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Page 6 of the new Seafarers rulebook states:

"A general note on Catan rules. This is the 5th English-language edition of Catan Seafarers. Over the years, the rules have been clarified, refined, and occasionally updated. As of January 1, 2015, all of the rules in this version of Catan take precedence over any previously-published rules."

Is this notice simply a formality for the 5th edition release, or is there actually something that was changed, refined, clarified? (And I ask regarding any of the expansions, not just this one.) Because I can't find what it is.

Also, does anyone know if any of the default map layouts changed?

Screenshot of Seafarers Rulebook page 6

6

Changes to the base game

The biggest change in the base game is that the name has switched from "Settlers of Catan" to just "Catan". They've also updated the art (citation).

Changes to seafarers

Many of the scenario maps are different. It seems they used the maps from the 2008 German printing of seafarers when making 5th edition. The big change is that there are now separate maps for 3 players vs 4 players on the first four scenarios. Additionally, the layouts of "The Fog Islands" has been completely changed. For a look at historical Catan scenarios, see this compilation.


Prior to fifth edition

Between third and fourth edition of base Catan, they added a rule allowing you to move the robber to the desert, and renamed the "Soldier" card to a "Knight", presumably for terminology consistency with Cities and Knights.

Between third and fourth edition of Seafarers, they changed the game border from rectangular to hexagonal, meaning all of the scenario maps got changed then as well.

Also, see What are the differences between the four editions of The Settlers of Catan base game?

2

One clarification of the rules regards moving ships. In the 4th edition Seafarers Rulebook, there was a poor translation which made some people think that you could not ever move the ship that is closest to a homeport (i.e. you could never divorce a settlement and its first ship).

The 4th edition rules stated: "You may only move the ship that is at the end of the shipping route that is not connected to the “homeport” for that route."

Catan's product manager, Sebastian Rapp, clarified that this was a miscommunication. The wording in the 5th edition Seafarers rulebook has been updated with a new diagram to clarify the rule: A ship MAY be moved such that a settlement exists without a ship or a road attached.

Seafarers 5th edition rulebook on moving ships

0

The setup for the non-randomized beginner game has changed. The desert moved from the edge to the center of the map.

They also suggest, if only as a teaching aid, that you consider a turn to have three sequential parts: resources, trade, then build. From page 6:

The separation of the trade and build phases was introduced to make the sequence easier to learn for beginners. We recommend experienced players ignore this separation.

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