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Settlers of Catan expansion challenges players with extended features

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Explorers and Pirates boasts five mini game modes with different ways to play the unexplored islands.

Sailing the ocean with a crew of sailors, an epic battle with pirates on their home turf, and trade with foreign settlements is all possible in the Settlers of Catan expansion, Explorers and Pirates.

This expansion of Catan adds pieces such as ships, pirates raiders, fishing harbors, settlers, spice sacks, fishing hauls and gold. Additional pirate lairs, foreign civilizations and fishing hexes allow players to incorporate new ways to win the game.

The game board is made up of hexagonal land and water pieces to form a singular large hexagon. In this game, players transport settlers across the ocean to populate new lands, explore and conquer pirates, and trade with foreign civilizations.

A new aspect of the game, which is crucial to victory, is the ability to move and transport items with ships. If a player can move their ships smarter than their opponent they will be almost guaranteed a victory. Each player may move any number of their ships four spaces (lines in between hexes) per turn. One ship costs one wood and one sheep and may hold two smaller items such as spice sacks and crew members or one large piece like a fishing haul or settler.

In the original Settlers of Catan, the only way to build a new settlement is to build two roads and place the settlement at the end of the two roads, but in this expansion three islands are separated by an ocean. Because roads cannot be build in the ocean, players have to find a way to move across to the other islands.

That is where settlers come in handy. If a ship with a settler on it is touching the corner of a discovered hex on another island, the player takes the ship and settler back to their hand and place a settlement where the ship was pointing.

To start off the game, each player rolls one die with the player rolling a higher number going first. I rolled a four and my dad rolled a six, so he started off the game. On the first couple of turns of the game, each player places their first settlement followed by a fishing harbor and road which attaches to their settlement.

My dad placed his settlement towards the top of the first island, fishing harbor on the bottom, and his road leading from his settlement to his harbor. I did the exact opposite and placed my settlement on the bottom, harbor towards the top and my road leading to my harbor.

After everyone places their first pieces, they collect the resources that go with the hexes around their settlement. These first cards are a player’s first hand. The cards’ players gather during the game which allows them to build more roads, settlements, fishing harbors and boats.

In the unexplored islands of the board there are five types of possible tiles: fishing shoals, pirate lairs, trade civilizations, ocean and regular land hexes. The way to uncover these hexes is when a player’s boat faces a corner of an unexplored (not yet flipped over) hex.

When this happens, the tile flips over and shows whether the tile needs special attention or not, and the boat that discovered the hex cannot move for the remainder of the turn. When the tile flipped is a pirate lair, fishing shoal, or trade civilization, the player who discovered it gains two gold.

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The expanded board and unexplored islands force players to make difficult decisions about new aspects of the game.

Pirate lairs are a new addition to the Catan world where players interact with the board as if they are attacking the pirates on their hex. When the hex is revealed, the player who revealed it with their boat gains two gold and the boat cannot move any further for the turn.

The crew (the characters that look like people) pieces in your stockpile are the only pieces that can affect the pirate lairs once they are flipped over. To build a crew, players need to pay one wood and one sheep card from their hand and place the new crew member in one of their fishing harbors or in a boat connected to one of the fishing harbors.

One fun experience I had with my dad was fighting over fish. When one of us was next to a fishing shoal at the end of our turn we would roll for fish for fun. We were so frustrated when the fish actually ended up right next to the other person and on their next turn drops it off for the gold.

If you’re playing the full version with all of the pieces, the way to win the game is to gather 17 total victory points. Victory points are accumulated in the following ways: settlements (one point), cities (two points), fishing harbors (two points), and the point boards for spices, fish, and pirate lairs(1-3 points). This all depends on how many of the said addition you complete.

This game can be purchased on Amazon for $55.

For another game review, read Settlers of Catan tests player’s strategic prowess. For another article, read Editorial: Compete with peers, avoid comparison.

Cohl Obwald can be reached via email or Twitter.

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