Twenty years ago, the settlers started into the depths of the galaxy to discover unknown planets, the undiscovered universe lying before them. Maybe they'll find planets with good ore or carbon deposits — or perhaps only barren ice planets. They might encounter alien folks and start lucrative trading, with pirates and wormholes being a constant challenge for them.
Catan: Starfarers is a new version of Starfarers of Catan, originally released in 1999, that contains completely revised graphics and game materials, revised rules, and (most importantly) a variable game board that brings even more variety to the exploration of space.
Changes to the mechanics include
-If you are lower in the points you get cards on your turn regardless of what you roll. Two random cards initially, then one, then none as your victory points go up. This is a nice touch. No matter how unlucky you are you still get something. Plus if a player rolls a seven, the person can take a card from any other player, but their opponents now draw a random card from the deck.
- Market Trades: Since you have no roads you no longer need ports so, since you no longer have ports you can trade with the market for any resource on your turn; provided you have the right cards. Additionally the ratios aren't bad, Any resource for 3:1, i.e. three of one for one of any other type. Goods (a type of resource) trades for 2:1. This plus no road blocking allows you to trade for resources and keep playing.
- There are NPC races that can give you benefits, some of which are +1 resources whenever you get a resource of the same type. But you have to get there early. Now there is a new dynamic to the game, going out into space becomes a strategy on its own.
- Negotiated trades: Since the resources are more readily available there are less negotiated trades. They still exist and someone can still trade 1:1, 3:1, etc... but it is no longer a singularly driving force in the game. Unless you have a big move and you're missing that one card.
- Resource (set collection) becomes part of your strategy without being limited to negotiation and luck of the die. I think this actually works better.
Colonization: You colonize to claim planets in a system. This is the same as building towns in Catan. But how many can be in a system (hex) depends on player count. In a three player game you're only allowed two colonies per system. In a four player game each system only holds up to three players colonies. If you got blocked out early from the closest systems, reach further into the stars to other systems. Who knows you might meet pirate and you'll have to fight, or traders, perhaps a race of Travelers who will open a worm hole to anywhere on the map.