Settlers of Catan is probably one of those games you’ve seen around. Everyone seems to have it or it’s in every bookstore, but you haven’t seen the appeal of it. I mean, look at the cover art! This looks too old fashioned or no fun, right? Then, when you check the back and see all of the pieces and what the board looks like, you want to play it even less. “It looks hard! Board games shouldn’t be that hard!” And you put it down.
I was one of those people that wasn’t interested in it at all either. In fact, my family was given the original as a Christmas present and it wasn’t until a year later that we even opened the thing and tried playing it! But once we did, we realized that we had been missing out on a great game, unlike anything we had ever played before, and we made it a point to play it with other friends and family members so they could experience such a revolutionary game.
Now, I will say that this game is odd and really not meant for anyone older than about 10. Building the board the first time took me at least half an hour. And the instructions are kind of confusing at first. And it’s going to probably take a little bit of patience and one play through or more to feel confident with it. But don’t worry! I’m going to break it down, give you the basics, and shower this game with praise because I like it so much.
It’s different..and kind of daunting if you’ve never tried a game like this, but building it isn’t difficult in the slightest. Start with that border and connect the numbers, then fill the inside with the five different tiles. The instructions should have a layout for you to follow, but I normally place them by hand, making sure no tile of the same kind border each other. Then, add the number tokens. Again, the book should have a layout for you, but I try to place them in a way so that no tile type has an extreme advantage over another. After that, it’s time to pick a color and play!
Becoming a Settler
The whole point of the game is simple: Get ten points to win the game. That’s it! This is done through building settlements (1 point), cities (2 points), achieving a specific goal: getting the Longest Road or building the Largest Army (2 points), or getting one through a Development Card (1 point).
Every player picks a color and gets a card that matches their color. On this card, it will tell you which resources build what and how many points they will give you. The resource cards will match the tiles on the board. Once the game begins, everyone places their two settlements and two roads, collects the resources their touching, and play begins.
Starting from the first player (determined through rolling the highest, lowest, age, or however you want to do it), they roll the dice and everybody with a settlement or city touching a tile with that number gets one of that resource per settlement (or double if you have a city). So if I have 2 settlements around a lumber tile, I’ll get two lumber cards. After that, the roller has the option to trade some of their resources with other players. Since you may not have all of the resources you need to build what you want, you’ll often have to rely on other players and make alliances to create settlements and cities. After they trade, they can build what they like and end their turn. This is pretty much how the whole game goes. Trading, building, and develop your own unique strategy to win.
Before Settlers of Catan, I had never played a game that required so much communication, haggling, bartering, and competition while still being so fun. It’s one of those games that looks way harder than it is and it’s a blast to play with friends. If the original one starts to get boring, you can always mix it up, too. My friends came up with a house rule that allows you to “airdrop” a settlement and road any place on the board so long as you pay for all of it all at once. If house rules start to get boring, there are over 21 expansions and completely different games from the same Settler’s family, including: Seafarers, Cities and Knights, The Struggle for Catan, Ancient Egypt, Star Trek, and Catan Junior.
The Wrap Up
To wrap it up, the price is high (about $50 retail, although we did see it on Amazon for less than $40), but well justified for the fun it brings time and time again. It’s built well, complex enough to challenge while simple enough to understand quickly. It’s great for people that say board games are boring and perfect for strategists. The game is rather long to complete, especially for those who don’t normally play hour or longer board games, but the time seems to zip by as the game is so engaging and fun. I’d say give it a shot!
How do you feel about Catan? What are your house rules? Let us know in the comments!