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 continued

Jörg Baumgartner
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Rather than edit my previous post, I decided to add a new post since that may get a few more hits. I did edit this to include the rest of the new info from 11th January, though.

The wine chips shown on the map are an obligate, non-renewable ersatz commodity for these hexes. (Which feels a bit strange, I know vineyards in Germany that have been in use since Roman times, and I guess there are ones in the Mediterranean that have seen more or less constant use since the Bronze Age. But then, on a shorter time frame, the plant stocks need to be replaced at some intervals, so maybe that is what this rules mechanism is supposed to model.)

Looking at the map from the eighth designer's blog post again:

Only the commodity-less hill and field hexes have these wine chips as a temporary commodity, and your other commodity collection efforts racing to the metropolises won't be affected. Your ability to activate knights will, on the other hand. Luckily the conquerors don't need active knights to be dealt with, and the robber has fled this contested peninsula, too.

The amber chits are collected by either placing a starting settlement on these spots or by connecting to them with your roads (with your road-building capacity slightly ironically hampered by the reduced resource productivity due to the wine chips). No knight movement involved.

There is a new type of progress card that can only be bought by paying exactly one wine chip and one amber chip, the combat cards which will be described in next week's designer's blog (and cause an update of this blog post). This makes me assume that these chips can be traded between players, possibly for non-chip resources or commodities, too.

The presence of this additional type of progress card increases the progress card hand limit by one. Given the exchanged set of blue progress cards, there is a chance that they (or any other progress card) cannot be stolen by other players' spy cards, either.

(Smartass niggle: By the definition in the body of Catan rules, cards bought rather than earned from events or activities should be called Development Cards. Even ones bought with commodities like the explorer chits in scenarios like The Colonies or the original Desert Riders, or the Frenemies guild blessing.)

There are also events that will distribute one type of the two chip commodities triggered by the Barbarian Ship.

On that note, I was wrong in my assumption from lack of mention of the barbarian track in the first two rules blogs on this chapter because the new one is a bit more involved:

Apart from the Madeira-wine-colored background of this track card, let's focus on the two new types of events triggered by the Barbarian ship.

The three free wine or amber commodity events are ringed blue in the image.

The other new type of event is the ability to spend these commodities on the combat cards, symbolized by the (six) green flags on the black ship event track. (Which does mitigate the justification my smartass niggle above somewhat...) They are called "Captain Wyler's aid" - captain who? The emissary from the foreign nation that is a rival of the conquerors and has already brought the blessings of the cannon and the warhorse for this chapter. It's all in the back story, the translation of which (and copyright issues of) I will leave to Catan Studios.

The placement of the free wine event before the second battle ensures that each player should have at least one wine even without having a city on either field or hill hexes or without that number having been rolled so far, and some amber is quite likely to be earned during set-up - if not by the settlement or city placed directly atop a pile, then by connecting to it with the free road that comes with settlement or city.

Comparing the two event tracks side by side, the one for chapter two is two black ship events longer than the one for chapter one. The first two regular barbarian events are spaced just as in the first chapter, the third (and last) is delayed by one black ship event. The first "landing" and advance comes way earlier, and conqueror strength has gone up, too. They have also become a lot nimbler, with up to seven instead of four movement phases.

There is one more victory point that can be earned through victories or altruistic use of progress cards, too.

Six combat cards that got presented in the eleventh blog on Here they are, in rather inglorious playtest versions (which probably goes for most of the graphics, too):

(These cards would be the final size of the German edition).

The character names are from the backstory, again.

Cavalry Leader Dagur
Play this card during the attack of your high knight against a conqueror or a fortress (chapter 3). Your high knight has one extra strength for this attack.

Thora (commander-in-chief in the back story)
Play the Thora card at the start of your turn and place the card openly before you. Each of your knights has one additional point of strength. Discard this card at the start of your next turn.
While the Thora card is displayed before one player, no other player may play a Thora card.

Play this card in your turn after the resolution of a combat. In case of a draw in which one of your units was involved
- the Conqueror loses
- the Fortress (chapter 3) falls.

Chapter 2: Play this card immediately after the movement of a Conqueror has been rolled. The Conqueror piece is not moved.
Chapter 3: Play this card in case the event "Sally" comes up. At one fortress of your choice the sally doesn't happen.

Aegis the Naval Hero
Play this card, when a black ship symbol is rolled. The black ship is not moved during this event. You earn a victory point, every other player earns one wine token and one amber token.

Odo the Quartermaster
Activate all of your units (knights). If they haven't performed any action in this turn yet, units activated by Odo may immediately perform an action.

Again, this is obviously a selection of the combat cards available, and there will be multiples of these cards.

The use of the term "units" probably means a collective noun for normal knights, cannoneer knights and High Knights and not a reference to the units we know from E&P and Legend of the Sea Robbers.

We get a hint of what is going to come to pass in chapter three - there will be conqueror fortresses to be conquered by the defenders of Catan, and there will be sallies of conqueror units (probably triggered by the black ship track).

There will be events where conqueror units sally forth from their fortresses, probably using the movement rolls. Fortresses will probably come in different strengths.

Road building is going to be quite essential in the final chapter to bring enough fighting strength to the conquerors and their fortresses.

It looks like this week's blog (Jan 11th) will complete the chapter 2 presentation. Jan 18th and Jan 25th are quite likely going to see the backstory for chapter 3, placing the first physical representation of the game at Nürnberg Spielwarenmess (Jan 31st to Feb 2nd) before the rules part of the third chapter. I expect the rules part of the last chapter to take at least two more blogs, and then I expect at least one designer's comment on development history, design choices, and mention of outtake ideas. And possibly some advice how to use the barbarians in a less prescribed setup for more fun mowing down conquerors.
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