Catan is arguably one of the most legendary board games around and for avid fans it never gets old. However, even the best games can get a little bit boring after some time, and Settlers of Catan has been around for fifteen years!
Why not switch it up with one of their expansions? Most people don’t realize this, but Catan has released a total of five new expansions that keep you in that Catan world that you love, while exploring new stories and adventures. The best part is that each expansion immerses you in a completely unique experience.
Want to find out more? Read on to see what we think of each expansion.
Traders and Barbarians
Traders and Barbarians is a fantastic game for Catan veterans that are looking for something new to sink their teeth into. It’s not exactly an extension of the game as it only introduces five modules into it. However, these modules are so rich and innovative that you’ll have lots of new complex activities to challenge you, like having to introduce a new trade route for a particular resource.
It’s worth noting here that some of the scenarios that this game introduces are quite uneven but they still make for an interesting game nonetheless. Plus, the few scenarios that are really interesting will probably be too complex for new players to enjoy anyway.
For example, there’s a Barbarian scenario that requires the player to deal with barbarians that come along to colonize your land and take all the crops that you rely on. This segment of the game is even better than Cities and Knights because it forces you to deal with the invaders instead of doing away with them easily.
Cities and Knights Expansion
The Cities and Knights game takes you on a really exciting trip with loads of new challenges to solve. The premise is that players are given the opportunity to create refined goods from Paper, Cloth and Coin in order to improve your game.
On the other hand, you’ll have to deal with stealthy barbarians that want to occupy your land and take everything you own. This is where the Knights come in. You have to enlist their help to fight the barbarians so that you don’t end up being a slave on your own land.
The great thing about Cities and Knights is that it doesn’t go too far off from the basic premise of the game but it does add a lot of exciting competition and some layers upon layers of new strategies to explore.
Instead of progress cards, you have cards that pop up every time you acquire refined goods, while the army bonus has been swapped for knights which are crucial in helping you fend off the villainous barbarians.
Basically, Cities and Knights offers a fresh new look at aspects of the game that may have seemed banal at first glance, and this is what makes it so unexpectedly tough.
As the name implies, the Seafarers expansion takes the game into the ocean so that you’ve got several lands instead of one. However, you can still stick to just one big island if you don’t want to go crazy with multiple islands yet.
Of course, ocean hexes have been made available to help you travel from one island to the other using ships, plus you get a bonus victory point for every new island that you build.
It’s safe to say that Seafarers is a bigger version of the Catan game, and it’s got an almost idyllic setting as well. The exciting thing is that it introduces a new set of challenges as well, including shipping lanes that can get cut off by unscrupulous competition, and it gives you a bigger board to play with too, which can be a challenge in and of itself for some players.
The good news is that the rules have been left pretty much the same on this Seafarers expansion.
Cities & Knights Game Expansion
The Cities and Knights Game Expansion introduces commodities and barbarians like you’ve never seen before. For example, the commodities part of the game enables you to use unique varieties of certain resources like rock, wool and wood to build new developments that will elevate your city to new heights (literally).
Now, this game is divided into three categories with each category being represented by a specific commodity, and the only way to progress in each particular category is to accumulate an abundance of that commodity. The better your performance in each category, the higher your chances of receiving new development cards.
It’s important to note here that these new development cards are a substitute for the old ones in the main game, so they really take the game to the next level of awesomeness. The game also opens up new opportunities and methods of earning points and that’s a big part of its draw and the reason why a lot of players keep coming back for more.
Explorers and Pirates Expansion
Similar to Traders and Barbarians, Explorers and Pirates introduces five new scenarios to the game for players to enjoy. It even has certain aspects of the other expansions thrown in too for some unexpected moments of fun.
There are pirates involved so naturally it has an ocean setting and there are several islands included in this game as well. As part of your island-hopping journey, you’ll also discover “hidden” islands that are placed upside down but have a lot to offer.
Other fun and exciting aspects of the game include the Spice Islands, cities with ports, fisheries and even a boat or two with pirates. There are also new mission and adventures on the Explorers and Pirates expansion that will really challenge you to come up with creative strategies.
In a nutshell, this particular expansion can best be described as a combination of Seafarers and Cities & Knights, but with bigger and better experiences. With that said, most players will still feel like Cities & Knights is the better game because it’s more intense but Explorers and Pirates is still very much worth your time if you’re a Catan fan.