The latest edition of Catan, formerly Settlers of Catan, rebrands the entire franchise with new card and cover art.
Settlers of Catan is widely-recognized as the title that single-handedly revitalized North American board games. Between a core product introducing the resource-rich Catan, to expansions that offered exploration, advanced cities, and pirates, Settlers of Catan games are now so commonplace that even the Green Bay Packers are obsessed with them. But if you're late to the party and need somewhere to trade your sheep, never fear - a new edition of Settlers of Catan is on the way. Well, except for one minor change: "Settlers" is being dropped to rebrand the game as simply Catan.
Assuming you've been living on a secluded island and a robber stole all the tabletop games, here's Catan in a nutshell: Players attempt to build thriving settlements on the island of Catan while earning victory points to win the game. The twist is that instead of relying on random dice rolls to provide resources, players can trade with each other while tactically expanding their road networks to ensure success. That means other players are still involved in the game when it's not their turn, while giving Catan a cooperative twist ideal for family play. (Although you technically can play it competitively if you'd really like.)
The game's rules are essentially unchanged for the new edition, although Catan's rebranding comes with various cosmetic changes. Most of the game art has been redesigned, including new tile, card, and box cover art. Card backs themselves will be the same as the previous Settlers edition. Each Catan box will adopt a portrait design instead of landscape, presumably to save space on display shelves. Dice, wood components, and tile material will remain unchanged, although the rulebook features new graphics.
While the game mechanics are the same - you could probably mix expansion editions without noticing a difference - the new visual designs will be apparent right away. Catan's core game and expansions will follow the exact same product line-up as before. The only real change will be the Catan title branding, which makes sense. After a few games, that's what most players end up calling it anyway.
What do you think of the new title and art? Do you think it's an improvement, or you prefer the style of the previous edition? Regardless, the entire new Catan line reaches store shelves on April 23, 2015.