Especially when the variants are bigbox games like Settlers of the Stone Age, which can cost as much as $50, though it looks like you can get it for more like $25 from Amazon.
But...we bumped into a copy at a Goodwill for practically nothing, and I have to say that the changes in this version of Settlers of Catan are pretty interesting. The big ones boil down to this:
- No roads; instead, you build and move explorers. These guys can go anywhere, but it costs you resources to create them and to move them.
- Instead of buying development cards to get random advantages, you pass through special spaces on the board with your explorer.
- There are four technology ladders you participate in. Every turn you can purchase advances in these. At first these really put me off, but they're really simple.
- Hexes become desert and stop producing resources. This is a huge difference. The permanent destruction of spaces means old settlements must be moved to new places However, the victory points for creating settlements don't go away, so the game introduces counters that you pick up when you build a new settlement.
- There's no promotion of settlements to cities. Instead, there's one kind of settlement, a camp.