Sunday, 9 August 2015

011. The Cardboard Cartographer issue 11.

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Welcome to issue 11 of The Cardboard Cartographer.

Editorial.

In this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer we'll be reviewing 'The Settlers of Catan.'
But first I'd like to thank you for visiting our new website!

Each issue we hope to post some news, a game review and talk about topics relevant to table top games, such as mechanics, conventions, Kickstarter and so on.

I'd also like to mention that all opinions in this issue, and all subsequent issues, are those of their respective authors.
Please don't feel like they are a personal attack or an attempt to undermine or void the opinions of others.
Feel free to agree, disagree, debate and discuss, or simply ignore any or all that is written here.
Whatever you do, be civil. Thank you.

If you have any suggestions feel free to comment, email us, or hit us up @TCBCartographer on twitter.

News.

Late Issue.

The Cardboard Cartographer Apologises for the late posting of this issue.
Due to work commitments there was simply not enough time to complete the relevant research and produce the photographs in line with the standard that has been set in previous issues.

The vast majority of the issue remains unchanged from its originally intended format and content, with a few minor tweaks here and there to better represent the details and information surrounding certain things (news and kickstarter projects for example).

Thank you for understanding.
-DH-

Essen Spiel 2015.

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*Edit* - Due to this issue being published later than advertised, this section has been updated to be more accurate with current knowledge about Essen Speil 2015

In the aftermath of Gen Con 2015 the news pretty much links back in with what we have already seen, however, it is time to look forward to the next big table top gaming convention; Essen Spiel 2015.

Held in the town of Essen, Germany, Essen Spiel is one of the biggest events in table top gaming.
Taken from their website;

'SPIEL in Essen means: Four days of fun, meeting friends, playing and testing thousands of games and novelties together with gamers from all over the world. Make up your own mind about the quality of the international gaming market and feel free to buy your favourite ones!'

Like Gen Con, Essen is a convention focused around gaming where the public and industry members gather to announce, preview, release and play games.

Board Game Geek has put together a preview of Games to be featured at the event which can be read here.

Here are a few that we are looking forward too.

Board & Dice.
ExoPlanets.

Cool Mini or Not.
Dogs of War.

Eagle-Gryphone Games.
Empires: Age of Discovery.

Might Box.
Posthuman.

Portal Games.
Neuroshuima Hex! Steel Police.

Z-man Games.
Pandemic Legacy.

Kickstarter.

*These Kickstarter projects were picked for the original posting date of 09/08/2015.
As such some of these projects may have expired since that date.*

IKI: A Game of EDO Artisans.

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Edo was a thriving city with an estimated population of one million, half townspeople and half samurai. With a huge shopping culture, Edo’s main district, Nihonbashi, was lined with shops, selling kimonos, rice, and so much more.
Nihonbashi will be the focus of this game. IKI: A Game of EDO Artisans will bring you on a journey through the famed street of old Tokyo. Hear the voices of Nihonbashi Bridge’s great fish market. Meet the professionals, classing from 700¬-800 different jobs. Enter the interactivity of the shoppers and vendors. Become one with the townspeople.


Ending on August 12th 2015, 'IKI: A Game of Edo Artisans' by Utsuroi is a Kickstarter Staff Pick and has achieved more than double its funding goal of $27,000 currently sitting just over $53,000.

In Iki, players take it in turns to hire vendors and make their way around the main street in Nihonbashi to gather resources and level up their artisans.
Iki's game play is very reminiscent of Euro style games; fundamentally simple actions, but a great deal of depth attached to the choices you make.
Placing vendors in the right places, moving at the right pace and stocking up on one resource at the detriment of another is an important aspect of the game.

Given the Euro-esq nature of Iki it by and large falls to the artwork and graphic design of the game to drive home the theme.
The traditional Japanese art style is a perfect fit.
The inspiration for the game; the Kidai Shoran scroll, can clearly be seen throughout the games artwork, most notably the various Artisans in the game.

I also really like the Deluxe editions.
Making the game board a scroll and having hand painted Kokeshi Dolls to replace the Oya Meeples is a fantastic idea.

The only issue I have is standard fulfillment concerns, especially with the deluxe editions.
Being a new company and having this much success in a first Kickstarter campaign might make production and delivery drag on a lot longer than planned.
The current delivery estimate is November to December, which would seem like a reasonable amount of time, if they can meet that deadline.

Overall I think Iki is a great project, and a refreshing change of pace in a market that seems to be over saturated with theme heavy miniatures games.
Totally worth being the pick of the issue.


New Bedford: The Game of Historic Whaling & Town Building.

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Set in the mid-1800s, the age of whaling, New Bedford gives 1 to 4 players the chance to build the Massachusetts town of the same name into a thriving community.
Gather resources to add buildings with new actions, and launch ships to go whaling.
Go out longest for the best choice, but wait too long and the whales become harder to catch.
And don't forget to pay your crew when ships return!
Carefully balance risk management and timing to earn the most points in this medium-weight worker placement and resource management game.


Ending on August 15th 2015, 'New Bedford: The Game of Historic Whaling & Town Building' by Dice Hate Me Games is sitting pretty at roughly $72,000; almost 3 times their funding goal of $25,000.

New Bedford is a resource management game focused around the whaling industry in which players buy and sell goods, hunt down whales and upgrade the buildings in the town in order to gain the most points.

The theme is an odd one and at first glance would seem to be one backers would shy away from.
Whaling is pretty controversial, and endorsing it would be questionable at best.
New Bedford however does no such thing.
'Over the course of the game, whales become more rare and empty seas more common - an historical reflection of the toll that whaling had on the environment.'
I feel that the whaling mechanic is perfectly justifiable to use in this case, in the same way I think the Slaves are Five Tribes.
The game does not endorse such things, even if using it in the game is beneficial to the player.


The stretch goals for this project are all pretty nice additions to the game and worth unlocking.
The majority are 'mini expansions' which just add more stuff to the game such as another player, more buildings, a solo variant and so on.
My one issue is the 'Upgraded Resources' stretch goal, which is just resources from another company thrown in, instead of actually making their own.

Dice Hate Me games are very experienced when it comes to Kickstarter projects, so I think it is safe to say that the project should be fulfilled in a reasonable time.

There isn't much to say on this project.
I think it looks good, the game play seems like it would be an enjoyable euro-eq experience and the theme is interesting.
Definitely something worth checking out.


Lobotomy Board Game.

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'Lobotomy is a new tabletop game about escaping a psychiatric hospital.
Characters will fight off monsters straight out from the classic horror movies (or maybe just concerned hospital staff?), collect powerful items (or rather random trash?) and recover scraps of memory that unlock new skills and powers (also known as slipping deeper into madness). All that in an anticipation for the final battle against the Chief Hospital Administrator who holds the keys to the asylum and your freedom.'


Endings on August 1st 2015, 'Lobotomy' by Titianforge Games has smashed its funding goal of $40,000 with time to spare.
The funding total is currently $137,093 with 22 days to spare!

Lobotomy is cooperative horror adventure game basses in a mental asylum.
The game is broken into modules, in which players must complete story driven scenarios in order to progress through the game; completing quests, defeating enemies, all in order to confront the Chief Hospital Administrator and ultimately escape.

There isn't a great deal of detail about the game play on the projects page.
What the page has plenty of is details about the 40 miniatures that come in the box and all of the add on and expansion miniatures.
When all is said and done, you're looking at over 80 miniatures.

Obviously this drives up the price, making it $90 + shipping!
That is a lot of money for a game with no explanation about game play.

Moving on to the theme.
The game looks set to be very narrative and between these modules and the miniatures I think it will actually deliver the horror theme relatively well.

That being said, I do have a little bit of an issue with the setting of the game.
A mental asylum is horror staple, but it really shouldn't be.
Pigeonholing people in psychiatric care and people with mental illness as insane, crazy and/or dangerous isn't really constructive, neither is demonising the people and places that offer support and help to those people

With that in mind I still think the game looks like it could be interesting and there is definitely room for a good horror board game.

However Without game play examples I wouldn't feel comfortable backing the project.


'The Settlers of Catan' Review by 'DarKHaZZl3.'

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Google - Fu.

The Settlers of Catan is a game for 3 - 4 players in which players collect resources in order to build settlements and cities on the island of Catan.
Designed by Klaus Teuber and published by Mayfair games, it was first published in 1995 and won the Spiel des Jahres the same year.
Since then it has been re-branded to 'Catan' and had several expansions released as well as different stand alone versions and spin offs.

For more information about the 'world of Catan' head over to the Catan website.

Alternatively you can check out the Catan page on Board Game Geek.

Contents and Impressions.

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• 19 Terrain Hexes,
• 6 Sea Frame Pieces,
• 9 Harbor Pieces,
• 18 Circular Number Tokens,
• 95 Resource Cards (19 of Each Resource: Ore, Grain, Lumber, Wool, Brick,
• 25 Development Cards (14 Knight/Soldier Cards, 6 Progress Cards, 5 Victory Point Cards,
• 4 "Building Costs" Cards,
• 2 Special Cards: "Longest Road" & "Largest Army,"
• 16 Cities (4 of Each Color Shaped like Churches,
• 20 Settlements (5 of Each Color Shaped like Houses,
• 60 Roads (15 of Each Color Shaped like Bars,
• 2 Dice (1 Yellow, 1 Red,
• 1 Robber,
• 1 Games Rules & Almanac Booklet.

*Contents based on the Mayfair 4th edition.*

The majority of the pieces in Catan fit into 3 categories; Cardboard chits, wooden pieces and cards.

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The cardboard chits are simple, plain and elegant.
The artwork isn't ostentatious and exists solely in a representative fashion a supposed to filling out space with theme.

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The cards are the same too.
The resources are simple drawings the convey the type of material to the player and match the colour of their corresponding terrain hexes.

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The wooden pieces are extremely simple, and because of the chosen palate, visually distinct.

There isn't much else to say about the components in this game.

Catan is ground Zero for euro games.
A dry, simple style with little to no theme is an archetype that gained a lot of its momentum from the success of this game.

It is plain and elegant; something you can play without being too caught up in the visuals or narrative to the detriment of enjoying the actual game play.

Game Play.

The objective of Catan is to gain the most victory points.
To do this. players take it in turns to collect and trade resources, construct roads, settlements, cities and development cards in order to expand and thus earn more victory points.

The set up stage of Catan is a little more involved than a lot games.

To set up the island of Catan the sea frame is constructed, and then the hexagonal tiles are randomly distributed inside of that frame.

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The numbered chits are then placed on these hexagonal terrain tiles.
To do this, pick an outside corner of the island and place the chit labelled 'A' on top of it.
Continue this process; placing the chits in alphabetical order and spiraling inwards clockwise, missing out the desert tile.
Once this is done place the robber pawn on the desert space.

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Distribute the coloured sets of roads, settlements and cities with corresponding building cost cards among the players.

In our example we have 3 players.

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Once this is done determine which player is going to go first.
Starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, players choose a location on the board to place a settlement and a road connected to it.

There are some important rules to take into account when placing settlements.
A settlement must be placed on the corner of a hexagonal terrain tile; this may connect to other tiles and/ or the sea.
A settlement cannot be placed one space away from another settlement, therefore must be placed a minimum of 2 spaces away from any other settlement.

In our example the red player is going first.

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Our second player is blue.

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Our third player is white.

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As this example shows, the blue and white players have complied with the rule on placing settlements, as they are at least 2 spaces away from each other.

Once each player has placed 1 settlement, players they place another settlement and connecting road, this time in reverse order.
Once this settlement has been placed the controlling player collects the resources connected to that settlement.

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In our example the white player places their second city and collects 1 lumber, 1 wool and 1 ore.

After each player has finished placing their second settlement and collecting the corresponding resources the game is ready to be played.

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The game does not have rounds, but consists of player turns, which continue indefinitely until someone reaches the victory point threshold.

A player turn works in the following way.

First the player whose turn it is rolls the dice.

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Depending one the number rolled, depends on the resources collected.
The likelihood of a number being rolled is indicated by the amount of dots underneath the number.

In our example an 8 has been rolled.
The 8's have five dots and are red.
This signifies that there are 5 possible combinations on two dice that make up the number 8.

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As there are two locations numbered 8, both of these activate.
This means that the red player receives 1 lumber resource card and the white player receives 1 wool resource card.
Only players who have a settlement/ city touching the hexagonal tile with the number on it that matches the dice gain resources from it.

There are 5 possible resources to collect;
Lumber, Grain, Wool, Ore and Brick.

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The only number combination that is not shown on the numbered chits is 7, which is coincidentally is the most probable outcome.

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If a seven is rolled any player with 8 or more resource cards must chose half of them 9 (rounded up) to the relevant pile.

After the affected players have done this the player who rolled the seven must move the robber to another hexagonal terrain tile.

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When a player does this they chose 1 person from those players with a settlement and/ or city touching the tile to steal 1 card from.

In addition to this, that tie becomes blocked and will not generate resources when the number is rolled until the robber is moved to another tile.

Once all of the effects of the dice are resolved, the player whose turn it is may now perform one of several actions.

One of these actions is build.

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The purpose of the resources collected through the first part of the turn is to build a mixture of road, settlements, cities and development cards in order to gain victory points.
as such building is a hugely important part of the game, and the one players have the most direct control over.

The available building options are as follows:

Roads.

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A road costs 1 brick and 1 lumber to build.
When placing a built road it must connect to a per-existing road, settlement and/ or city of that players colour.
Roads are placed on the straight edges of the hexagonal terrain tiles.

The main reason to build roads is to open up the possibility of building more settlements.

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In addition to this, there are 2 bonus victory points for the player controlling the longest road.

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To gain longest road a player must have an unbroken road of at least 5 segments.
If someone already has these bonus points another player would have to exceed the total unbroken road segments in that 'longest road.'

Settlements.

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A settlement costs 1 brick, 1 lumber, 1 grain and 1 wool to build and is worth 1 victory point each.

A settlement must be placed on the corner of a hexagonal terrain tile; this may connect to other tiles and/ or the sea.
A settlement cannot be placed one space away from another settlement, therefore must be placed a minimum of 2 spaces away from any other settlement.
A the new settlements location must connect to a road of that players colour.

In our example the red player is building a new settlement.

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This is a valid location as it on the corner of a hexagonal terrain tile, at least 2 spaces away from any other settlement and connects to a red road.

Cities.

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A city costs 2 gain and 3 ore to build and is worth 2 victory points each.
A city is an upgrade for a pre-existsing settlement.

In our example blue is building a city.

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As well as providing extra victory points, cities produce 2 resources instead of the usual 1 when a connected hexagonal terrain tile's number is rolled.

Development cards.

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A development card costs 1 wool, 1 grain and 1 ore to build and are drawn face down from the top of the development card deck.
Develoment cards cannot be stolen or traded.

There are several types of development card.

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Victory point cards provide 1 victory point to the player who obtained the card.
these remain face down until the controlling player has enough points to win the game.

Feature cards have special actions depending on the card.
These simply do the action described on the card

Knight cards activate the robber pawn.

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The player who has played the knight card moves the robber to any location and steals a resource in the same way as if a seven had been rolled.
Players do not discard their card from their hand in a knight has been played.

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In our example the knight has been played, and subsequently moved from the 9 location, to the 6 location.
This blocks both the blue player and the white player who have settlement and cities connected to this hexagonal terrain tile.

In addition to this the first player to play three knight cards gains largest army.

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The largest army provides the controlling player with 2 bonus victory points.
To taken largest army from another player, the amount of knight they have must be exceeded.


With the exception of the victory point card, all development cards can only be played at the start of a players turn, immediately after they have rolled the dice.
This means it is impossible to play a development card on the turn it is bought.


As well as playing development cards and building, players may also trade.

There are several trading options available, and a player may instigate as may trades as they see fit on their turn.
The other plyaer must wait until it is their turn to offer trades, but may negotiate and accept/ decline trade offer form the play whose turn it is currently.

Trading with the bank.

A player may trade 4 of the same resource for any single resource of their choosing.

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Trading with ports.

Trading with ports is similar to trading with the bank, however there are some key differences.

The first aspect of trading with ports is that a player musts have a settlement or city on one of the two corners that connect to a bay where the ports are located.

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The second aspect is the amount and type of resources being traded, which is determined by the type of port begin traded with.

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The 3:1 ports with a question mark indicates that a player may trade 3 of the same resource for any single resource.

The 2:1 ports indicate that a player may trade 2 of the resource shown for any single resource.

Trading with people.

On their turn, a player may propose a trade to the other players.
Only the player whose turn it is may instigate a trade, but all players may negotiate with that player.

These trades can be simple 1:1 or anything above and beyond.


Any amount and combination of build actions and trades can be taken in a players turn, so long as they are able to afford the resource cost


Players continue taking it in turns rolling dice, playing development cards, building and trading until one player reaches 10 victory points, at which point the game ends immediately.

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In our example the blue player reached 10 victory points first and therefore wins with 4 cities and the longest road.
The Red player had 9 victory points with 3 settlements, 2 cities, largest army and a victory point development card.
The White player also had 9 victory point with 2 settlements, 2 cities and 3 victory point development cards.


Personal Opinion.

It almost seems 'cool' to hate Catan these days.
It seems easy to forget just how revolutionary Catan was when it was released in 1995.

The awards it has received should serve as a reminder;

2012 JoTa — Best Game Released in Brazil (Critic Award)
2011 Ludo Award Winner
2008 BoardGamer.ru Recommendation.
2006 Origins Awards Winner, Game Accessory of the Year (for Catan: Event Cards).
2005 Gra Roku Winner.
2004 Hra roku Winner.
1996 Origins Awards Winner, Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board Game.
1995 Deutscher Spiele Preis Winner.
1995 Essener Feder Winner.
1995 Meeples' Choice Award Winner.
1995 Spiel des Jahres Winner.
Games Magazine Hall of Fame Inductee.

Catan is a classic.
It is simple, it is elegant and it is engaging without being loud, silly or over the top.

The games mechanics keep everyone involved throughout the game, even those new player who have very little experience.
Games are relatively short in comparison to a lot of modern games, but don't feel lacking in substance for it.

Yes it is dry, but as one of the first games in the now widespread Euro style it is allowed ot be, and honestly, simple thin themes are better than pasted on these that add nothing of value to the game.

No game is perfect, though it is very hard to pick holes with Catan as every flaw I can think of seem intentional.
The random nature of dice rolls can be irritating but it is intended to make up for the experience gap.
The scarcity of a single type of resource drives the trading mechanic and creates a mini economy within the game.

So yes, it may be 'cool' to not like Catan, but I think people should stop trying to be cool and simply let themselves enjoy the game.
There are very few that feel as solid as Catan does.


Expansions, Reprints and Different Versions.

With Catan's seemingly never ending success, it is unsurprising that it would have expansions and variants.

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As there are so many we'll only be talking about on in depth today, and that is the 5-6 player expansion for the base game

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The 5-6 Player expansion adds a handful of new components;

•11 Terrain Hexes (1 Desert; 2 Fields; 2 Forest; 2 Pasture; 2 Mountains; 2 Hills)
•2 Frame Pieces with Harbors (1 3:1; 1 Wool)
•2 All-Sea Frame Pieces
•2 Sets of Wooden Playing Pieces:
o10 Settlements (5 x 2 Colors)
o8 Cities (4 x 2 Colors)
o30 Roads (15 x 2 Colors)
•25 Resource Cards (5 Lumber; 5 Grain; 5 Wool; 5 Brick; 5 Ore)
•9 Development Cards (6 Knight Cards; 1 Monopoly Card; 1 Year of Plenty Card; 1 Road Building Card)
•2 Blank Cards & 1 Blank Hex
•2 "Building Costs" Cards
•28 Circular Numbered Tokens
•Rules

There components are identical to the base game, with the exception of some additional colours and some additional numbered chits to account for the added terrain hexes.

The set up for the game is similar too, with the island of Catan being slightly extended.

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The rules have also been altered slightly to compensate for the extra players.

The difference is that once a player ended their turn there is a special build phase before the next players turn.
In this build phase every player is allowed to build freely, but cannot play development cards or trade.

Overall I can see why this has been implemented; if a player had to wait 5 rolls of the dice before getting to take a turn the chances of them losing half of their cards to the robber and/or knight card sis very high.
The addition of this phase mitigates that risk.

In addition to this, the special build phase aims to reduce player downtime.

Even with these factors in mind I'm not the biggest fan of it.
While it is meant to 'mitigate' the risk of the robber, I would argue that it negates it.
Being able to build every turn means you really shouldn't have many cards left, especially if you trade well.

Personally I don't think Catan is bets played with 5-6 players, I'd stick with the base game.
If you have 5+ players, play something else, unless you really feel the need to play Catan.


As for the rest of the expansions, the extent of these is slightly mind boggling.

The base game has 4 expansions;
Seafaraes - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-seafarers-expansion
Cities & Knights - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-cities-knights-expansion
Traders & Barbarians - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-cities-knights-expansion
Explorers & Pirates - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-explorers-pirates-expansion

Each of these has an 5-6 player expansion like the bases game.

On top of these expansions there are the Stand alone and Spin off titles

Ancient Egypt - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-ancient-egypt
Family Edition - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-family-edition
Star Trek - http://www.catan.com/game/star-trek-catan
Geographies - Germany - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-geographies-germany
Settlers of America - http://www.catan.com/game/settlers-america-trails-rails
Merchants of Europe - http://www.catan.com/game/merchants-europe
Catan Junior - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-junior
The Kids of Catan - http://www.catan.com/game/kids-catan

There is also a 2 player card game

The Rivals of Catan - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-ancient-egypt

This also has 2 expansions
Age of Darkness - http://www.catan.com/game/rivals-catan-age-darkness
Age of Enlightenment - http://www.catan.com/game/rivals-catan-age-enlightenment

There are also a few 'light' versions.

Catan Traveler - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-traveler
The Struggle for Catan - http://www.catan.com/game/struggle-catan
Catan Dice Game - http://www.catan.com/game/catan-dice-game-standard-edition


Digital Spotlight.

There are several digital versions of Catan available, all of which can be found on the Electronic games section of the Catan website.

All of these versions play in a very similar manner, and all have the Seafarers and Cities and Knights expansions available (as in game/app purchases.

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The game play is pretty solid and even with touch screen fairly easy to navigate.
Overall a solid implementation of the game.


Outro.

What did you think of this issue? Pro's, Con's?
Did any other Kickstarter projects grab your attention?

Have you played Catan, or any of the expansions or different versions?
What do you think?

Feel free to comment on this post, or alternatively hit us up on twitter @TCBCartographer

Thank you for reading this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer, until next time!