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Game Review

The Seafarers of Catan

Ages 12 and up
Author: Klaus Teuber
Mayfair Games
Game ©1998 Mayfair Games, Inc.
Date reviewed: 5/09/2005
The Islands of Catan
Uncle's Games link

3-4 Players 1-2 hours


This is an expansion set to the original game The Settlers of Catan.  It adds multiple island scenarios and shipping routes to the game.


This is an expansion set.  You need the original set and it's rules to play it. If you are unfamiliar with the original game, please read this review.

This expansion is a set of specialized scenarios designed to allow the players to play using multiple islands.  The basic rules are the same.  The winning conditions for each scenario vary, but are typically as follows: Each settlement is worth one victory point, the goal is to reach ten to thirteen victory points. Each city is worth two victory points, but building or upgrading requires resources.

To start, players construct the map presented in a chosen scenario.

A players turn goes as follows:

  1. Roll the dice for resource production.

  2. Trade resources with other players or the harbors.

  3. Build settlements, roads, ships, cities and/or purchase a development card.

This expansion adds ships to the construction list.  Ships are like roads on the water.  Ships cost one lumber and one wool to be built. Ships count toward the longest road award, but when attaching to land, they must anchor at a settlement/city.   When multiple ships are placed they are called a shipping lane.  The forward most tip of the shipping lane may be moved between the two possible hex edges unless the ship anchors to a settlement. (You can only move one ship per turn.)  You may only build a ship if you have a settlement/city on the coastline.

Since there are ships, the rules have also added a pirate. The pirate is the lone black ship in the set.  If a seven (7) is rolled, no hex produces any resource, and either the Robber/Pirate is activated. Any player with more than seven resource cards must discard half of them;  Players may choose to move the Robber or the Pirate (but they must move one of them.)  The robber follows the same rules as the original game.  The pirate is placed onto a water hex only.  Any shipping lanes being built cannot be built next to the pirate's hex.  Likewise, no ship next to the pirate may be moved.   As with the robber, the pirate allows you to steal one resource from the affected player(s).  Soldier cards may move either the pirate or the robber.


closeup of ships

Winning Conditions:

  • The first player to get twelve (12) victory points (in most scenarios) wins.

game in play

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Down!The original game is fun.  These new scenarios have always struck our group as rather dull.  The expansion set gives you some nice construction pieces to hold your map together, but it lacks the balance the original had.

We have tried this game on several occasions -- during this last session we believe that we put our finger on why this game has felt drawn out and long.  The answer is that the ship cost affects the resource balance of the original game.  You must choose to use lumber and wool differently from the original game.  There are now more than three uses for these two resources, whereas the other resources only have two uses.  The economy of the game is strained by your decisions to build ships -- when you build ships, and you must in most cases, you cannot build settlements or development cards as easily. You suddenly have huge road lengths, but no settlements between your shipping lane segment, thus you can't gain additional resources and the game bogs down.

The expansion rules are short and easy to remember.  Extra map tiles are always nice to have, too. But for a $20-40 expansion set, I'd expect a bit more fun.  Enjoy the original... skip this expansion.

Where to buy:

Any local Game or hobby store.

Uncle's Games link

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