Die Siedler von Catan: Das Kartenspiel: Ritter & Händler
original German edition
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These five 'Theme-Set' expansions (available at this writing only in German-language editions) are great. They are beautifully produced, ingeniously clever, immediately appealing additions to the basic Settlers card game. Beyond that, however, some of them -- notably Zauberer & Drachen (Wizards & Dragons), but also Politik & Intrige and Handel & Wandel (Trade and Change) -- fundamentally change the character of the game. The Card Game can no longer be thought of simply as Settlers for Two. It is now a completely different experience, especially when played with the Z&D Theme-Set, which for the first time introduces the element of magic to the Settlers universe. You can play with one or more of the new Theme-Sets at once, using two distinctly different approaches given in the rules that come with each set: (a) An 'Extended Basic Game,' in which you simply add one Theme-Set to the original Kartenspiel; or (b) a Tournament Game, in which each player builds a custom deck -- somewhat as with Magic cards, though the process is simpler -- by combining elements of a basic Kartenspiel with cards from one (or more) Theme-Set(s). Thus, you would need 2 basic Card Games plus at least two Theme-Sets for a tournament game ... but you could then pit magic against religion, or conservative economics against kamikaze action-card attacks, or any other imaginable combination of playing styles. As a final, classy touch, the game's creator and editorial staff are donating one-third of their profits from all these Theme-Sets to a charity called Menschen fr Menschen, People for People. This was a good game to begin with, but now it is richer, deeper, and even magical.
Ritter & Hndler (Knights and Trade) is one of five sets of cards released by Kosmos for its popular Settlers of Catan card game. The cards in this theme set have almost all appeared before in the now discontinued Tournament set.
Ritter & Hndler can be played as an expansion to the basic game, adding some variety to it without greatly changing the mechanics. It can also be played along with the basic set and the other four theme sets in a tournament game, where each player builds a specialized deck of cards for the game (provided you can find someone else who also has the basic set and theme sets to form their own deck).
The Ritter & Hndler set makes the fewest changes to the basic game. It adds a few knights and some action cards that benefit the player having the strongest army. It also increases some commerce opportunities with cards that allow a greater potential for trading. These two aspects force players to play more aggressively than they would have needed to with just the basic game. As a result, every victory point earned is a battle, and scores seesaw as the knight and windmill tokens change hands.
For fans of the Settlers card game these theme sets are all must-haves. The Ritter & Hndler set provides some of the less extravagant but nonetheless highly useful cards.
While I am writing this for one of the Siedler Kartenspiel theme sets, it applies to all of them equally. These Theme-Sets are additional packs of 30 cards which are combined with the basic Settlers of Catan Card Game cards to change the tone of the game. Each set covers a different topic, and the cards interact with each other as well as the original game's cards to create variations on the poriginal Settlers theme.
Many of these cards interact with a specific key card from the set, and usually 2 of these cards are provided so both players stand a chance of using these new additions. The key cards are turned up at the beginning of the game so that they will be available when needed, a nice touch.
The included instructions contain rules (in German) for an expanded game, using the original card game with one theme set, as well as the Tournament game, in which players need at least two copies of the original game and at least one theme set, where players customize their own decks, much like a collectable card game.
The nice thing is that all the cards are provided in each set. There is no collectability index which makes certain cards more rare than others. One can buy these theme sets and have a plethora of cards for creating their subtly textured take on the Settlers phenomenon. The cards are mostly uniform in their usefulness, with only a couple klunkers.
I strongly recommend keeping the translated rules handy, as the German names on the cards can be quite confusing.