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Catan: Cities & Knights - Board Game Box Shot

Catan: Cities & Knights

Catan: Cities & Knights game in play
image © Mayfair Games

"White Glove Demo"

An overview of the game and tutorial of how to play.

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Dark clouds are gathering over the peaceful island of Catan. Wild barbarians, attracted by the wealth of Catan, sailed to attack the country. Fortunately, warning has given Catan time to meet the danger. The size of the barbarian army corresponds to the number of cities in Catan. Thus, for Catan to fend off the barbarian attack, the players must form a knight force as strong as the barbarian force.

In addition to fending off the barbarians, players compete to build the three great metropolises of Catan. Each of these magnificent centers are worth two additional victory points. To build a metropolis, players must invest in city improvements. To acquire these improvements, players must acquire the three new types of Trade Cards: Coinage, Paper, and Cloth. These cards can only be gained by building a city next to mountain, forest, or pasture hexes.

User Reviews (14)

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Marquis / Marchioness
Advanced Reviewer
Professional Advisor Beta 1.0 Tester
102 of 110 gamers found this helpful
“Practically an entirely new game”

Cities & Knights is a Settlers of Catan expansion that introduces knights, barbarians, and more to the mix. In fact, this game adds so much that it changes the game and strategy drastically, and many players never go back to base Settlers after playing Cities & Knights.

Each turn, players roll an additional die. The results of this die can move barbarians closer to attacking, give bonus cards to players who have city improvements (explained later). Players can also build soldiers, and activate them with wheat. Soldiers have various abilities and are mobile, but their most notable ability is that when the barbarians attack, the collective power of all soldiers in Catan are compared against the power of the barbarians, which is equal to the number of cities in Catan. If Catan loses, the player(s) contributing the fewest soldiers lose their cities to a settlement. If Catan wins, the singular player contributing the most soldiers gets a victory point, or a bonus card if multiple players tie for the most soldiers.

The other aspect of this game is the concept of city improvements. Wood, wool, and ore now all produce a special trade good instead of a second resource for adjacent cities. These trade goods can be traded for city improvements in one of the three areas. After enough improvements, these can be worth up to two points each, and even provide protection for one of your cities from the barbarians.

There is much more added to the game, but these are the major changes to the game. The components that have been added are great. There are many more wood components, a lot of new cards with excellent artwork, and more tiles for the board.

With all of the new additions, this game is also has more complicated rules. The new rules set will take more time to comprehend and get used to, but if you’re willing to invest the time for it, it’s worth it.

C&K takes the Catan series from a simple family game to a higher level abstract strategy game. If you want to keep the game simple, stick with Settlers and Seafarers, but if you’re getting bored with the simplicity of Settlers, pick up C&K.

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United Kingdom
96 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“The Reinvention of Gateway”

You were introduced to the boardgaming hobby with Settlers and you managed to avoid (probably) the 5-6 player expansion. But the gameplay starts getting a little bit repetitive, so you are thinking of reinvigorating the game with Cities & Knights. Should you do it?

The rules: The Cities & Knights expansion adds a lot. A whole lot. Settling Catan successfully was the only target in the base game. In C&K, this is not enough, as you must now also think about city development and defense. Apart from the usual resources of the base game, specific terrains now produce one of three commodities, provided that a city is built next to them. Commodities are the means to inner city development and if the urban infrastructure grows enough, a city becomes a metropolis, which is worth more victory points and is immune to attacks. Moreover, a special event die determines every turn if the barbarian fleet advances one step closer to Catan in order to pillage and destroy. If the players invest in the island defense by recruiting knights, there will be no problem; otherwise, cities may turn to rubble because of those savages.

The opinion: If you are a newcomer, avoid this game for now. Play the base game a lot, enjoy it and understand its mechanics. When you do that, go immediately and buy C&K. The depth that it provides is immense. Everyone I’ve played with admits that C&K is a must-have expansion for Settlers, as it turns a simple game into a challenging experience (but not overwhelming, at least for experienced players) by providing a plethora of choices and almost never making you feel that you are out of the game. The only drawback I can think of is the extra time that it needs to complete, as the game now lasts well over 2,5 hours. But if you enjoy Settlers but you now need a more challenging way to play, C&K is the perfect choice. Added depth, added length

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Intermediate Reviewer
Chief Inspector
El Dorado
105 of 114 gamers found this helpful
“My favourite game expansion!”

Well, what can I say about this glorious title… I trust you are already familiar with the standard/basic Settlers of Catan game? Good. Then let us begin!

It uses all the normal rules of the basic Settlers and builds upon it quite substantially. You can also mix this expansion with the Seafarers of Catan, as well as some of the scenarios in the Traders & Barbarians expansion. The Development Cards are removed and not used for this expansion, but you won’t miss them as they have been replaced by the superior Progress Cards. The winner is the first to reach 13 Victory Points; no easy feat.

On your turn you will roll three dice! The first die is a standard white D6 for determing production, as per normal rules. The second is a red D6 also for determing production, as well as for the drawing of Progress Cards (more on this later). And the third is the Event die, for determing what kind of Progress Card may be drawn, or whether the Barbarians will move one step closer to attacking the island of Catan! You roll all three dice together – resolve the production for all players first using both the white & red dice, and then resolve the results of the Event die: if a black ship is rolled, move the Barbarians one space closer to the island. If a yellow, blue or green city is rolled, then all players check to see if they are lucky enought to draw Progress cards.

In this version, players begin with 2 Roads, 1 Settlement and 1 City. You have more building options. For 2 Brick you can build a City Wall piece which fits nicely underneath one of your cities and allows you to increase your hand of cards by +2 whenever a 7 is rolled. For 1 Wool, 1 Ore and 1 Grain you can build the most important piece in the game: the Knight.

Knights are awesome and come in three different strengths: Basic, Strong and Mighty. When you place a new Knight on the map, he has to go on one of your Road intersections and he will be a Basic Knight to start with. Knights can move along your Roads to different intersections as required. They can battle with and displace enemy Knights and this is resolved by comparing their relative strength levels: Basic(1), Strong(2) and Mighty(3). Strong beats Basic, and Mighty beats both Strong and Basic. If one of your enemy’s Roads is intersected with one of your Roads, a Knight can move to that intersection and block the further Road building progress of the other player. If an enemy Knight was on that intersection, you can chase him away with your Knight – if yours was stronger.

Knights can also be used to chase away the Robber, just like rolling a 7 (except that nobody has to count their cards and discard half etc). Just move the Robber and take a card at random from the hand of the victim as per normal rules.

The Knights themselves are represented by a circluar wooden piece, and they have two sides to them – Active (colour) and Inactive (black & white). Whenever a Knight performs an action (moving, displacing an enemy knight, chasing away the robber etc) he becomes Inactive and is flipped over to his b/w side. All Knights come into play Inactive to start with. It costs 1 Grain to activate a Knight. They can also be promted to the next strength level for the cost of 1 Wool & 1 Ore.

But the main reason for having Knights on the map is this: they help to defend the island of Catan from the ever persistent Barbarians who will invade. The barbarians are represented by a little back ship piece which moves along a track on a specially designed sea tile, from their home island to Catan itself. When they reach the final space on the track, they begin their raid on the island! The Barbarian attack strength is equal to the total number of Cities on the map (and bear in mind that each player starts the game with 1 anyway!) This is then compared to the defence strength of the players. Each Active knight on the map is counted towards this total strength; Inactive Knights do not count. So the players have to work together in this regard and this adds a nice element of mutual cooperation and a common goal – to defeat the barbarians every time they attack, which will be often!

If the Barbarians are stronger they win – and the player who contributed the lowest number of Active Knights will be penalised by having one of his Cities reduced to a mere Settlement (this can of course be rebuilt later). If the players are stronger they win – the player who contributed the highest number of Active Knights now gets a ‘Defender of Catan’ card, worth 1 Victory Point. If two or more players tie for this, then they all get to select a Progress card of their choice from one of the three different stacks. In either case, the Barbarians go back to the beginning of their movement track and prepare to make sail for Catan again… Also, ALL Knights are flipped over to their inactive side.

Which brings us to Progress Cards! These are awesome and you won’t win the game without them. The whole point in this expansion is to develop and improve your Cities’ culture, and you do this by drawing Progress Cards. They come in three seperate stacks: Trade (yellow), Politics (blue) & Science (green).

Progress is tracked by using a City Development Calender. This is a flipchart divided into 3 coloured branches: Trade (yellow), Politics (blue) and Science (green). Whenever you achieve the next level of City Development in a given branch, flip the appropriate section of your calender over. Each branch has 6 levels to it and provides more benefits to you as you progress. Whenever a player reaches the 5th level of progress, they can then place a large yellow Metropolis piece over one of their Cities; it fits nicely and combines to make an awesome structure. Your City is now a Metropolis and is now worth 4 Victory Points! However, if another player reaches the 6th level of the branch they will take the Metropolis from you!

Players still collect the 5 main resources from the production of their Settlements (Lumber, Brick, Grain, Wool & Ore cards) as normal. They can also produce Commodities at their Cities. Commodity Cards are three in variety: ‘Cloth’ which comes from Pasture hexes, ‘Coin’ from Mountain hexes, and ‘Paper’ from Forest hexes. In the standard game, a City would normally produce two of a Resource for you; in Cities & Knights it will produce one Resource and one Commodity. Commodities are added to your hand, just like Resource Cards, and are counted towards the limit when a 7 is rolled, as normal. Commodities may be traded in the normal ways.

You use your Commodities to build improvements on your City Development Calendar. Cloth will improve your City’s Trade progress branch, Coin will improve your Politics branch, and Paper your Science branch. Each of the 6 levels on each of the 3 branches costs one extra Commodity to achieve. So for example, level 1 of the Trade branch will cost you 1 Cloth, level 2 will cost you 2 Cloth, etc. Each level of city improvement you reach will increase your chances of being able to draw those all imperative Progress Cards. Players can decide which branch they want to focus on, although its obviously better to improve on all three gradually.

So what do these Progress Cards do? Well, they specialise in three areas of the game: Trade, Politics and Science. They are drawn when you roll the dice (and are lucky enough to get one) and you may hold up to 4 in your hand. You may not trade them in any way. You can play as many cards on your turn as you wish, even if you just drew one this turn. Trade cards give you great bonuses on trading with other players or the bank, among many other benefits. Politics cards will allow you to do some sneaky and often nasty things to your opponents, like spying on his/her progress cards and taking one, or even stealing one of his/her Knights. Science cards will provide you with cost cutting ways to get those City Improvements as well as the odd Victory point cards thrown in too. Each different deck has its advantages.

To summarise then – improve your Cities, build plenty of Knights and keep them active as often as possible, play your Progress Cards wisely… and you might just emerge the Victor. This amazing expansion adds heaps of extra depth to the game and I for one won’t play the basic Settlers anymore. I seriously recommend this game to anybody who has been playing the Settlers of Catan and is looking for something a little more complex.

Well, I’ve covered the main rules in some detail here but there is still so much more to imbibe. I will say that the general quality of the game components is absolutely first rate!

The Cities & Knights of Catan is one of my favourite board games of all time. I’ve been playing it a good many years now and I still do not tire of it. Don’t delay – buy it if you don’t already have it.

I certainly hope this review was helpful to you!

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I play black
Knight-errant Gold Supporter
69 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“Advances a family game into a strategy game”

Wow! Like many, I was introduced to Euro gaming through Settlers of Catan, which will always own a special place in my heart and collection. You may even say that I am obsessed with Catan, as I own almost every Catan game and variant out there, including both Anniversary editions. I even have a custom player set (Black, because that is my preferred color), and carrying case for all of the 4th edition sets and extensions.

I will not play Settlers anymore, though. If I play Catan, there a minimum standard: it must include Cities and Knights. It can also include Seafarers, maybe a variant from Traders & Barbarians or Das Buch, or maybe not. It simply must include C&K. Here’s why:

More ways to get VPs
Sheep are not only more useful, but essential
Progress cards in different technology areas (Science, Civics, Religion) are so much better than Development cards (see below)
Knights (the new unit) not only are necessary, but have gameplay functionality: you can chase the robber off of your hexes, or evict other players weaker knights, and block road building.

There are balance improvements with the cards: Monopolies only take two resources per player (or one Commodity), and specializations are rewarded by more Progress cards. There are still some new balance issues: one type of card lets you swap the number counters on two hexes. This can be crippling to a player.

You can’t buy Progress cards, however. They are gained by improving your civilization’s technologies using a new type of good: commodities. There are three commodities added to the five resources. Mountains now also generate Coins in addition to ore, Pastures generate Cloth in addition to sheep, and Forests generate Paper in addition to wood. Cities next to these regions generate ONE resource plus one commodity. Settlements only generate the base resource as in Settlers. As you spend commodities to improve your techs, you gain progress cards more frequently during the die roll resolution phase.

You must now also defend against barbarian raids. If your collective armies of knights are not strong enough, the weakest player can lose a city (it becomes a settlement). If ever a player has no cities, they can no longer improve their technologies until they build a new city.

As you can tell, this is a much deeper game than Settlers, and much more complicated, though it’s still not a Caylus or Power Grid on the complexity scale. It is however, much more satisfying to play. There’s more potential screwage though, so bear that in mind if your group doesn’t like that.

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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
79 of 89 gamers found this helpful
“Brings Catan back to experienced players”

While Settlers of Catan has long been on the list of “gateway” games that grow quickly boring to experienced gamers, the Cities and Knights expansion adds enough depth to bring it right back onto the table.

A key problem with Settlers has always been the ramp up of expansion in the endgame. The first person to a city has a severe edge, as they start to gain double resources. In my experience, the first player to a second city is the game winner. Cities and Knights pushes back on this by adding Commodities, advanced resources you can only gain once you have built a city. Now, instead of gaining two stone on a turn, you would get one stone and one Coin. This slows the expansion down while allowing for some fun new options.

Gaining Commodities allows you to expand your civilization, which is the only way to get Development cards. Once you build up enough, you also gain a few special abilities, such as gaining a resource of your choice on any turn where you don’t earn anything. The development cards are varied and provide huge benefits, making them a very important part of the game.

Meanwhile, the Barbarians continue their inevitable series of invasions. Players need to maintain an army of knights in order to hold back the horde. If the Barbarians ever do invade, the player who contributed least to defense has one of their cities razed to the ground. On the other hand, the strongest military gains a victory point when the horde is repelled.

Cities and Knights adds a ton of new mechanics, allowing players to choose different routes to victory. Instead of the one-note race of regular Settlers, this expansion takes strategy and planning to win.

If you have ever wished to go back to those innocent days of Settlers but just can’t bring yourself to play such a simple game, then this expansion is for you.

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I Am What I Am
86 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“Lives up to the title of "Expansion"”

This expansion adds:

– 3 new “commodities” which act similar to resources
– A new co-op competition against the infamous “barbarian invasion”
– The Metropolis upgrade for cities.
– A reason for using two different color dice!
– A new event die!

This expansion also changes:

– The way knights works (it also adds three tiers of knights)
– The importance of cities

There are most definitely a few more things I haven’t mentioned but consider this the “gist” of changes.

Basically if you are looking for an expansion to spice up the Catan board a little more than Seafarers and bring economies more into the game C&K is the expansion you are looking for. Traders and Barbarians definitely adds more, but this is more refined and still a huge change worth the investment.

I’m taking two points off Easy to Learn because of how long it will take to adapt to the new rules and components. I’m taking one point off components because of how complex some things are explained in the rules book while some minor points are not fully explained.

Would I recommend this expansion? Definitely.

Took us 4 hours for 4 players on our first game.
Our 2nd game the following week took about 2 – 2 and 1/2 hours.

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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
87 of 103 gamers found this helpful
“It's a whole new island!”

Cities & Knights changes the Catan game profoundly. The basic working of the game (throwing dice, building roads, villages and cities) is left unchanged, but a lot is different from the basic game. For starters, you begin the game by placing a village and a city instead of just two villages. This is probably done to ensure everyone is able to profit from the new way of resource production. Tiles with forests, grasslands and mountains no longer produce two wood, wool and ore, but produce one of these basic resources and one trade resource (paper for forests, cloth for grasslands and coin for mountains). These trade resources you can use to build city improvements, which in turn might give you development cards.

The development cards are thus no longer for sale, but are earned by those with improvements in their cities. Each turn a red die is rolled along with the white die and if a third die (completely new) shows a city symbol the players with the appropriate color in city improvements (green for improvements built with paper – science, yellow for improvements built with cloth – trade – and blue for improvements built with coin – politics) receives a development card with that color. These development cards give a lot of different bonuses when played.

The greatest change is the addition of the barbarian fleet and the subsequent change in the use of knights. This fleet is placed a number of spaces from the coast of Catan and advances one space when the barbarian fleet symbol is rolled on the die which also contains the three city symbols (so barbarians move one space every two turns on average). The strength of the barbarians is equal to the number of cities on the board. Players have to commit knights to the defense of Catan – these knights are now pieces on the board and have three strength categories.

However, the knights need to be activated by spending 1 grain (the army must eat!). So at the start there usually is a race to get an activated knight on the board, because the player committing the least strength to the defense of the island will lose a city (it is reduced to a village). This only happens when the barbarians win, so when the players do not commit more knights than there are cities on the board. When the strength of the combined knights is equal or greater than the strength of the barbarian fleet, the player with the greatest strength in knights wins a point (Savior of Catan) – in case of a tie the tied players each get a development card of their choice. Also note you can use activated knights to send an adjacent robber to another tile!

Still afraid of the robber? You can build city walls in this expansion, which add two to the number of cards you can safely hold in your hands. And last, but not least, players can build metropolises by finishing all city improvements. They get to place the metropolis piece over their city which is protected from barbarians from that time. In addition a metropolis is worth two points!

Personally, I like both the original Catan and this expansion (or changion?) Cities & Knights. The latter gives players more possible avenues of growth and more strategies are possible. Just sitting on grain and ore will not work anymore and players that get stuck in one part of the game have room in another. It does add some length to the game, but I think it’s well worth it. When I play with experienced Catan players, Cities & Knights almost always hits the table! If you haven’t played it yet, try it. I highly recommend it!

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Gave My First Grade
67 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“Not for everbody”

I really enjoyed this expansion, but it is not for the casual or social gamer as it takes more strategy to pull off the win.

With the split of commodities and resources you can end up with a lot of cards that clog your hand. The way they got around this is with the introduction of a wall that lets you hold more cards.

The new research also adds some depth and growth to your nation, but can let some players dominate if they get off to a early start.

I have to admit, I enjoyed watching the barbarians burn my friends city because I withheld the trade of grain that would have atctivated his knight.

A good expansion, just not for everybody.

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Critic - Level 1
67 of 107 gamers found this helpful
“Adds Depth”

Cities and Knights takes the light game of Settlers into the mid-light range. This expansion introduces a semi-cooperative element that can be manipulated into vicious attacks on your opponents, a light city building element that sub-divides the general race for points, and more player interaction through the new progress cards.

In every way this is an improvement on an already superb game.

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Platinum Supporter
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
I play blue
68 of 111 gamers found this helpful
“My Favorite Settlers Expansion”

Cities and Knights adds a LOT more ways to gain points. Unfortunately, the thing that I like about it (that it is more complex) is also the thing that makes it more difficult to play with newbies. I’ve found that in a social setting, it’s better to start out by playing the basic Settlers of Catan instead of jumping right into Cities and Knights.

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Rated 5 Games
67 of 113 gamers found this helpful
“Good change: shifts resource balance”

This is a great game expansion. In addition to what Jon has said already, I’d add that it provides a slightly shifted value for the basic resources. Since you have to hire and feed Knights, your value for wheat in particular is slightly higher than in the original game. I find this balances out the resources.

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Gamer - Level 3
Critic - Level 2
67 of 122 gamers found this helpful
“Unecessarily complicating Settlers of Catan”

I enjoy a complex game, so I don’t find C&K to be horribly complex in an of itself. However, this expansion ruined the Settlers experience for some casual games. C&K unnecessarily complicated a great experience that regular Settlers of Catan offered for them. This expansion also adds to length of the game, making it the worst of the Settlers expansions in our experience.

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Rated 25 Games
56 of 107 gamers found this helpful
“Best Expansion”

Really makes Catan a meaty strategy game.

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Rated 10 Games
70 of 135 gamers found this helpful
“The REAL way to play Settlers”

This is the way Catan was meant to be played. The addition of commodities and upgrades to your cities is, in my opinion, the best part of this expansion. The added threat of the barbarian attacks helps to give the expansion an epic feel as you battle to establish control of the island. Players have to balance expansion with defense to make sure they aren’t the victims of an unfortunate barbarian raid.

The extra even die and progress cards are also very fun additions to the game and make it my favorite way to play Settlers.


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