The Settlers of Catan
Family Friendly — Fun for Everyone!
We learned about The Settlers of Catan from a recent article by Andrew Curry, in the March 23, 2009 issue of Wired Magazine entitled, Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre.
My husband was so intrigued with what he read that he immediately ordered the game for our family. The box arrived early this week and we've played about a dozen rounds so far. Aside from a few heated disagreements, we have all enjoyed playing.
Instruction sheet in hand we began our first game. We can always count on my husband to keep us on the right path and he didn't disappoint me this time. He laid out our maiden game as the instructions indicated — and it's a good thing he did. Our second game, we played free-style and organized the pieces randomly — we were not ready for that and we quickly became frustrated. So, do yourself a favor, keep it simple when learning the game — placement of the game board is important.
While this game is largely one of strategy, I think the biggest lesson we've learned from it is one of cooperation. Since we began playing together, my son (age 12) and I have seemingly been in a constant state of war, attacking each other, then seeking revenge, this is not fun. Once we learned that just because you can steal resources, doesn't mean you should. We are learning to play nice with each other — important for any family.
I would not recommend you turn a couple of children loose with this game, who are unable to get along — you would be inviting disaster. However, with the guidance from a parent (or both), children who are constantly picking at each other could possibly learn to work together. It's a really awesome process to watch. This game actually works better if you cooperate, but it's getting through those first games that's tough.
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This is one game that is truly family friendly. Even a child as young as 5 or 6 can play, if they can sit still for about an hour. The game requires no reading skills at all — once you get past the instructions — it's strictly graphics based. I am the only one who's had a little trouble keeping things straight. I wish the pieces had words in addition to the images but the rest of the family has been nice enough to help me out with that.
The game does have one major design flaw — the sea-frame playing board is made of cheap cardboard, the board pieces fit together so closely that at times we've had trouble getting it to lay flat. I searched yesterday for a sturdier made deluxe model but was unable to locate one that would fit our budget. I've added the Catan 3D Collector's Edition to my wish list. Wow! Amazon even had it on "special" once for $304.00. At this posting it is currently $999.99 — not exactly in the budget. While the game is very nice even the Cashflow game doesn't cost that much.
The game tokens (settlements, cities and roads) are made of wood and will last a long time, the cards are standard quality and should last the life of the game if care is taken. I will continue to search for a better board for our game and will post the information if or when I find one.
This game is terrific family fun. I highly recommend it. One of the best features of this game is the modular layout. The Settlers of Catan game is created so that the board can be simple or extremely difficult to master, the choice is yours.
The Settlers of Catan from Mayfair Games is an award-winning strategy game where players collect resources and use them to build roads, settlements and cities on their way to victory. The board itself is variable, making each game a little different from the next. Each round of The Settlers of Catan is intended to keep three or four players ages 10 and above engaged for up to 90 minutes. (I think many younger kids would enjoy the game, it just depends on you, do you have the patients for it?)
On the Road to Settlement
The game rules and almanac booklet sets out four pages of guidelines for getting started. Don't worry, the rules are straightforward and the four pages include plenty of illustrations. There's a starting map that shows a well-balanced set-up for beginners to follow and directions that allow more advanced players to lay out the map of the island at random. You'll have to pop the die-cut components of the game out of their cardboard holders before you play your first game.
The almanac portion of the booklet is laid out alphabetically, so while playing you can find answers to specific questions quickly. Useful entries remind you exactly what role pieces like the robber, play, how actions affect you, like maritime trade work, and how to set up the board or finish the game.
Exploring and Developing Catan
The board consists of 19 terrain hexes surrounded by the ocean. Each type of terrain produces a different type of resource: brick, wool, ore, grain or lumber. There's also a desert hex that produces no resources. As the game progresses, players use resources to build roads along the edges of these hexes and settlements or cities on the intersections where three hexes meet. Each player begins the game with two settlements and two roads.
Each player's roll of the dice causes certain hexes to produce resources, which you collect if you have a settlement on one of them. On your turn, you'll use various combinations of the resources you've acquired to build new roads and settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, or purchase development cards. The ability to trade resources with other players adds a new level of strategy and ensures that the game includes lots of interaction between players. You can also trade without worrying about other players using an unfavorable maritime trade rate. Elements including a robber piece that lets you steal from other players and a variety of development cards add intrigue to the game.
The objective of The Settlers of Catan is to be the first one who collects 10 victory points. Each settlement is worth one victory point and each city is worth two victory points. You can also earn victory points by holding the "Longest Road" card, the "Largest Army" card, or special victory point development cards.
Best-Selling Game of the Year
It's easy to see why The Settlers of Catan has been recognized as a best-selling Game of the Year in both Germany and the U. S. We found this game to be fun and engaging for both children and adults, and the variable nature of the playing field really made us want to play again and again. When we started pausing to contemplate our opponents' strategy and factoring the probability of different dice rolls into our moves, the game sometimes took longer than expected, but we were so engrossed we didn't even notice until it was all over.
Due to the widespread popularity of the original game, several expansion sets (sold separately) are available that allow you to explore new aspects of the game or add more players. The only downside to this game is that you need to have either three or four players to play, so it's great that expansion sets are available that will allow you to add players.
What's in the Box
Six sea frame pieces, 19 terrain hexes, nine harbor pieces, 18 circular number tokens, 126 game cards, 16 cities, 20 settlements, 60 roads, two dice, a robber and a "rules and almanac" booklet.
One of the most successful games of all time, Settlers of Catan is a trading and building game set in the mythical world of Catan. Players roll dice to determine which resources are generated each round and then must strategically trade those resources with other players to get what they need to build their settlements, cities, and roads. With multiple ways to gain victory points and a board that changes in every play, Settlers of Catan is a game that can be played hundreds of different ways. The base of a hugely successful franchise, with multiple engaging expansions, Settlers is the core game of many collections, and is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. For 3 to 4 players.
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