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  • Writer's picture Danielle Reynolds - @TokenGaymer

Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch

Last night I finally had the chance to play Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch. A game made up of two of my favorite things! We played the first edition which you could tell was printed before it should have been. There were typos and repeated words which made some parts a bit confusing but over all the game was great! For people who have only played the original Settlers of Catan you learn fast that building the longest road isn’t your key to victory. Defending the wall from Wildlings is. Wildlings get sent into the Frostfangs with every victory point a player earns and moves with every die roll. Once five Wildlings fall into the same line they rush the wall. The closer to winning you get the closer the Wildlings get to taking over Westeros.

Regular Wildlings need to out number the brothers on the wall to jump over in Westeros. If they do breach the Wall the players as a whole get one step closer to the game ending. If there’s 3 breaches the game is over and the player with the most brothers left defending the Wall wins, becoming the new Lord Commander. I had one player in my group actively working to end the game since he had the most men on the Wall. Thankfully, Wildling climbers jump the wall and don’t injure your men or move up the end game counter. Giants kill the oldest standing man on the Wall and move the end game counter up if they make it to Westeros.

One thing that the original Settlers of Catan didn’t have was the cooperative element. We all wanted to win but with every additional victory point we were adding to the attack on the Wall. We started bartering for wood, sheep and brick to add additional men to the Wall. Unlike in normal Catan you would try and get the best bang for your buck in a barter, but one player started saying they will add a man to where ever the player wanted if they traded him for the missing piece he needed. This strategy helped this player win at the end. He used our fear of collectively losing to get what he needed to gain more victory points in the game by adding men to the Wall. Three men on the Wall in your color meant 1 victory point and five mean meant 2.

Since we played with 4 players, we very quickly became unable to move and expand our Keeps. This had me doubting anyone would reach 10 victory points. The only good thing about our inability to expand was every time you add or upgrade your Keep; Wildings are added to the game. Wildings are also added when longest road and army are won. Too late into the game I realized victory points could be found in the development cards. This was a quick way to free victory points with no Wildlings getting added to the board. Another tip I learned late into the game is the board is set up to have a safe area that Wildings can’t get to because of their designated movement path. I won’t spoil where but I’m sure you can quickly find it.

Wildlings in Westeros means more covered-up numbers similar to the thief in the original Catan. Meaning fewer resources for you and other players. The only way to remove Wildlings is my using character cards and their abilities. The Lord Commander himself, Jeor Mormont leads the Brotherhood of the Watch to defend the Wall in the game. Each player starts with a character card related to Game of Thrones. Most made sense like Samwell Tarly but then they added Ygritte, John Snow’s Wilding love interest and Melisandre the Red Priestess to the cards. Their abilities are helpful, but I didn’t see how they made sense with the rest. Maybe they wanted to add a few females to the Brotherhood? If that were the case Gilly should have been a character card. She did name her baby after Samwell Tarly and work on the Wall. Each character’s ability can be used up to twice during the game. Once a hero's ability has been used, players have a choice to keep that hero or choose another of the eleven characters to aide them. Personally, I found Samwell Tarly to be the most valuable character allowing you to gain a resource even if your number wasn’t rolled. Learning the character’s abilities will help you win in the end. Another fun addition to the game is Tormund Giantsbane taking the role of the thief in the game when a 7 gets rolled.

These extra elements really made the game exciting but don’t expect to play this game for just an hour. It took us around three. With the extra time needed to choose character cards, plan your next action and move Wildlings it takes time to win. Since the edition we played was the original there was some confusion with the typos. On the reference card it had “Keep” twice so you had to explain what you were making. I understood Catan wanted to jump on the Game of Thrones fad, but they should have taken more time to have their team review all their game pieces. A reference board should be one of the things people look at the most. In 2017, I saw this game’s premier at GenCon and I know the reason they rushed the printing was for this convention in August but editing only required having everyone on your team take a quick look. As a graphic designer I would hate myself for this large of a mistake being mass produced. If you find this typo in your game, you know you have a first edition. Hopefully someday it will become a collector’s edition worth something on Ebay!

This new edition’s character abilities had us constantly questioning what people were doing until we learned what they all did. After a few plays I believe the game would move much quicker. Since I am a huge Game of Thrones fan this addition worked great for me. I only questioned some of their character card choices but beyond that I had no issues with them tying the theme into this Catan game. It would have been nice to see the different houses, but I understand the focus was on the Brotherhood and not the Starks. I could see some people getting frustrated over the added complexity of the game though. Since this is a very pricey game they were nice enough to have the original Settlers of Catan put on the back of the board. The game map isn’t a honey comb, but you can play the original version if you end up hating the Game of Thrones side. I’m excited to try this game with less experienced players to get their thoughts. Overall, if you like Catan buy this game, especially if you enjoy Game of Thrones. If you like Game of Thrones but have never played Catan try out the game before you make that large purchase. Or play the original Catan on the back first to learn the basic rules. I played it at my local Hotsauce Games where they have game tables free to the public.

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