Cities & Knights Guides

Member guides:

Jmalecek Guide

Starting the game

  • 1. Initial Rolls
  • 2. Placement and initial cards
  • 3. Rolls

Playing the game

  • 4. Cost and function of structures
  • 5. Barbarians
  • 6. Harbors
  • 7. Developments
  • 8. Points


  • 9. Miscellaneous

1. Initial rolls

The game begins by initial rolls being made by each player. The player who rolls the highest will begin play by placing his first settlement. Followed by the next player in line, then lastly the final player will place his settlement. Following the 3rd players placement, he then gets to start the rotation going in reverse, placing his first city, then the 2nd player, then the 1st player goes last for city placement.

2. Placement and initial cards

Placement is the most crucial key to Xplorers. It will determine how strong of a start you will typically have. There are eight possible hexes a player can place on. I will go over each one in the following chart.

Resource hexSettlement productionCity production
Sheep 1 Wool 1 Wool + 1 Cloth
Wood 1 Lumber 1 Lumber + 1 Paper
Mountain 1 Ore 1 Ore + 1 Coin
Fields 1 Wheat 2 Wheat
Hills 1 Brick 2 Brick
Gold 1 resource by choice 2 resources by choice
Desert/Water - -

When placement is complete, each player will receive one resource for each hex advancement to their SECOND placement. No Development cards will be gained during this phase. (Coin, cloth, paper).

3. Rolls

The game of Xplorers is highly dependent upon probability of rolls to gain an edge over the other players in one way or another. The closer a number is to 7, the higher chance it will roll is. It is typically described by a number of bullets below the chit, however, not in this version of Xplorers, so I will display a chart below showing the probability of the numbers. Every number is possible to be on the board with the exception of 7. When a 7 is rolled, the robber comes into play. The robber when placed on a hex prevents that player from gaining any resource or commodities from that hex while the robber remains there.


Also, when a 7 is rolled, a player may only have 7 cards in his hand. If any player has 8 or more cards, they are forced to give half of their cards in hand back to the bank. There is a way to increase this limit which will be discussed in a later section.

4. Cost and function of structures

Road: 1 lumber; 1 brick

A road is your most primitive unit to build. It simply gets you to where you need to go. You need to build these to get from hex to hex. You get 15 of these to use per game.

Boat: 1 lumber; 1 wool

A boat is simply a road for water! A road and a ship cannot connect directly to one another to continue the length of a road, which will be described later. You get 15 of these to use per game.

Settlement: 1 lumber; 1 brick; 1 wheat; 1 wool

A settlement is your first form of production. A settlement must be built two ?lines or roads? away from another settlement of either your own or another players. IE: You can not build a settlement, road, settlement. It must be Settlement, Road Road, Settlement. You get 5 of these to place each game. When you upgrade one to a city, it gets returned to your bank to use again.

City: 3 ore; 2 wheat

A city is an upgraded settlement. A city will allow you to begin producing commodity cards. Ore hexes produce coin cards, Wood hexes produce Paper cards, and Sheep hexes produce Cloth cards. When a city is placed on a Wheat, Brick or Gold hex, two RESOURCES are produced instead of one commodity and one resource.

City wall: 2 brick

A city wall is built around a city. It has a simple purpose and that is for each wall a player builds, his hand of available cards to have when a 7 is rolled increases by 2. Each player is given 3 city walls per game to build, therefore a player would have a maximum of 13 cards in his hand when a 7 is rolled, instead of the standard 7.

Knight: 1 ore; 1 wool (activation: 1 wheat)

A knight is used to defend the World of Xplorers against the onslaught of the barbarian attacks. When a knight is placed, it is still considered useless until it is activated by 'feeding' it one wheat. A knight can be placed anywhere, with no restrictions on being next to anything. Knights can be upgraded into two higher ranks as well. A level 1 knight is worth 1 defender against the barbarians, a level 2, 2 defenders, and a level 3, 3 defenders. A player may not upgrade level 3 knights until his coin production is up to level 3, which will be explained in a later section in more detail.

5. Barbarians

The barbarians will advance a hex on the Barbarian grid every time the black pirate ship is rolled on the third die. When the Barbarian reaches the end of the line, the world will be attacked. This is where the players ban together to defend the island. Each player has 2 level 1 knights, 2 level 2 knights and 2 level 3 knights every game. The maximum amount of knights would be 12 per player then. (There may be an exception based on development card play which will be explained later.)

All the cities on the island are counted up, this determines the amount of barbarians that are attacking the island. Then, all the ACTIVATED knights are counted up. If the knights are greater than the barbarians, then the players win the attack. If not, they lose.

If the players win, one of two things happen. If one player solely contributed more knights than the other two, he will receive a Defender of Xplorers Card. This card is worth one victory point which is played instantly. If two or more players tie with the most activated knights, they get to pick a development card of their choice. (Coin, Paper, Cloth).

If the players lose, The player(s) that contribute the least amount of knights will lose a city of their choice. If only one city remains for the player(s) then it will automatically be reduced to a settlement without input by the player.

6. Harbors and trading

Trading is an essential key to playing Xplorers. A player may trade with another play any time he would like on his turn. Any trade is okay when it?s player to player, so I will go over bank trading and harbor trading in more detail.

The bank will make trades at any time at a rate of 4:1. Meaning, I could trade 4 brick for 1 wheat. There are two types of harbors that will change the bank exchange rate for the player. There is a 3:1 harbor and a harbor for each resource. (Brick harbor, wood harbor, etc.)

If a player has a 3:1 harbor, then he can trade any resource with the bank at a rate of 3:1. (3 brick for 1 wheat).

If a player has a resource harbor (brick, wood, etc) he is allowed to trade THAT resource 2:1 with the bank. Example would be, Player A has a wood harbor. He is then allowed to trade his two wood for 1 wheat with the bank at any time, as long as he has his settlement placed on the harbor.

7. Developments

A player begins with no developments for his cities. There are 5 levels to each development. Level 1 costs 1 commodity, Level 2 costs 2, Level 3 costs 3, Level 4 costs 4, and level 5 costs 5.

I will begin to break this up as best as I can, by starting with describing how you get development cards, then I will go into specific details. When the dice are rolled, the third dice will decided what happens. If the dice is a pirate ship, you already know that the barbarians move a step closer. However, if it is a yellow, green or blue castle, that is when a player can potentially get a development card. How it is received is determined by the RED die, and what level development you are at. Level 1 Development gives you access to numbers 1 and 2. Level 2 gives you 1, 2, 3. Level 3 gives you 1, 2, 3, 4. Level 4 gives you 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Level 5 gives you a development every time that castle is rolled, cause you get die rolls 1-6. Blue is for coin, Green is for Paper and Yellow is for Cloth.

Once you get to level 3 of any development, it also gives you a special ability. Which will be described under each development seperately.

In addition, when a player reach?s level 4, he is given a METROPOLUS for that development. Only one ?metro? is allowed on the board for each type of development. A metro is worth 2 pts and is a yellow arch placed around a city of your choice. You MUST have an AVAILABLE city to place the Metro on before you can develop to level 4. The metro however is not considered safe until you have reached level 5. If another player beats you to level 5, you will lose your metro and it will be given to that player. Once any player has reached level 5, the metro is safe and can not be taken, the only reason to develop further for any other player would simply be to get the level 3 reward or increase their chances of getting a development card.

I will go over all the development cards and what they do under the correct category. A player is only allowed to have 4 development cards in his hand at a time. Victory point cards do not count towards that total. A fifth card is allowed to be in your hand on YOUR turn, but you must be down to 4 cards before you end your turn or you will be forced to discard one. If you receive a fifth card not on your turn, the bank will force you to return one of your choice.

(Thank you very much to Hearse59 for a post in the forums, helped make this section a lot easier. The number in front of the card indicates how many are in the deck)


Level 3 of Cloth gives you the ability to trade any COMMODITY at a rate of 2:1 with the bank for any resource or commodity.

2x Commercial Harbor Harbor allows you to offer a resource card to a player, in return they MUST give you a commodity card of THEIR choice.
2x Master Merchant Playing this card allows you to pick a player with more points than yourself, you get to review their hand of cards and pick two of YOUR choice.
6x Merchant This card allows you to place a little purple merchant next to any of your settlements or cities. It allows you to trade that resource 2:1 with the bank as long as the merchant remains there. This merchant is also worth one victory point as long as he is in your possession.
2x Merchant Fleet This card allows you to pick one resource or commodity of your choice to trade with the bank at a 2:1 rate for that turn only.
4x Resource Monopoly You pick a resource, each player must give you [up to] TWO of that card if they have it.
2x Trade Monopoly You pick a commodity, each player must give you ONE of that card if they have it.


When you get to level 3 of paper, you get what is called an aquaduct. Every time a number is rolled where you do not collect a resource (with the exception of 7) you get to choose a resource of your choice.

2x Alchemist Played before you roll, you get to choose the numbers on both dice. You do NOT get to choose the event die however.
2x Crane Allows you to develop one of your developments for one card less. (IE: Level 3 paper would only cost you two paper instead of 3 when playing this card.)
2x Inventor When played, you can switch two number chits on the board. You are not allowed to switch 2, 12, 6, or 8 however.
2x Irrigation When played, you get TWO wheat PER wheat hex you have a town adjacent to.
2x Medicine This card allows you to build a city for the cost of 2 ore and 1 wheat instead of the standard 3 ore, 2 wheat.
2x Mining When played, you get TWO ore per ORE hex you have a town adjacent to.
1x Printer 1 Victory Point, played instantly, does not count towards your card total.
2x Road Building Allows you to place two roads or two boats, or one of each at no cost to you.
2x Smith Allows you to upgrade two knights at no cost to you. You still must obey all rules. If you can?t make Level 3 knights, you can?t upgrade one to mighty just cause of this card.


Level 3 coin allows you to upgrade your level 2 knights to level 3 knights.

2x Bishop Allows you to move the robber or Pirate ship. The benefit to this card as to a normal robber movement is that you get to steal a resource from EACH player adjacent to the hex you move it to.
1x Constitution One victory point, played instantly, does not count towards your card total.
2x Deserter Allows you to steal a knight of that players choice. If you do not have room for the knight, it will simply vanish from the island.
2x Diplomat When played, this card will remove a road or ship of your opponents from the game, or you can relocate one of own your road or ships.
2x Intrigue Allows you to displace one of your opponents knights connected to a road of your own.
2x Saboteur Turns an opponents city upside down, reducing it to acting like a settlement until the player pays the repair cost of 1 lumber; 1 ore.
3x Spy Allows you to pick a player to look at his development cards and pick one of your choice.
2x Warlord Activates all your knights instantly.
2x Wedding Every player that has MORE victory points than yourself must give you two cards of THEIR choice.

8. Points

Games are able to played to 13, 15, or 17 points.

  • 1 point for settlement
  • 2 points for City (1 for settlement, 1 for city upgrade, total of 2)
  • 2 points for longest road (Road must be together without interruption, if there is a tie, player who got to the tied number first retains the road until another road is built. Example being?Player A has 14. Player B builds his 14th road, Player A still keeps road until Player B builds road 15.)
  • 2 points for Metropolis (on top of the 2 for city)
  • Defender of Xplorers (1 point per)
  • Merchant (1 point)
  • Discovery chips (1 point for each new island)

9. Miscellanious

To be added later when new information becomes available.


I want to give a big thanks to a lot of people on the forums who unknowingly helped make this guide, giving a bunch of information for me very easy to find without a lot of stress. Hopefully this helps a few people understand C&K a bit more. I will write a basic guide in the near future, but if you understand C&K, basic is a piece of cake.