Ranking: Four stars


A mandatory Settlers of Catan expansion: the boats add another dimension to the game, as do the victory points for settling islands. This expansion comes with rules for several different scenarios, which adds enjoyable variety to the basic game. One thing we don't like: the maps in the rules are blurry and black and white, so it's hard to figure out what kinds of tiles are being depicted on the maps; we've carefully studied the game tiles, identifying subtle blobs and lighter patches to differentiate one kind of tile from another.

Some of the scenarios in the expansion are more interesting to us than others, so we'll talk about each scenario separately.

New Shores

For three players, the New Shores scenario plays almost exactly like original Settlers, because the main island doesn't get conjested enough to encourage expansion out to the smaller islands.

The Four Islands

Without a large main island, and with increasing victory point bonuses for building on additional islands, players are motivated to use ships to expand out to the other islands. That motivation makes this game more enjoyable if you're wanting to play something different from original Settlers. One odd problem: the map only shows seven ports, but the list says to place eight ports.


We're sort of control freaks (you'd never have guessed that from this website, right?), so we don't really make proper use of this scenario, whose layout includes hidden tiles and hidden number tokens that aren't revealed until a player places a ship or road at one of the tile's intersections. We like to know what's out there, in order to plan obsessively. So sometimes we try to just crowd ourselves onto the main island, whose tiles aren't hidden--which means no one explores, and the entire point of having hidden tiles goes to waste. Even if one or two people explore, it still seems like the person who remains on the main island wins.

Into the Desert

Interesting idea: will you build roads across the desert, or ships across the sea?

A New World

This scenario was the genesis for our random Maxi World variant for the original Settlers. Obviously, we enjoy it!

The Great Crossing

The indirect trading routes in this scenario are sneaky, increasing the paranoia factor. We don't play it much; the scenario, which is designed for four players, is too unbalanced when only the three of us play it.

Greater Catan

Our control-freak nature should make us distrust this scenario, because the number tokens on the islands aren't revealed until a road or ship is built adjacent to a tile, and because tokens are pulled from the mainland and placed on the islands after the limited stock of extra tokens is depleted. But we enjoy denuding the mainland of tokens and figuring out how the three depletion rules apply in each instance. The denuding of the mainland adds a dimension to the game that isn't found in the original Settlers, which makes this scenario something truly different. (The Greater Catan scenario seems like the inspiration for the later stand-alone game Settlers of the Stone Age.)