An expansion for the classic board game The Settlers of Catan, which mixes in some of the ideas from the card game. It comes with some special cards, a new tile for the land, and some nice new wooden pieces to build replica Eifel towers with while you're waiting for your turn. Cities and knights has a few more concepts and ways to win:

  • Knights, rather than just moving the robber, become actual military units which you can deploy in Catan to guard your settlements and drive away the robber (adding a slightly more confrontational aspect to the game)
  • Barbarians, which periodically attack Catan and can only be driven away by the combined force of all the knights (adding a fun prisoner's dilemma-style subplot)
  • Social advancements in military technology, agriculture and city building. Cities and knights adds three commodities, cloth money and paper, which are earned in cities and act like normal resources, but can only be used to pay for the advancements. The most advanced player in each of the three sections can build a metropolis, worth victory points, and they also allow the players to draw special cards, which are more interesting and varied than in the original Settlers.

Cities and Knights is more complicated than Settlers, and the games take significantly longer, but it still retains most of the feel of the original. And yes, it still has sheep (everybody likes sheep - sheep go baa). If you like Settlers (and who doesn't?) then you'll like this - which is lucky, because even if I told you it was terrible you'd probably still go out and buy it.

See also: The Settlers of Catan, The Seafarers of Catan, The Spacefarers of Catan

Basics of Cities and Knights of Catan


The addition of Knights, commodities and the barbarian make Catan that much more interesting. Refer to the Settlers node for Catan basics (thanks for the info, neil!) The changes from Settlers are few, but one important thing is that if you have a city on a Forest, Plains, or Mountain, instead of 2 wood, sheep or ore, respectively, they will now produce Paper (forest), Cloth (Plains), or Coin (Mountain). These are commodities, and can be used to upgrade your cities to different levels of civilization.

Commodities


There are 5 levels (the cost is 1 for the first, 2 for the second, and so on) and at level 3 your people receive a benefit given by that type of commodity. At level 4 you receive a METROPOLIS. This is placed on a city (one per city; if you receive 2 metropolises, they must go on 2 different cities). At level 5 that metropolis becomes permanent, and even if another player achieves level 5 in that commodity after you, the metropolis will not move. However, if you're level 4 and someone else achieves level 5, THEY get the metropolis! METROPOLISES ARE WORTH 2 VICTORY POINTS EACH.

Knights


Knights are placed on the intersection of hexes like cities are. There are three levels, and a knight of a higher level can displace a knight of a lower level (i.e. KILL IT). They can block road building through them, and they have the ability to cut roads off (which can split roads and change ownership of longest road). Knights cost a sheep and an ore for a level one knight. You can add another sheep/ore to upgrade it to level 2, and with a castle (see below, coin commodity) you can build the level 3 knight, for, of course, a sheep and ore. BE ADVISED: Knights are not considered activated until you spend a wheat to activate them!!! Until then, they are dormant and cannot be used.

The Three Commodities



Coin: Blue Cards


This is the political commodity. As you upgrade it, you create more political buildings. Level 3 brings you a Castle, and with it, the ability to build Mighty Knights, which are the 3rd-level knights and the most powerful. This upgrade costs the normal amount, but it's great to have a military unit that people without mighty knights can do nothing about. Note: there are exceptions using development cards.

The associated type of development card for Coin are blue cards, which are the nasty political cards that you do evil things with.

Cloth: Yellow Cards


Cloth is your generic trade commodity, and at level 3, you get a commodity market, which allows you to trade 2 commodities of the same type for any other commodity.

The Cloth card type is Yellow, the trade cards. For the most part, these are harmless...

Paper: Green Cards


Paper is, oddly, the construction commodity. At level 3 you receive an aqueduct, which can be the most useful development. On a turn when the dice roll meant that you collected no resources, an aqueduct will give you one (1) resource of your choice.

The associated development cards of Paper are construction cards, generally, that help you build and repair and such. Usually they're harmless to the other characters.

Receiving Development Cards


Catan had people rolling 2 dice. C&K now has 3 dice. Two are the six-sided dice we've come to know and love (but one is red and one is white now), but the third, while six-sided, has 4 different images: 3 barbarian pictures, a yellow castle gate, a blue castle gate, and a green castle gate. As you upgrade commodities, you will see that you also have red dice images on your commodity sheet.
Level One: You have 1 and 2.
Level Two: You have 1, 2, and 3.
Level Three: You have 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Level Four: You have 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Level Five: You have all the numbers.

Anyway, when the picture die is rolled, it has four events that can take place. If it comes up with a barbarian picture, the barbarian moves closer. I'll explain the barbarian later. If it comes up as a yellow, blue, or green (which correspond to the commodities) gate, you check which level you have in that commodity. Then you look at the red die, and note the number. If you have that number on the commodity sheet in that commodity, you get a development card of that type. Therefore, say you have level 3 in Green (Paper). The picture die comes up as a green castle gate. The number on the red die is 4. You would get a green card. If the picture die came up as any other picture, you wouldn't get a card. If the number on the red die was 5 or 6, you would not have received a card. If you had any lesser level in Paper, you would not have received a card. Get it?

The Barbarian


The barbarian moves across the water. He has something like 9 or 10 moves to make, though. Every time the picture die comes up as a barbarian picture, he moves one space closer to land. When he lands, a calculation takes place: (Number of cities - Number of knights activated (level 2 counts for 2, level 3 (mighty knights) count as 3). If there are more cities than knights, then the person (or people) with the least amount of knights has to remove a city from the board and demote it to a settlement. Sucks for them. However, if there are more knights than cities, the person with the most knights gets a victory point. If there's a tie, the accepted rule is to give them both development cards of the colors of their choice. This, of course, gives rise to all sorts of evil strategies to be detailed later. Then the barbarian returns to his starting point to make another run on Catan.

Get it? Got it? HUZZAH.




STRATEGIES



To continue, here are several strategies that I consider worth the effort.

Knight blocking: Beefcake at 12:00


Knights can be used to block roads. You can cut off someone's longest road in this way, or prevent them from building a settlement where your knight is. Or, just place a knight where the other players are building their roads just so that you can block them from going in that direction.

The Barbarian gamble: You don't have to be the fastest, you just have to be faster than the person behind you.


The barbarian only has any effect if there aren't enough knights, and even then, only on the person with the least knights. There are several points at which you can screw others over.
Wheat: It takes one wheat to activate knights. If knights aren't activated, THEY DON'T COUNT! Therefore, you can have 3 mighty knights, but count for 0 when the barbarian attacks. So all you have to do is grab all the wheat, and make sure that nobody else gets it. Then you can receive your golden, golden victory point for having the most knights. Side note: Nothing beats the screams of anguish of someone who has no wheat, no knights, and the barbarian's one space away.
Knights bordering your territory: This one's simple. If their knights are NEAR you, all you have to do is strike them down with your higher-level knights. Of course, you DO have to reactivate your knight after that.
Development cards: Several development cards have effects on knights, most of them blue. The blue card "Deserter" allows you to remove one of their knights and make it yours. Limits: You CANNOT have more than 2 knights of each level. If you take a level 2 knight, and you already have 2 level 2 knights, you must demote it to level 1. Also, if you cannot normally build mighty knights, you can't steal one. Well, you can, but it'll be demoted. The other player gets to choose which knight you get!
The blue card "Intrigue" makes them move one of their knights along their roads. If the knight has nowhere to go, it's destroyed. Ha ha!

The Robber - or - Steal from the rich, keep the proceedings!


One variant of the rules says that you can attack the Robber with a knight. The knight is deactivated, but you can place the robber wherever you want. A good strategy is to roll a 7 (which lets you place the robber) and put it on a hex that borders one of your knights and another player's city. After you steal from them, attack the robber! You can place it and steal from another person... and you can even do it again if you have the knights to do it with.

Development Cards


Several dev cards can be interesting to use. Note that this is not all of the cards, just the ones I end up using a lot.

Yellow Cards


Trade Monopoly: Name a resource. If they have it, other players must give you 2 of that resource. Benefits obvious.
Commodity MonopolyName a commodity. If they have it, other players must give you 1 of that commodity.
Merchant Fleet: A 2-to-1 port on everything. Benefits still obvious.
Merchant: Put it on a hex. You have a 2-to-1 port on the resource of that hex. The player controlling the merchant also gets 1 victory point.

Blue Cards


Diplomacy: Remove one of the opponent's roads. Or remove one of YOUR roads and relocate it.
Constitution: One victory point. Permanent. Nice to get, can be important later on.

Green Cards


Card that's a lot like Constitution but it's green: Uh, I forget its name.
Road Building: 2 roads. Anywhere you want.
Alchemist: You choose what's going to be rolled this turn. You can choose the outcome of the 2 number dice, but NOT the picture die.
This led to an interesting quote: "God does not roll dice, he plays Alchemist."
Green Card, forgot the name: Lets you swap 2 numbers on any 2 hexes. 2, 12, 6, and 8 are immune to this effect!

I'll add new strategies as I remember them. Peace!

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