Kelv's Random Collection

A random collection of my contributions to the world.

Diary: Guide to Miscellany – Update 1

Posted by kelvSYC on 11-4-2017

Now that the Scenario and Variant Guide is in a place where I can take a step back, it’s probably a good time to get some work done on updating that other Guide I keep around on my blog.  Yes, a new revision to the Catan Card Game and Rivals for Catan Guide to Miscellany is under development.  It’s going to be completely rewritten from the ground up, and it will probably be more than 50% longer than the one before it – and that’s because I’m probably going to, for the first time, include an actual rules summary.

If you’re here for the Scenario and Variant Guide updates, you can still sign up to become a proofreader (head to that blog post for more), but right now I don’t have anything to add on that front as I await feedback before releasing a second beta.

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Catan Scenario and Variant Guide 2017-1 Beta 1

Posted by kelvSYC on 10-29-2017

It’s been six years since the last version of the Catan Scenario and Variant Guide, but now the next version is now in beta testing.  Beta testing is on an invite-only basis, as I’ve been mentioning in the updates.

At this time, I’m still not ready to make a general release of 2017-1.  As a beta tester, you would be responsible for proofreading and trying to find errors or other things that are not mentioned in the rules.  The release of the final version will be contingent on the feedback that I have received and the amount of changes considered necessary.

As usual, the beta version of the Guide is available on the Guide’s own page; however, the PDF file is encrypted, and beta testers should have the keys needed to open and read the file.  If you are a beta tester, and you do not have a key, please reply to this post, and I will try to get the keys to you as soon as I can.

Beta versions are provided on an as-is basis, and is provided under a do-not-distribute provision.  (The final version will not be an encrypted file.). I do reserve the right to take down beta versions of the Guide, either because of unauthorized distribution or (more likely) because the final version will be ready for release.

Beta tester signups are still open – simply send me an email, and if you are approved, you will get the keys as stated above.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 11

Posted by kelvSYC on 10-28-2017

Now that the English version of Legend of the Sea Robbers is in my hands, it honestly didn’t take too long to add the four scenarios to the Guide.  I’m probably going to release a beta fairly soon – the only real missing portion that I have to add is a section on the base game chapter about 7-point no development card games.  (Also, there is probably a few Bonus Section stuff I have to fix, but since I only offer Bonus Section rules as-is, it’s not a high priority)

I’m hoping that I can release the Guide before the English version of Catan Scenarios: Hawaii is released (the first Catan Geographies line scenario to require Seafarers!).  Partly because it’s an Essen release which would delay the 2017-1 version to 2018, and partly because it’s likely going to be a bit of work (like Rickshaw Run, it has full components).

The development of the Guide is definitely in its home stretch at this point.  If you want to be a beta tester, then don’t forget to sign up.  I’ve had a few people expressing interest at this point, but so far all of these are from people I’ve encountered in my personal life.

And don’t forget, after the break there are some fun tidbits!

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 10

Posted by kelvSYC on 10-21-2017

This is going to be the last update before I (hopefully) receive my copy of Legend of the Sea Robbers, which I’m going to be fairly excited about. (I’m slightly apprehensive because it is from an online FLGS, and not Catan Shop, and their availability is kind of constrained given the time of year and other factors.  The fact that catan.com has listed Legend of the Sea Robbers as being out for over a month despite FLGS stores not having them in stock doesn’t help things.) In this update, I’m going to talk about the Bonus Section.

So, what is the Bonus Section?  The origins of the Bonus Section actually comes from the very first scenario within it, “At Him with a Roar” (translated title).  After looking up the Ditts’ website (poppelkiste.de), they did have scenarios and variants which were ultimately never published in official Catan sources despite being a prolific contributor to them.  Thus, the genesis of the section – a section for those other scenarios and variants that were created by the people who had some contribution to official sources, but were not themselves official.  Since then, it has expanded to scenarios with solid community support, but there’s a fine line there that I’ve yet to draw, so I’m not a solid inclusionist on the issue (because that means more work for me).

Now, “unofficial” is a very loosely-regarded term.  After all, “Traders & Barbarians XXL” is a fan-created project, but has official endorsement, and is published on catan.de (but not catan.com as it was never translated to English – even though the author is a BoardGameGeek user and has an English language presence).  Many scenarios and variants (mainly combination stuff), including things like how “Catan for Two” fits with Cities & Knights, are in the realm of fan-created content, but given lots of community support, official guidance, and ultimately a spot on catan.com.  This, in the view of the Guide, makes it “main section” and not Bonus Section material, even though strictly speaking it’s not official.

If you want to know how the Bonus Section is treated in the upcoming edition of the Guide, check out the part after the break.  And remember, if you want to be a proofreader when the beta comes out, you can sign up in the comments section.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 9

Posted by kelvSYC on 10-15-2017

I bet that most of you are starting to tire of me posting updates for the better part of 4 months.  When the process to make a new revision of the Guide was under way, I was mostly unemployed and could dedicate a lot more time to the project, but as of the third update or so, I’ve been employed full-time, giving me less time to work on updating the Guide.  The good news is that the chapter on “The First Island” is almost complete, and I’m almost ready to release a beta for proofreaders.  (Don’t forget to sign up if you want to be one!)

One of the big changes to the “First Island” chapter is a more complete treatment of the Japanese releases of Catan, given that I’ve scrounged up a lot more information and either social media or promotional photographs of components from the Japanese releases (the original Capcom release, as well as the 2004 release and its Mega Man Battle Network 4 themed version, as opposed to the early TrySoft or current GP Inc releases).  Since that chapter is focused on the base game, I don’t think I could, in good faith, release a version of the Guide without mentioning those and other mass-market releases, as I had in R13.

Having said that, when it comes to the chapter, where should I draw the line?  After all, I’ve purposely excluded Das Wasser des Lebens, Star Trek Catan, Siedler von Nürnberg, Catan: Ancient Egypt, and will be excluding Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch from the Guide (fun fact: I have, or will preorder, all but one of these) under the excuse that they are technically separate games, but should they really belong?  Feel free to send me feedback in the comments section.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 8

Posted by kelvSYC on 10-7-2017

Well, I’ve finally managed to complete all of the graphics in the main sections of the Guide.  (There is one inaccuracy from R13 that I need to fix relating to “Der Schokoladenmarkt”, but since I own it and can look up a translation online, I can easily fix it.). At this point, the core sections is about 90% complete.

The next big thing is essentially working out the contents of the base game chapter.  All I really have right now is some base game rules lawyering, which is completely different from the corresponding section in R13, where I go into detail the mass-market versions over the years.  This is something that will be my focus for most of the rest of the development time (that, Legend of the Sea Robbers, and the Bonus Section) given that mass-market Catan has changed a lot since the Guide was last released.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 7

Posted by kelvSYC on 9-25-2017

It’s time for another update on the Guide.  At this point, I have officially crossed 350 pages of Guide, with two scenarios in the “Other Promotional Scenarios” section still to go.  (The only other chapters remaining is the chapters that come before the Seafarers chapter, which needs a lot of customization and relying on a few notes that I made when I started the new version of the Guide.)

Beyond the graphics, I have still yet to finalize a good portion of the Guide, such as individual building cost cards and equipment manifests.  There is also the issue of drawing out frame pieces for licensed versions, which is still non-trivial work.  It’s difficult to meet R13’s expectation on the first few chapters, after all.

The final version of the Guide shouldn’t be released until I have a copy of Legend of the Sea Robbers in hand, although there’s still a lot to be done.  Again, if you are interested in proofreading it, and potentially do a bit of rules lawyering, feel free to reply in the comments section.  I’ve had a few people come up in private for the beta process, but it’s mainly people who I know and have come across in person at this point.

Before we do that, though, let’s share a sneak preview.  One of the two remaining scenarios still to do, and the most dreaded of all, is “Vienna Meets Catan”.  This is because not only does the scenario not use hexes, it uses a stylized map of Vienna, and even then the intersections are still distorted.  In earlier editions of the Guide, I had used either a distorted colored blob, or used a stylized (low-quality bitmapped) map of Vienna without really detailing where the intersections are (and their differences from the real-world map).  However, in the interests of making this a bit more authentic, the new version of the map will be set against a backdrop of the map of Vienna.

WIP Vienna Meets Catan

Here, the circles represent the intersections of the game board, while the lines  connecting them represent the paths connecting the points.  (This scenario does not use roads, so there’s not really an incentive to make a minimal line length there.). The lighter background is the actual map of Vienna, taken from CC-by-SA sources.  (I’ve omitted the outer ring lines, where the district borders meet the city limits, as I see those connections to be reasonably self-evident.

As you can see, there’s still a lot more work to be done.  Firstly, the inner districts will have to be distorted, so as to at the very least be big enough to fit the (already half size) hexes (the number tokens will be added in later), if not the name and/or number of the district.  As you can see, I’ve only filled in one district for each type of terrain.  It’s going to be real fun fitting in some of the inner districts in this map, as you can see.  (This is particularly painful for the fields districts, as due to the extreme distortion of Währing and, to a lesser extent, Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, fields districts are disproportionately smaller than those of the other hex types.)

Even taking this into account, this is going to be even smaller on the printed page, as the graphics here will be shrunk once it’s on the printed page (or in PDF form, for those of us who prefer things electronic), in order to fit the page layout.  (It’s still substantially larger than the earlier revision’s version, which had to fit half the width of the page; the new version won’t have the wasted whitespace on the right half.)

So it’s going to be a while before I can work out the kinks with this map, but I hope people will enjoy the final version when it comes out.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 6

Posted by kelvSYC on 9-2-2017

It’s been about a month since I’ve updated you with the latest on rewriting the Catan Scenario and Variant Guide, so I’d just like to pop in a new update.  To be honest, this month has been a bit slow on the graphics front, but I’ve managed to complete all of the graphics for the Catan Geographies chapter for now.

The main difficulty with the Catan Geographies chapter is primarily the fact that not all hexes have their full complement of edges, which, in Revision 13, had to be worked through clearly labelling affected edges.  In the draft Revision 14 that I had used as the basis of the upcoming version, the edges that were excluded were made more prominent, along with changing the borders of all of the hexes to yellow to better model the actual hexes.  In 2017-1, the model for Revision 14 is retained, but the excluded edges are actually made less prominent, although some fudging will inevitably be done, due to waterway edges and the fact that Rickshaw Run also has its rickshaw route.

What was surprising was that the vast majority of Catan Geographies maps do use the Guide’s “sideways” orientation of hexes, and only a small number use the proper vertical orientation, which made things a bit easier.  In a break from consistently presenting all scenarios “sideways”, the Catan Geographies chapter presents all maps in whichever way considered “right side up”, which means that the creation of hex assets had to be re-created from the ground up for these scenarios.  (The Historical Scenarios chapter will also be presented with boards in their “original orientation”, although I’ve yet to decide if I will use my drawing program’s artboard feature to actually cut off hexes, unlike the Revision 13 maps, which I’ve endeavored to make whole any partial hexes.)

Speaking of hex orientation, after looking through the scenarios again, I’ve also decided to present “The World According to Catan” and “Westwards” in its proper orientation, since both of these scenarios rely on relating to a map with a known orientation.  I’ve seen the Legend of the Sea Robbers setups, and I’m quietly wondering if I have to do the same for those (specifically, the main island is always a portion of a giant landmass), but until they are released in English (and I get myself a copy), I’ll leave this up to decide later.

Again, the offer is still out there for proofreaders and editors.  Anyone wishing to volunteer can simply add their names to the comments section.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 5

Posted by kelvSYC on 8-5-2017

I’ve actually not worked on the Scenario Guide in a while, and that was because of a hardware upgrade that has been in the works for some time, requiring me to migrate over a lot of my files, including that of the Scenario Guide.

There has been some progress on the art front, as a good chunk of the sections are now art complete, but the Catan Geographies series and the promotional scenarios (the two heaviest investments in art) are still not started.

In the meantime, I’ve made a selection of older revisions of the Guide available at the Guide’s main page, and also made a few changes (like not hosting the files on my blog anymore) to deter people from directly linking to the files.

Again, if you are interested in a pre-release version, let me know in the comments section.

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Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 4

Posted by kelvSYC on 7-22-2017

Another update as we get closer to finishing a new version of the Scenario Guide.  At this point, I’m at 330 pages of Guide, although the final length of Guide will probably be in the 350-360 page range, as I’ve still yet to handle most of the diagrams for Catan Geographies and anything requiring me to setup special artboards in my drawing program (which generally include “frameless” scenarios and scenarios that are better presented with hexes in the correct orientation).  Some of the scenarios are a bit more labor-intensive than others, admittedly; I typically do scenarios what have only one or two setups mid-week and save the labor-intensive ones for the weekend, when I can dedicate more time to them.  The good news is that a good chunk of the scenarios are in fact have their diagrams fully drawn.

Having said that, this is not to say that the diagrams are the last part of the Guide.  Because of a few other design decisions, I would need to find a new home for two very important parts of each scenario: additional building cost options as well as starting player supplies.  I have to admit that I have not done any significant work on that as of yet, since only a minority of scenarios actually have it at the moment.  (So far, I’ve done a draft of it for Explorers & Pirates, but I’m not too thrilled with its appearance so far.)

To date, here is the detailed progress on graphics so far, section by section:

  • The First Island: Frame art is done, but the problem is that there is still quite a bit of content to write, let alone diagram.
  • The Second Islands: No scenario graphics, though those are fairly simple in nature.  It might be interesting to do a special diagram for Peanut Island, but it might not make the Guide.
  • Seafarers: Cloth for Catan is the only one remaining, due to the fact that one setup requires special art.
  • C&K: May need some graphical explanation of rules.  The frame art is done, though.
  • T&B: The Rivers, The Caravans, T&B XXL, T&B Ultimate (5-6 player setups only) remaining.  Partly held up by whether I should fold up “The Great Caravan” into “The Caravans”, and the fact that nudging the base game frame pieces in place is labor intensive.
  • E&P: Scenario graphics are complete.  Rule graphics should be complete as well.
  • Das Buch: The Atoll, Catan-Express, The Great Race, World According to Catan, Westwards remaining.  The first two are technically frameless (but will be presented with frame for consistency, and partly as I expect most of my readers with have newer editions of the game), and the last two are better presented in the correct orientation.
  • Historical Scenarios: Haven’t started.
  • SD&E: Surprisingly all done here.
  • Catan Geographies: Haven’t started.
  • Catan Scenarios: Haven’t started, though only Oil Springs needs diagramming.
  • Promotional Scenarios: Haven’t started.  I dread having to do Vienna Meets Catan.
  • Miscellaneous Scenarios: Most of the scenarios are done.  Still need to do some art for the Durango hex, and I want to see if I have the time to do some special diagrams for CWC 2014/CD 2015 scenario.
  • Variants: Most variants don’t need diagrams…
  • Bonus Section: Don’t get me started…

Work on the Guide might be slowing down a bit over the next few weeks due to other priorities, but hopefully I should be able to release an alpha version fairly soon.  The Guide is looking for volunteers to copyedit the alpha version, so if you are interested, sign up by replying to the comment section below.

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