Seafarers of Catan

"The Seafarers of Catan" (German: "Die Seefahrer von Catan") is an expansion of the board game "Settlers of Catan" for three to four players (five to six player play is also possible with both of the respective five to six player expansions). The main feature of this expansion is the addition of ships to the game, allowing play between multiple islands. The expansion also provides numerous scenarios, some of which have custom rules. The "Seafarers" rules and scenarios are also, for the most part, compatible with the "Cities and Knights of Catan" expansion.

The concepts introduced in "Seafarers" were part of designer Klaus Teuber's original design for "Settlers".


"Seafarers" introduces the concept of ships, which serve as roads over water or along the coast. Each ship costs one lumber and one wool to create (lumber for the hull and wool for the sails). A settlement must first be built before a player can switch from building roads to building ships, or vice versa. Thus, a chain of ships is always anchored at a settlement on the coast. A shipping line that is not anchored at both ends by different settlements can also move the last ship at the open end, although this can only be done once per turn and may not be done with any ships that were created on the same turn.

The "Longest Road" card is now renamed the "Longest Trade Route" since this is now calculated by counting the number of contiguous ships "plus" roads that a player has. A settlement or city is necessary between a road and a ship for the two to be considered contiguous for the purposes of this card. However, since it is known that ships are a part of the Longest Road in the Seafarers Of Catan, Longest Trade Route is often still referred to as simply Longest Road.

The Road Building card allows a player to build 2 roads, 2 ships, or one of each when used.

Along with the concept of ships, "Seafarers" also introduces the notion of the pirate, which acts as a waterborne robber which steals from nearby ships (similar to how the robber steals from nearby settlements). The pirate can also prevent ships from being built or moved nearby, but it does not interfere with harbors.

When a seven is rolled or a soldier card is played, the player may move either the robber OR the pirate.


Unlike "Settlers of Catan" and "Cities & Knights of Catan", in which the only random element of setup is the placement of land tiles, number tokens, and harbors in an identically-shaped playing area, "Seafarers of Catan" has a number of different scenarios or maps from which to choose. Each map uses a different selection of tiles laid out in a specific pattern, with many not using all of the tiles. Other attributes also set each map apart, for example restrictions on the placement of initial settlements, whether tiles are distributed randomly, the number of victory points needed to win, and special victory point awards, usually for building on island across the sea.

# "New Shores" - basically, the "Settlers Of Catan" island with a few smaller islands besides it. Provides the familiarity of the original with option to explore the islands and bask in new "Seafarers" gameplay. One special victory point is awarded to each player for their first settlement placed on those smaller islands.
# "The Four Islands III" - Four islands make up this 3 player scenario. Although the given amount of building space makes this scenario roughly on par with the cramped conditions of the "Settlers of Catan" island, travelling between the islands will typically take 2 to 3 ships. The tile layouts as well as their number tokens are always the same.
# "The Four Islands IV" - The 4 player version of The Four Islands III. In this map, the islands are a bit larger to accommodate the fourth player.
# "Oceans III" - In this 3 player scenario, more than half of map contains initially unrevealed tiles, which are revealed and assigned a number token (for land tiles) as a player explores them. Players also receive a bonus resource for land tiles they uncover, dependent on what land tile was uncovered (e.g. uncovering a forest tile gives a bonus wood resource card). This map is more cramped than the ones above. An already uncovered gold tile awaits those who are able to venture to the opposite end of the map. The tile layouts as well as their number tokens are always the same.
# "Oceans IV" - 4 player version of "Oceans III". Somewhat larger revealed and unrevealed land masses with one extra port and one extra gold river.
# "Into The Desert III" - Similar to #1, except this is a 3 player and the main island is smaller and non random in its tile and token layout. One section has a 'wall of deserts' which if crossed and settled to the other side of gives one special victory point, in lieu of a special victory point on the smaller islands instead.
# "Into The Desert IV" - 4 player version of "Into The Desert III". The main land mass and its chain of islands are slightly larger.
# "A New World III" - 3 player map that's completely random in the position of tiles and tokens (in other words, shape and number of islands will vary across setups), with harbor placement done by players.
# "A New World IV" - 4 player version of "A New World III". Larger area and more land tiles are used for this version.
# "The Great Crossing" - 4 player map with 2 large islands on either side of the board. Players can also earn points by connecting settlements from one island to any settlement on the other island with ships for points, even if they connect to other players' settlements. Players must place both initial settlements on the same island.
# "Greater Catan" - Enormous sized map that requires 2 copies of "Settlers Of Catan". The extra number tokens, land/sea tiles, and 4 city pieces are used in this 18 point game. When a reserved number of number tokens to be placed on chain of smaller islands are used up, number tokens get reassigned from mainland to the smaller islands when needed.

Gold Rivers

"Seafarers" also introduces the "Gold River" terrain, which grants nearby players one resource of their choice for every settlement adjacent to a gold tile and 2 resources for every city. Since being able to choose any resource type allows more building power, gold rivers are either marked with number token of only 2 or 3 dots and/or are far away from starting positions to offset this.

When combined with "Cities and Knights", the rules state that you are not allowed to take commodities instead of resources if a city is nearby.


Many of the provided scenarios have extra rules encompassing the concept of exploration, which is done by having the hex tiles placed face down. Should a player build next to unexplored terrain, the terrain tile is turned face up, and the player is rewarded with a resource should the tile revealed be resource-producing. In other scenarios, the board is divided into islands, and if the player builds a settlement on an island other than the ones they begin on, the settlement is worth extra victory points.

The "Cities and Knights" manual recommends that players not use the "Cities and Knights" rules in scenarios where exploration is a factor.

ee also

*Settlers of Catan
*Cities and Knights of Catan


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