Please note, this is an expansion to bring further oceans and explorations to the original Catan game.
The Seafarers expansion contains new frame pieces, which can be used to assemble frames of variable size. In these frames, you lay out combinations of islands that are always different, using the hexes from the Catan base game and additional hexes from the expansion set – either as shown in the scenario diagrams or according to your own imagination.
15 ships of each colour are included. Building a ship costs 1 lumber and 1 wool. When you build a new ship, place it adjacent to a coastal settlement or a ship you have already built. As you can see, the rules for placing ships are similar to the rules for placing roads on land.
There is, however, one important exception: you may change the position of the front ships of a shipping route! That way, you can respond more flexibly to your opponents’ actions and possibly be the first to reach an unsettled, productive island.
Other new features are the gold fields, which help their neighbours obtain any type of resource, and the pirate, who causes unrest on the peaceful seas.
Catan: Seafarers is a popular expansion of the original Catan board game, creating more (sea-based) scenarios and the inclusion of ships, gold fields, and a pirate. Therefore, not only will you and your friends play this fascinating board game in multiple scenarios, but you will also be able to do it across several islands while trying to defend your achievements against the dreaded pirate.
The board game was released in 1997. At the time, it was the first expansion of The Settlers of Catan under the name, “The Seafarers of Catan.” Aside from the many different scenarios available for the game, an extension can increase the number of players between 5 and 6 players.
The Seafarers’ board game is set on multiple islands, giving you and your friends the option of exploring both lands and seas. But you have to think intellectually and trade smartly while praying for a sprinkle of luck every time you roll the dice. Rolling the dice gives you the chance to collect resources, just like in the Catan base game. However, the resources in Seafarers have been renamed “wool,” “grain,” “ore,” “brick,” and “lumber.”
Setting up the board for a Seafarers game is slightly different from a Catan board game and a little more complicated as each scenario requires the board to be set up differently.
But basically, you need to first connect the frame or edge pieces by bringing the ones with matching numbers together. Remember that the edge pieces are those with water, ports, and harbours printed on them.
Next, you need to lay the 30 hexagonal tiles (some with the resources on them) in place, starting from the edge towards the middle. There are 19 sea hexagonal tiles and 11 terrain hexagonal tiles. Depending on the scenarios you and your friends intend to play, you may lay all the hexagonal tiles to build the board, or turn some tiles upside down, or even wholly omit some tiles from the start of the game to signify an unexplored land.
Once you have appropriately built your board based on the scenario, you can then place the number pieces (also known as round tokens) on the tiles. This step is often done randomly, but consciously enough to avoid having numbers of the same colour next to each other.
Then, you will need to shuffle the harbour tokens, randomly select them, and lay them across the board as indicated by the scenario diagram.
Next, place the pirate beside the game board. Some Seafarers scenarios do not feature the robber at all. Other situations feature the robber but don’t feature a desert. In a case where there is no desert where the robber can stand at the start of the game, you can simply place the beside the game board like the pirate.
You may then arrange the cards in separate decks beside the board; the five different resource cards in their separate decks, and the development cards separately.
Each player then gets the same allocations of settlements and roads and, once it has been decided who the first player should be, proceeds to place their settlement and trails on the board, wherever they choose, starting with the first player.
How to Play
The rules for playing Seafarers are basically the same as that of the base game. When you get your turn, you may first play a development card, then roll the dice after it is resolved. If the rolled number corresponds to the number on a tile you have built a settlement or city next to, you will receive 1 or 2 resource cards for settlement or city, respectively.
If the number you rolled corresponds to the number on a gold field tile and you have a settlement adjacent to that tile, you can receive any resource card of your choice. You get two resource cards of your choice if you have a city adjacent to the gold field tile.
If you rolled a 7, you might move the pirate (or the robber, depending on the scenario) to any tile. But, remember that the pirate can only be moved to a sea tile. You can then proceed to blindly steal a resource card from whichever player has a ship adjacent to the tile where you have moved the pirate or robber. The robbed player will not be able to produce anything afterward until they have played a knight card to move the pirate or robber.
The resource cards you gather will be used to build and develop your settlement across the islands. You can build ships and sail to uninhabited islands.
Building a new ship requires one wool and one lumber resource cards. And being the first player to settle on a new island will earn you unique victory points.
How to Win
To win in a game of Seafarers, you will need to be the first to make ten victory points and be the first to fulfil specific tasks that are unique to each scenario.
Whenever you earn a unique victory point, you will receive a Catan chit that you will place under the settlement or city you have used to achieve that point. This move will let other players know how many points you have earned and exactly how you earned them.
Scenarios: The Four Islands, The Fog Islands, Heading for New Shores, Through the Desert, The Forgotten Tribe, Cloth for Catan, The Pirate Islands, The Wonders of Catan, and The New World.
The Catan: Seafarers expansion gives you a chance to dominate both land and sea. However, you need to have a good knowledge of the base game and then combine that with a good strategy, smart trading and tactical skills, and some luck. So good luck on your sea journey!