Author: Klaus Teuber

Publisher: Kosmos 1997

Awards: none



The Seafarers is an extension set for the "Settlers of Catan"-Boardgame. It cannot be played without owning a copy of this game !

Two years after his grand sucess with the "Settlers of Catan", Klaus Teuber finally issued an expansion set for his Bestseller-Game. The Basic Game of Settlers didnīt contain the Seafarers because of price reasons, but now it becomes possible for the interested player to play "Settlers" the way it was designed from the beginning on.


Even with this expansion the easy understandable rules of the basic game arenīt much changed. The big novelty offered by this set is the possibility to separate the Resource-Tiles into several smaller isles, which are seperated by using additional Water -Tiles. The straits between the isles can be bridged by the players in exactly the same way like road-building, with the exception that the roads are replaced by ships.

The rules for using ships are simple enough: Whenever a player reaches the coast of the isle he is on, he may decide to build a village (following the normal rules). From this village onwards the player might build ships (1 wool, 1 wood), which serve as a street on the water, bridging the distance to an other isle. When this "chain of ships" reaches another coastline, an additional village might be build there, allowing it for the player to build roads on this isle. A major difference between ships and roads is the flexibility of ships. As long as the ships still do not connect two villages, the last ship of a chain may be moved to an other point on the map, thus allowing the player to change the position of his "ship-chain" by moving ship by ship. Only when two villages are connected, the ships cannot be moved anymore. For shipbuilding, the game contains 15 ships for each player.

In order to give the players some examples for usinfg the Seafarers, the rulesbook contains 11 scenarios for 3 to 4 players. The scenarios differ widely. Some contain a number of smaller isles, some only two big isles, and some have most of the resource-tiles hidden until they are "discovered" by a player reaching them. Another novelity are 2 Gold-Resource-Tiles. These are used exactly the same way other resources are used, with the exception that a player choses a resource whenever "Gold" is rolled. To round it off, the game contains a black Pirate-Ship which may be used for preventing the placement of ships in one area, and finally an adjustable frame for the whole map is included as well.

Personally, I think "Seefahrer" is a quite good addition for the basic Settlers-Game. The players now have more options during their turns, and the role of the resource "wool" becomes more important. Now each player has to adopt to his own special situation on the gameboard, and the careful planning of what and where to build becomes decisive. Players have to evaluate the resources they have more careful, since it becomes harder to get to other types of resources which might be situated on a far away isle. Thus the interaction between the players is much more important, since players normally wonīt have as much resources as in the basic game and they will have to trade for something they need. Here a careful balance between trading and keeping resources must be found. An interesting option is the gaining of an additional victory point by being the first one to build a village on an unoccupied isle. This village brings the player one more victory point than normal, allowing for a race for still unoccupied isles.

To sum it up, I think the use of this expansion makes "Settlers" even better than the basic version. Especially when playing with 4 players, collisions of shiproutes and races to be the first to reach a new isle are automatically included, and now each player has the choice between several ways to win the game. But I must also mention two flaws abou the game: First, I would have liked the Gold-Resources to be collectible as well. Perhaps another expansion set could be issued, containing special cards which can be bought with Gold. More important than this minor point is the high price at which the game is offered. Of course, the game contains lots of wooden pieces and not only a few of cardboard materials (f.e. the very usable frame for the whole map), but I think the price for the game is a little bit too high. I just donīt think it fits for an expansion-set to cost as much as the basic game, especially if an expansion cannot be played without the basic game. I would have liked the game even more if the price had been a little bit lower, but this should keep no "Settlers"-Freak from buying the "Seafarers". Itīs a very fine expansion-set, offering new playing experiences for the players.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany