Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Cities and Knights of Catan 5-6 Player: Too Much Catan?

The Catan series is a board game powerhouse which has brought in all sorts of new people in the rank and file of board game aficionados. Some of the qualities which have been vital to its success include its easy-to-learn strategy and its quick game time. However, Catan is also known for its interesting expansions which allow for further variety and expansion. So what happens when these expansions contradict the very qualities which make Catan such a hit?
Cities and Knights added a lot of depth to the original Settlers of Catan and provided new avenues of strategic game-play. For casual players, this may have been too much, but for fans of Catan it was a welcome addition. And with each new Catan expansion must come a new e-6 player extension, allowing two new players to join in the action. However, Cities and Knights is already more complicated and long, and with two more players, this can simply lead to an overkill of Catan, reaching the end of the spectrum opposite the qualities of Catan which made it popular in the first place.

As far as new materials go, there’s really not much. There are green and brown wooden pieces for new knights and city walls. I do like the green and brown colours, though. I would prefer them to the orange or white. The game also comes with two more development flip board for the two new players, and a couple new cards to boost the commodities appropriately. Oh, and there are a few new water pieces to help extend the island.

The only ways that this expansion really affects the regular Cities and Knights game is that the board is larger, to accommodate the two new players, and the game takes longer. The special building phase, introduced with the regular 5-6 player expansion, only adds to this length. In this case, however, the extra phase may be necessary as players can activate knights at this time, lest the barbarian horde storm their shores before they have a chance on their own turn.
This lengthening building phase as well as the added competition for metropolises, defender cards, and commodities can be frustrating. The expanded island does provide enough possibilities to expand your colonies, but when there are five people to go through between your turns fatigue can begin to set in quite easily.
This 5-6 player expansion may be the Catan tipping point. Cities and Knights is a great expansion and the 5-6 Player is good to have so that no one is left out if a fifth or sixth person wants to join in. But sticking with the regular three or four players is highly recommended here, simply because the complexity of Cities and Knights makes you really feel the added length. For completists, this expansion’s main purpose will probably be just to have each piece of the Catan series.

Expansion – starnostarnostarnostar
Base Game – starstarstarstarstar
Base Game and Expansion – starstarstarstarnostar


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