Cities and Knights of Catan
Cities and Knights of Catan
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
5-6 (needs original Settlers of Catan)
While technically an expansion to the wildly popular German board game Settlers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan plays and feels more like an entirely new game, one with a greater level of complexity. You’ll need the original game to play this, though.
The game and gameplay
The core rules of the game remain unchanged. Each turn, players role dice and collect resources, then trade amongst themselves and build improvements in order to win the game.
Skillfully layered on top of this stable rule set are a series of new games that place a greater emphasis on cities.
In addition to the five original resources, Cities and Knights of Catan adds three new commodities: coin, paper and cloth, which are only available through cities. Players can use these new commodities to upgrade their cities, enabling them to earn progress cards.
Progress cards are much like the development cards from the previous game, but instead of being purchased by the player, they are distributed based on the roll on the new event die. The more a player has upgraded their cities, the greater the chance that they earn a progress card each turn.Many new actions can be taken with these progress cards, from moving roads to reducing the cost of improvements. This greater variety opens up the game to vast number of new tactics.
While the new rules concerning cities are the most substantial, it is also important to address the changes in how knights are treated, and the greater role that they play in game.
Instead of being played by development cards, knights are bought and placed on the board, much like cities. Once on the board, they can be used to dislocate the robber and cut off players from key points on the board.
The robber from the original game is accompanied by an ominous black ship that is placed on a progress track. Each turn, there is a chance that the ship advances along the track until it makes landfall.
When the ship makes landfall, if there are more cities than knights on the board, then the player with the least number of knights has one of their cities removed and replaced with a settlement. This forces players to work together to protect the mainland.Pros and cons
Overall, these rule additions lead to greater game complexity and length, as well as increasing the number of strategies available and the ways in which players can interact.
Additionally, it is far easier for a player to catch up to those in the lead, reducing the run away leader problem that has plagued the basic game.
The quality of the new components is top notch. The new progress and commodity cards are printed on the same quality of card stock as the original. The discs representing the knights are manufactured in the same manner as the houses and roads. A few other new bits are equally as sturdy and attractive.
Again, it must be stressed that this is NOT a simple expansion pack. Cities and Knights plays like an entirely new game, and as such it is impossible to recommend this game based on your enjoyment of the original.
I personally love the Cities and Knights of Catan expansion. I sometimes get frustrated by the simplicity of the original and need a break. I’ve never personally had a game that has lasted more than three hours, but I have heard horror stories of games that lasted far, far longer. While it’s not awe-inspiring, thios version of the game is solid, interesting, and above all, fun.