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Die Siedler von Catan: Junior» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Coco says "Let's play again! Awrk!" rss

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Welcome to Die Siedler von Catan Junior. My parents recently traveled to Germany and I had them bring this game back.

Premise

The players (3 or 4) are all pirates looking to expand their pirate base among a small set of islands. You do this by building little pirate bases using ships to sail you around. It's pretty easy to expand, but beware of the ghost pirate captain!

Components

The game comes with a double sided map - one side for three players, the other for 4. As you can see from the map above, there are ten little islands, two each numbered from 1-4, one numbered 5, and a 6th "spooky island" where the ghost pirate lives.

There are also five kinds of commodities on cards (sheep, swords, rum, gold, wood), and a deck of "Coco the parrot" cards (more on this below).

Speaking of commodities, there's a board for the trading market, and four harbour tiles (also explained below).

For each player there are 7 pirate bases and 8 pirate ships.

Lastly, there's a single die.



Rules and Flow of Play

The rules are refreshingly short and simple, but the game has a lot to offer.

First, the victory conditions - be the first to build all 7 of your pirate hideaways.

In order to achieve this, you need to build ships to sail you to the locations where a hideaway can be built. Ships are placed on the dotted lines between spaces on the corners of the hex that defines each island, and hideaways go on the dots.

This way, each hideout is adjacent to/touches two islands at a time. Each player starts with two hideouts on the board.

In order to build ships and hideaways, you need to collect resources, and that's where your turn starts.

The phasing player rolls a die, and if the result is 1-5, each player with a hideout adjacent to an island with that number gets one card of that resource per hideout. There are two islands numbered 1-4, and each produces a different resource (wood, sheep, rum, swords), so it's possible that two kinds of resources will be handed out. A 5 yields gold.

The special case is when a 6 is rolled. On a 6, the phasing player gets to place the ghost captain on the island on their choice, and unless and until the ghost captain is moved, that island will not produce any goods.

Once goods have been collected, the phasing player needs to decide what they want to do, and they have a lot of options: build a ship, build a hideout, trade for goods, or get help from Coco the parrot.

Building a ship: To build a ship, the player needs to spend a wood and a sheep, and place it adjacent to one of their current hideouts.

Building a hideout: To build a hideout, the player needs to spend a wood, a sheep, a sword, and a rum resource, and then they may place a hideout on an open spot adjacent to a previously built ship. If you build a hideout on a spot with an anchor on it, you get a harbour tile (see trading below).

Get help from Coco the parrot: Coco the parrot is a helpful bird, and if you spend one sword, one rum, and one gold, you can turn up a parrot card. The cards have a variety of effects, all of them helpful. For example, you could get two sheep, or the player to your left and right must each give you a good, or you can move the ghost pirate. This latter benefit also allows you to place one of your hideouts on the ghost island, but it only lasts until the next parrot card letting someone move the ghost pirate, at which point you get your hideout back as they place one of theirs on the ghost island.

Trading: There are three trading mechanisms in the game.

The first one involves the market. At the start of the game, one of each of the five kinds of goods is placed on the market. On your turn, you can trade goods you have for goods in the market on a 1-1 basis (e.g. I trade my wood for a gold). The market thus will change frequently as players swap for what they want from what they have. The market is flushed and reset with a fresh array of one of each if the five goods are identical (i.e. if 5 swords are in the market, then the market is refreshed).

The second method is a 3-1 swap - you can swap any three of one kind of good for any one good from the general supply (e.g. three sheep for one rum). Note that this is where the harbour tiles come in handy - they allow you to swap two of a specific good for 1 from the general supply - each of the four harbour tiles is different, one for each of sheep, wood, swords, and rum.

The third method is the classic "anyone have wood for sheep" trade - the phasing player can make any trade that other players are willing to make with them using the good they have in hand.

Verdict

I played the original Settlers of Catan once a long time ago and wasn't impressed. However, this game felt really fresh and light and fun. It doesn't seem to have a lot of depth, being intended for players age 6+, but I could easily see a regular gaming group making some rather cutthroat decisions and plays in this game. As an added bonus, the game only takes about 30-40 minutes from set-up to victory.

You get resources with every roll as you start with a hideout adjacent to each number 1-4.

It's relatively easy to trade for what you need.

There can be a fair amount of strategy in screwing over the paths of others.

It's light and quick.

Fairly luck dependent for moving the ghost captain.
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Mark Jackson
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While The Kids of Catan has been available in the U.S., it's not really a good introduction to Settlers for the younger set - that honor falls to Die Siedler von Catan Junior.

Thanks for the nice review!
 
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Jill Hetttinger
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gamemark wrote:
While The Kids of Catan has been available in the U.S., it's not really a good introduction to Settlers for the younger set - that honor falls to Die Siedler von Catan Junior.


I have read this in several locations on the web. Yet Mayfair brought Kids of Catan to the US and not Catan Junior. Interesting decision on their part?????
 
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Mark Jackson
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Goodlettsville
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Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
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jhet wrote:
gamemark wrote:
While The Kids of Catan has been available in the U.S., it's not really a good introduction to Settlers for the younger set - that honor falls to Die Siedler von Catan Junior.


I have read this in several locations on the web. Yet Mayfair brought Kids of Catan to the US and not Catan Junior. Interesting decision on their part?????


Kids came much earlier than Junior... and while I don't know this as a fact, I don't think Kids sold well enough to justify another Catan/kid game.
 
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