Even though a 2-player variant of the Board Game is available now – “The Rivals for Catan” is the definitive Catan game for 2 players. The Board Game and the Card Game share a number of common characteristics; however, for many Board Game players it is still quite difficult to become familiar with the Card Game. Through this post, I’ll try to make getting started with “The Rivals for Catan” easier for those of you who have only played the Board Game so far.
- In both games, the 5 standard resources are used; in the Card Game gold is also used. Unlike the Board Game, in the Card Game the resources do not form part of the players’ hands of cards – here, a player’s resource inventory is displayed on his regions.
- At the beginning of the Card Game, each player has one region of each resource type – each region showing one resource - plus one empty gold field. The regions are numbered from 1 to 6; the numbers on the players’ regions differ from each other. Each region can accommodate 3 resources at most. Therefore, both players always know exactly which resources the opponent has.
- In the Card Game, settlements and cities cost the same resources as in the Board Game.
- Roads cost 1 brick more in the Card Game, but you only place 1 road between two settlements. Because only 1 road can be placed adjacent to each settlement/city, roads cannot branch out as in the Board Game.
- No additional victory points for the Longest Road are awarded in the Card Game.
- In the Card Game (as in the Board Game), each player starts out with 2 settlements, but they are always connected by 1 road.
- The two Card Game players play in different principalities and thus cannot get in each other’s way.
- In addition to the starting settlements and road, both Card Game players together may build 7 roads, 5 settlements, and 7 cities – first come, first serve. If you build a settlement, you receive another 2 regions you can subsequently produce more resources with.
- When you build a city in the Card Game, you place the respective city on top of the settlement – unlike in the Board Game, you don’t return the settlement to the supply. In contrast to the Board Game, a city does not improve production; it has other advantages but may also involve risks. However, a city earns you 2 victory points, just like in the Board Game.
The two games still have more things in common, though. There are also robbers in the Card Game (here called brigands), although here they have very specific predilections. However, the brigands do not come into play when a “7″ is rolled, because instead of two pipped dice you roll one pipped die and one special event die. If a red club is rolled with this event die, and a player has more than 7 resources, the brigands seize that player’s gold and wool. However, the players can protect themselves against this robbery: they may build settlement/city expansions in their principalities. One of these expansions, the Storehouse, makes the brigands miscount – they don’t see resources on regions adjacent to the Storehouse. But a Storehouse has yet another advantage. Since the question mark symbol is depicted twice on the event die, this symbol is rolled more frequently. When a question mark is rolled, an event card is revealed, and if this card is a Year of Plenty, the regions adjacent to a Storehouse receive an additional resource. That way, you can expand your principality even faster, e.g., by means of units and further buildings that offer additional advantages.
A Card Game turn consists of the following elements:
- Rolling the event die to determine which event occurs and rolling the production die to determine the resource production for both players.
- Playing action cards (which are comparable to the progress cards in Cities & Knights), building expansions, trading with the bank – all this in any order.
- Replenishing the number of cards in the players’ hands, by randomly drawing one or more cards from the top(s) of the draw stack(s).
- Exchanging a card at the player’s discretion (drawing the card from the top of a draw stack or paying 2 resources to choose the card).
- The first player to have at least 7 victory points after ending his turn wins the game.
If you want to familiarize yourself more with the rules and cards of The Rivals for Catan, you should watch Marlene and Siegfried play while they explain the game under the guidance of Prof. Easy.
I’m sure that by playing the Introductory Game you too will become acquainted with this fascinating game.
Then, in the Theme Sets, more expansion cards, action cards, event cards, and region expansions with new functions are added to the game, making it even more varied and interactive.
You can play these Theme Sets together with the Basic Set as Theme Games or as a Duel of the Princes, where you need 12 or 13 victory points to win the game.
The “pinnacle of the Card Game” is the Tournament Game, whose rules were published in the “Age of Darkness” expansion in fall 2011. Here, each player chooses from almost all available cards to put together his own deck, which he then uses to compete against his opponent. “Age of Enlightenment,” the second expansion, adds more cards and new aspects to the game; it is scheduled for publication in fall 2012.
Dr. Reiner Düren