One of the first board game expansions i ever owned was The Cities & Knights of Catan, which has been through a few editions since then, and is now called Catan: Cities & Knights, sorta how they try to make it cool by calling Wheel of Fortune simply “Wheel.” In this unboxing video, much as i did before with my old and new copies of the base game (watch the video!), i stack my 3rd edition up against the 5th edition to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same in this second expansion to the venerable board game.

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table. The most-viewed video on Nights Around a Table by far, and it’s not even close, is my “How to Play Catan” video. It smokes absolutely everything. And of course, it’s not a big surprise. Catan is an extremely popular game. i say “Catan.” It’s correctly pronounced “CatAHN,” but as a child, my diet included too much… riboflavin. Somebody requested on the channel “Hey,” you know, “You should do Cities & Knights of Catan, because that game looks super overwhelming,” and i do own the game, but just as i did with Catan, i didn’t want to unbox and do a How to Play of the, sort of, 2003-2004 era version that i had, because that’s not the one that you’re gonna be able to find in stores. It’s going to look something a lot more like this. But! Like i did with the copy of Catan that we picked up, i would like to actually bring out my 2003-2004 era copy of Cities & Knights of Catan and surprise myself, and sort of see what’s similar, what’s different, what’s new, what’s changed, from this version to this version. The people at the Catan company were kind enough to send this along to me when i requested it, and i was able to do that because you requested it. So if you’d like to see me do some stuff, ask me, and if i don’t own the game, i’ll approach the publisher and say “Hey: my viewers would like to see this from me. Do you want to send it along?” And maybe they will, like these guys did! So let’s get into it. i remember back when i was first getting into board games… again, it would have been sort of 2002/ 2003 era… really enjoyed Catan. It’s what people in the board game world call a “gateway game,” because, like gateway drugs, it’s the first one you try, and then you get hooked. (chortles) i got HOOOOKED. But the funny thing about this game is that this expansion – it’s one of the first expansions i ever purchased for a game that i owned – and i could not believe the complexity of this game! Man! i learned this whole thing. There are so many more rules to explain to people, and already Catan – at that time, Catan was a little bit like… mm! You got to be pretty clever to figure this game out. Man, Cities & Knights! Could you believe it? If you play, you’ve got to play for more than an hour, guys! The game goes on for more than an HOUR! Which seems… ha! If that’s not funny to you, you haven’t played enough board games. That’s downright quaint at this point. But, yeah, it was a whole lot more to the game, and so i can understand people asking me “Oh, you should do this game, because it’s a tougher one to figure out.” Sure! If you haven’t played a lot of complex board games, i get it. i was right there with you. i know what you’re talking about. “Hark! You must have the Catan board game – AKA The Settlers of Catan – in order to use this game expansion.” One thing i don’t know, and we’ll find out when we get into both boxes, is whether you can buy one of the newer versions of Catan, and it’s compatible with one of your older versions of Catan – whether the hexes are the same size and all that jazz. But let’s pop it open and see. Now what Cities & Knights of Catan does, and i admit, i… it’s been a long time since i played Cities & Knights… listen closely… nothing! Box Fart-O-Meter: zilcho. What it does is it presents you with a scary scenario: the idyllic island of Catan, where you’ve presumably run off all the natives and given them smallpox, is now being besieged, or beset, by these pirates. And they’re in a boat, and they’re coming down the water, and they’re approaching the island and so – aw, crap! – everybody has to scramble, and you have to build walls around your cities, or kind of the way it’s depicted in the game, underneath your cities – it’s kind of strange. You have to contribute knights to the protection force, so there’s a little bit of a cooperative element, sort of. It’s co-op-etitive, a little bit. All it means is that if you have not contributed enough to the defense of Catan, and the pirates sack the island, then you lose stuff. i believe – and if you remember the base game, if you know it well – once a thing is down, once your settlement or city is down, nobody else can take it away. No… it can’t be destroyed or anything. Your… your road can be blocked, but that’s about the extent of it. Your stuff can be stolen with the robber. But in this game, i think you can lose a city if Catan gets sacked and you have not contributed. So here are the game rules. Very similar to the base game of Catan in this version, where i assume they’re going to have an almanac? No – they’re talking about science cards… they don’t actually. It’s not in two parts. (rewind sound) It’s just straight-up rules, explaining how to play the game. Neat. And you get this… so in the base game… i’m going to compare. Here comes the earlier box that i have. Don’t get confused. In the bas game – oh, you know what? i probably took it out and put it in… yeah. i believe i took it out. In the base game, it’s two conjoined hexes that the pirate ship travels down, and this game looks like it has this weird-lookin’ slanted rectangle, and so this is where the invaders come down on their ship, so they get progressively closer, and you get progressively more nervous if you haven’t purchased any knights. A couple more thingies to punch out here. i forget what those are. Sorry – they’re not called “pirates.” They’re called “barbarians.” There’s a whole other Catan game that involved pirates. You get these really interesting little… sort of tech tree books. So this is the original… sort of plain artwork… and then the update looks like this. Let’s get it to the right page. So not that much difference between the two. Pretty close. But when we flip it, i think there’s going to be fancier artwork on the next pages down. Oh, no. Maybe not. Maybe not fancier artwork, but just different artwork. Same thing: you’ve got four pictures in each. And what you’re doing here is you’re upgrading different categories of building to get more and more perks as you go. What they’ve done is they made a joint good, parallel to existing goods in the game. Those are science cards. Let me see if i can find the right deck. This’ll be it, mayhap. No it’s not. At any rate, let’s dive into this and see what’s inside. i love a game that includes rip strips on the cards. You’ve got merchants, you’ve got commercial harbours, merchant fleets, master merchants, trade monopoly, which looks very familiar… “Name a resource. Each opponent must give you two cards of that typ.” Yeah, we’ve seen that before. There’s a diplomat. “You may remove any open road (a road with nothing attached at the end). You may remove one of your own roads, or you may place it in another location.” Oh. “IF you remove your own road.” Yeah. So you can wreck somebody’s road, or move one of your own roads. So there’s more… generally, there’s more messing with… with each other, and more wrecking in this game, for sure, than in the base game. It’s a little bit more in-your-face. You might say more mean. More “interactive” is another way to put it. i really enjoy that kind of thing. i like getting in people’s faces. A little bit. Not tremendously much, but to a degree. These are stickers that you put on… there’s going to be a bag of wood, and a bunch of discs, and so you have upgradeable knights, is the idea. So they go from, like, weak knight to strong knight to mighty knight, sort of thing, and you can pay… there’s going to be a new recipe book to pay to upgrade those things. So you get a whole big bag of wood. And another thing you get: there’s the barbarian ship. Interesting that they kept that black, because i know one of the… the changes from my base game of Catan to the newer version is the robber used to be black, and then people were like “…that’s not cool. Maybe you could revisit that?” So they did, and they made the robber grey. But, you know, barbarians, i guess, still get a scary black ship to pilot. The square pieces: this is the one thing that was a little bit of a weird decision, i thought. These are city walls. So you’re protecting your city, and the city piece… say i’m the red player… the city piece… piece goes on top of this, and that’s supposed to depict a wall around the city, which… did it work? Did it not? i dunno. It was kind of interesting. i guess it’s the most… one of the most… more straightforward ways to do it with one piece of wood, instead of – you know – having four pieces of wood that encircle your city? Interesting. And then you get these big special gates. There are three of them in the game that provide added interesting protection to your cities. And i think the walls mean that your city can’t be plundered, and these make them extra protected? i can’t remember! i haven’t played the game in a long time! You’ll tell me in the comments, i’m sure. And this, i vaguely remember, is the merchant token that moves around and does merchanty things, and i’m sure that this has to be the inspiration for the Cones of Dunshire in Parks and Recreation, which is like a parody of how complex board games can get. “Then you roll three dice to see how many dice you roll with. Oh – 16. Perfect. Lots of choices. Okay: each turn goes roll, buy, action… i mean, obviously this would be much taller in the real game.” Like i say, this is one of the the first totally in-the-reeds board games i ever played. It’s just like “i have to do what? And i have to learn HOW much? And the rule book is HOW thick? The game plays for HOW long?” Ah – here they are: special resources. i’d like to compare these to the base game. Just the artwork. So these resources, like i said, they sit alongside the base resources. So if you have a city, instead of getting two wood, you get – i believe – a wood and a paper. So that’s the original paper, and that’s the updated paper. We’ll go through… paper paper paper… this is cloth, and that’s the original cloth. i think i like the look of the original cloth, to be honest, although i’m not sure if it looks like cloth, because it’s black, and that’s weird. It’s much fancier in the original. It looks richer. Maybe that’s the idea? Maybe it was too rich? So that’s what it looks like. Looks a bit more like a tensor bandage in the new one. Aaaand… so that’s what you get with a city on sheep. And coins. i think i like the new coins better. These are the old coins. They kind of focus more on the bag than on the coins. Those are the coins right there. Neat. i can see how this, maybe, they changed it because which one of these is cloth, and which one of these is coins? Since the coins are so small, maybe it’s… and there’s what looks like metal on here, maybe it’s hard to tell? But it’s very very clear between these two which one is cloth and which one is coins. So maybe that was the decision in the artwork change? i have no idea! You can write them and ask. i’m sure they’ll tell you. They’re nice people. This is a die that you roll, i forget under which circumstances, but this is what harkens the scary barbarians along their path approaching Catan. And then each player gets one of these little upgrade booklets, and you have to actually split the perforated line here, because it doesn’t come… careful… careful… careful! Yeah! Hoo! It’s nerve-wracking! Right. And that is everything that you get… n’ some plastic baggies… and it looks like… compare the boxes: i like that publishers are paying much more attention now to how their games go back in the box. So this is the insert for the update, and there is no such thing for the base game. It’s just a big “Aw, just throw yer crap in the box, kids!” The die! Let’s compare the die, actually. i think the die for the original is a little bit nicer, because… and the pirate ship design on the original die looks a bit cooler… so in my left hand, that’s the original die. It’s made of wood the newer one is made of plastic. Poss… probably cheaper to get produced. And then this sort of city wall symbol in the original looks more true to the wood piece than than this design in my right hand. Yeah – i think i prefer… if i owned both, and i do, i might play with this one instead of this one. That’s my take! That’s my nascent take on what you get in the Cities and Knights of Catan box. i’m excited to actually play this again. i haven’t played in years and years. Like i say, and i’ll put together a How to Play video for you if you’re struggling with it, or if you feel a little bit daunted because there are so many more pieces, and it seems like there’s so much going on, there IS! But let me tell you, it is a rewarding game experience that i actually found quite fun. So look forward to that, and thank you so much for watching this one! [Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton] Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe, and then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff!

Get Your Own Copy of Catan: Cities & Knights

If you already own the base game of Catan and you get a lot of use out of it, consider adding this excellent expansion to your own collection. Shop using the Amazon link below, and i’ll receive a small commission!