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Starfarers of Catan

Entry updated 20 December 2011. Tagged: Game.

Board Game (1999). Catan. Designed by Klaus Teuber.

Starfarers of Catan is a spinoff from Settlers of Catan (1995 Catan) designed by Klaus Teuber, which was the first product of the "German School" of Board Game design to achieve mass popularity outside continental Europe. German style games such as Settlers are characterized by an emphasis on ease of use and playability over simulational accuracy. Where Settlers positions its players as colonizers of an uninhabited island, Starfarers deals with the exploration of the galaxy. The players begin in the star system of Catan, from which they explore the two-dimensional map, discovering new worlds, trading with alien races and fighting randomly encountered pirates. Victory is achieved by some combination of settling planets, building up good relationships with alien species, and acquiring honour through heroic deeds, such as saving other ships from roaming marauders. Although the use of moving ships to represent the players' exploration of unknown solar systems is a major departure from the design of Settlers, Starfarers takes a similar approach to gameplay, notably in the provision of free "supplies from Earth" for losing players to ensure a closely balanced game. The visual style is consciously nostalgic, evoking the design of such early sf films as Destination Moon (1950). While the Starfarers mechanics lack some of the classic simplicity of Settlers, it is an interesting and highly playable game, rather more unpredictable and random in nature than its original.

Starship Catan (2001 Catan) designed by Klaus Teuber is a two-player Card Game set in the Starfarers milieu. The players adopt the roles of the captains of 2 Catanian starships that have become lost after passing through a Hyperspace Wormhole, and are investigating the area of space to which they have been transported while searching for a way home. Explorable planets are drawn from a deck of cards; available actions include colonization, trade, improving the player's spacecraft, fighting pirates and special missions such as famine relief. Victory is achieved by succeeding at these activities; the first player to gain a specified number of points wins. As with Starfarers, the tone is cheerful and deliberately reminiscent of early Space Opera.

Related works: Starfarers of Catan 5-6 Player Expansion (2001 Catan) designed by Klaus Teuber extends Starfarers to allow for 2 more players than the original game's limit of 4. There are three expansions for Starship Catan, all designed by Klaus Teuber to represent special missions: Starship Catan – 1st Mission: The Space Amoeba (2003 Catan); Starship Catan – 2nd Mission: The Asteroid (2003 Catan) and Starship Catan – 3rd Mission: The Diplomatic Station (2004 Catan). These expansions are freely downloadable from the game's website. [NT]


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