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...
on April 14, 2008
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.
on August 9, 2009
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.
on May 7, 2010
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!
on March 6, 2015
Catan doesn't hit our table much. But when it does, this expansion is a MUST!
How it makes the game different:
1) city walls: allow you to add +2 to your hand limit when a 7 is rolled. There are a total of 3 city walls for each player, so if you play them all, your hand size limit will be 13
2) in addition to the 5 resources, there are now 3 commodities: paper, cloth, and coin. If you have a city on a wood number, you will produce one wood and one paper. If you have a city on a sheep number, you will produce one sheep and one cloth. If you have your city on an ore number, you will produce and ore and a coin. Wheat and brick produce per normal.
3) with these 3 new commodities, you can buy upgrades to your buildings, which give you special abilities, and also allow you to win cards for free with certain dice rolls. The cards are much, much better than development cards! a LOT more powerful.
4) development cards are not used, rather they are replaced by 3 stacks of new cards, each one corresponding to the new commodities paper, cloth, and coin.
5) each player also gets 6 knights to play on the board. The knights have many abilities. a) they can chase away a robber as if a 7 was rolled. you can then place the robber anywhere you want, stealing cards from EVERYONE who is adjacent to that hex. b) the robber can block other people in a race to get a road placed. c) they can fight away the barbarians (to be explained later). knights move along your own roads taking actions when they are active.
6. there are barbarians who slowly make their way toward catan. When they reach Catan, the barbarians fight all activated knights on the board. all players fight together against the barbarians. The player's total score is the total number of activated knight points. The barbarians score is total number of cities on the board. If there are more cities than activated knights on the board, the barbarians win and the person with the fewest knights fighting has to lose a city and replace it with a settlement. If there are more activated knights than cities on the board, the players win. The player with the most knights wins a victory point. If there is a tie for most knights, each player gets a powerful card for free.
7. It is also possible to earn a metropolis. This is placed over one of your cities, and counts as 4 points total. This also makes your city indestructible in case of a loss to the barbarians.
8. Victory is achieved at 13 points.
As you can see, this really changes the game. It takes a game that used to be really good (but got overplayed) and really refreshes it, giving it so much more to think about. There are many options, a lot to consider. I will ALWAYS play the game with this expansion. It just adds so much depth to the game. If you used to love catan but got burnt out on it, this may renew that first love you had for the game. If you currently still love catan, then this is a great addition. It still feels like catan. It is just SOOOO much better! SEAFARERS of catan is just ok. it doesn't change the feel of the game much at all. But this one is GREAT. BUY IT!
on August 3, 2016
Our family loves Catan and the Cities and Knights expansion is just fantastic. It’s everything you love about the original Catan, with additional resources and complexities. The expansion allows you to customize the game size depending on how much Catan you want to play. With Cities and Knights, you get additional resources depending on which hexes you have cities built on. Cities on the wood hex get paper resource, sheep get cloth, and ore gets coin. With these new resources, players can “upgrade” their cities to get more development cards. The development cards also have more options to enhance the gameplay. This expansion is a little more intense than the Seafarers expansion, but I enjoy the added complexity, once I understood it. The new pieces are the same quality as the original game and the colors match the original pieces. The resource sectors are also a good match with the original. The gold sectors look a little different from the original, but not so different that you can’t tell it’s a gold sector. My only complaint, if you could call it that, is that the ocean border pieces don’t fit together perfectly, and sometimes slide apart from each other, causing the internal sectors in the rest of the game to shift slightly out and away from each other. This is easily solved by just being a little careful with the pieces and the dice, to prevent shift and slide. With all these pieces, though, I can definitely see why people need a single box to hold all their Catan expansion pieces and parts. We had to purchase one ourselves, keeping in mind that we don’t have all the expansions yet, and will need expandable room to add the others as we buy them. All in all, we really enjoy playing the Cities and Knights expansion.
on January 12, 2015
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.
on January 6, 2015
Our new favorite. And you clan play this with the Seafarers expansion!
Great game, but be wary, took us about and hr to read the instructions (not including the almanac, and then about 3 hrs for the game (3 of us) the first time. We are still getting used to it, but this adds a whole bunch of complexity and depth. Our games are still about 2.5 hrs, vs the 1-1.5 hrs for seafarers.
on May 15, 2015
One of my all time favorite games. This makes Settlers of Catan look like an old boring game. Adds just enough strategy to the game with multiple ways of gathering enough points to win. It is definitely more cut-throat than Settlers as well.
on January 12, 2015
This is probably the best Settlers of Catan expansion. However, I only recommend it to people who have played the base Settlers of Catan game several times, because it adds a lot of new elements which could be confusing to new players.