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The Settlers of Catan won board game of the year in 1995 for a reason. I'm not sure if there is an 'expansion pack of the year' award, but if there was, Seafarers would win hands down. I've played a lot (and I mean a LOT) of strategy board games in my time, and Seafarers combined with Settlers of Catan is the best over all strategy game I've ever played.

If you're looking at this expansion, you likely already are sold on Catan (or addicted!) and are looking to expand your game. You have a good number of options, including the 5-6 Player Extension, Seafarers, or Cities & Knights. All of them are solid, but if you were going to just get one, it would have to be Seafarers. Here is why:

1. Diversity of maps
The 5-6 player expansion allows you to play with more players, but it is basically the same game as the 3-4 player version. You don't get the addition of over a dozen different maps like you do with Seafarers. Knights and Cities is more of a different game altogether, and will be more unfamiliar than Seafarers. Don't get me wrong, the other two expansions are fantastic, but get this one first.

2. Strategy
Seafarers unlocks a whole new realm of strategy. You can now build boats, discover islands, expand outward, control the pirate (like the robber, but used on water hexes), and generally play the game a few new and unique ways that are extremely satisfying. Whether you're playing "Into the Desert," with its fantastic static map that forces very careful placement, or "Four Islands," with its emphasis on resource management and aggressive island expansion, or just the basic Seafarers map (a new twist on the standard 3-4 player map) the level of strategy has been increased over all in a fantastic variety of ways. You can play longer maps that penalize 'lucky' players who choose bad numbers, or maps with exotic things like the Gold resource hexes (which produce a resource of your choice!), or maps that reward a conservative or aggressive style: you have so many options you will never get bored!

3. Replay value
With so many strategies available, and with potentially millions of variations on the maps, Seafarers never gets old. Just the "Into the Desert" map kept me busy for months. All of the maps are great, unique, and a whole lot of fun to play.

A few caveats:

1. This is an expansion. It is not playable without The Settlers of Catan. Also, make sure you are buying an expansion of the same edition as your 3-4 player board!

2. I have both the 3rd and 4th generation boards, and I actually prefer the 3rd generation with its more subdued graphics. That is a matter of preference however, so if you have the 4th generation 3-4 game and like it, you will like this expansion's aesthetics just as much.

3. Some of the maps in the map book also require The Settlers of Catan 5-6 Player Extension. You don't NEED to have the 5-6 player expansion, but be aware that about 20% of the maps require Seafarers, the 3-4 player game, and the 5-6 player expansion.

Built on a masterpiece of a board game like Settlers of Catan, it's no wonder this expansion is simply fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It deserves 7 stars.
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on November 21, 2009
Seafarers of Catan offers a new dimension to the game: the ability to build a trading route to outlying islands across the vast ocean and settle there.

This expansion requires The Settlers of Catan to play, and is equipped with 4 sets of ships, additional resource hexes, many sea hexes, additional number tokens, new harbor tokens, a pirate ship, and an extensive rules and scenarios book.

The expansion uses much of the same rules as The Settlers of Catan. The biggest addition is that coastal settlements/cities can serve as links between the mainland and neighboring islands. A trade route of ships can be build from a coastal settlement/city along the coastline, or out to sea, much like building roads on land. 1 ship costs 1 Lumbar and 1 Wool to build.

In addition, once per turn. 1 ship on the end of an open trade route can be moved to a new location, as long as it remains connected to the trade route or to a coastal settlement/city. This game mechanic increases players' abilities to expand and explore when they are ready to.

Settling on islands can be beneficial as they may provide resources that are scarce on the mainland, or it can enable (a) player(s) to capitalize on significant (and sometimes) unrivaled production of certain resources. This is important because ports are typically located on the mainland in most scenarios, and will become extremely useful later on.

There are also 2 Gold Hexes provided. Gold Hexes provide players who have built there with resources of their choice when the number on the token is rolled. Gold Hexes are located on outlying islands, and are usually worth the effort and resources to reach and settle there.

Due to the extra cost of building ships, most games are played to 12 or more Victory Points. In addition, "The Longest Road" card is aptly renamed as "The Longest Trade Route", which includes the longest chain of unbroken ships and roads.

The Robber has a new partner called the Pirate Ship. When a 7 is rolled, either the Robber or Pirate Ship can be moved. The Pirate Ship serves to prevent further extension of marine trading routes (i.e. no ships can be built along the sea hex border upon which The Pirate Ship is located). Adjacent ships cannot move away from the hex either. In addition, the turn player can take one resource card from a player whose ships are located next to the Pirate Ship.

With the option to move either the Robber or the Pirate Ship, players can elect to keep the Robber on a desired hex instead of being forced to move it. This can severely diminish a player's lead.

Like Settlers of Catan, Seafarers takes the most exciting aspect of the game and expands upon it. Seafarers offers a virtually unlimited number of board layout possibilities. The scenario booklet included profiles several scenarios such as: Heading for New Shores, The Four Islands, and The Fog Island (and a few more).

Heading for New Shores employs the normal Settlers of Catan board, and adds outlying islands, which include the popular Gold Hexes.

In The Four Islands scenario, players start on 1 or 2 "home islands" and earn additional points for settling on the others. Certain resources may be more abundant on the non "home islands". In addition, the various ports are distributed among the islands, providing additional incentive to expand.

In The Fog Island, players begin on the mainland and build out to unknown, uncharted territory covered by fog. As ships extend from the coast, face down and randomly shuffled hexes are revealed as land or sea (if it is a resource producing land hex, 1 resource of that type is provided as a discovery bonus). 1 random number token is then assigned to the newly discovered resource producing island hex.

Of course, players are free to create their own "New World" as they like and employ any or all of the new game aspects introduced.

I highly suggest Seafarers for those who have only played Settlers and are seeking a modest game addition to enhance their Catan experience. The ability to generate new maps and scenarios is what keeps the game exciting for me, and it has been highly rewarding for me and my friends to expand and explore.

If you are on the fence, search for Seafarers of Catan. You will see many images of how much fun people have had while playing this expansion.

I hope you found this review to be helpful. Thank you.
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on March 3, 2008
I found this expansion to be a great addition to the Settlers series. It adds much game play value to the original base game (Settlers of Catan) and it allows for even more creativity in creation of your own game maps.

Durability-wise, this expansion is the same as the other settlers games--the board pieces are on nice quality cardboard and the pieces are made of painted wood. The box this expansion comes in is of very high quality as well.

Again, this game has lots of little pieces so be aware of that (though they do all come with storage baggies, and everything fits nicely and securely in the box.

Make sure that you have the 4th edition of the original expansion set, as this one is incompatible with the 3rd edition. If you have the 3rd edition you need to purchase the 3rd edition of Seafarers as well.
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on May 11, 2009
If you own the base Settlers of Catan, you should immediately order this expansion set. The base Catan game can get a bit cramped with 4 players. Even the expansion base game with 5-6 players gets cramped and the strategies can get a bit rote once the game has been played more than 20 times. With the Seafarers extension, the board really opens up. The strategies become more varied, and the value of the resources becomes more balanced. In the base game wheat and ore are paramount because of their use in building cities. In Seafarers, sheep and wood are elevated in importance because of their use in building ships. Trading resources becomes even more important. Finally, this set is a tremendous value. There are at least 3-4 excellent scenarios of playing this expansion so you really are getting a lot for your money. Very highly recommended.
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on January 2, 2011
So I recently purchased this expansion while having the original and other expansions and couldn't be more pleased. This is the best of the three. This expansions adds ALOT more of the original game without a lot of complicated rules. More casual catan player will enjoy this over other expansions. I have also bought the City and Knights expansion and now hardly touch it after this purchase (unless I'm with a serious strategy playgroup). Traders and Barbarians adds alot of variety but every game type is different and has it's own rules specific for that game. Seafarers adds the same variety, but the rules are simple and simular to the ones you already know.

Seafarers expansion introduces ships to which act like roads on the sea, and gold tiles which produce a resource of your choice when rolled. This may not sound like much but is. It also introduces a pirate ship which acts like a robber of the sea. The games still plays like the original and the resources are more balanced (wool and wood are used more to create ships). The game also comes with 8 unique scenarios. Each of which are well designed and diverse. and a way to play with a random catan board with islands much like the original. We now always play with this expansion if we want to play a game of catan.

If you like the original Catan but want more interest and balanced resources go with Seafarers expansion. It plays almost exactly like the original and adds alot of variety without adding complex rules.

The City and Knights expansion doesn't add much variety, but it does however add complex strategy and management which is fun and recommended if have a more serious playgroup.

Traders and Barbarians adds tons of different variety. they all play differently and each varient also has it's own set of rules. So If you want to try many different varients of catan go with this expansion.

If you can only choose one. choose seafarers.
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on July 2, 2014
I am mixed on my thoughts about the Seafarers Expansion. I'd give it five stars for fun and additional strategies and playability, and subtract three for really poor design and manufacture of several of the components.

Pros:
* The addition of water and ships, and a smaller main island, make your typical base-game Catan strategy inadequate; I really like having the additional requirement of setting sail and exploring other islands to win, and it keeps the old game from getting anywhere even close to repetitive.
* Custom scenarios for each game. Seafarers comes with pre-designed scenarios that let you play out the 'history' of the Island of Catan, and you can easily play them over and over without being bored - in this case, it's like the base game: You get one big island every time. In these scenarios you get several smaller islands every time. Plus, you *can* create your own maps - you aren't absolutely locked into the same boards every time.
* Quality, when it's present, is the same as the base game, for the Meeples (ships) and island hexes... but there's an additional point here and it's not a good one:

Cons
* I was incredibly disappointed with the quality of several components of the expansion overall. The ship and the additional hexes are the same sturdy quality as the base game, but the border pieces that expand the board are very poorly fitting. I have at least 1/8" inch of empty space between many of the hexes once the board is assembled. This makes it really hard to play without continually being worried about upsetting the board and the settlements, and even then some hexes just slide out of place and you have to readjust and put everything back. It's worse quality than you'd get in a game that costs *half as much*. Almost $40 for such poorly fitting, poorly designed components is really hard to take.
* The additional "Cards" or "Tiles" that let you play The Wonders of Catan scenario are *nothing like the Longest Road and Largest Army cards. These Wonders of Catan "cards" are simply printed inside the instructions booklet and you're told to cut them out... of the flimsy, easily-torn paper the instructions are written on. For a game of this price and stature, it really, really irks me they require players to deface the otherwise good looking instructions book.

The upshot is that if you simply want an expansion to the rules and don't care about quality, this will be more than you could want and it adds a lot of fun to an already wonderful game.

If you expect good quality and sturdy construction to match your base game, you will b really disappointed - especially when they charge almost the same price for much lower quality materials.
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on December 13, 2011
Sorry, but I didn't get much out of this expansion. All it seemed to do was add a few boats, a few more tiles, and make the basic Settlers game take longer. I do like the addition of Gold. But having played the other expansions (Cities and Knights & Traders and Barbarians), this expansion just didn't cut it for me. In fact, it now collects dust in the game closet.

Pros: Adds a bit more to Settlers.
Cons: The basic game strategy doesn't change so it just makes the basic game longer.

Really not worth the money for this expansion.
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on September 7, 2010
My surprise when first opening this expansion pack was in the number of new games this actually allows you. It's not one expansion which expansion lets you play the original game slightly different. It's a plethora of scenarios and setups which give a great deal more depth to this purchase than I was expecting. All along I had assumed this was something I'd find to be overpriced and add only one new element to the game. I couldn't have been more wrong. The only reason I can't give this a 5 is that it's almost overwhelming at times. The set truly makes a monster game board out of the original, there are tons of new little pieces and learning the rules of each setup can take more time than most casual gamers are going to appreciate. If you just really love the original and want a large amount of new spins, buy this right away. If you're just wanting a small addition to the original, go with the Fishermen of Catan set; which is something like $5, couldn't be more simple and really balances the gameplay moreso than the original game already manages. There's a lot of fun to be had with this set. I think 6 months from now we will still be learning and amazed by what it's capable of adding to the experience. Just expect a slight learning curve and make sure you have extra table space.
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on June 20, 2008
The frame to make the older and newer versions compatible is available from Mayfair Games on their site for about $10. If you buy the 4th edition of Settlers and Seafarers together, you have nothing to worry about. And I strongly recommend it. Seafarers adds some nice new wrinkles to Settlers while preserving the spirit of the original game. You, your neighbors, and your kids will get hooked! But remember, you have to start with Settlers!
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on December 26, 2010
When we play setters, even with less than 5 players, we always use the extension to add more possibilities to the game. This Seafarers extension is interesting but adds really little to the game that we didn't get by using the 6 player extension. I do like it, but I give it 2 stars only because for $35 I expected a lot more. As it is, it is not worth more than an already overpriced settlers expansion. The first time we played, a player won playing within the island, that's how little impact the other islands had. Of course there are other settings and with smaller islands then you are forced to cross the seas, but again, the game play is so similar to the original game, that the added strategy involved, to me, it's not worth the money (even more so if you see how expensive the 5-6 player extension is).

You get to build roads on the sea (but it works mostly the same as land roads, nothing new there except that you can move the last road when still building a water bridge). And there is a new tile (gold) which basically works like a wild card producer (when that number falls you choose which product you want). But that's it in terms of new strategic thinking.

On the plus side, once you read the manual you can quickly explain how to play it and off you go. If you play Catan every week, then I guess it's a small new twist that you might want to have, if like us you play around the Xmas holidays a few times a year...it is really not worth the price and the bother of setting up an even bigger board.

Oh last thing, to top it all, in some of the scenarios you need new cards...and the publisher were so CHEAP they only included them in the manual and ask you to either scan them and print your own or cut them from the manual (which would make really thin cards) for $35 they could have pony up darn proper play cards!!
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