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Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

 
July 19, 2012
Gero Zahn

In a previous blog post, I have told the story of how I became a member of the Catan GmbH staff: in 1997, almost exactly 15 years ago, I was working on a purely private spare time project named “Space Settlers,” together with Markus, my best friend at the time. The “Space Settlers,” a close adaptation of “The Settlers of Catan,” replaced the mountains, pastures, and fields of the original Catan game with a space scenario. As a result, I met Klaus Teuber – and the rest is history. If that was a dream come true, the recent development regarding “Star Trek Catan” is even more amazing.

Star Trek Catan US Box frontal Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteAfter I had talked about my “Space Settlers” in August 2009 here in “The Bloggers of Catan,” some Catan fans asked me to bring my do-it-yourself game along to the Catan Weekend in Bilstein, Germany.

Space Siedler gespielt 1 150x150 Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

The Space Settlers of Catan

I was happy to comply with this request: many of the Catan players who watched us playing gave “my” game a surprised look – I’m unsure at this point whether Sebastian Rapp from Kosmos Verlag was one of them.

Tintenherz Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

Tintenherz (Inkheart) – The (German) game by Klaus Teuber, which was based on Cornelia Funke’s novel

About two years ago – in summer 2010 – Sebastian approached me and told me that Kosmos had entered into license negotiations with Paramount Pictures and CBS, respectively. This kind of contact between game publishers and film production companies is actually nothing unusual, because games that accompany movies or their source material are released all the time. For example, Kosmos carries, or carried, games that accompany “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” “Discworld,” “Tintenherz” (Inkheart), or “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

This time, however, Sebastian’s eyes were shining more than usual: he told me in confidence that a Star Trek license was being negotiated – well aware that both of us are dedicated Trekkies, that is, avid Star Trek fans. And so Star Trek Catan immediately became one of my pet projects. After extensive deliberation Klaus, Sebastian, and I as well as the rest of the Catan team agreed that “The Settlers of Catan” is extremely well suited for a Star Trek license edition. To put it in a nutshell: Catan epitomizes constructiveness and cooperation, where often the journey is the destination and, in many cases, you can only win if you make amicable arrangements with the opponents. And that’s extremely compatible with what Star Trek also stands for.

Starfarers klein Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

The Starfarers of Catan

We thought that to allow both Catan fans and Star Trek fans relatively intuitive access to each other’s universes, a complex, stand-alone Catan scenario in the fashion of “The Starfarers of Catan” would be rather unsuitable. The starting point, therefore, was my “Settlers of Catan” adaptation “Space Settlers,” whose unchanged game mechanics also worked well visually. We “only” had to transfer it from its generic, public-domain context I intentionally had given it back then, to the Star Trek universe. Although Sebastian and I were able to accomplish this task in no time, it quickly became clear that the game would have had too little relation to Star Trek had we left it only at that.

Helfer von Catan Original Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

“Die Helfer von Catan” (The Helpers of Catan) – Original Version

Soon Klaus had the great idea to incorporate the recently published mini expansion “Die Helfer von Catan” (The Helpers of Catan). We were able to replace the characters on these very useful additional cards with Star Trek characters, while maintaining the functions of the cards. However, before starting to work on this matter we definitely had to test it on a prototype – without attracting too much attention. Those who participated in the Catan Weekend 2010 may recall that once again I had brought my “Space Settlers” with me. This time, however, I also carried a set of “helper” cards that featured “neutral” images of the alien races from “Starfarers” but already displayed texts that matched the space scenario. How wonderful: My “Space Settlers” had become the “Star Trek Catan” prototype. … Sebastian looked intently over our shoulders while we were playing. The game worked extremely well.

Space Siedler mit Helfern Bilstein Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

Space Settlers with helper cards – Photo: Roland G. Hülsmann

Gruenes Volk Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteDiplomaten Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteWanderndes Volk Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

“Space Settlers” helper cards with “Starfarers” motifs

Since Kosmos meanwhile had acquired the Paramount license, we were free to draw on the full spectrum of characters of the classical Enterprise crew, which is why the game contains “support” cards – the former “helper” cards – depicting Jim Kirk, Spock, “Bones” McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, and all the others. Their faces are from the times of “Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” featuring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, and others.

Kirk big Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteSpock big Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteMcCoy big Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

Star Trek Catan support cards – Click to enlarge

Of course, the real “Star Trek Catan” can’t be played with the generic wooden game pieces of my “Space Settlers.” Beautiful, detailed game pieces were created instead, modeled after the objects that appear in the films. Below, three photos from early prototypes are shown, without colors, fabricated by means of a rapid prototyper machine. By the way, in the game, the robber is represented by the “Klingon Battle Cruiser.”

Enterprise Prototype x300 Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteRaumstation Prototype x300 Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteKlingon Battle Cruiser Prototype x300 Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now Complete

Prototypes for game pieces – Click to enlarge

Gero Trekkie Blog Star Trek Catan – The Circle Is Now CompleteAnd so, the circle is now finally complete: back in 1997 I created a Catan adaptation for myself that combined two hobbies of mine, Star Trek and Catan. This later resulted in my becoming a member of the Catan team led by Klaus Teuber. Today, these two parts of my life have come together – with the help of my former spare time project and my editorial support – in the form of an official license edition. What could be more pleasant for me as a Trekkie?
… I am really looking forward to meeting all of you Star Trek and Catan fans in person at GenCon Indy next month, where we will be demoing the game for you.
Gero Zahn

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Just played Star Trek Catan for the first time tonight and it was great. Love the addition of the helpers. Please tell me there is going to be an expansion so more people can play at one time.
I agree with the above, and too hope for many expansions to come.
Gero Zahn
There are thoughts being tossed around – however, I am not yet at liberty to discuss those. Please stay tuned, follow our news on catan.com, Twitter, and Facebook, and you'll be the first to know if there is something we'd like to share with the public.
Just played Star Trek Catan and thought it was great. Add me to the list of people hoping for an expansion, I would love to be able to play with my whole family, as we are all Trekkies and fans of Catan.
Great adaptation for Sttlers. Hope an wxpansion is out soon.
I am about to buy this as my "cottage" edition of Catan. I have all the expansions for base catan, and and more specifically looking for the 5-6 player expansion for this, and instead of going with some sort of Cities and Knights adaptation, maybe just a 7-8 player expansion as well.
Gero Zahn
I am sorry, a 5-6 player extension for Star Trek Catan is currently not in the pipeline. But please stay tuned for additional news.
I'm about to unbox it! I haven't even read the rules, but... will the 2 players Catan variant work with this? It accounts for 90% of my catan games.
Gero Zahn
@Zosete This is a really good question – actually we have never tried that. As Star Trek Catan minus the character cards is exactly the Catan Base Game, the 2 player variant as described in the “Traders & Barbarians” manual should work quite nicely. Beyond that, yy gut feeling says that adding the character cards for the two remaining players shouldn't pose a problem. Feel free to try and give us your feedback! :-)
So if a 5-6 player expansion is not in the works; what about other expansions? A TNG board or a deluxe version with new miniatures that match their races? With a Wil Wheaton bump I can only see the popularity of this board increase.
Gero Zahn
@Mellon Please be patient for a little while longer – there will be something in the news concerning Star Trek Catan real soon.
When can we expect to hear the star trek catan related news that you speak of?
Mr. Zahn, your above post makes me really happy :) I commented back in December, and this is still my family's favorite game, and the game we grab first when friends come over. Long live Catan and expansions for it. I hope the Star Trek version is doing your company well and gives you the opportunities to do more with it!
Gero Zahn
@Sgt.Pepper Soon, very soon now.
It would be nice to see an expansion of some sort for this great game. I have played it a few times and have bought a copy of it, so now we wait for this news...
Gero Zahn
@MikeH Very soon now. :-)
I'm hoping this new thing will be something like a seafarers expansion
Gero Zahn
@Machinista and @ all the others: Sorry, not really a “Seafarers” expansion, and no 5-6 expansion either for now. But you might want to have a look at this page: “Star Trek Catan – Federation Space” – http://www.catan.com/game/star-trek-catan-federation-space
My family would like to play Star Trek Catan together but only four players are supported and we are a family of 5. Is there a future plan for an expansion? If not I guess we'll have to sell Star Trek Catan and grab the original, that would be a real shame as we all like the theme a lot more than the original game.
This is a great game and in the process of buying the expansion pack, I too would love to see 5 to 6 players added to this game. Now that the expansion pack is out, any possibility for the addition of more players?
Gero Zahn
@Daniel, @Mrracer Sorry – we decided that we actually wanted to add more “flesh to the bone”, more content to the Star Trek / Catan crossover. We couldn't do both (for various reasons, mostly license-wise), so unfortunately, the chances for a 5-6 player extension are slim to non-existent. — If you go to all lengths to buy a second copy of the board-game and spray-paint two sets of pieces in different colors, you will have everything you need to play with 6 players, including enough development cards and resource cards. The expansion has been tested with 6 players, although it's not in the manual and you'll have to figure out yourself how exactly to do this. Sorry, unfortunately I can't tell you anything else besides this.
I bought this game for my wife for Xmas, it was our first game of Catan we'd ever played, much fun has been had so far!
I am really disappointed that the 5-6 player extension has a "slim to non-existent" chance of being released. Especially since the support cards are numbered 1-6 in the base game. (ie, "A5-JAMES T. KIRK" and "A6- LEONARD MCCOY". Did I somehow miss the point of the numbers on the support cards?? Also, Can we expect to see any more expansions coming out for this version of the game other than Federation Space? Or is this version of the game simply a short lived re-theme, like so many versions of monopoly. (Tongue in cheek here! Obviously with the Federation Space expansion it is more than a "monopoly re-theme".) I had no plans to buy my own copy of Catan until this theme came out. So many people I know have the vanilla version of Catan that it was low on my priority list. What I am hoping is that I haven't backed myself into a corner by purchasing a version of the game that is unlikely to see much future support. If that is the case I should have bought the original for its greater replay-ability and flexibility through its many expansions/extensions, or simply not bought it at all since my friends own it and its expansions. Crossing my fingers this wasn't just a gimmick. I am sure I sound petty and ungrateful in this post as I talk about my concerns. Therefore I would be remiss if I did not say thank you for all your work in getting this version published! The support cards add depth and flavor to a game I often find to simple for my tastes. Federation Space was a fantastic idea to expand this game and I love the dedication to cannon in its creation. I am very very pleased with my "gimmick" even if it all ends here. I am just hoping that it wont.
Gero Zahn
@Rambriholm Yes, you're right: The numbering indicates the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, ..., 6th player. You see, the card features that went into the Star Trek characters came from the small expansion “The Helpers of Catan” that had already been out in Germany back then and that has been published in the USA just recently. http://www.catan.com/game/catan-scenarios-helpers-catan Having “A5” and “A6” on the two cards comes from this history of development, but for Star Trek Catan, it's more of a misprint than anything else. About the future for Star Trek Catan: Well, the sky is the limit. :) This being said: Crossover licenses are rarely meant to last forever. So: I'm happy that you're pleased with what we've achieved by now. We'll try to keep an open mind about future developments.
+1 to wanting a 5-6 player expansion. I did just get the Federation Space expansion which I'm looking forwards to trying. I would be quite prepared to buy a second set of ST:C if I could find 'rules' for 5-6 players somewhere... ;-)
Gero Zahn
@Lars You see, “Star Trek Catan” equals regular “Settlers of Catan” plus “Helpers of Catan” – and all that “in cosplay", if you will. So as soon as you have six differently colored sets of game pieces (e.g. by spray-painting two from the second copy), you should find everything you need to know in the 5-6 player extension manual for the regular game. You can find it here on catan.com as a free PDF download, e.g. here: http://www.catan.com/game/settlers-catan-extension-5-6-players#downloads – We also offer the “Helpers” manual here: http://www.catan.com/game/catan-scenarios-helpers-catan#downloads
My wife and I have a daughter, a son-in-law, and a son with us, so a five player extension would be great. However, we have come up with a temporary solution - whichever of the three youngsters misbehaves the most during the week is the odd man (or woman) out. The level of behavior around here has improved greatly!
Gero Zahn
@Larry A draconian, but yet effective solution – we'd never have figured that one of our games could have such an immediate influence on children's well-behaving. ;-)
You guys really, really need to revisit the option of a 5-6 player expansion; It's costing you sales of the base game. I'd love to pick it up, but it's essentially unusable without the expansion.
We all love the Trek version(admittedly better than the original Catan) . What would be even better is at the very least to provide a 5-6 player expansion set. Should just be simple economics for the makers of the game. More options equals more money from the players!
Gero Zahn
@Jacob Simple economics the the makers of the tiny plastic pieces – but not so simple anymore when crossover licenses are involved. We don't have to argue about the monetary value of the additional production costs of a bag of game pieces, but we decided to create the “Federation Space” expansion to add “flesh to the bone” and take the crossover further, instead of “just” adding two more colors.
I finally bought the Star Trek Settlers of Catan game. I deliberated for the past two years or so, but kept opting out because I already have multiple copies of the standard game. Finally, I saw it for 20% off and bought it. I love it! I like the adaptation and especially like the helper cards. As I am not a big fan of playing the 5-6 player expansion, I would rather see a Seafarers expansion be produced. I especially like the Seafarers scenario where you discover hexes as you build ships out. Now I am tempted to buy a second set and try to create my own Seafarers version (although I still have to figure out if/how I will distinguish "road" starships from "ship" starships). Thanks so much to you and everyone that worked with you to produce this version of an already amazing game.
Gero Zahn
@Phil: Thank you for the accolade! – As you already pointed out: A Seafarers (SF) expansion for Star Trek Catan (STC) is hard to imagine. We already have “ships” bridging gaps in open space. In regular Settlers of Catan (SoC) you can differentiate between land tiles and sea tiles. So to make something similar happen in STC, you would need to have “deep space” tiles without celestial bodies – which can't be bridged with regular space ships. Which rises the question: What would be SoC/SF style ships be in STC to gap those tiles? Perhaps ships equipped with a “trans warp drive” like the Excelsior in “ST-III: The Search for Spock”; but then again, this trans warp drive never really worked. Instead of that, we could imagine trans warp conduits, but those are known only in ST:Voyager; likewise, stable wormholes are known only in ST:DS9 ... and there's only one known stable wormhole. So, as you can see, it's not as if we hadn't done our homework and at least thought about all that. But let me tell you: I'm afraid it's not very likely that a SF style expansion could happen for STC. — However, you might want to check out our “Federation Space” map expansion for Star Trek Catan: http://www.catan.com/game/star-trek-catan-federation-space
Yes, that's why I wrote "if/how". I realize that it wouldn't really translate accurately. Only wishful thinking, I guess. It would make more sense to just use the same ships (even though that would deviate from the standard rules), but still pay the equivalent of wood+sheep and "land" ships would be prohibited from moving the way shipping routes can. Then I would still have to make empty space hexes. Sounds like Federation Space is the only way to go (without the discovery aspect, which I love more than anything).
For a Seafarers type of expansion just add communication beacons and have them replace Starships and use the Starships instead of ships. As for Space hexes there are already some very good ones out there. For the "pirate" how about a Romulan War Bird? There, that was easy! Come on Kosmos/Mayfair! We need more extensions/ expansions for ST Catan!
Gero Zahn
@Phil Either way, we'd definitely have to add game material for the additional “deep space ships” – either additional, identical ships, or differently looking ships.
Gero Zahn
@Matin This sounds promising – why don't you do it as a hobby project and show us photos? :) But joking aside: There are certainly always ways to “think” these things – but especially when it comes to cross-over licenses, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to Star Trek, we as a licensee wouldn't want to do something ... half-baked, in terms of the licensor, who will need to like it. For the time being, we don't have something like that in the pipeline. But nothing is written in stone yet, things might change over time – the sky is the limit.
No joking needed. Here is an excerpt of a post I made in a different place about this: "You would also need 60 spaceship replacements. For this I would use the Starships as boat replacements and come up with a new road replacement for the base game. (I was thinking a good possibility would be shuttle craft or communications beacons. A possible source of parts (colour issues aside) would be 10 army pieces from an old Risk game (wooden ) or a newer (pre soldier, cannon, mounted) 10 army piece from Risk (Plastic). I envision the wooden one would be shuttle craft or the plastic would be a communications beacon. " Obviously Kosmos / Mayfair would be able to generate much nicer parts than Risk pieces if they were to make this expansion... Romulan Warbirds are available in appropriate sizes from Amazon to replace the Pirate... I'm strapped for cash but I will be doing something like this when I do get the bucks to buy a second copy. With reasonably minimal fuss one can make a 5/6 player extension and still have enough parts left to make much of a Seafarers expansion. I'd love to up photos but I don't think it is possible with this forum. As I stated earlier there are some great space hexes already out there, so the only Issues are the missing Asteroid fields (could be replaced by Black Hole Hexes) and the 2 Gold hexes. If it were Dr Who we would be looking at planet Voga...
@Gero, if May 2013 posts, you mentioned that there would soon be some "star trek related" news would be forthcoming soon... Did that "news" fade out, or is there still something pending?
Gero Zahn
@David That was about the “Federation Space” map expansion. http://www.catan.com/game/star-trek-catan-federation-space
Just wanted to add that a 5-6 player expansion of the base game would be ideal. There are multiple requests from many individuals here and in external forums. We are all dying to get one. I do not see how convincing the licensor would be that difficult. Show them what everyone is saying. If the sky is the limit, I do not see where the difficulty is. Cheers!!
Love the level of detail and thought that has gone into this game! It has made playing the regular game a little anti-climatic though, who wants to place wooden rectangles as roads instead of lovely little starships?! We actually have started playing with the Klingon battle cruiser in place of the robber! A 5-6 player expansion would be amazing as then we could play this version so much more often. Love the federation expansion and the work that has gone into it, I just wish I could share it with more than a couple of friends each time we play it. Thanks! :)

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