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Subject: 4-Player Game with Fishermen rss

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Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
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This was a standard, 4-player game of Cities & Knights with the following Traders & Barbarians components added in:

Friendly Robber - The robber cannot shut down any player with 2 points. (In C&K, this will only affect players who had a city demoted to a settlement as a result from an unsuccessful barbarian defense.)

Fishermen of Catan - Some locations on the shore produce fish tokens on dice rolls. The tokens can be traded in for resources and roads.

The Players
Yellow - me, champion of card counting, number crunching, and robber whining
Blue - the wife, winner of about 50% of all of our Settlers games
White - the sister-in-law, a very unpredictable player
Green - the brother-in-law, the least experienced of the bunch, but a real upstart

Setup
I've set up the Settlers board hundreds of times, but I somehow forgot to include the desert hex. I got to the end of the random setup, realized my mistake, and just stuck the desert in the corner. Oh well, at least no one would complain that the desert was screwing up good spots in the middle of the board! The desert was still a factor. It ended up with a 2:1 port and a fish harbor.

After the number placement (using the spiral method), I switched a wool and grain hex. The wool production was really high, and grain was really low. Normally I would leave it alone and play as is, but with C&K, I wanted to make sure people got a fair shake at that first knight. The original placement made it nigh impossible to cover the first barbarian attack. I placed the fish harbors so that the lowest resource-producing spots got the highest fish-producing spots. This was done to balance out the overall production probabilities a bit.

Early Game
Everyone got out their first knight before the barbarian attack. Yellow made the first push for Defender of Catan, winning the 1st victory point. Some light expanding/upgrading happened - pretty typical for a C&K game.

Mid Game
Yellow continued the push for Defender cards and was mostly unchallenged, gaining 2 more Defender cards and taking an early lead. The lead would not last. Blue had some mostly uncontested spots on the board and was the first to take longest road. Blue and Yellow were producing cloth like gangbusters and were essentially in a dead heat in the race to the cloth metropolis.

White was spinning her wheels and had accomplished almost nothing. It seemed like she wasn't being aggressive enough in trading and was routinely losing cards on the 7-rolls.

Green was staying relevant and was the first to gain the ability to upgrade to mighty knights. Green was also in contention for the longest road, but it was still firmly in Blue's control. Despite continuous production shutdown from the robber, Blue stayed in the lead for almost the whole game.

Yellow made several suggestions to Green to keep fighting for the longest road to prevent Blue from running away from the game. Yellow made a strategic decision to help Green continue fighting for longest road as well. At a critical juncture in the game, Yellow had the opportunity to build a settlement in the direction that Green was heading or in the direction that White was heading. Cutting off Green meant it would have taken a miracle for Green to win. To keep Green motivated, and in the interest of friendly sportsmanship, Yellow decided to cut off White instead. This reduced White's options, but she still had some long term opportunities to get points.

End Game
Blue won the cloth metropolis race and still had the longest road (albeit at only 7 roads long). She didn't face much competition for prime real estate on the board and produced more fish than anyone else. Blue got up to 12 points and then hit the wall. The other players stole from Blue at every opportunity - robber, fish, bishop, etc. The trade embargo was activated - no one would trade with Blue at this point.

Green's longest road campaign ran out of gas, but he did get the coin metropolis and was now challenging for Defender points. Still, this was not Green's game to win, and he was reduced to the roll of spoiler.

Yellow was still in contention with 9 points. Facing competition from Green, he increased his knights to 5 rings total and squeaked out one last Defender point (for a total of 4 for the game) for his 10th point. Yellow was now trade embargoed as well. Luckily, he had an unrevealed merchant to help with trading (the only merchant played during the whole game.)

White was pretty much out of the game but still made a surprise move, building 3 roads and a settlement all in one turn, taking Blue's longest road. This still wasn't enough for White to get back into contention, but it was a game-altering move. Yellow was now in the lead with Blue at 10 points. Green and White each had 7.

Yellow added an 11th point with the merchant and a 12th point with a settlement, and Blue added a settlement for an 11th point. It was now a race between Yellow trying to upgrade a settlement to a city and Blue trying to get her longest road back. Yellow won the race by building a city. Final score:

Yellow - 13 (3 cities, 2 settlements, 4 Defender points, merchant)
Blue - 11 (3 cities, 3 settlements, cloth metropolis)
Green - 7 (2 cities, 1 settlement, coin metropolis)
White - 7 (2 cities, 1 settlement, longest road)

Observations
If you don't trade, and everyone else does, you'll fall behind. White experienced this firsthand.

The T&B components were a non-factor. The friendly robber didn't make a difference. The fish weren't used much. Three players each had one fish harbor. The biggest impact I saw with the fish was Yellow using them to steal 3 cards from Blue in one turn at the end of the game. The boot never came out.

Blue was a victim of being the first leader. She bore the brunt of the attacks throughout the majority of the game. The attacks were enough to prevent her from winning. As usual, the eventual winner was someone who basically hung in there the whole game, just behind the leader, and made one good push at the end for the win. Yellow purposely held back on playing the merchant until the end of the game for this very reason.

Blue was also a victim of the meta game. She wins a solid 50% of the games, and no doubt got some extra attention by being in the lead for most of the game. "Are we going to let her win again?"

Green still needs to learn to keep your eyes on the prize. At the end of the game, the strategy changes to "What's the fastest, easiest way for me to get those last few points I need to win?" Green felt lost with many points options available but unsure which ones to go for.

Yellow (me) won the "You catch more flies with honey" award. I'm infamous for whining and complaining my way through Settlers. In my defense, this only happens when people make (in my opinion) stupid moves that negatively impact me for no good reason. Like when I'm in last place and get shut down buy the robber, or when someone makes a move that doesn't help them and instead helps someone in the lead, or when someone won't make a trade with me and then does the exact same trade on the next player's turn. You get the idea. Other players often think that by hurting me, it'll make me shut up. I'm much too principled for that and often end up complaining even more. If I was playing a game with robots, I'd do a lot better. But I'm playing a game with people with personalities, agendas, and preconceived notions. My whining was getting me nowhere, and this game was total proof that some well-mannered politicking goes a lot further. I even suggested at one point that attacking me was another player's best option. The end result was that no one made any unreasonable attacks on me.

(edited for grammar)
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