Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien II: Troja & Die Große Mauer
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As with the first two chapters (Alexander der Grosse & Cheops, Kosmos 1999), these are two self-contained games played on a double-sided board with the hexagons superimposed.
Average Rating: 4.5 in 2 reviews
This game is the best expansion to Siedler yet, and I own them all.
Though the board seems to be static, especially when placing your starting cities, it is not. I was lucky to be in Germany on the day of the release, and since then my gaming group and I have played 20 - 30 games.
The game introduces some new mechanisms which are a bit confusing at first but which you get used to.
This expansion is two 'historical' scenarios for Settlers of Catan (SoC): Troy and The Great Wall. The box holds a double-sided board with the game hexes printed on it and all of the unique cardboard bits you need to play the scenarios (the rest of the components come from your SoC base set). Both scenarios require either 4 or 6 players.
'Troy' is set in the era of the Trojan war. At the beginning of the game, players secretly draw tiles to determine which side of the battle they support: Trojan or Greek (Troy or Mycenae). Game play is standard settlers with two additions:
1) Players can build ships in any water hex adjacent to one of their coastal settlements, cities, or other ships. The ships provide their owner with various benefits like trading ports, victory points, and the ability to interact with cards in the war pile (see #2 below).
2) Players can contribute resource cards to the war pile to influence battles between the Greeks and Trojans. When the pile reaches a certain size (10 cards for 4 players, 13 for 6 players) some of the cards are drawn (7 and 9, respectively) to determine who wins the battle. Greeks benefit from Wood and Wheat, Trojans from Ore and Sheep. Whichever side has the most resource cards of the appropriate types wins the battle. Each battle won is worth one victory point for the players who support that side.
The game ends when a player reaches 15 victory points (becoming the winner), or when one side of the war wins six battles in which case the player with the most victory points at that time wins the game.
'The Great Wall' is set in ancient China with players taking the role of Chinese rulers responsible for maintaining the Great Wall so that the invading Mongol horde does not ravage the land.
Players are each responsible for one section of the wall. They build watchtowers on this section to keep out a growing number of Mongol raiders. Should there ever be more raiders than watchtowers at a given section, the Mongols breach the wall causing dishonor to the player (negative victory points) and halting production in the hexes they raid beyond the wall. Invading Mongols can be removed by using soldier/knight development cards.
Both scenarios are enjoyable. Obviously SoC is too simple a system to accurately simulate large-scale battles, but as a different flavor for the basic SoC game, the scenarios work quite well. I enjoy The Great Wall scenario more than Troy. Having to balance spending your resources on a stronger wall instead of expansion is a nice dynamic. Since a wall breach almost always negatively impacts more than one player, there is a built in incentive for players to help each other to keep the wall strong. The resulting 'cooperative competition' is a lot of fun.
The scenarios are fun, but they are still just two different scenarios as opposed to a major rules expansion like Cities and Knights. As such, they are a good buy for the SoC fanatic, but probably not a 'must have' for more casual SoC players.