Game of Thrones: Catan Review
A few weeks ago, we posted our “How to Play” article for Game of Throne: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch. While I’ve been fairly vocal about my dislike of the base version of Catan, many of the spin off adaptations – most notably to date the Star Trek version – have improved on my main problems with the original. Was Brotherhood of the Watch also able to satisfy my concerns? Let’s dive in!
In my opinion, the additions to Brotherhood of the Watch are right on theme with the Wall in Game of Thrones. When I was initially approached by Asmodee to look at this title, I was thinking it might be a game based on the wider world of Westeros. While this isn’t the case – and there was some initial disappointment – I realized that perhaps I should have read the tagline, and not stopped after reading, “Game of Thrones: Catan.” Sometimes you need some help like paper writing services with native writers and a little time to appreciate that not everything looks exactly as we imagine on the initial read.
And ultimately, after playing about a dozen games with friends and family, I can happily report that, like Star Trek Catan, Game of Thrones: Catan improves on the original, by not only adding an extra element that is interesting and exciting, but also improves problematic issues like lack of resource collection. Let’s take a look at the changes and why I’m such a big fan!
New Additions Specific to Game of Thrones: Catan
Adding in the element of the wall, and the potential for Wildlings to invade south of the wall, adds in a new twist that makes the initial placement of villages and roads so very important. In regular Settlers of Catan, the coveted 6 and 8 slots might be next to less impressive numbers, but ultimately if they were available to claim at the beginning, it was almost dumb not too. With the Game of Thrones version, there is more thought that needs to go into what you choose, and why?
As we explained in our How to Play article, the better numbers are closer to the wall, and are the first to get covered up should the Wildlings breach the wall and spread throughout Westeros. So while 6s and 8s are definitely enticing, the potential that a climber might breach the wall and land on that space, essentially acting as a robber – which stops players from collecting that resource – should make players second guess how close to the wall they build their initial settlements.
There is a really great risk and reward cycle here that I thoroughly enjoyed, and no two games every played out the same, either positively or negatively for the person who choose to build on those great numbers.
The ability to score points for having guards on the wall is also another great addition as it allows yet another avenue for scoring points, which will ultimately win you the game. The cooperative nature of protecting the wall is also a neat twist.
One of the biggest issues in Settlers of Catan is when you pick numbers that seemingly never get rolled, whether they are really great numbers or not. Not getting rolls means players are not collecting resources, which makes progression and victory point accumulation incredibly difficult. Enter Hero Cards, which were also introduced in the Star Trek version of the game. These cards grant specific bonuses to players, and can be used twice before being returned to the deck. What I really like is that players will always have a card infront of them at all times, and when it comes time to discard the one you’ve used and select another, players get to look through the available options and choose one, as opposed to getting one at random.
This is incredibly helpful when a players numbers are not getting rolled, as these cards can often help them advance their own agenda in other ways. It’s a great way to side step that major problem, and keep all players relevant during a long game.
As a disappointing aside, I was shocked to see that Jon Snow was not initially available in the base game of the set – I have seen via the Internet, however, that he is available via the games first expansion.
My biggest problems with Settlers of Catan is that how well you do is based almost purely on luck. Players can have great initial settlement placement, but if the dice do not go their way, things go downhill quickly. In 4 player games of Settlers of Catan, I’ve often found that only 2 players every really challenge for the victory, while the others around the table struggle just to place a few roads. I find most of this fixed with Games of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch.
Through the addition of the wall, and the use of Hero Cards, in the dozen or so games we’ve played to date, everyone remains engaged and active in the game, even if a few consecutive rolls don’t go their way in terms of resource collection. By also having to focus on defending the wall and using Hero Cards, it’s easy to quickly pull yourself out of a rut, and push forward towards the victory point necessary to win. If you’ve tired of Settlers of Catan, or cannot get over the randomness of the game, the Game of Thrones variant might be just what you need!