Cities and Knights House Rules

Okay, I really don’t know why it has taken me so long to post something (anything really) about Settlers of Catan seeing as how we’re totally into this incredible board game.  For those of you who know nothing about Settlers this post is going to be confusing to you, so I suggest a two step resolution to your lack: Step 1: go to either Hobby Lobby or It’s Your Move in the mall and buy the basic version of the game as soon as you possibly can and Step 2: get 2 or 3 of your friends together immediately and learn the game.  If a step 3 exists it might be 12 additional ones because you had to join a program for breaking your obsession with this game.  🙂


Okay now for all you Catanians out there who not only have mastered the basic game but have advanced past the Seafarers expansion and now have discovered the wonderful world of Cities and Knights:


You may have noticed that the game is a bit slow, and it bogs down some.  Turns take a really long time, and if you are playing with 6 people you might be in for a seriously long night.  For guys that’s cool, but if you have some gals along for the ride (including wives), maybe you will really appreciate the house rules we play with on a regular basis.  I give props to Kirby Thompson for most of these rule modifications.

Here is the best Settlers scenario and the one we play 90% of the time:

1. 5-6 player Cities and Knights expansion (you need that extra building phase!)

2. Combined with Seafarers expansion

3. House rules

4. Only 5 players (we just somehow figured out that odd numbers of players make the best games)

5. Build custom boards/scenarios

This combo makes for a rocking good time.  Here’s the house rules:

#1. In normal C&K you get a 1 commodity & 1 resource when a city produces – new rule: take the 2 resources you’d get for a city in regular Catan and ALSO take the 1 commodity when your city produces.  (YESSSSSS!  This is amazing.  The first time you do it you’ll think we’re crazy, but trust me, when you all can build faster and progress early in the game you’ll be super stoked.)  This means that when wheat and brick produce, you get 3 of those (since there is no associated commodity).  To be clear, if you hypothetically had a city on all 3 corners of a hex that produced you would gain 9 total cards in one shot.

#2. Change the 7 card rule to 9 (the benefit of this is that you can hold more cards and not get slammed by the 7 roll as much i.e. get rid of half your cards if you have more than 7 – yes if you build all 3 city walls you are now protected up to 15 cards!)

#3. We never count a roll of 7 by the very first player rolling in the game.  (They get a “do over.”  Rolling a 7 right out of the gate is lame and allowing this do over builds morale.)

#4. The first time the barbarians attack doesn’t count (allows people to build roads, cities, etc. without having to concentrate on building knights early in the game)

Two more things that are not house rules but may help add to the fun:

#1. Play with the Harbormaster card from the Traders & Barbarians expansion and you will add more ways to win  – make sure you add that extra point required for victory though (i.e. victory is now achieved at 16 points).

#2. Set up your own scenario: this is optional but very, very fun and how we play almost every time now.  We build crazy big boards.  A suggestion if you want to try the multi-expansion thing is to do “Through the Desert” scenario as set up in the 5-6 Seafarers expansion and combine with C&K.  That one is particularly awesome in the radical combo action.

Bonus comment: Don’t let anyone get away with not following the rule that longest trade route must have ships and roads linked by a settlement (or city).  This is important and has thwarted many a possible win.

Now if you think these rules somehow cheapen the game, all I’ll say is try it.  I’ve heard people say that C&K is a bad expansion but that may only be because they don’t play with these house rules.  We played regular rules C&K several times before we discovered these modifications, and while the game was quite intense, it wasn’t as good of a social game anymore. That said, do these house rules, combine with Seafarers, play with 5 people, and trust me, it’s extremely cutthroat. The game still averages 90 minutes but we have had game as short as an hour, and just 2 days ago we had a game last 2 1/2 hours.  To be fair, we had added in the rivers expansion as well as Seafarers and C&K.  See pic below, snapped just as we were tearing down the game.

Have fun!

catan setup


7 Responses to “Cities and Knights House Rules”

  1. 1 Julian
    June 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

    These rules are the only way to play and have fun. Sure you can play without them, you will have much less fun…But! I forgot to mention a crutial rile that must be always is played with…

    The great and mighty 2/12 rule…in the words of Gollum, “It is the only way”

    To explain; every time a 2 or a 12 is rolled, resources on both 12 and 2 produce. Yes…You know you love it…

  2. June 17, 2009 at 11:44 am

    That’s right – I forgot to include that one. It’s definitely always in play. Thanks!

  3. 3 Kelly
    June 17, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    All I have to say, is that there is no “board game force” for me that is more powerful than the desire to win Settlers of Catan… I love this game!
    As the “bonus comment” applies to myself especially… I will say that though it is an extremely important rule, it remains however, and for all eternity, LAME in the grand scheme of things!
    Not many things make me as competitive as this game and I feel that I need to give credit where credit is due, for those who play with me on a regular basis, I know that you love me for who I am, not who I become when I’m playing Catan and I thank you for accepting me no matter what! haha! 🙂 LONG LIVE CATAN!!

  4. June 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Hmmm. I sense bitterness for not having longest trade route in the last game we played since that would have given you the win. But I would like to point out that you were not able to link up your road because of the *distance* rule, not because of the longest trade route rule. But you still rule, so it’s all good.

    • 5 Kelly
      June 17, 2009 at 8:44 pm

      Alright… It’s true,a little bit of bitterness has clouded my thoughts last few days due to my sad loss. I will admit that I misposted my beef with the above mentioned rule. The rule is very important, but now I will say that the spacing rule is LAME! Pretty much I just wish that I had won the game. But rules are rules and when I DO win, it will be completly satisfying and well earned!

  5. 6 mtnbikechk
    July 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Alas, Ronnie doesn’t like the original Settlers game. So I suspect that he wouldn’t be too keen on the expansions either. I like any new game and quite enjoy Settlers. I grew up playing pinocle and Hand and Foot – don’t get me wrong, I love cards….but I like something with more strategy.

  6. February 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Okay here’s a quick update on these rules. After playing C&K this way for about a year, the group of friends that we play with decided to go back and try the original rules. No mods whatsoever, basically right out of the manual. WE LOVED IT! I will add that we particularly like it in 4 player version. This is because there is no building phase and as a result turns go faster, people stay engaged more, and the game feels like it moves at a better pace. I will say that play time is not any less or more, because getting 13 points is still pretty hard so it takes longer with less production, but honestly, we really have been enjoying it. I will also add that the barbarians attacking and the Defender of Catan victory points are more of a factor in the original rules. Last game we played I had 4 VP just from Defender of Catan cards, and still didn’t win. So Catan is still be most righteous game ever no matter which version you play, and we’re loving the original rules these days.

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June 2009

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