65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2010
The game plays like a mix between Settler of Catan: Cities and Knights and any combo-card playing game. In order to be victorious you will have to manage your resources/trades efficiently but more importantly you will have to get to know the deck. This aspect of the card game differentiates it significantly from the board game, which requires very little memorization of cards going into the game. In Rivals, knowing whats out there and how cards build upon each other to help your principality or hurt your opponent's is key to success.
And there is some depth in here. After only a few games, its been interesting to see how different strategies may lead to victory. In the 'Era of Progress' Game we played, I built expansions that made it cheaper to look at the draw stacks for cards and cheaper to build (other expansions). I also built an accelerated production/trade system with grain to fill the gap in resources I didn't roll. My wife, on the other hand, had the skill point advantage almost the whole game, giving her a free resource whenever Celebration was rolled. She also had an extra Progress Point, allowing one more card in her hand and she had a building that gave her a resource when the Plague event occurred (it does quite often in the Era of Progress). So I focused on trying to make resource production efficient and she focused on getting extra resources and cards. She won! It was 12-11 nail biter.
The "I hate this [...] game" dice factor of SoC is mostly gone as well. The dice can be a bit unfair at times but the fact that you get to produce something on each turn limits the pain a bit. There are also expansions that somewhat counter-act uneven dice rolls. Since there is a much less likely chance that the dice will create a run-away winner, the game will almost always be close and the path to victory will be somewhat nuanced, which is nice.
I like it! For [...] you get a medium length game that you can easily jump into (assuming familiarity with SoC here) that offers some depth, some exciting dice rolls, and just a few accusatory glances from your spouse!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
We received this as a gift while we were waiting for our kids to be old enough for Settlers. We've had it for about a year now and we've easily played at least 3-5 times a week in that year. So it suffices to say that we like Rivals.
Is the gameplay really that spectacular? I don't know, but it is terribly addictive. It is kind of an anomaly that we play this game almost every night and have yet to get tired of it. I think it might be because of the head-to-head nature, because it always leaves one of us thirsting for a re-match. Or maybe because every time you play you're dealt a different hand and have to use a different strategy. There's an essentially unlimited amount of replay value.
We also love that it's so easy to set up. We try for a nightly game of something together after our kids go to bed but we're usually pretty tired. Setting up something like Dominion (much as we love it) just isn't very appealing. I should note that after learning all the rules for Rivals and separating all the crescent cards and dealing the six back in (if it even is six - can't remember), we eventually just quit and now we just shuffle the cards, deal them out, and play with them all at once, so now it's REALLY easy to set up.
The durability seems pretty good. It's mostly been adults handling the cards, but our toddler has definitely gotten in on it from time to time. There are scratches that show when the light hits the cards, but they're not scuffed or peeling or anything. They're still just cards, but not flimsy at all, in my opinion.
If I had one complaint to make about Rivals (aside from the weirdness of seeing Gwyneth Paltrow), it's just the stupid box. It would've been so easy to just make a box with two (or four) identical spaces to hold the cards. No, you get this weird rectangle that really doesn't contain them well at all. It's silly, but it kind of irritates me every time I put it away.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
Well, let me first say my friends and I are Catan addicts! We aren't the standard "Settlers of Catan" board game players. We play with "Seafarers of Catan", "Cities and Knights of Catan", and "Traders and Barbarians of Catan" all together. (Yes the official rules exist for that.) We play every Sunday. I say all that in a way that kind of gives you my credentials. We know Catan inside and out. When I heard the card game was getting rebooted, I thought it seemed intriguing. The more blog posts that came out from the creator (Klaus Teuber), the more I wanted it. The card game is based on a book about the early days of Catan. I have not read the book myself, but I understand that is where many of the hero cards come from.
The game is complex, more so than opening the base board game and playing. But thankfully, the creators made an introductory game where you play to 7 points and get used to the game. Play that a few times before getting into the theme sets. We then played each theme set in the order suggested: Era of Gold, Era of Turmoil, and Era of Progress. Each theme adds elements to the game that causes you to change your strategy. The most vicious one is definitely Era of Turmoil. If you don't get the strength advantage, you can spend your whole time rebuilding what you lost. Eras of Gold and Progress have cards that are more about building yourself up, but there are some devastating events in those themes, too. You better have a really good relationship with the person you are playing against! Ha ha. We did not preview the cards in each theme, preferring to be surprised as they were drawn. We finally played "Duel of the Princes" with all theme sets. To be honest, it was chaotic and we've only played it once. I believe several play throughs of each individual theme are needed before feeling comfortable enough to tackle the whole set.
We've sent off a few questions to Mayfair about vague rules; believe it or not, my first reply was "We don't know; we'll have to get back to you." Ha! So you just have to feel out the game and take your time for the learning curve. I highly recommend doing the interactive tutorial from Professor Easy that is on the rule book.
Mayfair has said expansions are coming, just like there were with the old version of the game. Tournament rules are also due out this year. If each person has their own set, then we'll be able to play with more than 2 players. I'm looking forward to that. My friends and I are just short of saying this is better than the board games, but it is without a doubt equally fun!
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2011
A fun game, but it is not significantly different from the previous Catan Card Game. It is a fun game for two people to play in about an hour. The new version is interesting in that it can be easily customized in a way similar to how expansion packs modified the previous version. (Different series and combinations of cards) If this is the new and improved version, it is improved, but not really new. If you have the first one, it is not worth the upgrade, but if you don't it is a fine investment.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I never played the previous 2 player card game version of Catan, but from what I read - this is a fair improvement. The cost is currently $20, and when you open the box you might be thinking "I just paid how much for this???" But the real value is in the incredible depth of the game rather than in the inclusion of several trinkets.
Oh and an important note: In the rule book they keep talking about the shield icon or some such. My version has a knight icon instead. So after a few frustrating minutes, and the possibility of having to contact Mayfair, we realized the new piece just had a different icon! Update the rule book guys!
I won't get too in depth into the rules. Basically the game is a card based strategy game. You take a starting set and lay out your territory. Then you select some cards for your hand. You then take turns rolling two die, one for a resource and one for an event. You have events such as plentiful harvest (players gain resources), bandit attack, draw event card, and celebration. Each has a unique function. The 1 - 6 die determines which resource(s) the players acquire.
Next the active player uses resources or cards from their hand (typically costing resources). One can either build additions to the kingdom, or play action cards or lay out building or character cards. The action cards typically give the player an immediate bonus (a few can be used before rolling dice or before selecting cards for their hand or drawing region cards and so on). Green cards typically give a permanent bonus and are played on the town or city upgrade spaces. The final two actions are drawing cards up to three (or more if you have bonuses allowing more) and then exchanging one card with another random card from one of the draw piles.
The game has a lot of complexity and a little luck. I would say the luck factor is much lower than people estimate. With smart planning, a character can acquire resources they need or exchange for those they need. There are a few strategies for winning, but the game is won when a person acquires seven victory points and ends their turn. Newcomers might find it easier to build up towns and cities for the inherent victory points. I found gaining trade the most fun and interesting method.
Included are three small expansions. They all add an interesting dynamic to the base game despite just having a handful of cards each.
It's an interesting and immensely fun two player card game with a lot of variety. I highly recommend it for fans of Catan and Dominion. It's easy to learn the basics, but has enough depth that it appeals to players even after several games. The box states 45 - 60 minutes, but I find that most games run about 30 minutes once the rules are well understood. But the length of each game varies and players will play at their own comfortable pace. My only one drawback if there is one is that the square cards are tough to shuffle.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2011
My wife and I really enjoyed Catan and last year we got the card game and expansion packs. We really enjoy those but were looking for something new (always hard to find good 2 person games). I happened to run across this just before Christmas and got it for her.
We really enjoy this version of the card game. It adds a lot of additional variety to the original card game.
I would say if you have the original card game this is a nice addition and if you're debating between the two go with this one (the other might be better once you include the expansion pack, but this one is better "out of the box").
The biggest improvements over the original card game:
1. 5 different variation of the game that you can play with just the contents of the box. No expansion, each of 3 expansions and all the expansions at once. A ton of variety without having to buy an additional "expansion pack".
2. Although games almost always seem to come down to the last 1-2 turns with both versions, Rival of Catan does seem more fair. The draw and event cards are just tweaked a little bit with some new additions that seem to make the game move faster because both players are gaining resources on every turn and their aren't as many.
3. Once you adjust to the new names for the same cards from the original card game, the cards really do make a lot more sense and some of the rule restrictions being lifted just makes for easier play (i.e. being able to use action cards immediately rather then waiting for someone to have 7 victory points helps the game move along faster at the start).
4. The negative cards (ones where you can hurt your opponent) now almost all require certain buildings first. This is great because you have some idea they are coming and take some action to protect yourself rather than wasting time protecting yourself for no reason or never protecting yourself which seemed to be the two strategies in the original card game.
All in all, a great game for two people if you don't mind being just a little dorky while playing games (and really, who shouldn't be proud to be a little dorky, especially when playing games).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2012
I was looking for a two-player game to help take 'Dominion' off our table once in a while. This game is just what the Doctor ordered! For under $20, you get 180 cards, a pair of dice (a Production Die numbered 1-6 and an event die laden with symbols),and a couple of 'Advantage' tokens. The cards are divided into 90 'basic' cards used in the introductory game, and three theme sets, each which can be added sepearately or all three at once. It's like five games in one. Not a bad deal.
The gameplay here moves forward quickly. You lay out your starting principality and start off with two victory points (VP) and one each of wwod, bricks, wheat, sheep, and ore (but no gold). You take three cards (action cards, buildings, ships, and heroes) into your hand. The object is to grow your principality in several ways and obtain 12 VP.
Roads, Settlements, and Cities must be built to give you more VP and additional regions in which to produce resources. A Settlement is worth 1 point, while Cities are worth 2. Buildings and ships will benefit your production and trading (you trade resources with yourself - not your opponent). Some of these also give you VP and/or Trade points and progress pointst. 'Heroes' are also placed in your principality, and give you strength points and skill points which can benefit you in the game on certain die rolls.
Though I'm not a big fan of dice, the dice rolling in this game is fun. The Production die (1-6) denotes which resource you gain for the turn, while the event die will trigger a bonus for one player or the other based on how many skill points or trade points a player has, let you draw a card from the event stack (to be resolved immediately, or produce a Brigand Attack, this game's version of `the thief'!!!
For fans of the Settlers of Catan board game, it should be noted that this game is strictly a 2P game. My personal opinion is that it compares favorably to the board game in that the variety of Buildings, Heroes, Ships, Actions, etc. really add a lot of strategy to the game and minimizes the luck factor of the dice. There's lots of room for decision making in the areas of hand management, resource management, and building strategy.
Best of all, we've NEVER kicked ourselves in the middle of the game, saying 'oh man, we should have played Dominion!' (at least not yet)!!!! My wife and I recommend this game wholeheartedly.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
Ever want to play Settlers but you're short a player? Try this card game! It's a little complicated, and despite having played it several times I still have to refer to the instructions every time. It doesn't get quite the same effect as the original Settlers board game, but it's good clean fun none the less. I really like that they've added two extra sets to keep the game interesting. Like the original game it comes in a high quality box. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the original Settlers game or card games in general.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2011
My family & friends have played the other Catan games quite a bit, this is a nice compromise when there are only 2 that want to play. Like the other Catan games it takes a little bit of focus and a few rounds to really get the hang of it, but after that you should be golden. It is nice that there are other 'story lines' that come with so you don't get burnt out on the same old thing over and over.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
This card game has certain elements like Settlers of Catan, but it is intended for just two people, so my husband and I can enjoy playing Catan together, without having to invite other people over to do so. Although this is a card game, you don't just keep the cards in your hand; you lay cards out in front of you to build something like a board (though there are no game pieces as such). There are a lot of different scenarios that you can play too with different sets of the cards, which keeps things interesting. My only complaint with it would be that sometimes the rules aren't completely clear (for instance, sometimes when the directions say "you" do something, we had to try and decipher if it meant "you" singular, as in the one who rolled the dice, or "you" plural, as in both players).