Updated: Sep 19, 2019
The tribes of Catan quickly develop into experienced seafarers. One day they reach the islands to the west, the "Four Islands" group. Here too, fertile fields, lush pastures, and productive mines lure the intrepid Catanians. New settlements are quickly built. But soon the Catanians’ curiosity spurs them on: what will they find on the other islands? Since every tribe wants to see all four islands, an exciting race for the few settlement sites begins!
For this scenario you will need 15 Ships for each player, 19 Sea Hexes, 2 deserts, 5 pastures and 4 of each mountains, hills, woods and fields. In addition you will need the following number chits, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12 and all 10 harbours. You’ll also need the Robber and Pirate Ship.
The four islands are always set up in the same shapes, however the terrain and numbers can be distributed randomly.
The Four Islands plays exactly like the base settlers game including all the Seafarers rules outlined in the scenario above with the following important differences.
During Setup players may choose to start on any of the four island and may choose to build on separate islands or place both settlements on the same island.
When you settle your first foreign island (i.e. an island you did not settle on during setup) you earn 1 special victory point. For each additional Foreign Island you settle you earn 2 additional Victory Points.
The Scenario is played to 12 Victory Points
This scenario, although still simple, showcases some of what can be achieved with the Seafarers expansion. The lower victory point total makes settling Foreign Islands very profitable and the additional VP’s scored for the 2nd (and possibly 3rd) Foreign Islands is great way to motivate players to continue to build ships and settle foreign islands.
Despite the fact there are more land tiles than in the base game the map still feels tight as you need to build in good costal spots in order to island hop and score fast victory points. The fact that at least two of the islands will have a desert on them adds to this sense of tight spaces.
Of all the scenarios in the book, the Four Islands is possibly the one that most rewards you for expanding and exploring. In a 3 player game it’s a good fun map, with four players it becomes very tight for space and can get quite cutthroat.
If Heading For New Shores wasn’t a big enough game changer for you, then I would recommend this scenario as it definitely feels very different from the base game without adding in any additional Scenario rules. The scenario forces you to build ships and expand, the tight space and low victory point scores make it feel more like a race to victory and it really explores the theme of Seafarers.
If you do use the Variable Setup rules I would caution against changing the number positions unless you enjoy a bit more randomness in your game (as I do), because you could end up with good numbers isolated behind deserts or worse still clumped together. Personally I don't mind this but for people who enjoy a less luck based game, sticking to the number distribution in the book might be the way to go.