Catan sets sail on an ocean bound adventure with Seafarers. Feels fitting to be talking about this having just returned from my own cruise holiday, on the sea does feel like an adventure. You’ll require the base set of Catan to make this set work but an entire new dynamic is added to Catan with the exploration of the seas on a quest for new lands. What do you have to get excited about with Seafarers?
Specific Set Scenarios
For those who have played Catan, all you have within this set is the randomised standard hexagonal island. By randomised, I mean random resource locations spread, but the overall island shape does not change. Contained within Seafarers you have an assortment of different pre-set maps to play on. All of which have different islands to sail and explore. That’s right, explore! There will be pre-set starting locations for settlements and then invisible (unknown resource) islands to sail to and explore. So, when you sail away from your settlement and then contact the new island, you flip over the hidden resource tile and see what is there to potentially build on.
It is so obvious in a game titled “Seafarers” we are going to see some boats for use. That’s exactly it. Up to this point with Catan we have used our road pieces for expanding our settlements and cities. Roads are not much use for the sea though and so we have the use of ships. A wood and a pasture resource will see you construct one ship and place in the same way as a road piece, except they have to be on the ocean or coastal location (not inland). The added bonus with the ships is they can be relocated (unlike roads). So, where a boat doesn’t connect two settlements/cities, you can choose to move the final boat in your chain which is handy when getting cut off. You cannot link roads and boats; a settlement has to be placed in-between then it is one or the other off of this. However, with 15 new boats on top of 15 road pieces this makes for the potential of a 30 piece long “longest road” making for some truly epic battles over these 2 victory points.
The pirate is an added alternative to the robber. It steals from those ships you have as well as preventing newly constructed boats on the hex edges surrounding the pirate. A soldier will move a pirate on. Having the 2 pieces in play causing player difficulty makes for a fun new problematic dynamic and makes soldiers even more valuable for clearing these problem pieces out the way.
A new resource is introduced into Catan. We have gold. Gold, when its number comes up, means all settlements and cities can pick whichever of the 5 resources the player decides they need. Gold is exceptionally useful and becomes highly valuable. Unsurprisingly the robber ends up on these hexes incredibly frequently.
First to settle on a new island gets a bonus VP counter placed under their settlement (potentially city if upgraded). This means when you sail across the ocean, racing against opponents, an extra VP is provided to that first player to settle there. How many victory points required for the game is different to the traditional 10 of Catan. It is entirely dependent on the scenario selected and so varies, usually between 12 and 15 points needed.
I love the added elements that Seafarers has brought to Catan. Catan is a game all about the expansions making the base game better. Seafarers is no exception. It’s provided additional routes to victory and added more depth. Well done to the creators.
I’m convinced that the Catan naysayers who believed it is a dated game have only ever played the base game. They’ve not played Catan with add ons and expansions like this. They have all made a better game for me and should be tried.
Seafarers is a wonderful expansion game to an already great game of Catan. The add ons of the boats, the pirates, the gold really do add an immensely different and fun dynamic to Catan that is well worth giving a go. Do you expand on your starting island and hold off sailing out, or do you get straight into boat construction and exploring the islands? Enjoy the discovery!