The Cities and Knights of Catan: Catan Gets Complicated
The Settlers of Catan is known for being a game with quick playing time and easy to learn rules; a game which has brought many players back to the gaming table for these reasons. However, Cities and Knights takes these aspects of the game and tosses them out the window, creating a more complex and involved Catan experience. The stakes are higher, the options are greater, and the game-play is richer.
Catan has had its share of troubles, from robbers to pirates, but has yet to face its worst foe; the barbarian horde. As you and the other players go about your business settling your favourite island, the barbarian ship gets closer and closer. This gives players a choice; ignore them and lose your cities, or work together to fight them off with the use of knights.
This provides an all new aspect to Catan, but we’re not finished yet. There is also a new civilization-building aspect which allows cities to grow more advanced and become metropolises. Markets, fortresses, universities, paper, coin and cloth are all thrown into the mix. You’re not in Kansas anymore.
No longer is Catan satisfied with basic, rickety settlements and simple resources. Each player is now given a development card to indicated the advancements their people are making in three different strands; trade, politics and science. As these three strands develop, players become closer to building a metropolis. However, only one metropolis can exist for each strand, which creates a very exciting race element to the game.
Also new to Catan are commodities; coin, paper and cloth. These are produced by cities (instead of two resources being produced, a player with a city gets one resource and one commodity). These commodities are what the players need in order to advance their development. A brand new pack of development cards are also tied in with this development and provide fresh new events to the game-play, including a merchant which allows for better trading without a port.
The other major addition to the game are the knights and barbarians. Players can now develop knights and can increase their strength throughout the game. These knights help protect the island from the oncoming barbarians, whose progress has the possibility of advancing each turn with a special dice which is added to the regular dice set. If there are more knights on the board then there are cities, then the island is protected and the player who contributed the most knights gets a victory point. If there are more cities than knights, then the barbarians win and cities are destroyed.
So is more complexity a good thing for a game which built its fortune on the reputation of being simple and easy-to-learn? In this case, yes. C&K provides a richness to the game which is very refreshing. There are many new paths to victory and many new facets to the experience. The race for the three metropolises adds new exhilaration while the civilization-building satisfies the hunger of imaginative betterment.
The barbarian defense provides a very interesting cooperative component to the game where players must band together, at least momentarily, in order to escape the threat. Of course, once the barbarian ship starts over again, they return to their antagonistic ways. This creates an epic quality to the game where different stages come in waves; when the barbarians are distant, and when they are near.
Cities and Knights is a spectacular expansion which turns the simple settlement building game into a full scale story. Cities are built up and advanced while danger emerges, passes,and returns once more. New game-play features allow for more strategies while new development cards add to this storytelling aspect. Catan has become a richer, fuller world with Cities and Knights and those who are not frightened by the new levels of complexity should appreciate it greatly.
Base Game –
Base Game and Expansion –