Friday, March 14, 2014

Kosmos Two Player Game Series - The Settlers of Catan Card Game by Klaus Teuber

The hugely successful board game The Settlers of Catan was the first Euro to make it big in America. Not surprisingly, one of its many iterations is a two player card game.

Our copy of this game is so old that we have the German version, purchased before the English version had been released. This, of course, presents some challenge as the event cards are all in German. A couple of translation sheets I created years ago made that a minor issue (and there are many more available on BGG).

The card game has most of the elements of the board game, with some clever additional mechanisms. Each player starts with two settlements surrounded by six resource tiles, one each of wool, brick, wood, ore, grain and gold. Each card has a different die face and after rolling a die at the start of your turn you receive the appropriate resource. Cleverly, to keep track of your resources, you rotate the tile, showing zero to three of that resource.

Two settlements and their surrounding resources

The first thing you do on your turn is roll two dice.  One gives you resources as above, the other causes an event, either drawing and using an event card, activating the thief, causing a comparison of knight or mill values, or giving each player a resource of their choice. Once that is resolved, a player can trade resources with the other player, build buildings in his settlements and cities, play special action cards, add roads which then lead to building new settlements (with new resource tiles), or upgrade a settlement to a city. All of these actions cost resources but may add additional resources or victory points to your principality. Settlements are worth one victory point, cities worth two, and a variety of buildings also add points as well as give you special powers. The player with the most knight points (from played knight cards) or mill points (from some buildings) captures the appropriate wooden block, each of which is also worth a victory point. The first player to twelve points wins.

It's been a long time since I've played this game and I really enjoyed it. There are a wide variety of options each turn and building out your principality is fun. The game does take a huge amount of table space (compare it to Ingenious to see the true range of the Kosmos two player series). I focused on building harbors which gave me a discount in trading resources with the bank while Carol built buildings which doubled the production of some resource tiles. We both jockeyed for the two wooden blocks. Unfortunately, the game is a bit long. Carol and I played for over an hour the first night and had to pause the game while we were both at six points.

The end is near

We came back the next night and the rest of the game went surprisingly fast. Carol upgraded settlements to cities, played buildings with victory points and quickly reached eleven. I managed to wrest control of the knight and commerce blocks, reaching ten points, but it was too late. Carol built a new building with one victory point and won.

Final scores:

     Carol    12
     Bob      10

Coming up:  We go hunting for wabbits (actually bears and foxes) in Tally Ho!

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