Board Game Review: The Settlers of Catan

Quick description from Board Game Geek:
In Settlers of Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game.

Players: 3-4 (ideal with 4) (3 is playable)
Play Time: 90-120 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Learning Curve: Medium
Price: $32.76 on Amazon, $10 on Xbox Live (only 1-4 players available), $5 on iDevices
Best Place to Learn: Xbox tutorial

 

Review:
Catan was the second of the designer board games I was introduced to. I first discovered the game through Xbox Live after playing Carcassonne and like that game, I highly recommend this to players who are interested in playing more complicated board games. The Xbox Live community still plays Catan and you may still be able to find a game to play with strangers. This is next to impossible with Carcassonne. Catan is a great introduction to a concept you’ll hear about a lot in future reviews: Victory Points. As the description states, the first person to 10 victory points wins.

Catan has the best nerdy t-shirts

How you go about acquiring these victory points is the fun part. You place settlements on spots on the board that can produce resources (sheep, wood, brick, stone, and grain). At the beginning of the game you’ll only have access to some of these resources but you’ll need all of them to succeed. As such, you have to trade with the other players to advance in the game. Obviously a fair amount of luck is involved in any game using dice rolls and I’ve played plenty of games where a 6 would really help me out but the board continually rolls 7s and 8s. Regardless Catan is an incredibly fun game in that does involve a fair amount of strategy and keeps you involved in every players role as you could possibly gain resources or be involved in a trade.

Overall I like Catan quite a bit despite the fact that I completely burned myself out on it. The use of dice and cards along with the interaction of the players makes this a natural fit for any ex-Monopoly players out there looking for a game with more strategy that takes less time. Again, like Carcasonne, the Xbox Live version at $10 is a steal and can help newbies learn quickly. As a side note, the iDevice price is $5 but I don’t like the game there at all. As opposed to Carcasonne which is very sleek and looks great, Catan is ugly and difficult to play. Skip it unless you don’t have an Xbox.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve played Catan and what you think of it!

Catan
Components 2.5 While I like the wooden pieces, the board never fits together perfectly which drives me crazy.
Skill
6 Any game with dice involved takes a certain amount of luck. Regardless, you do need skill to win at the game.
Replayability 9 I’ve probably played Catan more than any other of the new types of games. Different strategies can win so it’s great to try out new stuff.
Complexity
7 Catan takes a while to learn and quite a few games to get really good at. It’s not the most complex game out there but it does take thought while playing.
Fun 8 Catan is a great time. I highly suggest it to anyone interested in gaming.
32.5 Per my metric, Catan gets a score of “good.” I think when I first started playing I would have rated it higher, but after playing some of the more complex games we’ll get to in future reviews, this is the right spot for it.

 

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