Settlers Of Catan Board Game Review
Settlers Of Catan As An Alternative To TV
What do you do with the kids if you have no TV, or if it's broken?
Playing a board game, like Settlers of Catan is a good choice.
Settlers will get you talking to each other and interacting for an hour or more.
Come to think of it, even if your TV is working, why not switch it off and play a game anyway?
It beats sitting around in front of the 'box'!
Read on to find out why Settlers is such a good family game.
Trade - The Settlers Way To Victory
Settlers of Catan is a board game for 2-4 players, made in the "European" style.
That means that it has simple rules, is easy to understand, has colourful, quality components and is fun to play for both adults and children.
The game is based around the concepts of trading and building.
The 'board' is a set of hexagonal cardboard tiles which are assembled inside a frame.
Each tile has a type of terrain pictured on it - for example, forest, fields, or hills - each of which can produce a different kind of resource.
Forests produce wood, fields produce grain, hills produce bricks, while ore can be mined in the mountains.
On top of the tiles are placed some markers with numbers on them.
These are used in combination with the dice to see who gets which resources each turn.
The first time you play, the board is set up according to a diagram in the rulebook (to make things as fair as possible), but after that, you are free to set it up randomly.
This means that every game is slightly different to the last.
If you want to play basic Settlers with more than 4 players, then this extension pack is for you.
Catan's A Bit Wooden
Once the board is set up, the players take it in turns to place 2 settlements (these are little wooden markers that look like houses) and a road (look like a wooden bar) from each settlement.
Each turn, dice are rolled to see what resources appear for all players, then the current player can trade with the others and/or choose to build different items.
If no-one else will trade with you, then it is possible to trade with the bank ...at a premium rate.
Alternatively, you can build settlements on harbours to get more favourable rates of exchange.
At the beginning of the game, everybody wants to build roads in order to expand.
However, later on they will build more settlements, upgrade existing settlements to cities and may even buy "development cards" which can give you unexpected bonuses.
Watch Out For The Robber
However, you must watch out for the robber.
This nasty character starts off in the desert (which produces no resources) and is harmless enough.
However, every time someone rolls a 7 on the dice, they can move the robber to a different place on the board and steal a resource card from one of the other players!
To add insult to injury, the place where the robber sits gets no resources until he moves away.
A player caught like this can either wait and hope for another 7 to be rolled, or can play a Knight card (you get these from the development deck) to move the robber, if he has one.
I got this a few months ago and I am very happy to have played it several times already.
It adds to the basic game without adding complexity.
It also gives you more options for expansion and ensures that the wool resource gets more of a look in.
Wool is used to build ships which become an integral part of the game.
As I mentioned above, the Settlers components are top notch.
The board tiles and frame pieces are cardboard, but thick and robust.
The player pieces are made of wood and everything is illustrated in simple but effective colours.
The rulebook is particularly good, taking you through your first game with an excellent tutorial, plus a full alphabetical compendium (with more examples) in case you are unsure of anything.
Certainly, your first game will take longer as you get used to how it works, but after that, you'll be wanting to play again, immediately.
In order to win the game, you have to get a total of 10 victory points.
Each settlement is worth 1 victory point (so you start out with 2 right from the start!), while a city is worth 2.
However, there is a bonus for having the "longest road", which gives you another 2 victory points.
In addition, a player who has played 3 or more Knight cards in the course of the game can get a bonus of 2 points for the "largest army".
You can also get development cards worth 1 point, which you keep hidden until you declare your win... if no-one else gets there first.
If you are an advanced Catan player, then you may want to have a look at this expansion.
This takes the basic game and turns it on it's head, adding lots of new options for improving your cities ...but watch out for the barbarian invaders!
The great thing about Settlers is that you can never be sure who is going to win.
It seems to be balanced fairly well so that each player can keep up with the others.
There is the occasional game where the dice just don't fall your way, or where a bad start position with your settlements catches you out.
However, it doesn't last that long (usually 1 - 1.5 hours), so you can always start over.
Once you've played the game a number of times, then there are some expansion sets available that can breathe new life into your game too. - Seafarers of Catan is an excellent "next stop"!
My family has been playing Settlers for a couple of years now and everyone we have introduced it to has enjoyed it.
I've never quite worked out why it isn't more widely known, but I'm happy to recommend it to everyone.
How To Play Settlers Of Catan
If you're unsure if Settlers is for you, then the video below gives you a good idea of how it is played.
It shows you the board, the pieces and the cards, so is a good introduction to the game.
Have you played Settlers?
Do you love it or hate it?
Let us know, by leaving a comment.
© 2014 Tim Bader