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Subject: Monster Catan variant rss

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the dare978devil
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I came up with this variant to speed up the game when playing with my kids (5, 8, and 10 at the time), but my adult gamer group liked it so much we generally always play it now when we play Catan. It's not for everyone because you need 2 of the Expansions (Seafarers and Traders & Barbarians). We play 2 slightly different variants which only differ in total points you need to win.

Kids version - We generally play with 4 people, the youngest is now 6. We build a big board using all frames from the original game, Seafarers, and Traders. We use the Seafarers extensions to make a long 8-sided playing surface (looks like a long zero). Then we fill in the top half with one large island, using all but 6 of the tiles from all 3 sets. We build 2 small islands at the bottom with gold in the middle (3 tiles for each island). The rest is filled in with water tiles.

We always use the Rivers of Catan rivers going through the middle of the big island, and the Fishermen of Catan tile + fish ports randomly placed around the islands. The 2,3, 11, 12 tile from Fishermen can't be on a border, nor can it touch the River. The river fits perfectly from one side to the other, cutting the big island in two (you need to place it as one big 7-tile long river at a diagonal). We add all the extra ports jutting out randomly from all 3 islands. Then we randomly add numbers. There are enough numbers between the 3 sets to only have to use 1 single desert which doesn't receive a number, and to not use 2's or 12's individually, but instead make those tiles 2 + 12 (2 numbers on the tile).

Basic rules :
- No 2 numbers can be beside each other, nor can red numbers.
- No fish port can sit on the intersection of the same number.
- No resource port can sit on that resource (ie. stone port can't be on stone).
- Players place one settlement, and one city using the normal rules (first player places a settlement, then second, third, then forth gets settlement and city, back the other way until all players have 1 settlement and 2 cities). Each player therefore starts with 3 points.
- All players start with 2 coins + whatever resources they get for the tiles their city is on (only 1 of each). That includes cities on the River or on a fish port (ie. you could get 1 fish, 1 wood, 1 stone for instance, or 1 coin, 1 brick, 1 sheep as another example).
- First one to 10 wins.
- Friendly robber is in effect with the added bonus of re-rolling any 7 if all players only have the original 3 points they start with. After that, steal as you like from any player having 4 or more points.

Points can be accumulated a wide variety of ways, meaning players can concentrate on what they like best. All fish can be used to purchase resources or influence play just like on the Fishermen cards (4 fish for a resource, 5 for a road/ship, etc.), anyone building on the river gets a gold coin per object built (3 for a bridge) and can use them to purchase resource cards, largest army and longest road applies, 2 bonus points accorded for building a settlement on either smaller island (3 in total for that settlement). Cities count for 2, settlements 1, just like in the original game.

There are so many ways to score that our games are generally over in under an hour, perfect for kids. My daughter always concentrates on fish, my sons getting to the gold on the islands as well as collecting coins along the river. It seems any strategy can work, none seem to have an unfair advantage.

Adult version - Same as above, but with a higher point value. We generally play to 14, and there is a lot more strategy going on trying to block players from optimizing their strengths. The islands are a big draw, but that often leaves the back of the big island open for exploitation. The river doesn't get as much attention, but later in the game, building a key bridge has proven to be the winning move more than any other. You get 3 bonus coins for a bridge, plus you join whatever you have from both sides of the river. If that allows you to take longest road, it can be the difference.

Other than that, all normal rules apply.

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