Originally posted on www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!
Game- Catan: Cities and Knights
Players-2 to 4, up to 6 with an expansion
TL;DR-New life in a classic game 80%
Basics-Return to the island of Catan, this time to defend it from barbarians and build metropolises. In this big box expansion to the base game, players continue with the standard Catan mechanics of building roads and settlements to harvest resources and amass points. What are new are players now roll an extra die, can build automatic soldier called knights, and collect different resources called commodities from cities. Some tiles give you commodities like the forest tiles. Cities on forest now produce paper and wood instead of just two wood. You can spend paper on your turn to upgrade your cities. Each player has a flip book showing how upgraded each city type is in science, politics, or military. There are three city types to correspond to the new die. The extra die has green, yellow, or blue cities on it or three barbarian sides. When you role a city color on the city die and have upgraded your city of that color enough, you get automatic development cards. You no longer get to buy development cards, you have to earn them through upgrading your city and random chance. When you role a barbarian, you move the barbarian ship closer. When the ship reaches Catan, all players send knights to defend the isle. If you don't sent enough knights, then the player with the fewest knights has a city downgraded to a settlement. If you do have enough knights, then the player who sent the most get a victory point for being the defender of Catan. The barbarians reset, and play continues as normal. Play keeps going until someone has 13 points instead of the original 10.
Mechanics-Settlers of Catan is how you fix Monopoly. It's a quick game that is easy to play without a lot of complicated rules. I love it. This big box expansion adds some complications, but the new stuff doesn't break what already works, but adds some new options to the mix. It's an excellent way to add new life to the game. However, the new mechanics are very chance heavy. If you loved Catan before, but thought it was a little too American styled because of the random element to the game, you will hate this expansion as it add more randomness to your game. 4.5/5
Theme-Catan isn't a theme heavy game. It's got terrain control for being the governor, but there isn't much story besides 2 to 6 people settle an island and hate to share it. This game gives a bit more depth as you get more characters, buildings, and more themed cards, but there isn't a lot here. 3/5
Instructions-The instructions are well done. The rules are crisp while getting the point across. They also have a few examples that will help get the point across. Again, the rules don't really build the theme, but they do teach you how to play the game well. And these rules get my personal blessing because I didn't have to run to Board Game Geek to figure out a sticky point mid game! 4.5/5
Execution-What you get is good, but you might not get all you need. Catan has a lot of editions, even for the very first base game. Some editions don't work well with different editions of the expansions. My game didn't come with two different colors of dice, so to find if I got development cards, I had to mark one of my two basic dice with a sharpie to know when I got development cards with the ship/barbarian die! Adding a second colored die numbered one to six would have been a real nice small touch. Also, you have to put stickers on wood. Not a big thing, but that is always a pain! But, what you get is nice. Not perfect, but well done and good quality. The flip books are cool. The new boards are great. I liked what I got. It wasn't love at first sight, but it was nice. 4/5
Summary-I like this game more than I like the original. The original is a well done classic, but just like any other classic; you need to spice it up. This expansion gave new life to a well loved game. It's a bit pricy as you are paying over $40 bucks for the base expansion and at least $20 more for the 5/6 player expansion to the expansion. But, you do get a relatively lot of stuff. Don't look for a complete American style game with lots of story from the board or a complete Euro style game with no randomness in this one do. It's a fun mix of the two concepts heading a bit more toward Euro styling. 80%
Speaking of fixing Monopoly, the Resource Monopoly in this one only takes 2 of that declared resource, not your whole freaking hand's worth.
Overall, I'm played out on Settlers, so this breathes much needed life back into the franchise for me anyways.