colonists may remain if trapped inland in wadden sea or inland sea areas if there is at least one intersection where the ship may land the colonist.

A harbor settlement trapped inland by land reclamation basically becomes useless, the owning player may not build ships, colonists or units at these sites. He also loses the extra victory point for the harbor settlement, but may regain it if the harbor settlement gets reconnected to the open sea, whether directly over newly sunk areas of wadden sea, or whether by canals built using the canal variant. The owning player may also exchange the harbor settlement for a normal settlement if he wants to build one on a different shore site.

Variant: Canal Building
(taken from the scenario The Great Canal in Die Siedler von Catan: Schätze, Drachen & Entdecker)
If the river is blocked by reclamation of the wadden sea hexes or if a harbor settlement is cut off from the open sea by reclamation, the owner may choose to start building a canal to regain access to the sea, laying a track of markers across the intermittent hex fields. By placing and deactivating knights on intersections adjacent to those hexes, a canal piece is placed (dry side up) in the hex. On the sea side, units may be placed instead, these require payment of 1 grain per unit. After the canal section has been built, the unit may be collected by ship – knights are moved according to the C&K rules.

Metropolis Building

A metropolis is a center of commerce. When the number of an adjacent hex tile is rolled, the owner of the metropolis receives two resource cards or one resource card plus one commodity card as appropriate to that tile. In addition, the owner gains one gold.

A distinction is made between Catan: Cities & Knights metropolises for being the first on step four on the research track (worth 2 victory points, and may have to be transferred to another player if that player manages to get to step five) and a metropolis without this claim to fame. The latter, player built variety can be marked either by a metropolis chit from Oil Springs or a metropolis piece in player colors.

There are three ways to build a metropolis:

A city may be expanded to a metropolis by spending 2 salt, 1 brick, 1 ore and 1 grain. The player should have at least one C&K research track at level 3.

As per C&K rules, a special metropolis is gained by the first player reaching step 4 on the research track. This metropolis is worth 2 victory points, but may be lost to another player. If lost, the previous owner may replace it with an ordinary metropolis worth 1 victory point.
If a player reaching step 4 on the research track has a metropolis of the first kind and no free city, he may upgrade that metropolis to a special metropolis.

A player may spend 5 commodity cards of one kind to receive a metropolis in his own color when the special metropolis for that track has already been built. The first time he does so also completes his research track.

A metropolis on the sea shore, on a canal or on a wadden sea tile may be expanded by a harbor basin for 2 ore and 1 grain in order to function like harbor settlement as well. (Cities cannot be upgraded like this.)

If a player who would lose a city to a barbarian attack only has metropolises of the 1 VP variety, one of those metropolises of his choice is reduced to a city. The special metropolises remain immune to the barbarian attack. If the lost metropolis had a harbor basin, that is lost, too.

One might allow the upgrade of a harbor settlement to a metropolis if the player has a city piece to replace the harbor settlement and if he manages to pay both the upgrade to city and the upgrade to metropolis in the same turn. Such a metropolis retains its harbor basin. This method may also be used to create a city for receiving one of the special metropolises.

Ships from Catan: Explorers & Pirates

Northern Frisia was settled between the seventh and eleventh centuries by Frisians from the Frisian lands between the Rhine delta and the river Weser. Other than the scenario I suggested below (as starting island with fen and wadden sea areas) it is as possible to place the fen area at the far side of the exploration area, making the need for salt the driving force behind this colonization.


This is just a first idea how to set up a game with this theme. From the right a wide river mouth emerges between two chunks of higher ground (reddish or mountain hexes – one or two less mountain hexes would probably work, too, making the need for oversea iron greater) into a lowland region that is subject to floodings if adjacent to sea or wadden sea hexes. I suggest that at the start of the game, each player places a harbor settlement on the seaward side of the lowlands and a city on the upland.

The wadden sea (light blue) tiles can be treated like discovery tiles, with possible results being salt desert (twice), pasture and fields.

The 11 lowland (light brown) tiles should be 2 forest, 2 hills, 2 fields, 3 pastures and the two salt hexes (oil springs) from Oil Springs (on an additional forest and pasture tile each, but any tile will do). Those salt hexes should not be adjacent to the open sea.

The 8 other upland tiles should be 2 hills, 2 forests, 2 fields and 1 pasture.

Use the number chits from the basic settlers and add the numbers 3, 4, 10, 11 and 12, and reserve two random numbers for the wadden sea pasture and fields (the salt deserts come with the numbers 5 and 9).

I used the T&B castle since the Catan mapping software I use doesn't support the council island yet.

Required Expansions

You will need the basic game, C&K, E&P and for extra sea, external frame and desert tiles the Seafarers. (The desert also can be taken from the 5-6 players extension, especially if you have the old basic game with water tiles instead of a frame).

I have been lazy and suggested simply to use the material and graphics from Oil Springs. When I get around to it, I'll lift the salt garden hexes and salt cards from Merchants of Europe instead (which would have to be attached to fitting backs, and in case of the larger Mayfair cards, also enlarged).

Metropolis pieces for the wood editions are available from game accessory shops on the internet. If you are unlucky enough to be in the plastic line of Catan, you'll have to make do with metropolis plates from Oil Springs.

Embankment pieces are available from Das Buch or the Atlantis Box for the Storm Flood scenario, but any carton wedge covering two edges will do, or street pieces of an unused color placed in an angle around the number chit.

Lowland fen hexes are ordinary land hexes (unless flooded as wadden sea hexes). If you have hex fields from different editions, using a different graphic style for the lowland hexes makes sense.

If you object to massing all the continental iron on the uplands, you can use the method used in De Kolonisten van Catan: De drie Handelsteden van Noord-Nederland and make all iron on the starting island bog iron, or at least all lowland iron. These bogs could be represented by the gold rivers of the Seafarers edition (which aren't used in this scenario and have different looks from the pirate lair gold hexes), or overlook the incongruity and place mountain hexes in the lowlands. Otherwise, the design of the marsh hexes at the mouths of the rivers in T&B would do fine for bog hexes.

Wadden sea areas (at least those caused by flooding) can be represented simply by flipping the number chit to inactive. Since such hex fields can be traveled by ship, having an overlay indicating water ways and sand banks would be nice, but I haven't got around to that yet, either. If anybody feels inspired to design such hexes – you're welcome.

Comments and Input

This is not a finished scenario, so I ask for input, including (constructive) criticism and additional ideas. Feel free to expand from these ideas.

I ought to provide links to other scenarios using land reclamation from the wadden sea, but I wanted to get this text written first (and then translated) in order to get feedback. The combination of land reclamation and salt harvesting is – to my knowledge – new.

If anybody has a web link to the historical activities of salt harvesting in the marches, I'd appreciate that – most of my research links are in German or Danish.

Edit: Here's one of the links I wanted to add:
The Netherlands scenario uses wind mill powered pumping to drain and reclaim wadden areas.
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:15 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}