Settlers of Catan

747px-Settlers_of_Catan_-_standard_map I’m a fan of Settlers of Catan. The game is ballsy and tons of fun…as a matter of fact, I played and triumphed last night :) Anyways, for those of you out there that haven’t a clue what the game is about, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The players in the game represent the eponymous settlers, establishing a colony on the previously uninhabited island of Catan. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles (“hexes”) of different land types each producing one type of resource: ore, grain, wool, lumber, or brick. One hex is desert which does not produce anything.

As players establish towns and cities on the island, each settlement can receive resources for its adjacent hexes (with cities yielding more resources). The resources, represented by cards, can be used to build more roads, towns, or cities, and to obtain development cards for later use. Various achievements, such as building a town or establishing the longest road, grant a player one or more victory points. The winner is the first player to accumulate ten victory points on his turn.

Players are allowed to trade among each other the resources they have produced, and to trade “off the island” for a hefty price. It is difficult for any one player to produce all the resources necessary for progress, so astute trading is the strategic heart of the game. Player interaction is further complicated by the presence of a robber, which is used to steal from other players and hinder their production of resources. There is no combat. Apart from moving the robber, refusing to trade, and cutting off building routes, there is no way to harm other players. The settler theme and economy simulation gameplay are similar to the 1983 personal computer videogame M.U.L.E., though Teuber may have developed them independently.

Settlers of Catan has rapidly become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex. At a recreational level, the game is well-suited for family play. No one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards quantized goals that are within reach, such as building a city in a certain space. Home games generally take between one and two hours to complete.

The layout of the board and restrictions on building allow for a player to be boxed in through poor play or bad luck. Also, given the random component of board layout, it’s possible for players to gain a monopoly on certain resource, and demand steep trade rates from other players.

Along with the main game, you can buy a number of expansions that will really changed the game! The Americanized expansions are: Seafarers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan, 5-6 Players Basic, 5-6 Players Seafarers, 5-6 Players Cities and Knights. One thing that sucks in that regard is the fact that if you buy the 5-6 Player Basic expansion and the Cities and Knights Expansion…well, to play 5-6 player Cities and Knights, you need to buy another box…5-6 Player Cities and Knights. It gets a little expensive, but well worth it!

If you have the chance to try this game out…do so. Don’t be daunted by the rules as they seem complex at first, but they really are simplistic. You’ll thank me later.