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Once in a very long while a game comes along that amasses such a following that it becomes a staple of its respective medium. One su...

Greg Reviews: Settlers of Catan

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Once in a very long while a game comes along that amasses such a following that it becomes a staple of its respective medium. One such game invited us to a lovely little island and challenged us to compete with our friends to build the best civilization. I'm talking of course about Settlers of Catan.

Since its debut in 1995, Catan has built itself into such popularity that many now consider it a gaming staple and few are the gamers that don’t have a copy in their collection. With almost a dozen expansions and half that of spin-offs, Catan has definitely secured itself in board gaming history.

At its core, Catan features a simple game system that makes it easy for beginners to understand. Each turn you roll two dice, collect resources and then either buy cards or build new stuff for your civilization. It easy to use but features enough paths to victory that you can use several strategies to win.

What's in the Box?
 
Let's start by taking a look at the game board. The board is made of 19 hex that can be arranged either randomly or using a pre-designed board (We strongly recommend the starting map for beginners). Each tile depicts either a Hill, Pasture, Fields, Forests, Mountains or Desert. When you roll the dice the result determines which hexes generate resources that turn. ANYONE who has a settlement or city next to that Hex gets the resource. Hills produce Bricks, Pastures produce Wool, Fields produce Grain, Forests produce Lumber and Mountains produce Ore.

The Desert hex is special in that it does not produce resources but instead activates the Robber. When you activate the Robber you may either move him to the Desert or you may move him to any other hex on the board. When the Robber is in a hex it does not produce resources, meaning you can prevent your opponents from getting that last piece they need to build something valuable.

The game also includes a deck of Resource cards of each type, as well as a deck of cards called Development cards. Development cards add extra levels of strategy to the game and are divided into three categories; Knights, Progress and Victory Points (VP).

Knights allow you to move the Robber and steal resources from your opponents. Once played they also stick around and form your Army. The person with the Largest Army (which is considered to be 3 or more Knights) gains 2 VP.

Progress cards are single use cards that give you an immediate benefit such as allowing you to build more roads without spending resources or receive additional resources.

Victory Point cards are buildings that your civilization has built such as Universities or Palaces. Each of these will grant you additional points towards your total.

The last item in the box worth noting are the player pieces. These wooden pieces represent roads (the
rectangles), settlements (small building) and cities (the large building) in four separate colors.

Art and Design

The artwork on Catan is simple and colorful. The images on the cards and game board are vibrant and easily seen from a distance. I particularly like the images used on the cards as they have that hand drawn and colored quality I remember seeing a ton of in the 90s.

As stated above the game design is simple and easy for new players to understand, but allows for multiple paths to victory that gives the game even more replayability.

Final Verdict...

Personally, I believe every game collection should have a copy of Settlers of Catan in it. It's a fun game, quick to set up and only takes around 30 minutes to play. It's also a great starter game for people wanting to get into board games with its ease of use.


And when you feel you’ve gotten your worth out of it, well there are almost a dozen expansions to take your game even further.

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