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Catan: Explorers & Pirates» Forums » General

Subject: The sixth blog: spice, friendship, faster ships... rss

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Jörg Baumgartner
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Finally we learn the deal about the spice islands.

Unlike the fish shoals, all the spice is revealed as soon as the spice island is discovered. As with all discovered oversea hexes, the player discovering a spice island receives 2 gold.

These spice islands fulfill mostly the role of the friendly races in Starfarers. When discovered, as many spice tokens are placed on the island as there are players in the game. These spice tokens are gathered in exchange for a unit left there to study the technology of that island. Two islands provide an extra move for the ship, one island each teach how to chase away the pirate at a 4 or at a 5 on the die, two islands teach to trade 1 resource for 1 gold once in a turn (also cumulative). Each player has 8 units in total, so a player having earned all the benefits has only two units left to build in case a pirate lair has hidden in the hindmost hex. Although this introductory scenario is played without pirate lairs, but together with the fish shoals, so no artificial shortages yet.

Unlike Starfarers' friendships, a player may only deposit one unit on an island as an ambassador/student.

For each spice token delivered to the council island, the player advances one step on the spice mission track - with the leading player earning an extra victory point in addition to the mission track VP.

Spices for Catan! is played for 15 VP.

I still don't know whether one can unload settlers, fish, units or spice tokens in overseas harbor settlements (that appears to be the name, rather than port settlements) in order to ready your ship for a different type of mission. With a maximum of only three ships per player, the ability to store cargo might affect the flexibiliy of the player, and half-filled ships would be a nuisance.

The three mission types have different tactical demands.

Pirate lairs are one-off conquests with VP rewards and open up gold fields for settlers. It takes at least two ships to carry the three units necessary to the pirate lair (whether one player alone, or up to three players together). One unit will be lost in exchange for a bonus advancement on that mission track, the ships will remain in service (after all the surviving units can be reused on other pirate lairs or on spice islands). In order to settle a gold field, you need another ship (which will be lost) and a settler (or a track of roads if you have a settlement on an adjacent land hex, I assume).

Fish shoals regenerate fish randomly - the first player to arrive with an empty ship at an active fish shoal will receive the fish. This is a fight for opportunists to get the lead, in the long run all players will be able to bring home fish after the leader has landed 6 fish and earned the two bonus VP, unless you want to harvest fish without any extra VP gain in order to prevent other players from catching up.

Spice islands offer sailing advantages, but reduce your unit maximum - not much of a consideration unless two pirate lairs are discovered further apart than your closest overseas port settlement.

In addition to these generous VP generators (each mission track will give up to 3+1 VP to the leader, up to 3 VP to all other players), VP can be made by settling the oversea lands and the home island, and establishing port settlements (5 settlements, 4 port settlements to a maximum of 13 VP). I suppose there will be no longest road bonus VPs, since roads are a minor consideration and only used for building overland settlements. There are no development cards used in these scenarios if played vanilla, there is no robber, only piracy.

The full game will combine all three types of missions. The pirate lairs are the only vanilla one mission game, although I could see a game using only the fish shoals as well. The fish-less combination of pirates and spice islands would also be possible, but apart from game time limits I don't see the attraction in leaving out part of a mechanic.

Nürnberg toy fair starts on the 30th of January, but the Kosmos website has march as prospected release date for the game, whereas the Mayfair website has the 18th of April as street date.

I feel that I might already be able to run a test game with the available information making a few assumptions, and I have a couple of ideas how to bring in other mechanics in a game using this material and a few extras. As presented in the blogs, the game picks up a lot of features of the Starfarers game and adds a new twist with the fish mission.

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