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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Legend of the Conquerors Second Chapter

Jörg Baumgartner
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Two weeks of blogging the background story has gone into the land, followed by two weeks of rules presentation. In the midwinter post we get an impression of the map for the second chapter in this legend:

This time the defenders occupy the tip of a peninsula separated from the mainland by a belt of dunes and coastal marsh, with the invaders coming in from four entry points.

According to the backstory, the retreating action of chapter one wasn't too much of a loss (never mind that you just placed a heap of settlements and cities in the path of these conquerors) and now you are defending a portion adjacent to the original landing site.

There are two major old European powers in the business of crossing the Atlantic with the goal of colonizing the New World, one seeking to pick up Catan as it lies on the way, the other seeking to hinder the first by lending material aid in the shape of modern war equipment - cannons and warhorses, each able to upgrade the fighting power of the knights of Catan. And while they give you, the defenders of Catan, all their hearts and minds for free, they want some remuneration for this gesture of goodwill - the local amber and wine, both of which can be found on this peninsula (in the shape of chits placed on the board).

If you take a closer look at the game board, you will see piles of one or two amber chits on various intersections on the game board (only ones unoccupied by any buildings or knights), and piles of wine chits on hill and fields hexes (as many per hex as the resource number has dots in the English versions of the game).
How these are collected is reserved for the next blog, due 4th of January (and will be updated in this blog post).

The military situation is a lot tighter than in the first game - there the conquerors win after occupying 10 productive land hexes, while in this chapter they win after occupying 5 productive land hexes (after their movement event).

This is balanced by the option of building a horse breeding farm for a warhorse to create a (single) high knight who can temporarily be placed on any free intersection of the board,

and a foundry for a (single) cannon, increasing the individual fighting power of the knight on the board accompanied by it by one.

Each player will receive one gun token and one warhorse token in his material. These aren't the final versions of those cards (the warhorse token in the image above has an uncanny similarity to the horse knight from the wooden edition of Traders and Barbarians, and the gun also looks a lot like a wooden game piece.) I expect the final product to be plastic only, though - or wood only for the English language or Viking edition. But seeing that Teuber does his playtesting with wooden pieces rather than the plastic stuff he could have taken out of T&B makes me smile slightly sadly.

(Talking about imagery, the buildings differ from the images in Rivals for Catan or its predecessor, the card game.)

The two upgrades cannot be given to one and the same knight. The knight with the warhorse (aka high knight) must return to an intersection with a road in player color at the end of the player turn.

Placing the high knight deactivates it, which at first glance prevents him from using the "special mission" road-building blue progress card to bypass another player's knight or building limiting road building. On the other hand, if one plays a "activate all your knights" blue progress card first, the issue might come up and be caught only in the rule that each knight may be deactivated only once in a player's turn.

At least now it is entirely clear that knights don't care about activation status when fighting the conquerors.

It is possible to transfer both the cannon and the warhorse from one knight to another, paying a grain for the horse exchange or a wood for a cannon exchange. (It shouldn't be possible to place a high knight in the middle of nowhere, then remove the horse and replace it with the cannon.)

Knights can be defeated and be removed from the board, and this might apply to high knights and gunner knights, too (normally as a consequence of the conquerors making a move). Since both the horse breeding farm and the gun foundry are buildings, I suppose getting the special abilities back into play may be a case of paying the movement cost.

It is likely that the same advancement track is used as in the first scenario. The main new elements in this scenario (other than the new map) are the two commodities and the upgrades for the knights.
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