Catan: Seafarers is the first big box expansion for the Settlers Of Catan board game.
While Settlers Of Catan is a complete game in itself, Seafarers adds new elements which expand the possibilities of the base box.
Seafarers also allows players the option of playing The Settlers Of Catan according to a set of linked scenarios, or simply approaching it as an expanded version of the base game.
Seafarers introduces new elements to Catan as well as individual scenarios which allow players to choose how they would like to play the game.
The Seafarers box adds sea hexes, ships, gold, a pirate and Catan chits, as well as a branching narrative for exploring the history of the main island of Catan.
The Seafarers Of Catan was the first published expansion to what was then called The Settlers Of Catan.
The name of the game has since been changed, so The Settlers Of Catan is now Catan, and this expansion is now called Catan: Seafarers.
The Catan board game has acquired a number of different types of expansions over the years, and Seafarers is one of the big box additions to the core game, comprising many different elements.
The Seafarers expansion set is the first Catan expansion a player should consider buying if they are looking to broaden the range of options and strategic opportunities that the base game offers.
Seafarers takes the rules and components of the original game, which is required to play it, and introduces various extra elements without altering the core rules.
Although playing Catan with the Seafarers expansion is definitely not the same game as the core version, it does mean that players can adapt to the new content without having to learn many new rules.
Seafarers adds various new elements to Catan, which expand the possibilities of the original game.
The most important change from the original board game is that Catan: Seafarers is played across a series of different scenarios which tell the story of Catan from its beginnings to its expansion and interaction with other cultures.
The many varied scenarios offer an entirely new way to play Catan, and present the players with various different challenges which they can work through in sequence to fire their own imagination.
The rules suggest that instead of playing through the scenarios in order, players instead follow certain narrative arcs to follow the growing story of Catan.
Whichever narrative arc is chosen, Heading For New Shores is always suggested as the first scenario to play, as it introduces players to the new elements gently, while also encouraging them to explore new islands.
After playing the first scenario, players can then choose from four narrative arcs which each move on from the initial adventure.
The Seafarers booklet provides detailed instructions for each adventure, as well as scenario diagrams for different player couts.
One arc continues with The Fog Islands and The Pirate Islands, another continues with The Four Islands and Through The Desert, a third continues with The Forgotten Tribes and Cloth For Catan, while the last simply progresses to The Wonders Of Catan.
The challenges in the Seafarers scenarios vary widely in what they ask the players to do.
In one scenario players might be bold seafaring settlers leaving their home island and exploring entirely uncharted regions, while in another they might build ships to go on an epic quest to discover a mysterious forgotten tribe and uncover precious gold fields.
Other scenarios encourage players to build the most imposing wonders or to leave Catan and set sail for neighboring islands in order to settle new lands.
Other new additions to the Catan board game are:
- Sea hexes
- A pirate
- Catan chits
- Trade routes
As one might expect from the name of the expansion, Seafarers adds sea hexes to the resource tiles from the first game.
The sea hexes are blank sea tiles and produce no resources, but may be crossed with ships and occupied by the pirate.
Each player begins a game of Seafarers with a supply of ships, and may build one for one wool and one lumber.
Ships are placed to form a shipping route heading out from the home island to explore new regions and are placed in a similar manner to roads.
Ships may be linked to the owning player’s settlement or attached to any one of their existing ships to form sea lanes.
Ships may only be built at sea or along coastlines, so between a land hex and a sea hex, but never between two land hexes.
Along with the sea hexes and ships comes the pirate, who brings trouble to the peaceful seas and acts in a similar manner to the robber.
When the pirate is placed on a sea hex, no ships may be built along that hex.
The pirate also prevents ships in adjacent sea lanes from moving away from the hex on which he is positioned.
Just like the robber, if the pirate is moved, the player whose turn it is may take a random resource from any player who has a ship bordering that hex.
Catan chits also appear in Seafarers, and these are used mainly to denote extra ways to obtain points.
Usually Catan chits are awarded to players when they build a settlement on a new island, but the way to receive special victory points they represent can change from one scenario to the next.
The Seafarers expansion changes the Longest Road card from the base Catan game, instead referring to it as the longest trade route, which is any combination either of roads, ships or both.
Lastly, Seafarers includes precious gold fields, which are hexes which produce resources of a player’s choice if they have built next to them when their number is rolled.
A settlement allows a player to choose any single resource, while a city will yield any two resources, either the same or different.
Catan: Seafarers comes with various pieces that may be combined with the original Catan board game, including:
- 6 frame pieces
- 19 sea hexes
- 11 additional hexes for terrain (gold, desert, fields, forest, pasture, mountains and hills)
- 50 Catan chits
- 10 number tokens
- 10 harbour tokens
- 60 wooden ships (15 for each player)
- 1 pirate ship
- 1 booklet containing the rules and scenarios
The frame pieces are used to keep the hexes in place, and are added to those from the original Catan to provide the playing area for each scenario.
The instructions on how to assemble frames is in the description of each scenario, and ensures that the board is the right size for the number of players at the table.
The new number tokens work in exactly the same way as those from the base Catan game, and are added to the pool to reflect the larger maps used in Seafarers.
Each scenario details how these should be used during set up, as well as which ones should be left out if playing with fewer players.
Extra harbour tokens are included in Seafarers in order to reflect the larger boards and, as with the number tokens, these work in the same way as in Catan, allowing players to make cunning trades at a discount in order to avoid giving an advantage to their opponents.
Seafarers comes with new pieces for the original Catan board, as well as extra player pieces.
Seafarers also includes several elements that are used in addition to Catan and which serve to increase the complexity of this version slightly when compared to the original.
Seafarers is not a standalone expansion, which means that it is not a self-sufficient box.
In other words, to play Catan: Seafarers it is essential to own the original Catan box already.
Although there are different editions of the game and its expansions, either of the modern editions will work with the other without too much difficulty, although all new copies are now of the current fifth edition.
Anybody who has the feeling that Catan is not quite a complete game should consider adding Seafarers to their collection, especially if this is a game that you play often.
Alternatively, if you think that Catan is a great game and enjoy pulling off cunning trades to emerge the victor then you should also consider adding this to the experience.
Seafarers adds value to the original game as well as expanding its possibilities significantly, and should be regarded as an essential addition for anybody who enjoys Catan, or for anybody for whom the idea of an epic quest for new lands is exciting.
Seafarers takes the standard layout of the original and instead mixes it up and allows it to be different every time.
A world of varied scenarios and bold seafaring settlers awaits, allowing you to build ships to strike out from your magnificent island world.