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Subject: Best Catan expansion for 5 players? rss

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Royce Roeswood
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Despite some other opinions elsewhere on these forums, my group enjoys playing Catan with 5 players. I have been looking at getting an expansion for some time now, but I know that if we want to keep playing with 5 I will need to get the corresponding 5-6 player extension, which can start to get pricey.

In your opinion, what would be the best value expansion+extension to get for five players?
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Brook Gentlestream
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If you group doesn't mind complicated games, then I would recommend Cities & Knights + 5 players. This gives you a simply gateway game that you can play (Settlers of Catan) or for a longer, intense game (Catan: Cities & Knights). Cities adds new progress cards in three varieties (that are different and more complicated than the old development cards), new tech upgrade options, city walls to protect from the robber, knights that are actually placed on the board and move and attack, a hoard of barbarians that attack at timed intervals, and three new commodities added to the game.

If you're not looking to ratchet up the complexity but enjoy Settlers and want just an upgrade to the base gameplay, consider Seafarers intead. This will give you ships, a larger board, some optional rules, and a few new scenarios to try out.
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Brent Pollock
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Saskatoon
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Starfarers.
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ackmondual
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moonroof wrote:
Despite some other opinions elsewhere on these forums, my group enjoys playing Catan with 5 players. I have been looking at getting an expansion for some time now, but I know that if we want to keep playing with 5 I will need to get the corresponding 5-6 player extension, which can start to get pricey.

In your opinion, what would be the best value expansion+extension to get for five players?


5/6p Settlers of course! You can't play the other ones in the main arc without it

But on a more serious answer, it seems like you may be better off just testing the waters with sETTLERS first and seeing how that works out. If there's feedback on it being boring on account of its simplicity, then move on to Seaf and/or C&K. It's much easier for others to understand the differences between Sett, Seaf, and C&K when they've polayed Sett before and have that as a reference point.
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Rusty Patterson
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Ras Tanura
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Since your group already enjoys 5 player Settlers, I would suggest going with C&K. Seafarers is OK but basically just more of the same. You get a larger playing map and the ability to create islands in different scenarios but really just a larger, longer playing version of Settlers.

Cities & Knights adds a whole new dimension of complexity to Settlers. So much so that it is almost like a different game. You have more decisions to make and different strategies to pursue but still using the same basic underlying mechanics of SoC. (Also note that C&K will significantly increase the playing time as well.)

If your group just loves Settlers and wants an expansion that will allow you to just play more of it at a setting, get Seafarers.

If you're looking for something that will add a different twist to pump up the complexity and breath new life into the game, get Cities & Knights.
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Royce Roeswood
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Thanks, all!
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What's everyone's opinion on the Traders and Barbarians (T&B) expansion?
Dear all,
I read this thread to learn what more experience Catan players suggest. I've played Catan less than 6 times.

I've noted that no one suggested Traders and Barbarians. I take this to mean that T&B is not really a great expansion? Please share your opinion on T&B.

Thanks.
 
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Jörg Baumgartner
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spygame wrote:
Dear all,
I read this thread to learn what more experience Catan players suggest. I've played Catan less than 6 times.

I've noted that no one suggested Traders and Barbarians. I take this to mean that T&B is not really a great expansion? Please share your opinion on T&B.

Thanks.


The question answered here was which expansion to buy first (after getting the basic set for 5-6 players).

T&B has great variants, but I wouldn't recommend it as the first expansion to buy.

T&B is sort of middle ground complex. The three simpler scenarios/variants (Fishermen, Caravans, Rivers) basically are expanded reprints of mini-expansions that were handed out as games fair bonus scenarios. The event card deck variant can be used with any other Catan game. Of these, I like to use the Fishermen and the Rivers along with other scenarios.

The main content of T&B are the last two scenarios/variants, Barbarian Attack and the naming Traders and Barbarians scenario.

The Barbarian Attack scenario is a different way to deal with an invasion in a Catan game than C&K, with quite a bit potential for combination with other scenarios, but C&K offers a lot more complexity with its progress tracks powered by commodities and its progress cards. If you feel that C&K might be a bit too complex for (some of) your gaming group, T&B offers a lighter alternative.

The Traders and Barbarians scenario introduces a mobile piece as a major way to score victory points - a mechanism that was moved from dry land to the high seas in E&P.


In a way, T&B offers glimpses of all of the other expansions in one package - I'll spam you with my sales pitch for Seafarers as an essential below, but the entire concept of scenarios started with Seafarers, and the first three scenarios in T&B continue that style of gaming.

Replayability value of the scenarios is ok - the variable board layout and the so often criticized luck factor makes repeats of one and the same scenario more varied than any board game with a fixed board can offer. If you go and combine two or more of those variants to a larger scenario, challenges may change.


Except for the fact that it has to be bought separately, I personally consider Seafarers as part and parcel of the basic game. It allows a wide range of themed games - also scenarios that were published separately in magazines or by fans (further explored in Das Buch and SDE (with Das Buch out of print and either only available to the German market, but well documented in Kelvin Chung's complete scenario guide), some of which retain the cutthroat character of the basic game while introducing new options, others changing the premise of the game to a degree that makes some standard strategies obsolete. It combines well with C&K and T&B (or both), lending to quite epic games if you like those. It does clash a bit with E&P, but still offers quite a range of variation to that game that basic game 5-6 cannot quite offer. For me the most compelling impact of Seafarers was that it opened the door to creating new scenarios, more so than any other official expansion, and heavily supported by the German language fan packages mentioned above.

C&K uses the same gaming material (except the development cards) and adds some new, but changes the game from Basic Settlers to some degree. So does E&P, in a different direction - getting rid of the robber and development cards. Both of these expansions can be combined with other variants. T&B doesn't quite change the game that much.

Having bought all of the Catan variants and additional scenarios in chronological order, I cannot say how T&B would have influenced my opinion of the game if it had been my second step into the world of Catan. It does present concepts from each of the other expansions and adds to your fund of material available for creating your own scenarios, too.

I wouldn't want to miss T&B from my Catan collection. Das Buch offered a lot more ideas and concepts, and material to realize those, but if lacking access to that out-of-print publication (or its little twin brother, the - also German language only - Atlantis box), T&B has the highest number of different concepts in a Catan expansion set.

As a third expansion set, it works best in combination with Seafarers. Barbarian Attack in combination with C&K require significant changes to both expansions to work, leaving only Traders and Barbarians as the major variant to combine (which works quite well without much tinkering), making players fixated on the deeper complexity of C&K's progress cards feel they don't get the full enjoyment out of the box.

Combinations with E&P are still under exploration. Conceptually, these ought to work.


So, back to your question if T&B is not really a great expansion: a lot depends on your expectations and your prior experience with Catan games.

The scenarios play fine out of the box. They can be combined with other scenarios of the expansion, thereby creating a higher total of different games than Seafarers, and with two major differences (Barbarian Attack and Traders and Barbarians). C&K basically offers only one different game, getting to scenarios only when combined with Seafarers. In my opinion, E&P too is just one different game, with the partial scenarios more of a training course and the full game being what that game is about. The differences of Barbarian Attack and Traders and Barbarians compared to the Basic Game are less than either C&K or E&P.

Played out of the box, the complexity of T&B lies half way between basic settlers/seafarers and C&K. Combining variants increases that complexity - I regard the combination of Barbarian Attack with Traders and Barbarians as about as complex as C&K on an easy Seafarers map.

You have to like basic Settlers of Catan in order to like T&B. (It is possible to dislike basic Settlers but enjoy C&K in the combinations - that won't work with T&B.)

T&B won't encourage you to explore your scenario-designing abilities the way Seafarers does (nor are there as many fan scenarios that build on T&B than there are for Seafarers or C&K), but if you're into designing Catan scenarios, the variants offer powerful tools and physical gaming material that can be put to other uses than indicated in the T&B scenarios. Like more military themed Catan scenarios, or scenarios stressing transportation.


If your expectations run to short, action packed games as with the basic game, T&B can offer that straight out of the box, too.

It has something of everything, but not in as much depth as the other expansions.


Your expectations and those of your fellow players decide how you will rate this expansion. Ideally join a gaming group for a couple of games with T&B (and other expansions) to make up your mind if you have to be cautious spending money for games, and then think about your gaming group. Are they occasional players who are deterred by slightly higher complexity, or are they complexity nuts without much respect for the basic game?
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