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Released in 1998

CATAN® – Cities & Knights Expansion

CATAN – Cities & Knights Expansion

Flourishing trade brings prosperity to Catan. However, all this wealth also attracts barbarians. The knights of Catan are needed! The expansion can also be combined with “CATAN® - Seafarers” and “CATAN® - Traders & Barbarians.” Requires the CATAN® base game to play.

About the game

What Is It About?

Cities & Knights – The Barbarian Ship

Use the hexes of the CATAN base game to assemble Catan inside the provided frame. Each player has just finished building a settlement and a city, when dark clouds gather over the peaceful island of Catan. Wild barbarians, attracted by the wealth of Catan, sail toward the island's shores. There is still enough time to prepare for confronting the intruders, though. The strength of the hostile barbarian army always corresponds to the number of cities on Catan. In order to successfully defend Catan, the knights of all players combined must be at least as strong as the barbarian army.

Cities & Knights – Regular and Strong Knights

Knights are not used in the form of cards; instead, they are represented by wooden tokens that are placed on unoccupied intersections. Each token has an “active” side depicting a black-and-white knight helmet and an “inactive” side depicting a knight helmet in color. A knight can only fight after he is activated; activation costs one grain. After paying the grain, you turn the knight token over so that its active side is face up. Each ring on the token counts as one strength point.
If the knights of all players combined have enough strength points to defeat the barbarian army, the danger is averted for the moment. However, if the Catanian knights are too weak, a city will be raided and downgraded to a settlement.
This unfortunate event always affects the player who had the lowest total strength of active knights when the barbarians attacked. Besides defending Catan, knights can also be used to chase away the robber or to displace another player’s knight.

Cities & Knights – Metropolis with a City Wall

When the players are not busy defending Catan, they are competing for the metropolises, which represent two additional victory points. In order to establish a metropolis (which is placed on top of a city), the players first need to improve their cities.

The construction of city buildings, such as the Library, Market, Abbey, or Town Hall, is indicated on development flip-charts.

Cities & Knights – Commodities

The players pay for city improvements with commodities such as coins, cloth, or books. How do you get commodities? Instead of two resources, cities adjacent to mountains, pasture, and forest hexes produce only one resource but also one commodity derived from the respective type of resource.
With increasing city improvements, the odds become more favorable for players to obtain new progress cards. Cards such as “Mining,” “Irrigation,” or “Building Crane” allow for faster settlement activities. Cards such as “Merchant,” “Merchant Fleet,” “Trade Monopoly,” or “Resource Monopoly” create advantages with regards to trade. On the other hand, one can irritate stronger players with cards such as the “Deserter,” “Spy,” or “Diplomat.”

Get used to a tougher life on Catan – and a longer but also more exciting game. The first player to reach 13 victory points is the winner.

Possible Combinations

Possible Combinations of “Cities & Knights” with Other Expansions

1. Combination with the “Seafarers” Expansion


You can use the possibilities of the “Seafarers” expansion together with "Cities & Knights". In our experience scenarios such as "Heading To New Shores" and "Through the Desert" are suitable. The exploratory scenarios and all other scenarios with many smaller islands are unsuitable. When playing with the Seafarers” expansion, you must ensure that certain actions that apply to roads are also possible for ships.

Rules for "Cities and Knights" with the Seafarer Expansion

  • For scenarios with several islands, the same rules apply to an attack by the barbarian army as in the basic game.
  • Knights can also be moved over the sea, when start and finish are connected by roads and ships, or by ships only.
  • A player may move an activated knight to a sea crossing, if one of his ships is adjacent to this sea crossing (the knight is then on the ship).
  • When a knight stands on a crossroads, where the last ship of a line of ships borders, the ship's line is closed. In other words, the connection of a knight to a settlement of the same color must never be interrupted.
  • If a player interrupts an foreign line of ships with a knight (or a settlement), this line of ships is interrupted in the sense of the "longest trade route". Nevertheless, the owner of the line of ships may not dissolve it by transferring his ships, which are adjacent to the foreign knight.
  • If a player deactivates an active knight that borders the field with the pirate, he may move the pirate.
  • The number of victory points specified for each scenario should be increased by 2.
  • For a city on a gold river field, one always receives only raw materials, never merchandise.
  • The dealer may not be placed on a gold river field.
  • The rule, that the robber must not be displaced before the barbarians have reached Catan for the first time is also true for the pirate (who, of course, is not in the desert), should he be in the game.

2. Combination with the “Explorers & Pirates” Expansion

Explorer & Pirates

In “Explorers & Pirates,” building cities is not allowed; you build harbor settlements instead. This makes sense when playing “Explorers & Pirates“ independently of other expansions, because its strategic emphasis is on exploration and transporting commodities, crews, and settlers.

In ”Cities & Knights,“ the strategic emphasis is on city expansion and city defense.

Theoretically, it is possible to combine the two expansions and thus create a game that provides an even larger variety of strategies and possibilities to win.

If you want to combine these two expansions, you should be aware that the resulting game is rather complex and perhaps even a bit confusing. However, a group of players who know both expansions well may definitely give it a try. At least for the first attempt, scenario 4 with its “Fish for Catan” and “Spice for Catan” missions should be used

Rules Suggestion for Combining “Cities & Knights” with “Explorers & Pirates”

A) Building Cities

You are allowed to upgrade settlements to cities. You can choose whether to upgrade a coastal settlement to a city or to a harbor settlement. Subsequent conversion of a city into a harbor settlement or vice versa is prohibited.

B) Setting Up the Starting Island

When choosing the terrain hexes from the “Catan” base game to set up the starting island, remove 1 forest hex and add 1 fields hex instead.

C) Set-up Phase

Instead of building a settlement, each player builds a city and thus begins the game with 1 harbor settlement and 1 city.

D) Knights

Knights cannot be transported by ship. Therefore, they stay on the island where they were built. Unlike crews, knights you have built on an island occupied by a pirate lair are not allowed to participate in the battle for the pirate lair. You are not allowed to use them as merchants in the villages of the spice hexes either.

Knights may neither be built on intersections nor be moved onto intersections adjacent to an undiscovered hex.

E) Barbarian Attack

When determining the strength of the barbarians, all cities are considered – that is, the cities on the starting island as well as the cities in the discovered areas. Harbor settlements are not included in the count.

The strength points of all knights are also taken into account.

F) Crews

Crews are not counted for the defense of the cities against the barbarians.

G) Commodities

You are not allowed to buy commodities from the supply by paying gold.

If you have the “Fast Gold” advantage, instead of a resource you may also sell a commodity for 1 gold.

H) Progress Cards
  • Medicine: By paying 1 ore and 1 grain, you can convert a settlement into a harbor settlement. Converting a settlement into a city costs you 2 ore and 1 grain.

  • Bishop: Instead of moving the robber – who doesn't exist in the “Explorers & Pirates” expansion – you may place or move your pirate ship. If you place the pirate ship, the owner of the pirate ship that previously occupied the sea hex must return it to his supply.

  • Mining/Irrigation: For a harbor settlement adjacent to a mountains/fields hex you also collect ore/grain.

  • Deserter: The card only applies to knights. Crews are not allowed to desert.

  • Inventor: Except for the 6, 8, 12, and 2 number tokens, you may swap all number tokens – that is, you may also swap number tokens from the starting island with number tokens from the discovered areas and number tokens from defeated pirate lairs.

  • Road Building: You may only build roads – not ships.

I) Aqueduct

If you have built the Aqueduct, and the production roll (except for the “7”) results in you receiving no resources, you may take – according to the “Cities & Knights” rules – any 1 resource of your choice. In addition, under the “Explorers & Pirates” rules, you receive 1 gold.

J) End of the Game

I recommend to calculate the victory points required to win the game as follows:

  • Victory points of the “Explorers & Pirates” scenario + 5 (for cities, metropolis, and Defender of Catan)

When combining scenario 4 of the “Explorers & Pirates” with “Cities & Knights,” this would result in 20 victory points.

3. Combination with the “Traders & Barbarians” Expansion

Traders & Barbarians

Many of the "Traders & Barbarians" scenarios combine well with "Cities & Knights" and the scenarios of the Seafarers expansion.


In “Cities & Knights,” a player rolls 3 dice at the beginning of his turn: 2 production dice and 1 event die. 3 sides of the event die show the barbarian ship. This means, there is a 50% chance per turn for the barbarian ship to come one step closer to Catan. Considering this circumstance, it may take only 3 or 4 turns until the barbarian ship lands on Catan.
Therefore, it is important to start building knights early in the game and to activate them. Such preparation will help to avoid being the target of the barbarian army, i.e., losing a city. Grain is very important in terms of defending Catan. Knights are of no use as long as you don't have grain to activate them.

There are certain “house rules” that may soften the impact of the barbarian attack at the beginning of the game. You can, for instance, declare the first barbarian attack void or allow each player to have one activated knight at the beginning of the game.
Personally, I am not a big fan of such variants. One major appeal of the game is attributable precisely to the threat of the barbarian army, which players have to prepare for as early as possible in the game and include in their strategic planning.