Explorers & Pirates – The New Expansion for “The Settlers of Catan” – Part 7
Part 7: Explorers & Pirates
The fifth and last scenario bears the name of the game itself. This is so because it is the game. All scenarios described before only serve to familiarize the players, step by step, with the missions and their tactical and strategic possibilities and comfortably lead them to the last scenario, that is, to the actual game.
To play “Explorers & Pirates,” you assemble the largest frame possible and include all three missions.
This results in a wide range of choices and decisions. Let's listen to the thoughts a player might have after launching a ship:
Should I use the ship to catch fish, or should I rather load it with crews to obtain the advantages bestowed by the villagers? Or maybe it is wiser to load a settler on the ship, to use him for founding a settlement in the more distant, unexplored area? If I later upgrade the settlement to a harbor settlement, I can build ships, crews, and more settlements there and thus would have to travel shorter distances. In the long run, that would be useful. But wait – Wolfgang has placed two crews on the Pirate Lair over there. I got to send a crew to that place quickly, otherwise he might take away the victory point I received for the Greatest Pirate Scourge ...
For experienced players it is certainly okay to skip the introductory scenario. However, I strongly advise against starting immediately with the final scenario, i.e., the actual game.
The first photo shows the final score of a 4-player test game of “Explorers & Pirates” that took 135 minutes and ended with 17:15:14:13 victory points. The second photo shows the final score of a 3-player test game of “Explorers & Pirates”; it took 100 minutes and ended with 17:16:13 victory points.
During the process of creating the expansion, I had developed further missions; however, they eventually didn't end up in the game box. The reason was that three missions already filled the box to the brim with game components, and additional missions would have made the game even more expensive.
One of the omitted missions was about protecting an island from a storm surge; in another, as many inhabitants of a volcanic island as possible had to be rescued by ship to save them from the lava flow; and the search for artifacts was the topic of a third omitted mission.
So, in the end, the three missions that were most well-received during the tests and also went best together were incorporated.
“Explorers & Pirates” also works well as a 2-player game. In this case, trading between players largely ceases to exist, but due to the varied strategic and tactical options and the competition for the three important special victory points the fun of playing the game is hardly affected.
As part of our “Explorers & Pirates” game presentation page, I address the issue of whether or not “Explorers & Pirates” can be combined with the three first expansions “Seafarers”, “Cities & Knights”, and “Traders & Barbarians” in a way that makes sense.