I had to put an exclamation in the title because Cities and Knights is such a good game! The other night, just a couple after our last Settlers game, we broke out the set and fired up a five player game of Settlers, this time with the Cities and Knights "expansion".
In keeping with the theme of adding all kinds of punctuation, and then explaining why I added said punctuation, I shall now pontificate on the quotes around "expansion". With the Settlers series you will end up paying for them. You have to buy the basic set, then the 5-6 player add-on, then the Seafarers set, then the Seafarers 5-6 player expansion, then the Cities and Knights set, and then the Cities and Knights 5-6 player expansion...see where I'm going here? The guys we were playing with are pretty versed in the series, and I take their word on the Seafarers set being rather lackluster.
The Cities set however is fantastic and it's not just an "add on", it adds so many new levels, strategies, and dimensions to the basic Catan set that it becomes a completely different game, and where the basic Settlers is solid fun, the Cities and Knights version is fun to the tenth degree. I highly recommend it to anyone out there.
You're still building roads, settlements, and cities. This time however, there is a barbarian horde sailing across the sea in bound to the island. When they arrive to sack the cities, you must use your knights to defend the land and drive them off. Don't worry, they'll be back, again and again. The new element is building knights to protect with, the player with the fewest knights will find themselves losing a city. Knights can grow in strength and need to be activated after they are used. They can also drive off the dreaded Robber token and harass neighboring knights and rival cities.
What better way to defend your cities than with a castle wall? Castle walls are another new element, and they don't do much except to allow you to keep more cards in your hand, which I guess is pretty handy after all.
In addition to the resources of wheat, ore, brick, wood, and sheep, there's three new ones that dovetail off of wood, sheep, and ore; paper, cloth, and coin respectively. By using these resources you can upgrade your cities by turning them into fortresses, abbeys, marketplaces, and the like. There's additional building tracks to follow that utilize these new buildings, and based on what level building you have you might get additional benefits. One that comes to mind is the aqueduct, which allows you to take a single resource card (of your choice) on a turn if none of your resource numbers get rolled.
The Land of Mikatonia
Nestled in the fertile pastures and rich forests of Catan is the land of Mikatonia. An extensive road network stretches to the coast where Mikatonia's main harbor lies. Rumors and tales abound from the unspoken relations between the humans of the city and the Nymphs and Dryads of the forests. Alliances have been rumored to have been forged with the reclusive Wood Elves as well. It is even said that the Knights of Mikatonia, princes of King Mik himself, share equal parts of human an Elven blood.