Creating and using a kit for a two to six player game of the New World variant of The Seafarers Of Catan.
In the opinion of this author, The Seafarers Of Catan is a superior game to basic Settlers, which removed boats in order to simplify the game (and perhaps create a market for the "expansion set" to restore the full original rules). However, one problem with Seafarers is that it's tedious to set up, as you have to construct the board based on diagrams in the rulebook for the scenario you want to play, and since each scenario uses a different set of components (and different components for different numbers of players), assembling everything can be annoyingly time-consuming.
The New World Seafarers Kit attempts to streamline that setup time. The key is that the components needed to play with any number of players (from two to six) are separated out after the last game, and are thus easy to assemble quickly at the start of the next game. In particular, everything you need to play with two players is in one bag, and the components needed to add a third, fourth, fifth, and six player are each in their own bag. Empty the right bags onto the table, set it all up, and you're ready to go, with no need to rummage through piles of cardboard looking for the right bits.
The Seafarers scenario "The New World" was chosen as the basis for the kit because it can be described entirely without diagrams, making it both compact to define and easy to set up.
(Note that the two-player version listed below has not been playtested. If you try it, please let me know how it goes... Thanks!)
The board is laid out in the shape of a rectangle, with seven rows of hexes (four long rows, three short ones). The long rows are each five hexes long in the two-player game, and a hex is added to each row (i.e. seven hexes total) for each additional player.
Lay out all the hexes randomly. Doing this with the hexes face up can save some time, if you can do it without being influenced by seeing the hexes as you go. If all the players help out, it's pretty hard for anyone to deliberately tamper with the layout.
Orient the ports according to the following rules:
If either rule can't be met, swap the port with a water hex such that both rules can be met. If a given port can be oriented in more than one way and still meet both rules, pick an orientation. You can also orient and rearrange the ports to balance out their locations on the map, if you like.
Deal out the number chips onto the land hexes. No two adjacent hexes can end up with a red chip (one with a six or an eight), so if there are any such pairs, swap one of them with a chip from another hex.
Players may build their initial settlements on any corner, and may build either a road or a boat adjacent to each settlement. The island or islands on which a player builds their initial settlements are their home islands.
Each player earns a bonus victory point for the first settlement that they place on a non-home island. It doesn't matter if other players have already built settlements on that island, and each player can only earn one such point in the course of the game.
The board is implicitly surrounded by water, so boats may be built along hex sides at the edges of the board.
The game ends when one player gets twelve victory points.
Some common house rules that this author enjoys and recommends (and aren't specific to this variant):
Victory point cards are displayed immediately when drawn. (Alternative: Victory point cards are played during the turn just like any other Progress card.)
Resource cards are displayed face up, and are hidden only when someone needs to select a random resource card.
Players can build City Walls, using the components from a Cities & Knights set (or any other convenient marker), for a cost of two Brick. For each City Wall a player builds, they increase their maximum hand size by two for purposes of determining whether they lose half of their resource cards a seven is rolled. A player may only build one City Wall per City they have in play. (This rule is mostly helpful in a five or six player game, to mitigate the need for the "special build phase" rule, which is then not used if this rule is in effect.)
A deck of forty cards is used in place of dice: Thirty-six numbers from 2 through 12 in accordance with the probability of rolling each number on two dice (i.e. one 2, two 3s, ... six 7s, five 8s, etc), plus four "reset" cards. Instead of rolling the dice to determine production, turn over the top card of the deck; if it's a reset card, turn over the next card to determine production. When the fourth reset card is turned up, turn over the next card to determine production, and then reshuffle the deck. You can easily make such a deck with two packs of playing cards, ideally with identical backs, using jacks for 11s, a queen for the 12, and aces for the reset cards.
For the two player game: Three Hills and Mountains; four Farmland, Pasture, and Forest; six Ocean; five 2:1 ports; three 3:1 ports; and eighteen number chips (two of each number, except one 2 and one 12).
For the third player: One Hills and Mountains; four Ocean; one 3:1 port; two number chips (9, 10).
For the fourth player: One Farmland, Pasture, and Forest; three Ocean; one 3:1 port; three number chips (3, 4, 5).
For the fifth player: One of each land hex except Farmland; three Ocean; four number chips (2, 6, 9, 11).
For the sixth player: One of each land hex; two Ocean; five number chips (4, 5, 8, 10, 12).
The following tables show the distribution of hexes and number chips for each number of players.
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Last updated on 2003-12-18 (Thu) at 13:31 PST