There has always been just one downside to the tremendously popular board game The Settlers of Catan and that is that it just doesn’t play well with two players.
In 1996, Mayfair Games, publishers of Settlers, tried to correct this by releasing the Settlers Card Game, which tried to emulate the board game with a card-driven variant strictly for two players. The game was very successful and spawned several expansions.
The main problem with that game was the length of playing time, which grew when the expansions were added. There were also some rules that seemed a bit disjointed.
Now every single problem has been solved with the introduction earlier this year of The Rivals for Catan. It is a reworking of the Catan Card Game at its heart. But it is more than that as well. The rules have been streamlined and the play is easier to grasp and to play.
For those unfamiliar with Catan in general, it is a game of managing resources to build up areas of the island world. There are victory points given for accomplishing certain things in the game and the winner is the one that reaches the victory point total first. One of the key elements in the board game is the trading of resources between players. That mechanic works poorly with two players.
In rivals that mechanic is removed and that’s what makes the two-player aspect shine. There are two dice used in the game and the rest of the play is powered by cards. Cards are used to keep track of resources as well as roads, settlements and cities.
The more resources a player has, the more things he can add to his principality. As he adds roads, then he can add more settlements. More settlements can provide the opportunity to get more resources as well as allow for settlements to become cities and those cities to grow. Players have choices to make about adding skills for residents to use or military might to win battles and protect the realm or commerce to become the best in trading.