The blog on catan.de has arrived at the fourth installation (https://www.catan.de/news/2018-11-23/catan-die-legende-der-e...), and after the initial presentation of the idea and two installations of backstory we finally get a peek at the scenario.
Like in Catan: Seafarers Scenario – Legend of the Sea Robbers, the scenario is set on a portion of Catan, in this case the northern shore which has a broad belt of sandy dunes with four bays in which the bad guys will disembark:
The setup reminds of the Desert Riders of Die Siedler von Catan: Das Buch zum Spielen aka Desert Dragons of Die Siedler von Catan: Schätze, Drachen & Entdecker (though without the Seafarers element of fleeing) or the Barbarian Attack of Catan: Traders & Barbarians played along with the normal barbarian threat of Catan: Cities & Knights, although with a random directional element reminiscent of the Great Wall scenario in Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien II or the Wall in A Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch: 5-6 Player Extension (which has the mammoths as additional directional element over the basic version).
The map shows an initial setup. The board is a standard-sized hexagonal Catan elongated by three hexes on opposite sides, creating a wider board than usually encountered. Each player sets up a city and a settlement as usual in C&K, but also a border settlement on an effectively unproductive one dot corner bordering on two dune hexes, with a road and an inactive knight already present.
This egalizes the additional threat of having to fight off the plunderers that make up the normal C&K bad guy. Unless you spend your knight force fighting off the invaders, at least the first wave of the plunderers will be no big issue.
The scenario is a short one. The blog offers a playtest progression board for the invaders which has only three plunderer raids, interspersed with four arrivals of conqueror armies in ever stronger waves.
The arrivals come as units of varying strength. The first wave has armies equal to a strong knight (combat 2), and this increases with each wave. While the blog announces that the combat rules are going to be explained in the next installation, parallels to the dragonslayer scenario in SDE suggests that to overcome such an invader, the defenders need at least that much in knight strength to free an invaded land hex.
There are only 22 progressions of the invader/plunderer ship, which gives a game of an average of 44 turns in total. That is significantly shorter than the C&K games that I usually have.
Judging from the quite verbose backstory, the first scenario is a holding action against the conquerors. There are three ways the scenario can end.
The first option is that the conquerors win by occupying 10 land hexes after their movement (7 in a three player game with a presumably smaller map). There are 16 invading armies, and they get harder and harder to beat, so to avoid a communal loss the defenders need to eliminate seven of the units or be lucky enough that one or two of the conqueror armies never leave the dunes.
The second option to end the game is if a player manages to reach 13 victory points before the barbarian advance runs out of steps.
The third option appears to be a shared victory if the defenders manage to eliminate enough conqueror armies but fail to reach 13 victory points individually. In this case there will be a set of tie-breaker conditions defining the victor, and possibly a different set of ways to earn legend points. I guess the story outcome will be that finally the joint forces of Catan were successfully mustered and can take a stab at going to the counter-offensive. (No idea whether this will be the second or the final third scenario.)
I would expect that the remaining conqueror strength might influence the starting conditions for the second game of the set.
This being C&K, I guess that getting the knights to the action requires the defenders to provide roads for their knights to be able to fight an invader. Since normal road-building tends to cut off the competition, I suspect that like in Legend of the Sea Robbers there may be two different colored roads on each hex edge. Given that roads may not be moved once put down (except through use of the Diplomat progress card), this might lead to somewhat wasteful road building. But even if such a rule is possible, building a road parallel to another player's road will often be blocked if a knight or settlement/city occupies an intersection. Getting the defenders to the foe will require some effort.
Conqueror movement will occur five times, once each for each arrival of new forces, apparently with a three-colored die similar to the one in Barbarian Attack rolled for each unit. At least, this image suggests such a rule:
The movement chart also offers a bar that counts the victories over invader units, each of which will be worth one victory point. I suppose that in case of joint victories, each participant may advance on that chart, but there might be something like a tie-breaker as in the pirate battles of Catan: Explorers & Pirates, or a lesser advantage (analogous to the Defender of Catan victory point).
With bad guy tokens going to block productive hexes, I don't think the robber will be part of the game, which will affect the Bishop progress card.
The presence of just the five 2:1 trading ports acting as trading posts along the dry land border suggests that bank trading is going to be 3:1 by default once more.
On the whole, I don't see any overwhelming complexity in this scenario.
I have used the Desert Riders scenario with C&K before, with attrition to the knights participating in those battles (reducing a knight's strength by one level for each such battle). I doubt that this scenario uses attrition, but I will wait for the combat resolution mechanism which just might offer a randomized battle outcome that might result in weakening a failed attempt by defenders to remove an enemy unit.
I am curious whether the scenario will use the vicious knights optional rule for dealing with the plunderer attack, or whether fighting off the plunderers will have mandatory deactivation of all knights on the board.
Having the cooperative component in an official C&K scenario is a first for me. I don't mean fighting off the plunderers, but I mean the "you all lose and this game ends here" end of scenario condition.
Having that carry over into the next scenario will be the major difference to the Game of Thrones C&K-less game. (Adapting that game to C&K is of course impossible without giving one set of pieces a paint job or living with two-colored game pieces, or using pieces from other expansions like the E&P units for the wall guardians.)
Having seen this scenario, I now want to design a crossover of AGOT and C&K. Possibly even inheriting Legend of the Sea Robbers for a naval component.
Apart from inheriting a greater or lesser mess depending on the outcome of the previous scenario in this three-act legend, I wonder what the other legacy elements will be. From what has been shown so far, it doesn't look like we are going to see Helper cards as in Sea Robbers.
Has anybody successfully combined Helpers from any of those incarnations with C&K? If so, I would like to learn about it. Legend of the Sea Robbers with its strongly reduced use of those helpers might be the least overpowered variant.
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.
- [+] Dice rolls