The Caravans - Strategy Guide

(Taken from the Campaign Scenarios guide in the box for Traders & Barbarians)

What's New? - an oasis hex that replaces the desert and 22 camels

What It Is About:

Nomads have settled at the oasis. The are in dire need of wool and grain, and they offer commodities of the desert in exchange. Since the settlers of Catan can always spare some sheep and grain, the nomads are sending out camels to transport those coveted resources. Three caravans are formed during the course of the game - each caravan consists of a string of camels that begins at the oasis. Each settlement and city adjacent to a caravan route is worth an extra victory point. Each road running parallel to a caravan counts double (important for determining Longest Road).

The Game:

The normal rules for The Settlers of Catan apply. The changes are described below.

Additional Rules:

If, after set-up, you build any settlements or upgrade any settlements to cities during your turn, 1 camel is placed after you finish your turn. However, you do not necessarily choose where to place the camel; instead its exact placement is determined in a voting round.

Placing a Camel:

During play, 3 different caravans develop and extend - each stats at the oasis and consists of a string of camels.

  • You must always place a camel on a path. That path may not already be occupied by another camel, but it may be occupied by a road. You may also build a road on a path occupied by a camel. Place any road and camel on the same path side by side.
  • Each camel has a "front" end (the head)
  • You must place the first camel of a caravan on a path directly pointed to by one of the 3 arrows on the oasis hex - the camel's front must point away from that arrow. Each caravan's first camel stats from a different arrow.
  • You must place each of the second and latter camels of a caravan on a path in such a way that the new camel is adjacent to the "front" of the last previously placed camel in its caravan. The new camel's front must also point away from the last previously placed camel in its caravan.
  • If there is still an open caravan starting point, you may place a camel there to start a new caravan.
  • It is not possible for a caravan to branch. For each caravan, there will always be 2 or fewer paths on which to place a new camel. There are only 3 caravans, so there will be a maximum of 6 possible paths on which a camel may be place during any given turn. The players vote on where each camel is placed.

Voting Round:

During a voting round, you get to bid once to determine how many votes you have to influence the placement of a camel. Bidding starts with the player who just finished his turn, and proceeds in a clockwise direction. You bid by placing wool and grain resource cards face up in front of yourself. Only players who have bid at least one card can negotiate with each other to determine where to place the camel.

  • You have one vote for each card that you bid.
  • If you have more votes than all of the other players combined, you choose where to place the camel.
  • Otherwise, if 2 or more players combined have the majority of the votes and they agree on the placement of the camel, they place the camel accordingly.
  • Otherwise (no agreement is reached), the player who has the most votes chooses where to place the camel (even if this player is in the minority of the total).
  • Otherwise (there is no "most votes" player), the player who just finished his turn chooses where to place the camel (even if he has no votes).
  • Finally, all players discard their resources used for voting

Note: Each player is offered only one opportunity to vote. Adding more bidding cards to the first offer later on is not allowed.

SPECIAL CASES:

End of a Caravan:

A caravan ends when it can no longer be extended by adding a camel. In addition, when the camel supply is depleted, all 3 caravans end.

Merging of 2 Caravans:

Two caravans meeting at an intersection merge as soon as the next camel is placed and will be continued as a single caravan.

Camels on the Coast and at the Oasis:

A caravan may be extended by placing a camel on an appropriate coastal path. A caravan's first camel may not be placed on a path along the edge of the oasis hex. However, if a caravan finds its way back to the oasis, a camel may be placed on a path along the edge of the oasis hex.

Caravans Benefits:

  • Longest Road - A road on the same path as a camel counts as 2 roads for the purposes of Longest Road. For example, if a player has 4 continuous road segments and 2 of those road segments are on the same paths as camels, it would count as a road with a length of "6". This would fulfill the requirement of a length of at least "5" for initial Longest Road.
  • Increase in value of cities and settlements - Each settlement and city located between 2 camels is worth 1 additional victory point.

End of the Game:

The game ends when a player reaches 12 victory points during his turn.

Tips for Playing This Scenario:

In the basic Settlers game, wool is usually the resource considered the least important. In this scenario, wool takes on a greater significance - wool is used for votes that affect camel placement, which can lead to additional victory points. Grain is also used for votes, but it can b e more useful than wool for building. So it is often a good idea to place a settlement adjacent to or close to a productive pasture terrain during the set-up.

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