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City Improvement Rule Modifications

by Scott Henneman

These rules are based on the actual improvements built using the city improvement
calendar in the Cities and Knights of Catan expansion pack. I always thought the types of
improvements built using the calendar were one of the most interesting parts of the
expansion, but they (except for Level 4) really do nothing special other than increase the
chance a player can obtain a progress card. The following are rule modifications based on
the type of city advancements obtained when increasing the level of cities. The paragraph
in italics after each rule explains the justification for each modification. Email me with
your playtesting results and suggestions.

Trade (Yellow)
Level 1 (Nothing): Only one trade may be made with the other players and one trade with the
bank per turn, resulting in a total of only two trades maximum per turn.
When the settlers first arrive on the island of Catan, it is difficult to create a healthy flow
of trade products without any organized economic structures or market system. Without a
publicly accessible market, trades are made few and far between, and generally only between the
few rich and powerful who have contact with one another.

Level 2 (Market): Trades per turn are unlimited.

With the creation of a public market system, resources and commodities can be bought
and sold by anyone able to access the market, i.e. almost every citizen. Therefore, trades between
other states and independent suppliers become commonplace rather than exclusive.

Level 3 (Trading House): When making 4:1 and 3:1 trades to the bank, one of the resources to
be traded in may be substituted for another resource. For example, a player seeking to trade 4
grain for 1 ore may instead trade 3 grain and 1 lumber for one ore instead. A player with a 3:1
port, for example, may similarly trade 2 sheep and 1 clay for a grain instead of having to trade 3
sheep for the grain.
As trade becomes more organized in a city, small businesses and guilds form that
specialize in selling certain resources and/or commodities. Therefore, it becomes easier to find
and purchase that product, and the guilds generally give bargains to sell their wares.

Level 4 (Merchant Guild): The player may trade any commodity at the 2:1 rate, as stated
already on the city development calendar.
When the businesses and guilds (i.e. merchants) in a city band together to form a
confederation or guild of their own, valuable commodities such as cloth, coins, and paper
become a currency among the guild and therefore much more in demand. This guild is thus much
more willing to sell certain products if it can secure such currency.
Level 5 (Bank): Commodity cards do not count when deciding the total number of cards a player
can hold before giving up due to a “7” roll. For example, a player with no city walls could have 7
resource cards and 10 commodity cards for a total of 17 cards, and not have to give any up due to
a “7” roll. If that same player obtains a resource and thus has 8 resource cards (for a total of 18
cards), then on a “7,” he/she would only discard four cards, and not nine. Commodity cards as
well as resource cards may be discarded to bring the total of discards to four.
With the construction of a bank, valuables such as cloth and currencies become much
more secure. Even the government of each city stores its valuables in a bank. Thieves have a
much more difficult time obtaining such valuables if secured in a bank.

Level 6 (Great Exchange): A player with a Great Exchange can initiate trades with the bank and
with any other players at any time that a player has finished his/her turn, i.e. before any dice roll.
A Great Exchange is the headquarters of a multi-governmental economic system, such as
the island of Catan. Every merchant on the island attends and has at least some business
operations there. The city with this structure therefore has goods constantly coming in from all
parts of the island and from all independent suppliers and has access to the resources of all
governments and such groups at all times through trade.

Politics (Blue)
Level 1 (Nothing): The player cannot increase any knight beyond basic level (level 1). This
means that the maximum army strength of that player cannot increase beyond 2 (two basic
Without any sort of central government structure or system, armies are unorganized and
limited to skilled peasants and mercenaries.

Level 2 (Town Hall): The player can promote knights to strong level (level 2).
With the construction of a town hall, the government of a city becomes organized and can
create facilities to train and recruit soldiers for a “state” military force.

Level 3 (Church): When the player rolls a “7” or chases away the robber with a knight, he/she
may act as if playing a Bishop card: one card may be stolen from each player who owns a
settlement or city touching the hex to which the robber is moved.
The peasants of Catan, as with any medieval region in the Western World, are told by
their religious leaders that a requirement of piousness is to give of their worldly possessions to
the organized church. Thus, when a robber strikes, the people in the nearby settlements are
encouraged to give to the church to protect them from future harm.

Level 4 (Fortress): The player can promote knights to mighty level (level 3), as stated already on
the city development calendar.
When a fortress dedicated solely to advanced military training and techniques is built,
the strong soldiers in an army can devote their lives to advancing their fighting prowess and
making a truly powerful army.
Level 5 (Cathedral): When the player rolls a “7,” chases away the robber with a knight, or plays
a Bishop card, one card may be stolen from each player who owns a settlement or city touching
the hex to which the robber is moved. The player may demand a certain resource or commodity
from each player from whom he is stealing, and the player must surrender the card to the player
with the Cathedral. If the player does not have the demanded card, the player with the Cathedral
then must draw at random—he/she can no longer inquire for a specific card.
As the church grows in influence and power, the bishops and other leaders may take
control of the government itself, using its law-enforcing abilities to take from the peasants of
Catan what they specifically need.

Level 6 (High Assembly): Immediately following a barbarian attack, the player may activate one
knight for free. In addition, the player is completely immune to the effects of a barbarian victory.
In other words, if the barbarians win, and the player has the smallest active army, he/she does not
have to change a city into a settlement. If the player with the High Assembly has a smaller army
than any other player, the player(s) with the next largest army lose a city. The player’s cities still
count when determining the strength of the barbarian army, and the player still receives a
Defender of Catan victory point card for having the largest army when the barbarians are
defeated, but never has to worry about losing a city.
The High Assembly is much like the United Nations—the unofficial capital of Catan, so
to speak. The state with this structure thus is protected vigorously by the other armies of Catan as
a island symbol. At least some soldiers at least will also always volunteer to aid in defense of the
city with the High Assembly.

Science (Green)
Level 1 (Nothing): The player may only build one structure (road, ship, settlement, city, city
walls) or knight (building or promotion) per turn. Knights may still be activated without limit
provided the player has enough grain.
When settlers first begin expansion on the island of Catan, techniques and specific
building skills for braving the harsh terrain are not known. Thus, advancement and building are
hampered by this lack of knowledge.

Level 2 (Abbey): The player may build as many structures or knights per turn as he/she has the
resources for.
After an abbey has been constructed, a common place of knowledge is found.
Information gathered from the construction workers of Catan can be gathered here and accessed
by other building professionals. Thus, the techniques for building can be spread around and
construction can proceed much faster.

Level 3 (Library): The number of non-played progress cards allowed at the end of a turn
increases to two less than the total amount of resource and commodity cards allowed without
losing them on a “7” roll, as dictated by the player’s total number of city walls. Normally, a
player may hold only four total non-played progress cards at the end of their turn, but with the
Library, this total increases to five if they have no city walls (7–2=5). If the player has built city
walls once, they may hold nine resource and commodity cards without losing to the robber, and
thus may hold seven progress cards at the end of their turn (9–2=7). If the player has built the
maximum amount of three city walls, they may thus hold eleven non-played progress cards at the
end of their turn. The effect of a Bank does not count towards this total—the player receives a
bonus of being able to hold one extra non-played progress card for building the library, plus a
bonus of two for each city wall owned, regardless of the Bank improvement.
A library is a centralized storehouse of knowledge; methods of performing skills and
abilities such as blacksmithing, mining, trading, and espionage can be stored here and thus
accessed by more people, allowing more citizens to be educated in these matters.

Level 4 (Aqueduct): If the player receives no production on a turn, and it is not a “7” roll, then
he/she may take one resource of their choice, as already stated on the city development calendar.
An aqueduct brings fresh water into the city from the mountains, increasing property
value and citizen health. This increases the tax flow of gold to the government, allowing
purchases of otherwise unattainable resources.
Level 5 (Theater): If the player receives no production on a turn, and it is not a “7” roll, then
he/she may take one resource or commodity of their choice.
A theater brings citizens from all areas of the island, rich and poor, together to enjoy the
arts. This increases spending of currencies and trading of cloth, allowing the city with the theater
access to commodities otherwise unattainable.

Level 6 (University): Cities and settlements cost one resource less than normal and roads/ships
are built two for the price of one. In building cities and settlements, the omitted resource is the
player’s choice. For example, a settlement could be built with a brick, a lumber, and a wool—
omitting the grain, or a city could be built with two grain and only two ore. The player with the
University still must pay a brick and wood to build a road (or a wool and a wood for a ship), but
one free road (or ship) can be placed. If a brick and wood are paid to the bank, only two (or one)
roads may be placed—the two for one rule cannot be used to build one road and one ship.
In addition, the player may build structures, knights, and activate knights at any point before any
player’s dice roll (identical to the free building phase in the 5-6 player expansions). In a 5-6
player game where the free building phase already exists, the player with the University always
has first priority during building. If there are multiple players with Universities, priority building
proceeds clockwise, just as in the free build phase.
The University of Catan brings scholars and students from all over the island together in
an atmosphere of advanced learning. Here, superior building techniques are taught, both how to
increase quality of structures and how to increase efficiency of building. This collaborative effort
brings great dividends to the civilization that owns the university.