Posted by: gschloesser | July 29, 2011

Catan Geographies: Germany

Design by:  Klaus Teuber
Published by:  Kosmos / Mayfair
2 – 4 Players, 1 hour
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

The latest in the Settlers of Catan series seems poised to spawn yet another round of releases under the Catan Geographies label. The first in what is likely to be numerous releases based in different geographical locations is set in Germany, and uses the basic Settlers mechanisms. Other than the map, which depicts modern Germany, the most noticeable difference is the addition of numerous prominent German landmarks, such as the Brandenburg gate, Köln cathedral and Porta Nigra, which must be constructed in order for players to continue their expansion.  These landmarks are represented by highly detailed gold-colored miniatures, which make an impressive sight when placed upon the board.

Game play is virtually identical to Settlers. Dice are rolled for resource production, followed by the active player building and/or trading, which can be done in any order and repeated as desired.  Items that can be constructed or acquired are roads, town halls, landmarks, and development cards. Conspicuously absent is the ability to upgrade town halls, which would appear to limit the methods by which a player can earn victory points. Further, there are only a total of three victory point cards in the development deck, making a development card strategy less likely to succeed. Finally, as in Settlers, players can acquire victory points for the Longest Road and Largest Army. This is accomplished in the same manner, but players only receive one victory point apiece for these achievements. There seems to be a pattern here: victory points can be difficult to come by.  In reality, however, this is not the case, as mitigating this dearth of methods by which victory points can be earned is the awarding of a victory point for each landmark constructed.  Constructing landmarks also rewards the player with additional benefits, usually resources or extra roads, which can be used immediately.


Worth noting is that the board is very tight, and the avenues of expansion clog quickly. 

Expansion possibilities rapidly diminish, so players need to expand quickly lest their planned routes be cut-off by their dastardly opponents.  Expanding does require players to pass through locations where landmarks must be constructed.  Expansion past these points cannot be done until these magnificent structures are constructed, so players should plan ahead for this inevitability. 

 Unlike basic Settlers, there are twenty-eight specific locations – the sites of actual German cities – where town halls can be erected.  Due to the tightness of the board, there is a rush to these locations, particularly the ones that have the potential of producing the most resources.  This does add a sense of urgency to expanding one’s network.

Catan Geographies maintains most of the mechanisms and excitement of the original, while adding an interesting historical and cultural flavor.  It plays in much the same fashion as the original, but does present a more impressive appearance once the landmarks have been constructed.  A booklet comes with the game explaining the history of the landmarks, making the game a wonderful educational tool.  While the game will not offer much new to Settlers aficionados, and only the collector of the series will likely feel the need to add it to their collection, it does open new doors – particularly in the educational field – to continue the spread of the Catan empire.

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Responses

  1. I have not played Catan Geographies: Germany but have played several of the other maps in the Geography series. I love the maps and the local flavor text that is added. I agree with Greg that the main game is the same. These are worth trying out by all means.


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