Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Which The Warlock Nukes Catan!

So, at our New Year's party, I came upon the idea of a variant for a certain game that I typically can't stand--Settlers of Catan--to make it a little more "active" in terms of competition.  That's my biggest problem with Catan...there's very little active competition with other players.  Rather, you simply race to beat your competitors, occasionally hindering them by inflicting "The Robber" on them.

As such, I came up with the "Nuclear Option" for Catan.  Simply put, a character could spend 2 Stone and 2 Clay to build a Nuclear Missile, which would be launched immediately.  Launching a Nuclear Missile would perform one of three tasks:
  • Destroy an opposing Settlement.
  • Reduce an opposing City to a Settlement.
  • Destroy any two adjoining Roads.
Advance the Doomsday Clock!
We also used a few limiting factors.  Players could not use a Nuclear Missile against a foe with only 2 Victory Points, and usage of a Nuclear Missile would add to the "Doomsday Clock".  Starting at 1:00, the Doomsday Clock increased by 1 hour with each Nuclear Missile launch.  If the clock struck Midnight, then Catan would officially become unliveable, covered in fallout and nuclear radiation.

With FridayNightWill, Chris II, and the PlatinumChick alongside me, we broke out this variant for the first time last night, and the results were...pretty impressive, really!

By and large, gameplay was unchanged.  Clay was a premium in our game, due to our utter inability to roll an 8 or a 10 on 2d6, but that didn't stop Chris II from unleashing a nuclear salvo at my roads!  After crippling my motion for several turns, he was able to jump out to an early lead, grabbing the Longest Road and tying with FridayNightWill for the lead.

However, I had some plutonium of my own to share!  After nuking some of Chris II's roads back to the Stone Age, I managed to slip in, and connect my two original settlements, thereby splitting the map and giving me both the Longest Road, and the victory.

Was it worth it?!
Now, while I said earlier that gameplay was "unchanged," I don't mean that totally.  Rather, an interesting conundrum was introduced.  You see, with Clay at a premium due to scarcity, an opportunity cost was required in order to build that Nuclear Missile--the ability to build either a Road, a City or even both, depending on the contents of the player's hands.  Was it worth it to tear down an opponent, or to spend those resources to catch up to them? 

Overall, I was very pleased with the results of this variant, and would be eager to play it again.  I can see some problems already, in terms of the various Catan expansions, but for the base game, it's a unique, PvP-centered expansion that adds a much more pleasing dimension to the game.  Try it!  You'll like it!


  1. I am going to have to try to convince my gaming buddies to try this at least once.

  2. It was Definitely worthwhile, man.

    The nuclear variant adds a dimension to the game that it's really lacking...mainly, conflict! The opportunity cost of that nuclear missile is just beautiful.

    Thanks for the comment!