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4.7 out of 5 stars
Catan: Cities & Knights Game Expansion 4th Edition
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247 of 254 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 6, 2008
Verified Purchase
I got this expansion along with the original game and played it after playing a couple games with the original rules. The basic changes to the original game include:

1) Instead of the development deck, you now have three progress decks (sciences, trade, and politics) which offer a broader selection of usable cards than the development deck and it's 90% knights and 10% events/actions. These decks correspond to three possible areas of improvement (see next item) and have some interesting effects (everything from allowing you to take cards from another player to pulling resources for free).

2) Cities can now be improved. You get a set of flip cards that you flip as you purchase city improvements. There are two benefits to city improvements: a) when you achieve the 3rd level of improvements you gain some bonus like the ability to trade two of any commodity for one resource or commodity (note: as commented on, this is not like the harbor benefit of 2:1 resources which limit you to trading resources for resources; however, it still comes in handy despite the limitation), and b) each improvement increases the changes you'll get to pull from one of the three progress decks.

3) The addition of an event die that you roll along with the standard 2d6. The event die will either move the barbarians closer (50% chance) or trigger a chance to pull from the progress decks (16% chance). As mentioned, city improvements increase your chances of scoring a card when one of the progress areas are rolled (i.e. if you get a 1 or 2 on the red die and a blue icon on the event die and you have the first city improvement in the science area, you can draw a card).

4) barbarians have been added on top of the robber that still plays as it does in the original game; the barbarians show up after the barbarian icon shows up on the event die (which is more often than not). When the barbarians reach Catan and if there aren't enough knights in play to protect Catan, then the weakest player (in terms of knights) who has a city will lose that city (it gets downgraded to a settlement) as it gets razed by the barbarians.

5) knights are now pieces in play rather than a drawn card; they can bump other knights and the roober and play a crucial role in dealing with barbarians: if the number of knights who are active exceeds the number of barbarians (= number of cities in Catan), then the players win and the player that contributed the most will receive a special Defender of Catan card (ties result in progress card draws) which gives you a victory point.

6) Lastly, to make things interesting, there are commodities now, coin, paper, and cloth (which correspond to iron, wood, and wool resources) which are primarily used to buy city improvements. You get them if you have cities (i.e. instead of getting 2 iron if you have a city next to an iron spot, you get 1 iron and 1 coin).

Yes, it's definitely more complicated than the original rules but it offers a choice for anyone who wants that complexity (me!). It makes the game deeper and in some respects fixes issues I had with the previous game (like the knights being way too easy to pull up off the development deck given their numbers).

Once you get used to the rules (one or two games will usually do it), things move along and tides can turn pretty quickly (like when you were unable to active your knights before the barbarians came and you end up losing a city...or when Catan still wins but you just handed your opponent a Defender of Catan card which secured another victory point).

All in all, if you liked the original game and are either bored with the simpler rules or want to mix up the game a bit more, then I highly recommend this expansion. The added rules and expanded progress cards and city improvements really evolve the game in a good way and bring out the best of this game.

Oh, and note that you need to use this with the 4th edition (Amazon made sure to label these with that big "New 4th Edition!!!!" tag...). I never had the original versions so it didn't matter to me but some reviewers seemed to have an issue with getting the wrong edition so...
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
This is a wonderful, highly addictive family board game. We got the original Settlers for Christmas and loved it so in January we saw this at the toy store and thought we would try it. Well, 3 months later my wife and 10 year old daughter and I are still playing it almost every night. It is a little more challening than "Settlers" and has even more variations and strategy so I would not recommend it for children less than 10. You have to have the original "Settlers of Catan to play. It takes about 20 minutes to learn to play and games typically take 1 to 2 hours. There are all sorts of different strategies to use and because the board varies each time you play no two games are the same. There is some cutthroat potential in the game so if your family is prone to violence you might try something else. On the other hand if you are looking for a fun, challenging game that will get your children and spouse off the computer and television to spend some time together this is highly recommended.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2009
Verified Purchase
My coworkers and I loved to play a rousing game of Catan over lunch breaks and we decided to pick up this expansion. As others have noted, it does add a bunch of new features and adds complexity. It's still mostly Catan, and a decently fun game. Nice for a change of pace if you have a group of regular gaming friends.

The main negative against this game is the progress cards. You get progress cards whenever the third dice rolls your progress color and the red dice matches up with your city progress advancement. You can play as many as you want each turn. This, like dev cards in the original, at the start can lead to some fun surprises that mix up the gameplay. However, when you get to mid to end game where everyone has commodities advanced, it seems to us that every turn people are throwing 1-2 progress cards and the game seems to devolve into who is lucky enough to get a stack of the best cards, draw 8+ resources, score 4 points in one turn, and win. We're considering curbing the progress cards to be one play per turn, because everyone playing multiples seems to make the game border on ridiculousness.

A negative for us (but not for others) is that since we play over lunch break, the original catan we could finish in under an hour with 4 players. Cities and Knights usually takes 4 of us about an hour and a half, most of this being due to the more complex resource distributions (remembering commodity cards, moving the barbarian ships, distributing progress cards, etc). One is almost tempted to institute a rule that if the players forget to ask for a card, they don't get it, because it's too much for a banker to keep track of and slows the game. If you're not under a time constraint though this isn't an issue I suppose.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2010
Verified Purchase
This expansion makes the basic game very very enjoyable, although it does extend the playing time quite a bit. In short, the expansion introduces two new aspects. One is building "knights" to protect from pirates that invade the island from time to time (decided based on a third "event" dice). The second aspect is a suite of 'new development cards' that give you much more options than the original set of development cards e.g. you can temporarily downgrade your opponents city, remove their roads, steal their knights etc. in addition to the monopoly, free road building etc. How do you get these development cards? Instead of buying them (like in the basic version), you get them also based on the event dice. However, to get them you need to 'flip' a book to get city extensions. In the basic version, all resources are doubled for a city - here three of the resources give you one resource and one commodity and these commodity cards are used to flip - so it is a cycle: you get commodity cards, you flip - flipping increases your chances of getting the development cards. This makes the game very very interesting with a lot more strategies involved.

One thing to know: The currently available version is 4th edition. The backs of the cards do not have any difference compared to 3rd edition. So they are *compatible*. The artwork in the flip books are a little different, but still recognizable (I have posted pictures). However, the basic 3rd edition has two 'natural' dices. The expansion needs a 'colored' red dice to decide the development card acquisition using the event dice. *UPDATE*: I contacted Mayfair customer service and they said they will ship a red dice 'free' to customers on request!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2010
As a Catan ADDICT, I can honestly say this is one of THE.BEST.EXPANSIONS. It turns regular Catan into a wayyyyy more complex version of its original self. It's like going from simple math to Calculus, but once you learn it it is the most fun you will ever have. It's interesting because of the Barbarian addition, gameplay changes drastically. Resources that would have originally gone to houses, cities etc. now go towards knights, or city walls, or city improvements. And the cooperative part to beat the Barbarian is a nice added touch. The best part are the commodities and Progress cards. Instead of the 5 resources, you have them + the 3 new commodities. (Tip: The best one is books/paper). And the Progress cards each have their own personality. (Tip: The best to choose is Green). It may not make sense now when you're reading this review but you will not regret buying this game. The strategy makes your brain feel amazing when its all over.
CAUTION: Only play/buy if you're ridiculously in love with Catan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
If you are into hardcore board gaming, once you play this expansion, you'll never go back to the base set or just Seafarers alone. As I've said in my other reviews of the Settlers family of games, my friends and I are avid players. We play every Sunday with every expansion. It can get pretty epic at times.

Well, this expansion adds elements that completely change Catan. You've built cities but now it is time to improve them. You have a city "Calendar" of improvements to build and you do so by obtaining and trading a new type of card, the commodities. These come from forests, mountains, and pastures that you have cities on. You'll collect paper, coin, and cloth, respectively. Build these improvements and you can draw offensive cards, defensive cards, or cards that give you trading advantages. But all the while, the Barbarians are looming to attack your cities. So you also have to build Knights, which replace the Knight cards from the base set (no more Strongest Army). Get enough Knights and your city is spared; defeat means losing your city! You definitely have the opportunity to stick it to your opponents with something other than the Robber, so if you want a brawl, this is the expansion for you. And that is what makes this expansion so thrilling.

You can easily combine this expansion with Seafarers (and any of its scenarios) for a fully immersive experience into the land of Catan. We typically just play a fully random board from the Seafarers and base set, then add the elements of Cities & Knights in easily.

There is a greater learning curve to this expansion, so be ready to take it slow a few times. If you don't like complexity, better stick with just the base set. And don't forget, if you want to play with 5-6 players, you need the extension set too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2010
Verified Purchase
My wife and I got the 4th edition "Settlers of Catan" as a wedding gift in August of 2008. I really like strategy games a lot and Settlers certainly did deliver on that account. After a while though I found myself wishing that there was a little more strategy/complexity involved in the game, and that's where Cities and Knights came in. The Cities and Knights Expansion adds a lot more strategy, complexity, and variety of what you can do on each turn. My wife and I both LOVE this expansion as it makes the game so much more interesting, involving, and entertaining.

We still enjoy the original Settlers if we want a quicker game or if we are teaching new people how to play. But if you get some experienced players together, Cities and Knights definitely takes things to a whole new level. It has improved the game so much that my wife and I bought the Seafarers expansion to see if that will make the Settlers experience even better!

If you are a person that enjoys strategy games that you have to think through and plan ahead for, this game is for you. Since the map and numbers on the hexes are different every time you play the game the game is different every time and has not become boring at all. I've probably played Cities and Knights twenty times in the last year and I still enjoy it a lot, excellent replay value!

The quality of the pieces, tiles, dice, border, etc. are acceptable. They won't survive your two year old playing with them, but if care is taken in the set-up and use of the game I see no reason why it won't last you a life time.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed Settlers of Catan, you will love this expansion!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2015
Verified Purchase
Settlers of Catan is one of my favorite board games, and after a bit of research, the consensus seemed to be that the Cities and Knights expansion was the best one to get. As it's my first expansion, I can't comment on how it compares to the others. Cities and Knights certainly adds a few interesting layers to Settlers, including many new and exciting development cards and a mechanism by which opposing players must occasionally work together to beat a common NPC-type enemy. (If steps aren't taken by all players to fortify Catan, certain developments, like cities, can be downgraded and must be rebuilt.)

The main issue with the expansion is that, with certain game setups, it gives players an incentive not to develop and rather to find victory points elsewhere. In these instances, Cities and Knights plays pretty much exactly like a standard game of Settlers, which goes against the spirit of using an expansion. With four players competing instead of only three, this issue is less likely to arise. Like Settlers, Cities and Knights works best with a full complement of players.

Even if you have a lot of experience with Settlers of Catan, this expansion has an intimidating learning curve. However, once everyone is on-board, the game plays nicely. You probably won't want to use Cities and Knights every time you play Settlers, but once in a while, it adds a worthwhile flair to an already great game.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2009
The Cities and Knights expansion for Catan is a great purchase. When I read other reviews I was a little concerned that maybe it would be too complicated or add too many little extra things to keep track of to really be fun. This is not the case. The first time my friends and I played, it was slow going, and we did have to keep the rulebook on hand (and we are original Catan veterans), but once you've played two or three times everything falls into place and it's not distracting or difficult to keep track of all the different things you can do.

Also, the new progress cards (which replace the development cards from the original) are really cool. There are less straight-out victory points, and more original things you can do. Our favorites are "the inventor" which lets you switch two numbers on the board other than 2,12,6,8 (i.e. your opponent's ore tile becomes an 11 while your wheat tile becomes a 5) and "the alchemist" which lets you choose your own roll.

The only critiques I have of the game are that it takes a little longer in general than the original to play, there is a lot more stuff to pack up when you're done, and because there are so many more things you can do to your opponents to screw them over, I think this version might generate a little more group hostility than the original version.

All in all though, I am really glad that I made this purchase.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2012
We have tried several of the Catan variants and have "settled" on this one -- Cities and Knights. Yes, it took a good 30 minutes to read the rules and another hour making certain we understood them correctly as we began to play, but that investment has been well worth it. Cities and Knights is the most interesting in terms of possible goals and priorities that can be weighed. One of my favorite moments of the game is the beginning when I am deciding where to place my first city and settlement, and even now, after playing Cities and Knights maybe 30+ times I am still re-thinking the best strategies associated with this.

I want to mention a quality flaw. And when you think about the quality that goes into most of the parts, this one is most surprising and stands out in contrast. We found that the game's border pieces do not interlock properly, thus leaving the tiles open to shifting and having to be constantly put back in place. We were so annoyed with this that I eventually made a wooden playing board to hold all the pieces and all of Catan. Wow, what a difference this made in the game experience! Everything is held in place snug and secure, and somehow it is nice that the Catan World is elevated off the table a bit.
Someone suggested that we make more boards like this and sell them, so now we are doing that. My first home-made board (which we are keeping forever) holds 34 tiles. This is great and we enjoy the extra room in which to grow our empires. However, so far the boards we are making for sale are for holding the 19 tiles of the original basic Settlers of Catan game. Take a look at it here: Settlers of Catan Wooden Playing Board

Write a comment if you want me to start making larger boards.

Now I want to tell you about how my group has altered some of the rules. First, we do not use the robber baron. When a 7 is rolled, the card count jeopardy applies just as before, but the player who rolled a 7 gets to take one resource card from the bank instead of from another player. Our thinking on this is as follows: The robber baron puts a damper on production, lengthening the game. Not good. Second, the robber baron can very easily become a source of ill will between players, as I'm sure you know. I presume the robber baron was put into the game as a means of slowing down the game leader. Frankly, we see no need for such a mechanism. In all the times we have played the game there has been a runaway leader only once. So no robber baron.

Another negative factor we removed from the game are the nastiest cards in the blue deck -- saboteur, deserter, bishop, etc. We feel that these are somewhat excessive set-backs and we feel better with them out of the game. We are ok with most of the moderate set-back cards.

When the dice are passed to the next player, we allow that player to spend any commodity cards they possibly can prior to rolling the dice. This helps mitigate the card count jeopardy if they happen to roll a 7.

Finally, if there are 5 or 6 of us playing, we raise the base card count jeopardy number to 10 or 11 instead of 8, because you can accumulate quite a lot of cards before the dice come back around to you. To get even more protection, buy city walls. Those are my thoughts.
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