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Explorers & Pirates – The New Expansion for “The Settlers of Catan” – Part 5

February 6, 2013
Klaus Teuber

Part 5: Fish for Catan –
Why There Are No Whales on Catan

In this mission, the Council of Catan sends the settlers to an area with abundant fish stocks. The settlers are supposed to catch the fish and bring the haul to Catan. Fish? In times of the Middle Ages, when commercial fishing fleets weren't overfishing yet – didn't abundant fish stocks exist everywhere? Why did the Council of Catan have to send the settlers to a remote area to satisfy Catan's demand for seafood?

 A Fishing Boat

When I designed the mission, it wasn't fish the Council of Catan asked for. It was whales. And consequently, the mission was named “Whales for Catan.” In the Middle Ages, whale oil was a much sought-after commodity. During the long winter nights, it allowed people to illuminate their gloomy dwellings. Whales were also an important source of meat for a population suffering from frequent crop failures.

 Whales for Catan

Compared with today's industrial whaling, hunting whales wasn't a cakewalk in those days. To be able to use spears and arrows to inflict a mortal wound, the medieval fishermen in their fragile boats had to get very close to their mighty prey. It wasn't uncommon for the whale to win the battle, and the sea became the whale hunters' grave. I had these images in my mind when designing the mission and creating the depicted whale piece for the wooden edition of our American licensee.

Our American licensee did not agree with this. The argument was that now there is a global ban on whaling (indigenous peoples such as the Inuit are exempted), and that a Catan game shouldn't promote whaling.

At the beginning of the modern age, particularly in the 19th and 20th century, people devised ever more sophisticated hunting methods that hardly left whales a chance to escape their fate. By then, people coveted more than just whales' oil and meat, because various other products such as margarine, soap, synthetic resin, perfume essences, vitamins, and glycerin were made from whales. Therefore, despite the ban on whaling – which unfortunately is not respected by all countries – many whale species are currently facing extinction.

 Fish for Catan

I wondered – maybe most players actually don't distinguish between my medieval whaling in “Explorers & Pirates” and modern whaling. So I replaced whaling with fishing – “in case of doubt, in favor of the whale” – and created a new fish piece, which now resembled a fat goldfish rather than a whale.

 A shoal of fish

In the German Kosmos edition of the expansion, an entire shoal of fish is caught instead of a single fish.

The Mission

 A fish shoal hex

 How to get fish

The third scenario, “Fish for Catan,” includes two missions. One of them is “The Pirates' Lairs,” which I presented in the previous part of my E&P blog post; the other mission is “Fish for Catan.”

For this scenario, the frame is extended so that the additional 6 fish shoal hexes can be placed in the unexplored areas. Each fish shoal hex depicts one side of a pipped die (representing a number between 1 and 6).

If you reveal a fish shoal hex, you receive 2 gold. During the movement phase of your ship, you have the opportunity to catch a fish haul. For this purpose, you roll a six-sided die. If an already revealed fish shoal hex depicts the number rolled, you place the fish haul on this hex. To collect the fish haul, one of your ships must reach the fish shoal hex. That is, one of the ends of your ship must point toward any of the hex's intersections. If this is the case, you may load the fish haul on your ship. Obviously, you will only roll the die if you have positioned your ships favorably.

Now you must take the fish haul to the island of the Council of Catan and deliver it there. The island of the Council of Catan is located on the east side of the starting island (D2).

 The Mission

Explorers & Pirates – Fish for Catan

 Special Victory Point

If you have delivered a fish haul, you may move your marker forward one field on the victory point scoring track named “Fish for Catan.” Also in this mission a special victory point card is awarded; here, it goes to the most industrious fisherman.

The game ends when a player reaches 15 victory points on his turn.

Klaus Teuber

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Aside from determining victory points and who gets the special victory point card, do the mission cards themselves also count as victory points? Or are they pretty much useless after receiving the special victory point card?
Gero Zahn
As stated in last week's post: The number of victory points you receive for your mission progress is depicted to the right of your marker. The player whose marker occupies the most advanced position, or in case of a tie, the player whose marker is at the bottom of the stack receives the special victory point card. — So: You have and keep the number of VPs shown next to your marker, plus one additional VP if you are on the most advanced position. You will loose that only if someone overtakes you, which is not possible anymore if you reached the topmost position first.
That's disappointing that the name "Whales for Catan" couldn't be used or the whale imagery. The design and name were really cool! The name "Fish for Catan" just seems so similar to "Fisherman of Catan." It looks very interesting though!
If two players are both on the same fish hex, and the dice spawns a fish, who gets it?
Dr. Reiner Düren
@Rasmus Ohlin: A player can only catch fish in his turn. Therefore it doesn't matter who is at a fish hex when the fish is rolled on this hex. When the player who has rolled the fish to this hex can reach this hex in his turn, he can catch the fish. Therefore it makes no sense to roll for fish when you have no chance to reach a hex with new fish in your turn when another player can reach this hex in his turn.
How can you reach 15 victory points in fish /whales for Catan without winning both Scourge and Fisher?
Dr. Reiner Düren
@Charles: You can get up to 8 VP by building harbor settlements, 5 points by building settlements, 3 VP by fishing and 3 VP by defeating pirates, even when you don't get the special victory points for the fastest fisher and pirate slayer.