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Subject: Opinion Question: Why change the theme? rss

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steve brown
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It's been a while since the 4th Edition was released (2007), but something about it got my attention again as I was playing with my kids, using the 3rd edition base and the 4th Edition Traders & Builders expansion: Why did they change the theme from European colonization of the New World to a Medieval theme?

This is purely speculation, I guess (I haven't found anything on the interwebs about why). My opinion is that it was for 2 reasons: One, Cities & Knights (released 1998) had been a success, but had a medieval theme. This doesn't seem like enough of a reason to re-brand both the base set and Seafarers, though. It seemed like maybe, in my opinion, they possibly felt a little uncomfortable with the European colonization theme for political reasons (you know the spread of diseases, exploitation of the natives, etc.), and wanted a less offensive theme, and the medieval theme of Cities & Knights worked out well for that. After all, there were colonies in the Middle Ages (the Vikings colonized, for example). What is everyone else's opinion on this?
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Joseph Schmoll
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I figured for the few who haven't played it yet, it'd be easier to get their attention with something familiar and often fantasized like knights and middle age fun!! than colonizing.

Just my theory, not necessarily the truth.
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Max DuBoff
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I don't think Catan is supposed to have any historical basis... I really think it's just a fictional island.
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Crazy Adam
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MD1616 wrote:
I don't think Catan is supposed to have any historical basis... I really think it's just a fictional island.


WHAT?!?! surprisesurprisesurprise
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steve brown
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MD1616 wrote:
I don't think Catan is supposed to have any historical basis... I really think it's just a fictional island.


I'm not talking about an actual historical basis; I'm talking about theme. For instance, Dominion and Kingdom Builder both have medieval themes, but they don't have a direct historical basis. These themes have historical connections, though; you won't find machine guns in Dominion, because it it a medieval theme and, historically, machine guns hadn't been invented in the middle ages.

So, Max, why do you think Catan switched from a 17th century theme to a medieval theme?
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Max DuBoff
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doughboy42 wrote:
MD1616 wrote:
I don't think Catan is supposed to have any historical basis... I really think it's just a fictional island.


I'm not talking about an actual historical basis; I'm talking about theme. For instance, Dominion and Kingdom Builder both have medieval themes, but they don't have a direct historical basis. These themes have historical connections, though; you won't find machine guns in Dominion, because it it a medieval theme and, historically, machine guns hadn't been invented in the middle ages.

So, Max, why do you think Catan switched from a 17th century theme to a medieval theme?


You specifically mentioned European exploration of the New World, though. That (if true) would constitute a specific historical theme. You even mentioned things like the spread of diseases which are legitimate historical trends. I don't see anything in Catan to suggest a 17th-Century theme as you suggest.

I don't really see a shift at all. Since I don't see it as based on a historical time period/event, there's no time period to go from or switch to. The same could be said of Dominion.
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Jörg Baumgartner
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Good question, why did Mayfair change the original (German edition) theme from a Viking age settlement of a friendlier version of Iceland to the settlement of an island with elements of the 18th century conquest of the Indian territories west of the Appalachees?

Adding Catan: Cities & Knights to that theme doesn't hurt much since the development cards aren't used, but will come as a surprise to those users of the US theme unfamiliar with the original. The themes of Traders and Barbarians or Seafarers are more Dark Ages or medieval than post-Columbus, too.
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steve brown
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MD1616 wrote:
doughboy42 wrote:
MD1616 wrote:
I don't think Catan is supposed to have any historical basis... I really think it's just a fictional island.


I'm not talking about an actual historical basis; I'm talking about theme. For instance, Dominion and Kingdom Builder both have medieval themes, but they don't have a direct historical basis. These themes have historical connections, though; you won't find machine guns in Dominion, because it it a medieval theme and, historically, machine guns hadn't been invented in the middle ages.

So, Max, why do you think Catan switched from a 17th century theme to a medieval theme?


You specifically mentioned European exploration of the New World, though. That (if true) would constitute a specific historical theme. You even mentioned things like the spread of diseases which are legitimate historical trends. I don't see anything in Catan to suggest a 17th-Century theme as you suggest.

I don't really see a shift at all. Since I don't see it as based on a historical time period/event, there's no time period to go from or switch to. The same could be said of Dominion.


You don't see a change of theme?!? Here's the cover of the 3rd Ed:



And the cover of the 4th:



The term 'soldier' was changed to 'knight' throughout, and the all the art was changed on the cards from images you'd typically find in 17th century America to images you'd typically find in Medieval Europe, as in these:





Now, I don't know what you would call that, but I call it a change of theme. Regardless of what your definitions are, the questions stands: Why do you think they changed it?
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steve brown
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jorganos wrote:
Good question, why did Mayfair change the original (German edition) theme from a Viking age settlement of a friendlier version of Iceland to the settlement of an island with elements of the 18th century conquest of the Indian territories west of the Appalachees?

Adding Catan: Cities & Knights to that theme doesn't hurt much since the development cards aren't used, but will come as a surprise to those users of the US theme unfamiliar with the original. The themes of Traders and Barbarians or Seafarers are more Dark Ages or medieval than post-Columbus, too.


Wow. I've never seen the artwork for the 1st Ed. (German), so I didn't know that it was changed like that. Maybe because they thought it would do better in the American market if they made it look like the founding of America??
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Chris Hawks
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doughboy42 wrote:
The term 'soldier' was changed to 'knight' throughout

Unless I'm mistaken, the original German editions used "Ritter" (knight).
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Laura "lelo" D. Arrowsmith Deddens Gerard
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Interesting. I like the old (Colonization of the New World) theme better. I don't know why they did it but I suspect is was the Marketing Department's idea.
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Fraser
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Clearly after millions of sales they didn't think the old theme was engaging enough
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steve brown
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Salt-Man Z wrote:
doughboy42 wrote:
The term 'soldier' was changed to 'knight' throughout

Unless I'm mistaken, the original German editions used "Ritter" (knight).


I just found an image of the Mayfair 1st edition, and it uses the term "knight."



Wow! So it looks like Catan was medieval, went to colonial for the 3rd edition, and then back to medieval for the 4th and following. I wonder why????
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