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Warren Adams
Australia
Mt Lawley
Western Australia
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I saw something about this game somewhere in August 2017. Despite considerable efforts to find out more about it and to obtain some Event Kits to run it in December 2017, it took till January 2018 to get a breakthrough. Finally in April 2018 I was able to bring it to life.

It took me a lot of research to find out how the Event Kits worked so I have prepared this session report for anyone else that wants to run one so they have a resource they can use it to find out what happens!

As stated in the game description, a Catan: Big Game Event Kit provides the resources required to run a six player game of Catan. Imagine players 1, 2 and 3 sitting along one side of a table, with players 4, 5 and 6 sitting across from them. Players 1 and 4 on one end of the table, 2 and 5 in the middle and 3 and 6 at the other end.

In the Catan: Big Game Event Kit players 1 and 4 also neighbour players 3 and 6 as well as both neighbouring players 2 and 5. Essentially the game plays in a circular layout.

The game extends by simply adding additional tables in a line, with the players at each of the two ends of the tables being neighbours to close the circle.

On 14 April 2018 at a The West Australian Boardgaming Association meet we played a 24 player game. How did it come together?

BEFORE THE EVENT
Having finally obtained the Kits the adventure started with this post. Initially I sought 16 players that must know how to play Catan, then 20 and finally 24. The last few spots were filled on the day as it was one of the normal WABA meets. Deliberately no mention had been made of what the actual event was or any link to the BGG page provided. People were signing up for something Catan without any indication of what that something was or how it might work, beyond knowing the number of players.

Whilst the post was doing its work, I was learning how the game worked, preparing my notes and preparing a player guide. Each Kit comes with a six page instruction booklet that includes the details about setting up the game and playing it. Rather than share one booklet between each six players, including information they didn’t need, I prepared a four page player guide. This outlined the things that players needed to know so that every player had a guide to use as we went through the rules and to later refer to during the game.

The Kit comes in an envelope and it contains almost everything for a six player game:
• An instruction booklet
• Three island maps, each one for two players (marked Board A, Board B and Board C)
• Player pieces for six players (shrink wrapped together and requiring punching)
• Resource cards (on perforated cardboard pages)
• Development cards (on a perforated cardboard page)
• Dice cards (on a perforated cardboard page) – only one set of these was required as the game was centrally moderated

All that was needed to add to this was a timer (to time game turns) and a pair of dice to roll for the robber. Plus some idea of how it was all supposed to work!

ON THE DAY
Set up commenced about 1.15. A sign was put on the door of the room advising of the start time and asking participants to keep out. Six tables, with two chairs on each side, were arranged in a Catan shaped hexagon. And additional table was put in place for the moderator.

For 24 players four Event Kits were needed. Two island maps were put on each table (a map per two people). Each map has a sun edge and a moon edge, all the sun edges were put on the outer of the hexagon, whilst the moon edges were put on the inner.

The remainder of each Kit was put aside to be handed out later. Each had the dice cards and game instruction booklet removed as they would not be needed.

At 1.30 players were invited to enter and take a seat. There were a lot of oohs and aahs as they entered the room and saw the table arrangement and the maps. As someone commented later this was when they realised this was something proper and not just something made up. Another said the Catan print of the map really caught their attention and increased their interest in what was about to happen.

Overview
Once the players were seated we went through some preliminary questions to build their awareness of their player area:
• Are you on the Sun side or the Moon side of the board?
• Are you on Board A, B or C?
• What is your player colour?
• Where is the dividing line between the players?
• Where is the building cost and victory point menu on your side of the board?
• Your goal is to be the first player to 25 Victory Points

Set Up
Once the preliminary introduction was done, each group of six (A, B & C Boards) were given their shrink wrapped player pieces and perforated card sheets to prepare. Enthusiastically they went about preparing their games for play. They were led through this process by me, following the set up guide in the instruction booklet.


As the moderator I used the time to set up the dice 36 card deck. The robber card goes between cards 15 and 16 (the robber is not in play until after turn 15), and the shuffle the deck card goes before card 31.

One interesting aspect of the setup is that players get to place their three settlements on the marked spots on the board, then take the resources from one of those settlements. Finally they replace one of their settlements with a city.

The Player Conduct guidelines in the instruction booklet (also included in the player guide) was then outlined to the players before a very brief overview of the game structure was provided:
• Turns will alternate between the Sun players and the Moon players.
• Only the players whose turn it is will be the active players (i.e. Sun or Moon).
• Turn Structure:
o Phase One – Resource Generation.
o Phase Two – Trading and Building.

Rules
Each player was given a player guide and together we covered the rules of the game. The first phase consists of the central die roll and the gathering of resources. The role and movement of the robber was included. Once a player has completed this phase they are to wait until the next phase is announced as phase two is a timed phase.

From the start of the game to the end players struggled with stopping and waiting for the next phase. Everyone is used to the game continuing, moving straight to trading as you would normally do in Catan. Other players monitored it, often pointing out that one could not trade or build yet.

The second phase is a timed phase, which is why you can’t move straight into it until the time commences. Trading and building happens simultaneously in this phase and all active players can trade and build.

Active players can trade with one of five different people - the player on the opposite side of their board and the two players to the left and the two players to the right. Inactive players can only trade with the three active players – the player on the opposite side of their board and the two players diagonally opposite.

Active players can build by showing the resources being spent to their opposite player. Each player has 14 buildings (five settlements, nine cities), 15 roads and 15 ships available – so a player can have nine cities on the board at the end of the game (plus five settlements). The rules for the ships come from Seafarers of Catan and these were covered as a number of people had not played with ships before.

Each island is divided down the middle with a player having half the island as their home territory. Having any building on the other player’s starting territory at the end of the game is worth two bonus points (total).

By using ships and shipping lanes a player can build on any neighbouring island. Most players calculated that they only had enough ships to get from their starting harbour to one other island. The more shrewd players realised that they could build other harbours on the island and sail from there. Before you build on a neighbouring island you must ask permission. Permission can only be denied if that active player is also going to build there immediately. Having any building on any other player’s starting territory at the end of the game is worth two bonus points (total).

Development cards are used as they normally are with the exception of Road Building (build two roads, two ships or a road and a ship) and the Knight (move the robber and gain a resource or play the card and gain a resource). There are Victory Point cards but no Monopoly cards.
There are also points available for the longest trade route (contiguous linking of roads and ships) and the largest army.

Winning
The first player to reach 25 points and stand and declare victory during his or her turn will win the game (once their victory points are confirmed).
• Each settlement is worth one victory point (maximum five points).
• Each city is worth two victory points (maximum 18 points).
• Each first settlement you build on another player’s starting territory, on your island or another, is worth two extra victory points (maximum ten points).
• Each victory point card is worth one victory point (maximum five points).
• The longest trade route is worth two victory points (maximum two points).
• The largest army is worth two victory points (maximum two points).
• Available points = 42.

Tiebreakers: 1 Most resource cards; 2 Most grain cards; 3 Most ore cards; 4 Most brick cards; 5 Most lumber cards; 6 Most wool cards; 7 First to register to play.


GAME ON
At 2.15 the first dice card was drawn and the game commenced with the Sun players as active players (chosen because it was day time). No time limit was applied to the first two turns for both Sun and Moon players to give them time to become familiar with the game. A minute was given for turns three, 45 seconds for turns four and from then on the time was fixed at 30 seconds per turn.

This is probably where the actual session report should be. Unfortunately the number of players and having timed turns precluded recording move by move information as the game flowed really well. After turn 15, when the robber was due to join us, we paused and did a score check - announcing the top score from each of the six tables. Everyone seemed to have scored more than the five points they started with. A couple of people had built on the other half of the island. We had a pause for players to discuss the game with each other and clarify any rules.

Prior to recommencing we refreshed the robber rules before it was introduced At this point the time for phase two was extended to 45 seconds for the remainder of the game.

After turn 31, when we got to the dice reshuffle card, we did another score check announcement. Everyone was progressing well towards their target, and whilst nobody had built overseas, a few players had shipping lanes stretching towards other islands. We had a break at that stage for players to stretch their legs.

After turn 62, when we got to the dice reshuffle card again, we had another break. Prior to recommencing, we did another score check announcement. At least one player on most tables had breached twenty points. Most people had settled in foreign territories by now.

The game lasted a little while longer until one player stood and announced he had 26 points, much to the chagrin of another on 25. Scores were verified and the winner announced. The finish time was 4 o’clock. The winner was:
Nick Schurmann

Perth
Australia
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Players helped bag the player pieces, sort the resource cards back into their original sets, clear the chairs and tables from the room and Catan: Big Game Event Kit for twenty four players was done.

With thanks to:
• Leece, Rob and Leah for helping set up;
• Adam, Adrian, Alanna, Christina, Craig, Daniel, Elaine, Genevieve, Godlief, Jason, Jocelyn, Leece, Liz, Martin, Nick, Nick, Nick, Peter, Renato, Richard, Rob, Russell, Stephen and Zoe for being prepared to try it out;
• Everyone that helped pack up.
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