Settlers of Catan is the first non-mainstream boardgame I ever purchased. I had read several reviews on this "European Style" game (more on that later) and so I decided to try it out. In Settlers of Catan, players try to develop to build settlements, roads and cities on the island of Catan. This is done by collecting different resources that the island produces and using those resources to build your domain. As you build your domain you collect victory points and the first to 10 wins.
- 19 Terrain Hexes (Tiles)
- 6 Sea Frame Pieces
- 9 Harbor Pieces
- 18 Circular Number Tokens (Chits)
- 95 Resource Cards (19 of Each Resource: Ore, Grain, Lumber, Wool, Brick)
- 25 Development Cards (14 Knight/Soldier Cards, 6 Progress Cards, 5 Victory Point Cards)
- 4 "Building Costs" Cards
- 2 Special Cards: "Longest Road" & "Largest Army"
- 16 Cities (4 of Each Color Shaped like Churches)
- 20 Settlements (5 of Each Color Shaped like Houses)
- 60 Roads (15 of Each Color Shaped like Bars)
- 2 Dice (1 Yellow, 1 Red)
- 1 Robber
- 1 Games Rules & Almanac Booklet
Average Game Length: 90 minutes
Settlers of Catan was first published in 1995 and a winner of the prestigious German Game of the Year award, the Deutscher Spiele Preis. The game is centered around economics as opposed to military theme or a game where you 'attack' others. Instead, the game is about collecting resources and using those resources to build roads, settlements and cities as a mean to obtain 'victory points'. These victory points are used to determine the winner of the game.
The game board is composed of hexagon board pieces that represent different types of resources such as lumber, wool, brick, grain and ore. These board pieces are put together to form an island. Since the board pieces are randomly placed, each game plays differently. In addition, random numbered pieces from 2 -12 are placed on each one of these hexagon pieces. Each turn a player rolls two 6-sided die. If you have a settlement or city that borders a hexagon that contains a number rolled on the dice, then you earn that type of resource. As the game goes on you continue to collect resources from the dice rolls and you can even trade resources between players.
The trading is what really makes Settlers a social interactive game. During the game, people are wheeling and dealing trying to get resources they need. Many times a player will barter back and forth with several other players in order to get the best trade possible. Because of the trading and the ability to earn resources on each turn, there is very little down time when it isn't your turn. Even though you are not rolling the dice, you will trading and strategizing as to what you need to build next and where to put it.
The goal of the game is to possess ten victory points. Players possess one point for each settlement built, and a second for each settlement upgraded to a city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road and largest armies, grant a player additional victory points.
As mentioned in the overview, this is a "European Style" game which means the emphasis is more on strategy and downplay luck and conflict. Rules are typically easy to understand but require more thought and strategy than a typical 'party' game such as 'Pictionary' or 'Trivial Pursuit'. Settlers of Catan is sometimes referred to as a 'gateway' game which means it's a great game to introduce casual players to a different style of boardgame that could lead to interest in more complex, strategy games.
Settlers also has several expansions such as 'Seafarers' and 'Cities and Knights'. These add rules and elements to the base game.
Hardcore Score: 7
Even though this is a gateway game. Serious gamers still like to pull out the 'ole tried and true' Settlers. Because each game is different based on how the island is built, each game will have it's own strategies that must be developed and tweaked during gameplay. The biggest drawback to the game for serious gamers is the amount of luck in the dice roll. Even though you may have your settlements built in the best locations to obtain resources. If the those numbers never come up on the dice then you are 'resource starved' which keeps you from building the things you need to obtain victory points
Wifecore Score: 7
Since this is an excellent gateway game, this is a great way to introduce casual gamers to a different style of game than they are used to playing. The rules aren't overly complicated and by playing just once or twice they will have a good feel of the game and how to develop their own strategies. The only drawback is that setup takes 5-10 minutes and a game could last up to 90 minutes. A casual gamer might not be used to taking such a long time to play one game, so it might be worth giving them a heads up before they play.
Kidcore Score: 4
This game is probably best played by kids 8/9 and up. While the rules aren't hard to grasp, sometimes the strategy can be just because there are so many options that can be done each turn. Plans must be made several turns in advance in order to be competitive. And due to the length of the game, I've had my younger kids get bored and leave the table. While this is a great gateway game for adults, it may not be for young kids.