Settlers of Catan: Traders and Barbarians Expansion
by Gary Walts
(Montreal Board Game Meetup)
Settlers of Catan: Traders and Barbarians Expansion
With four rules variants and five scenarios in a single box, Catan: Traders and Barbarians easily turns Catan into a new adventure with every game!
The game and gameplay
The Traders and Barbarians expansion offers a mix of previously released mini expansions with new scenarios meant to work with the basic game. The four rules variants can be used with any scenario in this kit, as well as the basic game and the previous expansions (Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan).
The scenarios are meant to be played individually, however rules for mixed and matched scenarios can be found at the Catan site and on fan forums. Like the base game and previous expansions, a separate 5-6 player expansion is available.
The rules variants are:
Catan for Two: 2 player rules set with "neutral players" and tokens used to force favorable trades.
Friendly Robber: An optional rule that protects players with 2 VPs from the robber.
Catan Event Cards: A deck of cards meant to replace the dice. The deck is "statistically correct" meaning that every die roll is represented by a card... but these cards can have other effects on the game, from damaging everyone's roads to forcing a trade.
Harbormaster: Played in addition to Longest Road and Largest Army, the Harbormaster awards 2 VP to the player with the most "harbor points", settlements and cities built on harbors (minimum 3VP worth of settlements and cities).
The game's scenarios scale upwards in difficulty. There are specialized hexes, sea frames, tokens, player pieces, and even scenario-specific Development Cards! Have your card sleeves and ziplock bags ready when you bust this box open.
The Scenarios are as follows...
The Fishermen of Catan: This scenario adds "fishing grounds" and a lake to the game, where you can gain fish tokens and exchange them for abilities and resources. Watch out for the old boot...
The Rivers of Catan: With two rivers running though the island, economic opportunity awaits! Players are awarded gold for building roads, bridges, and settlements along the rivers. The richest get richer still (1 extra VP), while the poorest are left struggling (-2 VP).
The Caravans: The robber has been chased from the desert, and some settlers have taken the life at the desert's oasis. They send out trade caravans seeking wool and brick, and players will offer up these resources attempting to influence the route the caravans take. Cities and settlements along these routes are worth 1 more VP, and
roads along these routes count as double.Barbarian Attack:
The island is under siege! Barbarians have begun to invade and occupy Catan, taking over coastal cities and halting resource production. Players have to work together to fend off the threat, while still competing with each other in expanding their settlements to the rest of the island.Traders and Barbarians:
The invasion is over, but the castle was damaged in the attack and repairs are needed. Each player moves their cart (called a "Baggage Train" in this scenario) along Catan's roads to retrieve raw and processed goods and deliver them to where they are needed. What an opportunity for riches and glory! But a handful of barbarians remain on the island, literally blocking the road to recovery. A few simple upgrades to the baggage train should speed up the deliveries and help fend of the barbarian thugs.
Pros and Cons
All these scenarios are fun to play, and the Harbormaster has become obligatory in my games. From adding a co-op element to making use of the road you build, these scenarios offer simple changes to make Catan a more interactive gaming experience.
The components are top notch, and the rules booklet clearly explains how to set up and play with the scenario's and variants.
However, the sheer variety in this expansion is a double edged sword. These extra scenarios play well, but unless you or your group plays Catan on a regular basis, then it will be a while before you end up using everything that's in the box.
Also, each scenario introduces new rules to the base game. The are easy to grasp for experienced players, but someone who has played only once or twice previously will not enjoy switching up the rules with each game.
I mentioned at the top that many of these were previously released mini expansions. While these were expanded upon in this release, the only "new" things made available in this box are the two-player variant and the scenarios "Barbarian Attack" and "Traders and Barbarians". Everything else was released online or in gaming magazines.
Overall I like this expansion. This is meant for players or groups that play Catan often, and are willing to play more complex versions of the base game. Not everyone has access to the previous releases, and having them all in one box makes it easier and cheaper to aquire them together then to seek out each one separately. 4 hexagonal footprints out of 5.
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