Gen Con 2023 – CATAN

Often cited as the kickoff of modern boardgaming, CATAN remains one of the enduring brands ripe for expansions and spin-offs. The CATAN booth was showing off the new Starfarers expansion: CATAN: Starfarers – New Encounters as well as the CATAN: Hawai’i Scenario. However, in the running for the most unexpected combo of the convention, CATAN: Soccer Fever Scenario.

CATAN: Soccer Fever Scenario

Soccer Fever adds two new play boards to the base game setup: a soccer match scoring track and an elaborate semi-3D soccer field which is simply a place on which to roll constructed cardboard dice for soccer matches.

On the main board, the desert tile and a sheep or wheat tile are removed and replaced with two little soccer fields with spaces on which to place each player’s soccer team token. These tokens represent the next two soccer matches (who plays whom) that will occur. Every time a settlement or city is played, a soccer match breaks out.

A soccer match consists of each player rolling the soccer dice one time for each “shot on goal” token they have banked up. Players can bank up shots by placing a settlement or city next to one of the soccer match hexes on the board or using a knight card. For the match, each player simply rolls a die (they have a 50/50 chance of scoring) per shot token and the player with the most successful shot wins the match.

Two things then happen. The winning player (team) gets to move their marker up the soccer track three spaces (both go one space on a tie) and the match chart is progressed (shown at left, above) which shows the matchup for the next soccer game. All but one shot tokens are removed, leaving the last one on the board to show the next matchup (and provide each player with at least one roll per game.) Winning soccer matches progresses a team token along the track, providing minor benefits along the way (see the board above.) More importantly, first place in the tournament is worth 3 points, 2 points for 2nd, and 1 point for third. With this additional source of points, the game is now played to a total of 11 points.

CATAN Starfarers – New Encounters

The new Starfarer expansion is actually three expansions in one. Players can encounter rampaging Space Amoebas, fight Space Pirates, or look for a lost, unknown lifeform.

The space amoebas, represented by very cute little spiky plastic squid-trees, move around the game board based on a special 6 sided die. They destroy ships and colonies as they move around the board. Players need to sidle up near them with a special research ship in order to gather intel before they can “find ways to deal with them.”

Some of the space amoeba research cards…

The presence of space pirates causes players to build corvette ships to deal with them. There are pirate bases on the board that can be attacked. When defeated, captured pirates are left on the planet and must be dealt with through a pick up and deliver mechanic. The head pirate makes his home on the game board and while he can be fought, if defeated (providing points) they simply pick up their things and move further out into the depths of space and make a new base.

The last scenario is a search to find a lost people. Players research in special planetary systems to gain information which moves players along a research track (seen below) which is a good source of victory points. Most of the special tiles are found in the outer planets so it serves as an extra “push” for players to race across the board.

CATAN: Hawai’i Scenario

While the CATAN: Hawai’i Scenario has been around a few years, I believe it was shown so prominently at the show because it now comes in a fancier retail version.

The expansion requires the Seafarers expansion and is a new map (Hawai’i shaped) along with some fish tokens. Building ships along the special fish hexes to the west moves a player up the “boat track” which, at higher levels, is another source of points. Meanwhile, fish spaces also have an associated number and, when rolled, provide a player with fish. These fish can then be “sold” later for various things.

And that’s all I CATAN say about that. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself…)

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
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