THE SETTLERS OF CATAN
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on March 15, 2016
Somewhere in 2000ís I played The Settlers of Catan for the first time. As always when you play a new game, youíll have to learn the basics first and in my family, this usually results in one big shouting contest. But, after two rounds of arguing and practice, I got the hang of it and realized I loved this game!
The Settlers of Catan (or Catan for short) is a game where players try to be the dominant force on the Island of Catan. Youíll have to build settlements, cities and roads in order to assert your position. To build these things, youíll need resources, and plenty of them. There are five types of resource cards; wool, grain, ore, stone and wood. Different combinations of resources let you build different things, like roads, settlements or cities.
But how do you get your hands on these resources? Well, thatís where the gameís tiled board comes into play. When you set up the game, youíll have to randomly place hexagonal shaped tiles in a certain grid-like manner. When all tiles are laid out, you place discs, numbered from 1 to 6, on them. These numbered discs are very important during the rest of the game. When a player takes his or her turn, a roll of the dice will determine which of the players may collect resources. If, for instance, a 5 is rolled, all players who have a settlement or city on one of the edges of the tile that has the number 5 disc on it, may take one card of the type of resource that is shown on that tile.
You can see how this may pose a problem if you want or need a resource, but you donít have a settlement or city on the edge of the right tile. Donít worry; you can always try to trade resources with other players. How you trade your hard-earned resources is entirely up to you. You can decide, for example, to trade one wood card for one stone card. But if stone is a resource that isnít abundantly available, you can also choose to make as much out of the deal as possible, and ask multiple resource cards for your one stone card. So yes, you can really make a profit when trading resources! On the other hand, youíll have to be careful; otherwise players might just leave your stone where it is and try to trade with someone else. Some tiles feature a semi-circle port symbol on one of their corners. If you happen to build a city or settlement there, youíre allowed to make special trades with the bank. This lets you trade resources without bartering with other players, making your life quite a bit easier.
The main goal of Catan is earning Victory Points; the first player that manages to collect ten victory points first, wins the game. Victory points are most commonly collected by building settlements and cities, but can also be won by collecting Victory Point cards. These cards are won by fulfilling the requirement on that card. For instance, one card might say ďLongest roadĒ; this means that if Iíve got the longest road on the island, I receive this card and the victory points on the card are mine. But beware; if another player builds a road thatís even longer than mine, Iíll have to give the card to that player, along with the corresponding Victory Points (which kind of sucks)! As you may have noticed by now, there are several ways to collect points and ultimately win the game, and thatís just what makes Catan such an interesting game; you never know who is going to be the winner.
Another exciting element is the presence of a robber. Every time the total of the dice rolled is seven, the robber will enter the game. Every player who has more than seven cards in hand has to discard half his or her cards. Apart from this, the player who rolled the dreaded seven can place the robber on a resource tile of his or her choice. That tile will not produce resources as long as the robber is on it. The only way to get rid of the robber is to roll a total of seven or playing a ďKnightĒ card. If you move the robber to a tile, you may also choose one resource card from one of the players who have a settlement or city on an edge of that tile.
Settlers of Catan was originally released on 1995, and in the years since has spawned lots and lots of expansion sets. You can conquer the sea in Seafarers, explore dangerous pirate lairs in Explorers and Pirates, or enjoy the immense wealth of Cities and Knights. These expansions can be combined, all at the same time if you like, with the base game. Apart from the regular tabletop versions, thereís also a two player card game version of Catan and even a PC game, so thereís really a version for everyone. One thingís for sure, this game will never get boring!
I love The Settlers of Catan because you never play the same game twice and itís always a surprise who is going to win. With the addition of the expansions you can spice things up a bit. In my family itís a game we still play a lot, simply because we just canít get enough of it. So if you like an easy-to-learn game with a lot of expansion possibilities, you really should give Settlers of Catan a try!
THE SETTLERS OF CATAN
Asmodee/Catan Studio / 999 Games (Dutch website) & Many more...
A Game by Klaus Teuber
Orinally released: 1995 Players: 3 - 4 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 60-90 minutes