I've played both regular Settlers of Catan and the Seafarers of Catan Expansion, but I haven't yet played Cities & Knights and I’m curious about how it plays. I've noticed a lot of people speak very favorably of Cities & Knights, some even claim it’s the only way to play Catan. I've read about how the game works, but I'm skeptical about the changes made in the expansion. How does the expansion improve gameplay in Catan?
I often describe Cities and Knights as "the version of Catan where every limitation has a way around it." You can only hold seven cards… unless you build these walls. You only get cards when your numbers roll… unless you have an aqueduct. Etc.
Cities and Knights takes Catan and adds a layer of interesting shortcuts, passthroughs, special cases and escape hatches on top. There's slightly more to learn, but it's still a simple game. But the increase in complexity is outweighed by the vast increase in interesting mechanics between players and events in the gameworld.
- The whole knight/barbarian system makes up for some interesting scenarios, in that you can both gain victory points or cause other players to loose their cities.
- Knights can be used in a variety of ways instead of just moving the thief. You can destroy other knights by forcing them to move when they can't you can block the roads, to prevent the longest road achievement, etc, which gives some nice strategy options.
- I really like the new resource system, where you can focus on advancing or building using cities.
- There are more ways to achieve victory points and "steal" victory points, which enables more strategies and games often end quite close.
All in all, there are just many more possibilities which makes gameplay much more unique from each game.
I can highly recommend that you try it. I have a hard time playing the original version, with this expansion available.