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Settling Catan
by Stormy on April 14, 2007

All the rich people have their own islands. Have you ever wanted to have an island? How about settling an unexplored and unspoiled land? You can here! And you get to spoil it, too.

Today was a game day and the game that we spent a lot of time with is the Settlers of Catan. Catan is an exciting, quickly moving game of economics and exploration where players attempt to colonize an island (or a set of islands in our case). Randomly selected island areas will produce basic resources such as wheat, brick, ore, wood and sheep and commodities such as paper, coin and cloth, which can in turn be used to build towns, roads, ships and even your armies. Die rolls determine what resources and commodities become available for players. Players trade resources to meet their shortfalls to expand and develop their settlements. There are also adversities in the game such as barbarians and robbers and pirates, who will pillage the land and steal resources. A team element to the game is for the players as a whole to be strong enough to stand up to the bad guys as a group, while still competing for which player wins the game. No one player will be able to turn back the bad guys alone and if they win, they walk away with booty and leave behind cities in ruin. Settlers of Catan is both the basic game and also the generic name for the entire family of Catan games. Today we played with the entire family, including the well known large expansion sets, Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan, and the special editions such as The Great River of Catan, The Fishermen of Catan and smaller expansions like the Volcano Tile and the Jungle Tile. Our play is untraditional in many ways because we don’t use any of the standard layouts of the game as described in the rulebooks. Rather we cram together all of the game tiles, mix them up and lay out a random board that contains well over 100 tiles. Players then take turns picking out their starting locations. We tend to start well spread out and then have to lock horns as we jockey around for the best expansion areas. Along with combining all of the Catan expansion sets, we’ve also discovered that we need to expand on the rules that are used to both level the playing field and make the game more fair and equitable to all players. And there’s an added bonus that a game so big creates a tremendous challenge to overcome. Our “house rules” include the following modifications:
Jungle TilesRather than be paid out as Discovery Counters, the jungle resources are paid out as development or progress cards. Settlements collect a single card. Cities collect two cards.

The Jungle Tile may not have a 2, 6, 8 or 12 as its number.

Gold TilesThe Gold Tile may not have a 2, 6, 8 or 12 as its number.

IslandsStandard rule not to forget: the first person to build a settlement on an uninhabited island gains two victory points; all players coming to a settled island and building their first settlement gain a single victory point.

MetropolisTo build a metropolis, you must have a walled city.

The ownership of the metropolis depends on who has made the greatest number of improvements to their city. You can lose your metropolis status if someone exceeds the improvements that you have built.

ResourcesNormally cities will produce one resource and one commodity. If you so choose, you may opt to take two corresponding resources instead.

RobbersIf you roll a 7 and activate the robber, you are the robber. If anyone has more resource/commodity cards than they may hold, you get half of the cards. You yourself are immune to the robber. After all, on your turn you are the robber! If you received no cards when you are the robber, you must move the robber piece and may steal a card from a player of your choice.

Standard rule not to forget: the robber may not be moved back into the desert.

Volcano TilesIf you build on a volcano hex, your bounty is two resources for a settlement and four for a city. This is compensation for the tremendous risk that the volcano can wipe you out completely if you get unlucky.

If you do get unlucky, you will lose only the outer shell to your town. That is, a lava eruption that hits you will reduce a walled city to a city, a city to a settlement or wipe out a settlement completely. This way your equity is not completely eliminated. In the grand scheme of things a volcano does not automatically wipe you out.

Standard rule not to forget: the volcano becomes a desert after the last erruption and all settlements and towns arround it will be affected (damaged).

The world of Catan is yours to conquer!
(taken by Max on April 14, 2007)

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