Mayfair Games, 49.99, Board Game
Adventure on the high seas awaits with the Explorers and Pirates expansion for Settlers of Catan. This expansion introduces new rules for exploration and discovery, where players start on a smaller-than-normal island and must expand by building ships to carry settlers to new islands. The tiles for these islands begin the game randomly placed and face down, so you will never know what is just over the horizon.
Explorers and Pirates introduces its new game mechanics over a series of scenarios, in which players will simply explore, and then add fishing, gathering rare spices and battling pirates in their lairs. The ships, in particular, have many uses, carrying settlers and crews out to the new islands, fighting pirate vessels controlled by other players, and carrying fish and spices back. However, maintaining them takes a lot of resources, so players have to be careful to use them to best effect. In each of the scenarios, the core resource-generating and construction rules of Catan serve more as a foundation for the exploration aspects to be built upon – the focus is heavy on exploration. As usual, each of the new mechanics are compatible with each other, and with other expansions. Though a bit of thought may be needed to combine the ship rules from this expansion with Seafarers, the experience of combining expansions is always rewarding.
Reviewed by James Rasmussen