This is the most fun I have ever had in a boardgame. Designed by Klaus Teuber and released by Mayfair Games, Settlers of Catan is the kind of games that geeks come back to time and time again. It is a game about exploration, with several neat expansions (I will cover them in separate pages, this page just covers the original and the 5-6 player expansion) that add many rules.
Settlers of Catan is a simple but deep game that looks harder than it is at first but has enough strengths of strategy that truly getting the go of it may take some time.
Its concept is one that tries to play itself as concrete, but is actually abstract. You are competing settlers on this island which has areas that produce a single type of resource and only when their number is rolled on two six-sided dice. Your roads and settlements exist in the intersections of these hexagonal areas, and there are basic rules governing who can move where and when. Along the shoreline, there are ports that allow you to make trades for your resources. There is a thief that comes along at a natural roll of "7" and you can somewhat manipulate him to get at other players, adding the most "spiteful" aspect of the game. This is not all the rules, of course, because there are rules to cover trading and what you can you build and what you can play and largest armies and largest roads, but there is no need to get into them here.
The game is slow to start, so slow that first time players will often try and convince themselves it is boring. Sticking with it, though, gives the game time to develop into a fair competition as trade wars and resource hoarding begins. The balance of the game is nice in that it takes very bad luck and very bad strategy to be truly out of the running. Even people far behind can make a come back in a few well played turns.
This game takes time, so it should be the focus of the night. It also has lots of little wood pieces to keep up with. The board is built up out of the pieces, so it can be knocked around if the players bump into it. Some will get annoyed by these things, but it enables the board to be refreshed each and every time.
It is not a detail ridden simulation, at any stretch of the imagination. Depending on your preferred flavor, this may or may not be a turn off.
My score is a 90.
Uncontrolled Thief 1: Roll 1d6 after a seven is rolled. Starting with the player to the left of the one who rolled the seven (the next player in turn), count down the number. Whatever player this shows up on, possibly even the person who rolled the seven, the thief hits this person. If a soldier card is rolled, you roll 1d6 and play as above.
Uncontrolled Thief 2: After the seven is rolled, roll 2d6 again. If another 7 is rolled, the thief goes back to the desert. With any other number, the thief gets moved to a land piece with a matching number. His attack can then be controlled by whoever rolled the seven, as per normal, assuming there is someone there to attack. Playing a soldier card works much in the same way.
Unallied Thief: Whatever resources the thief steals goes back to the stockpiles, after being chosen at random by the one who rolled the thief.
One thing to keep in mind with this game is that you will probably have to play twice before the people you are playing with definitely get it. A lot of times, in the middle the first game, they will begin to pick up on the various little nuances and rules as they go along. Stuff that they should have been aware of in the first play through and at the first of the game they will not be aware of, and so in the second game they will be able to handle early strategy better. I find this to be true of SoC more than most boardgames.
Boardgame Geek's SoC page for more screenshots, play reviews, resources and more.
For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".
"The hidden is greater than the seen."