The Seafarers of Catan

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Year of Publication: 1997

In The Beginning…

Was the island of Catan, and on that island small groups of people settled and expanded, becoming farmers, miners, shepherds and lumberjacks. However, the island proved to be too small to sustain multiple civilizations, so some of the people took to the seas to find new places to settle, and they became known as the Seafarers of Catan!

Okay, these Catan posts are going to be a little different to the normal reviews; as I’ve already done a full review post on the original Settlers of Catan I’m not going to do the “What’s In The Box” photos for any of the expansions or extensions, but instead only for the spin-off editions, like Starfarers of Catan or Star Trek Catan as those games are very different to the original. Instead all I’m going to do in these posts is to say which pieces are added to the base game to play the expansion and then review the differences in game play and give my opinion. All clear? Excellent! Without further ado:

What’s New?

Seafarers is obviously set over multiple islands, so each colour player is provided with 15 ships of their colour, which can be built by spending one sheep and one wood resource cards on your turn, and can then be used to travel to new places.

In addition to those the expansion also includes a large number of sea hexes and extra sea edge pieces to make the board bigger. Because several islands are involved in playing this game there are extra Catan Chits, with numbers on them to produce resources. There is also the new resource of gold, which allows a player who has a settlement built on one to claim one resource of their choice every time its number is rolled.

In original Catan each settlement gains a player one victory point, and a city is worth two. In Seafarers you get a bonus victory point for the first settlement you build that’s not on your original island, which is quite exciting. There are a few additional tiles that you put underneath such settlements so you don’t forget those points.

Lastly, in addition to the robber who lives in the desert, there is now also a pirate ship, which, obviously, lives in the sea.

Playing The Game:

As you can see from the above pictures, the way players begin the game is exactly the same as in the original Catan game, each player starts with 2 settlements, each with a road attached, and takes resources from one of those settlements to begin the game.

A players turn is exactly the same as in the original game; you roll the dice to claim resources (being wary of 7, which I’ll explain the differences of in a minute), then you build roads/settlements/cities/ships or development cards or trade for resources with other players and play development cards, and then you pass the dice to the next player, ending your turn.

Rolling Seven!

Rolling seven is the same as in the original Catan in that the player who rolls seven gets to move the robber, and can take a resource from any player effected by where they move it to. Additionally any player with seven or more cards in their hand still has to discard half of them (the lesser half in the case of an odd number, i.e. if I have 9 cards with a seven is rolled I must discard 4).

BUT!

In the Seafarers version of Catan the player who rolls the seven has the choice of moving either the robber, or the pirate ship. The pirate ship works slightly differently to the robber – the robber prevents resources from being harvested in the hex it’s on, but doesn’t do anything else. The pirate ship however has to stay in the sea, and so, instead of preventing resource production, it prevents a player from building new ships that would sit on any of the sides of the hex it’s on.

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As you can see, in this picture the pirate ship has been moved onto a hex that the orange player (me) is currently trying to sail through. However, until the the pirate ship was moved I could not build any more ships there.

Game play proceeds in the normal way; each player tries to build settlements, roads, cities and development cards in order to collect the required number of Victory Points – in this edition 13 – to win the game.

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Blue wins the game!

The winning player is the first to reach 13 Victory Points and the game ends immediately when that happens.

Strategy:

I would say that getting to the coast is key in this game; with the addition of ships the possibility to extend your road is literally doubled and the extra Victory Points gained both from having the longest road, and from building settlements on new islands are valuable. The winning player when we played had a combination of luck (good dice rolls gaining him lots of resources), settlements upgraded to cities, the longest road, development card Victory Points and settlements on a new island – so literally every possibility in the game!

Also, if one player is in a much better position to win than the others, feel free to make an agreement with the other players to not trade any resources with them, there’s no shame in sabotaging someone else’s chances to further your own cause!

In Conclusion:

This expansion is, in my opinion, worth buying, as gives that little bit extra to the basic game, making it more interesting. This game also has many different scenarios, some of which I may write short reviews of over the coming year, which gives it more diversity than the original version, which can be altered, but not drastically.

I recommend this game as an excellent family game, and good for both board game nerds and board game likers who aren’t ready for anything more intense.

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The smug face of the winning player.

 

 

On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Mastermind! And acted very suspiciously all day….

The Rules:

This game is very simple. One player makes a code using the coloured pegs provided and then hides it whilst the other player looks away/puts their face in a cushion. The second player then has to use the remaining coloured pegs to try and guess the code. The first player indicates when they are right or wrong using white and red pegs. The second player has to crack the code before they run out of lines. We already wrote a full review post of this game here if you want to read more about it.

For Christmas?

Definitely! This game is a fun quickie for two players, and fantastic for keeping the most rambunctious children occupied for a little while if you’re a family that been blessed with children with boundless energy! Although a two player game doesn’t sound the best for Christmas, when there’s usually vastly more than two people around it’s actually fantastic. Both for smaller families and big ones. It’s easy to make a Mastermind tournament if you have lots of interested people or, if there’s only a few of you it’s ideal for having a few quiet moments. It’ll also keep Aunt Jean happy – she’s not strong with tactical games, but if only two people are playing it at least there should be someone left to hear about her newest animal acquisition!

Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas! This brings us to the end of the Christmas period, and the end of this series of posts – at least until next year!

On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Blokus – and after spending the day with my father told me I was a chip off the ol’ block!

The Rules:

Blokus is a great game that relies on simple rules. Each player chooses a colour and takes all the tiles of that colour. Then, starting with the oldest player they place one tile, starting from the corner nearest where they’re sitting. You can place whichever tile you like but your tiles must all be connected by the points of the corners.

For Christmas?

Yes! I first played this game at Christmas and it’s good fun. It’s not particularly competitive, which makes for a relaxed game. On top of that it’s also very easy to grasp how to play. It’s such a straightforward game that Aunt Jean might even win at it, if she can stop talking about her dogs long enough to focus.

Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas! We’re nearly at the end of the Twelve Games of Christmas now and hopefully you’re  all !

On The Tenth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Sphinx! And asked if I knew the answer to the riddle…

The Rules:

Sphinx is a great kids game which takes half an hour or less to play. Each player starts on the same square in the maze and moves around by rolling three dice. There are two symbols on the board, one is a little coloured card, called a Sphinx card, the other is a mummy hand. The Sphinx card allows you to collect a card of that colour from the stack next to the board, you need these to win the game. The mummy hand allows you to look at the colour of the base of one of the six Sphinxes on the board. There are three Sphinxes in the center of the board, guarding the treasure, there are also three Sphinxes down the right-hand side of the board. Each of these has a different colour on their base. To win the game a player must advance to the middle of the maze and present the correct coloured Sphinx cards in the correct order to reach the treasure. There is a double snake symbol on one of the dice. this means that the player who rolled that symbol must swap one of the Sphinxes in the center of the board with one on the side. In doing this the pattern of colours in the center also changes. The game is won when a player correctly guesses the colour pattern of the center of the board with the correct Sphinx cards.

For Christmas?

Yup! It’s a slightly more challenging game for kids who are a little older. It’s a great introduction to strategy and memory games and can be used as a learning point for the myth and history of the Sphinx (if you’re into that kind of stuff). It could also be an excellent opportunity for the kids to teach Aunt Jean something, as we all know that her interest into history doesn’t extend further than the pedigree of her favourite dog!

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas, if you’re being bored by these posts, just hang on for two more days, and then everything goes back to normal on the blog!

On The Ninth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Connect 4, and proceeded to bore me, explaining how if he started first he could always win…

The Rules:

Connect 4 is a simple tactical game; two players take it in turns to drop their coloured counters down columns on an empty grid in an attempt to make a line of four of their colour, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, whilst preventing their opponent from making one first. The first player to make a line immediately wins. If both players run out of counters and no one has a line the game is a draw.

For Christmas?

I think it’s a good quick game for when you need five minutes to chill away from the masses, or for when you need your kids to stop running around for a few minutes so that you can get food out of the oven without falling over them. You could also get Aunt Jean to play it, which would keep her out of the way for a few minutes when you’re busy, because she’s really not as helpful in the kitchen as she thinks she is!

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas everyone! If you haven’t played any games yet, you’re not doing Christmas right!

On The Eighth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Labyrinth – and asked me to get lost in one when I won.

The Rules:

The board is laid out randomly with movable square pieces. One piece is left over on the side and the youngest player takes the first turn. Before the game begins you have to shuffle the Treasure Cards and put the pile face down by the side of the board. Then flip over the top card. The first player then pushes one row either vertically or horizontally down/up or left/right so that the spare piece is now on the board, and a different piece has fallen off. Next they move their coloured token to try and claim whichever treasure is shown on the face up card. A player can move any number spaces in any direction on their turn so long as there’s a path. If they succeed in claiming the treasure they take the card and the next one is turned over. Play then passes to the next player. The game continues like this until all the cards are claimed. The player with the most treasure wins.

For Christmas?

Yes and no, this game is good, fun and easy to play, so excellent for families of mixed ages. My only reservation is that it can drag on a little. So I would say, yes for Christmas, but put some kind of time limit on it so everyone doesn’t get bored – otherwise you’ll just give Aunt Jean something new to complain about. On the other hand, yesterday was New Years Eve and all the adults may be slightly hungover, so for that this is a good game – it’s got next to no rules, so isn’t difficult to think about, and it doesn’t make any noises!

Happy Eighth Day of Christmas and Happy New Year! Drink lots of water and try not to throw up if you were out partying last night!

On The Seventh Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Uno, and said in hushed tones that it’s the only child-friendly way of playing Blackjack early in the day…

The Rules:

The deck of cards is shuffled, and seven cards are dealt to each player, the remaining cards are placed face-down in the middle of the table and the top one turned over and placed next to it. Generally the youngest player begins and they start by putting a card on top of the face-up one that matches either the colour or the number of the card. If they aren’t able to do this, but they hold a wild card, they can play that instead and change the colour of the cards that are being played. There are a few other cards that change the direction of play and similar things, but those can mostly only be played when they match the colour. The objective of the game is to play all of your cards. If you are unable to play a card on your turn you must pick one up from the face-down pile and add it to your hand. When you only have one card left you have to say “UNO!!” as loudly as possible before you can put it down. If you play your last card without proclaiming Uno, you must draw new cards and continue playing as a punishment.

For Christmas?

Yes! Definitely! This game is great for large or small groups of players, and is all-ages inclusive. Aunt Jean could almost definitely grasp this one without too much trouble, and she might not even complain about it! On top of that, it’s a speedy play, so a good time filler.

Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Keep the cheer and food flowing!