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Subject: Can Catan Continue? A Traders and Barbarians Review rss

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Isaak
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San Francisco
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I am a classic Settlers gateway-game posterchild. I resisted Settlers for years, yes years, because of the cheesy cover of the 3rd printing edition. My partner begged me to play and I scoffed--scoffed!--at her nerdiness. However, once I caved I was hooked. blush I got so into it, that the following weekend I bought my friend a copy since she didn't have one and played all weekend long. Now, of course, I'm a game addict, and my Settlers set is squished against the game shelf with my expanding collection. I was still in my honeymoon phase when T and B came out, and I snatched it up. All in all, I'm glad it's in my collection, though any Catan game has taken backseat to the hotter games of the year. Here's my summary of the game, and review. Enjoy!

Opening Move: Box, Game, Rules, Etc.

Box:
The box is heavy and you can tell it's got a lot in it. Opening it up, there were more pieces than I was expecting. The box was packed. I have always like the Settlers pieces, and was pleased with the camels and barbarians.

Art:
I learned on a 3rd edition (hexes, not frames, and older, less detailed art) and I prefer it. T and B is a 4th Edition style, and it shows. The pieces are lighter, a little more computerized than the 3rd Edition style.

Rules: I really like way all the Catan series rules are written. They engage the players in the story, but not too abstractly. You understand each piece, and there are a lot of ways to reference your questions. These rules followed the same theme, detailing each scenario with a description of the tumultuous life of the Catanites (they fish! they are attacked! they rebuild!)

Roll the Dice: The Different Games

There are five variants in this box. To write a full review for all of them would take quite a lot of work (I think someone is doing that already, as well) so I'll just put a summary of what I found from each variant below.

thumbsupThe Fishermen of Catan: Adds a little more to the game, but doesn't deeply alter it. If you're bored of your base set, not quite up for a round of C and K, but want to spice it up, you can throw in the Fishermen. Rules are simple to add and integrate.

thumbsupThe Rivers of Catan: Similarly adds another bump to the basic game. Some fun variants in navigating an interrupted game board. Doesn't radically alter the game, but changes it up a bit, and is fun to have new layout.

thumbsupThe Great Caravan : Adds a mix in the game, and enough of a variation to fix some of the heavier stress from the basic gameplay. Makes use of sheep and wheat well, adds a Caravan element that includes more player interaction, and has a significant shift in play to make it feel like you're playing a pretty different game than base Settlers.

thumbsup Barbarian Invasion : Fun, player interactive variant that includes something I was hoping for..dismantling settlements! Though you only get to temporarily stop someone's settlement from functioning, I like this ability. Generally, this game leans even heavier to the player interaction. It is definitely an entirely different game from Basic, ad has a little bit of a learning curve. The rules are clear, however, and the play is complex and interesting. This variant can go a little long.

thumbsupTraders & Barbarians: The island is in repair after so many tumultuous attacks and terrain changes. Phew! This is my favorite variant. Essentially, your roads become tracks for caravans, and your caravans move across the board carrying certain pieces. Almost an entirely separate game than Basic--you could remake the frame/pieces and market it under a different name and I'd love it. Gameplay moves quickly, turns move fast, and it's easy to recover if you think you might be stuck. Very fun! Lighter in weight than Cities and Knights, but equal in engagement...just in a different way.

thumbsup Two Player Variant : I did not enjoy this two-player variant, and would recommend finding much better ones that are user created online. Catan is really best played with 3 players in my humble opinion, and any two-player setup is just if you're feeling desperate.

In the end...
I was surprised to see almost NO reviews for this expansion. Maybe folks are Catan-d out, or maybe there just isn't much interest with other stuff out there, but I was happy to review it. If you're still feeling the classic game, but want a solid set of almost new variants (some variants had already been released and were just gathered into this expansion) I would definitely pick this up. Settlers of Catan will always hold a place in my heart, as it was my first love...er...not in that way.blush



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J. Atkinson
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Grant
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Nice quick overview of the game!
 
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Whit Richardson
United States
South Portland
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So, quick questions: Can you play all these variants with only the base set? Do you need Cities & Knights to play any of these?
 
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Christopher Horne
United States
Denver
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No, all of the variants can be played with just the base game and Traders and Barbarians. There are a few mentions in the rules of ways to integrate C&K with T&B, but all of the scenarios mentioned need just T&B.
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Noble Knave
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Santa Barbara
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I'm in a similar boat for being a huge fan that now plays newer (shorter) games. I find my favorite version of Catan is Traders & Barbarians (the scenario) blended with Cities & Knights. It allows a player that would be dead in the water in C&K recover nicely, and I loooove having the flexibility of gold.
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Troy Westblade
Australia
Sebastopol
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Great Review!

Settlers of Catan is a favourite with my gaming group of mostly casual gamers, but I'm personally starting to get a little bored with it so I'm considering whether to pick up one of the Expansions (currently only have the 5-6 player extension). This one looks like it might be the best option to go with since it's essentially 5 variants in one.
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Daniel
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Santee
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Thanks for the review!
 
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