This review series is a joint effort between my wife and me and will incorporate both of our opinions. Please see this geeklist for more reviews in this series.
Seafarers is an expansion to one of our most loved and most played games. We’ve been playing Seafarers for somewhere around seven years now, and about a third of our Settlers games are played with Seafarers.
The Board Goes All Rectangle on You The biggest change to standard Settlers play is the makeup of the board. The hexagon island is transformed into a rectangle. The manual comes with a number of pre-made scenarios. Our favorites are the ones where certain hexes are hidden, and you don’t know what you’re discovering until you land there. It’s a great fit for the theme, and really captures the uncertainty of sailing through uncharted waters to discover new lands.
Still, our favorite setup is pure randomization. Mix a bunch of land and sea hexes together, lay them out in rows, and you end up with several smaller islands rather than one larger one. Back in the day, I was a randomization purest. However the tiles came out, that’s what I wanted to stick with. My wife was a little more practical. She wanted to do a little tinkering to make sure there was some balance and reasonableness to the board. Her approach ultimately won out. Either way, the original Settlers random setup is now even more random, which I love. You won’t get the same game twice. And if you do, that’s a sign that you need to pick up a lottery ticket!
Brick if by Land, Wool if by Sea Shipping routes are now the roads of the sea. They cost a wood and a wool (to build ships and sails, of course). Now, you can travel between two settlements over open waters and even along a coastline. An interesting feature to the shipping route is that unlike roads, they can be moved. If your strategy changes, or another player beats you to a certain spot, you can steer that shipping route to a new destination by moving the ship on the open end of your route.
Settling New Catan and New New Catan Many of the scenarios award bonus points if you build a new settlement on an island (or islands) that you previously had not settled. This rule fits in quite well with the Settlers theme and adds another layer of strategy. You have to plan for getting off the island and for others to come to your island. (kind of like Lost) Blocking shipping routes and coastline settlements can turn into a chess match.
Pirates Make Every Game Better The robber apparently gets sea sick, so he sent his cousin the pirate to steal resources on the high seas. The pirate essentially freezes shipping routes on a hex and prevents anyone from adding or moving ships. He also steals a resource from someone who has a ship on that hex. We both really like the second shut-down option. If you like where the robber is, move the pirate instead. This means you could actually shut down the same person twice.
Golds Are Wild Seafarers adds another resource to the mix. A gold hex produces resources the same way as any other hex, except now you pick the resource of your choice when your number is rolled. It’s a powerful spot, and we often put a low-probability number on the gold to keep the game balance in check.
Now, We’re Truly Settlers! Seafarers is a natural fit to Settlers in both mechanics and theme. It adds a few new elements without drastically changing the game. It’s easy to learn and adds some replay value. It has its own 5-6 player expansion, and it works with both Cities & Knights and Traders & Barbarians. Overall, we’re both huge fans of Seafarers. It does a lot of things right and doesn’t miss on anything. We consider it a must-have for Settlers veterans.
Nice review.My favorite scenario is also the random one as you can get alot of interesting setups with little islands scattered about.The other thing i like about seafarers is it seems to make sheep a little more valuable as you now need them to make ships.It seems as if they should have included seafarers with the base game and not made it an expansion.