Authors: Klaus Teuber and
other Catan-Fans

Publisher: Kosmos 1999

Awards: none



After a long period of waiting for most Settlers-Maniacs, Kosmos finally released the 5 new Theme-Sets for the Settlers-Cardgame in April 1999, resulting from the creativity contest which was issued together with the old Tournament-Set.


"Wissenschaft und Fortschritt" (=Science and Progression) is a set which was developed out of a part of the cards from the old Settlers-Tournament set. It contains 30 cards, most of them being cards on technological advances, centered around the University. Using this set, players can build cannons, a crane, or discover valueable technological advances which allow them to get more resources. In addition to the University, the set also contains a lot of buildings for cities. Seasoned players please note that this set contains only cards from the former Tournament-set. Just one new card, the Trade-Academy was included.

"Ritter und Händler" (=Knights and Merchants) contains the rest of the cards from the former Tournament-Set. Here most of the knights and the related cards have found a new home, and in addition some cards bringing trade power and Gold were included. Only one new card is among these 30 cards: The Peasant-Army, having a strength corresponding to the grain on the neigbouring fields.

Players in Germany owning the Tournament-set may send a self-adressed envelope to Kosmos and receive the new cards included in these two sets, thus they donīt have to buy them again. But now to the really new sets...

"Handel und Wandel" (=Trade and Change) is a complete new expansion, centered around the old card "Handelskontor". The Handelskontor is needed to play some of the cards included in this set. So players now may build storehouses to store away some of their goods, saving them from robbers or other events. They may also build special city-expansions like a brewery, allowing them a direct transfer of resources into trade-power. A dock allows the cheaper building of fleets, whereas the Hanse allows a player to use the fleets of his opponent. Finally there are some cards enhancing movement and trade, so a stable offers the possibility to move knights or a Tradepost allows a direct 1:1 trade between two neighbouring resources.

"Politik und Intrige" (=Politics and Intrigue) is a set which offers the players a lot of new options to directly influence his opponent. Central cards of this expansion are the Mayorīs Office and the Church. Especially the clerical powers of the Church have been reinforced by many of the new cards. So players may build a Bishopīs Seat, allowing them a good protection against Magic, or they may play a Ban allowing it to close one of the opponent cardpiles. On the other hand, some cardsfor political life are included as well. Now players may bribe opposite knights, they may build a Courthouse to get more protection from the robbers or they may found a whorehouse in an opponentīs city, thus weakening all of his knights. Absolute highlight of this set is the new "Metropolis"-card. Players may upgrade one of their cities to a Metropolis, and this allows them to place units (Knights, Fleets, Cannons and Dragons) above and below the resources around the Metropolis. This way a player may effectively store up to 8 of his cards in a single city.


"Zauberer und Drachen" (= Wizards and Dragons) brings an absolute novelty to the Isle of Catan: Magic. Instead of upgrading a Town to a City, a player may now chose to upgrade a Town to a Citadel at a cost of 2 Gold, 2 Iron and 1 Grain. Above and below the resource-landscapes next to this Citadel, up to 4 Wizards (corresponding to the types of resources) may be placed. These wizards may consume the resources from the landscapes and gain Magical Power from it. The Magical Powers in turn may be used for a broad choice of actions: Whole Cities may be materialized, powerful Dragons may be summoned and many other spells can be spoken, possibly heavily influencing the opposite player. Wizards may duel by using Duel-Cards, with the weaker Wizards going back into one of the playerīs piles, they may summon Twisters to wreak havoc on the opponentīs landscapes, or they may use their energies to create new resources. There is a broad choice of possible magical actions, allowing the players to create completely new strategies for playing the Settlers-Cardgame.

Because I had submitted some cards myself, I have waited quite long and with growing tension for the new cards for the Settlers-Cardgame. When I finally got my hands onto them and was able to play with them, I had to confess that I was absolutely impressed by the new sets. The new sets are an absolute great expansion for the cardgame, strongly deepening the strategical aspect of the Tournament-game and setting players to the difficult task to create powerful new decks. The choice of available options is incredible, the players now may chose from about 200 cards when constructing their decks. On the other hand, Kosmos didnīt want to let the strategical aspect of the game to get of of control. So each of the new expansion-sets contains the rules for Tournament-play, but in addition rules for an enhanced basic game of the Settlers-Cardgame are included. Using these rules, players may chose just to use one basic game and one or more of the expansion sets - thus they are able to taste the full flavour of the expansions without actually having to construct playing decks. If you liked the Settlers-Cardgame (and possibly the Tournament-Set), then GO for these cards. I promise, you WILL love them !!!

But enough of the praise, my evaluation for the sets shows everything. Now I want to turn the spotlight onto another aspect concerning the release of the new sets - a feature which I cannot allow to remain undiscussed. As most of you will know, the new sets have emerged from a Creativity-contest which was issued together with the Settlers-Tournament-Set. Three blank cards - one of each type - were included in this set, and players where invited to submit their self-created cards. The rules said that the best of these might be chosen to be released in a small edition "Playerīs expansion".

After the contest was started, something quite unusual happened. Over 600 cards were submitted by enthusiastic Settlers-players, and Kosmos and Klaus Teuber came to stand in front of the difficult task to sight and evaluate all these cards. A major part of this process was delegated to a german Settlers-Family named Ditt, and they took on the task of taking the submitted ideas to forge the new theme sets from them. This exactly is a point where I cannot refrain from giving some criticism.

Myself, I was one of the enthusiastic Settlers players who took up the task of creating new cards with great joy, and thus I proudly submitted 4 new cards after a long process of testing and drawing the new cards. Some months later I got a message from Kosmos, telling me that one of the cards - the Dragon - had been chosen to be part of the new Playerīs edition. Now letīs compare the card which I submitted and the card which was finally released in the new sets:

As you can see, my original card was created as an event, whereas Kosmos decided to make a new kind of cards from it: The Magical Cards. In addition, my card allowed the gaining of additional resources (or the loss), whereas the new card functions as some new kind of unit - similar to a Knight. The two cards have nothing in common except the name - Dragon.

I donīt know whether such heavy changes were performed on any other of the published cards, but still the fact that the cards were changed at all leaves at least to me a sour taste. I have talked to a Kosmos-representative about my feelings, and I was offered good reasons for the change of the cards. Klaus Teuber wanted the new cards to function together - he wanted to create expansions which would funtion in unity, not just single, interesting cards. The only alternative would have been to release some chosen cards as they have been submitted, but this would have prevented a broader use of the cards since many of them were too strong to be used in combination. I think that these reasons certainly are well chosen and strongly support the final decision to rearrange the cards. Still it must be allowed to ask whether the players who submitted the cards will be satisfied by the final product which they now hold in their hands. For my part, I was a bit disappointed to see my card emerge totally changed. I would have preferred if Kosmos had released some chosen cards as they were, taking the risk of creating unbalanced decks. To my mind, this would have served the spirit of a creativity contest much better than turning over the cards to other players and allowing them to rearrange them totally...

As a final point I would like to draw some attention to the generosity shown by Kosmos: Each of the player(s) who submitted cards which were taken for publishing received 3 free sets of the set in which their card was published, and in addition one set of each of the other two new sets. This was a very kind gesture, acknowleding the work and ideas submitted by the players.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany