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) Trade
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) Politics
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 knights). 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) Science
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.