Last night, after work, we dropped off the kids at my folks place and went through to friends of ours for a pizza and games evening. They had recently purchased a copy of Settlers of Catan and we were keen to have a go and see what all the fuss was about.
Here’s the description of the game from the official Catan website:
Players are recent immigrants to the newly populated island of Catan. Expand your colony through the building of settlements, roads, and villages by harvesting commodities from the land around you. Trade sheep, lumber, bricks and grain for a settlement, bricks and wood for a road, or try to complete other combinations for more advanced buildings, services and specials.
Trade with other players, or at local seaports to get resources you might lack. The first player to achieve 10 points from a combination of roads, settlements, and special cards wins.
I’d say it’s a somewhat similar to Risk (and maybe a little bit of Monopoly) but a lot more fun and even though there are a lot of rules and options during game play, a lot quicker too. We played two games last night that lasted between 60 and 90 minutes each.
And because of the board pieces (hexagonal map piece depicting a certain resource) being placed randomly to make up the map at the beginning of each game and randomly picking (by throwing a pair of dice) the starting person and direction, each game is very different from the previous one.
And example of such a map is like the one below:
The winner of the game is the first person to accumulate 10 points. Points are achieved by building settlements (1 point), cities (2 points) and getting various other special items like Development Cards that give you points, building the longest road (2 points) or having the strongest army (2 points). But don’t be fooled, just because you won a certain achievement that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken away from you by another player who betters your achievement.
What also makes the game interesting and different each time is the fact that resources (like wood, brick, ore, wheat and sheep) don’t ever have a fixed value to them and depending on which resources are most useful to you at the time will determine how you trade with other players. For example one game you’ll end up trading one for one of different resources and other times you might be willing to give up 2 or even 3 of a resource (or combination) for just one other resource from another player.
You also don’t have to wait to play until it’s your turn as every player gets to do a certain amount of things for every dice roll.
There’s a really nice interactive “How To Play” the Settlers of Catan board game that shows you what the game looks like and how to play it.
It’s an expensive board game so I suggest you play with a friend first to see whether or not you too enjoy the game before investing in your own copy (oh and there are various version and extension packs available too) or why not give it a go online against 2 virtual players.
Thanks for the invite guys – it was a great idea and a lot of fun – we’ll definitely have to do it again sometime soon.