Settlers of Catan review
by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Settlers of Catan review
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Settlers of Catan feels refreshing, right from the setting up of all those discs and tiles. It’s a tactile game and will appeal to tweens and teens as well as adults. Lots of fun and a shallow learning curve keeps it accessible to new players, yet it’s fresh each time.
Settlers of Catan review: the game and gameplay
The Settlers board game combines several aspects of successful games into a simple, yet enjoyable experience with strong replay value.
Its growing popularity is demonstrated by the appearance of a Settlers of Catan expansion pack, allowing for two more players to join the party, as well as plenty of other optional spin-offs and expansion packs.
The Settlers board game is very easy to grasp, with a shallow learning curve and much emphasis on social interaction between the players.
Plays takes place on a board made up of hexagons. These are laid out in a pre-determined pattern, but in a random order, so the board is different every time you play.There are five tile types, representing resources: wood, brick, wheat, sheep and ore. One additional tile is a desert piece.
Onto each of these tiles, discs are randomly dealt with numbers from 2 to 12 on them (representing dice throws of that amount). The exception is the desert, on which the Robber is placed.
The Settlers tiles create a large polygon roughly circular in shape, with ‘ports’ around the edge. Each boundary of three tiles creates a settlement point. Build on any of them and access to those resources is created.
Settlers of Catan places great emphasis on real estate. No settlement may be built adjacent to another, so a maximum of three points on each hexagon can be developed.
Taking turns to choose locations, each player claims two points on the board they think will yield good resources throughout the game. The second choice of starting settlement yields an immediate resource payout.
Resources are the key to the Settlers of Catan. Everything a player builds is done using a combination of the available raw materials. For example, building a road requires wood and brick, while upgrading from a settlement to a city requires two wheat and three ore.
This means that a strong position early in the game, when basic materials like wood and brick are in more demand, may weaken later due to the demand switching towards ore or wheat.
Every time a player throws the dice, the tiles with discs for the amount thrown on them generate resources for any players with settlements that touch them. The more common dice throws yield resources more often.
Then trading begins. The active player may strike a trade with any other player that both parties feel is fair. Once that’s done, the player may also exchange resources ports they have access to. Finally, they build, if they wish, or retain their resource cards for later.
If a seven is thrown, the player must move the Robber from the desert to another tile. In addition, one resource card may be stolen from another player. Anybody holding eight or more cards must give half (rounded down) back to the bank!
Victory points are awarded for each settlement or city, plus for development cards (bought with resources), owning the longest road or controlling the largest army. The first player with ten victory points wins the game.
The obvious pitfall when playing Settlers of Catan is the placement of your initial settlements. Pick badly and you could end up with the wrong resources, or none at all.
Because each new settlement must be connected by a road to new construction, you can also find yourself trapped in a corner by other players.
Trading and interaction also play a major part in the success or failure of your mission. There are also many ways to achieve victory. Should you go for the longest road, or buy development cards and try for the largest army?
The development cards themselves can be a real boon. Some score you single victory points; others offer special one-off benefits, like Year of Plenty (choose any two resources from the bank) or Monopoly (steal all of one kind of resource from every player!).
Settlers of Catan review: Pros and cons
The gameplay in the Settlers of Catan board game feels very fresh, once you understand everything that’s expected of you and get a grip on the strategy involved.
One criticism is that the game becomes a bit of a lottery later on, with victory or failure one throw of the dice away. Though you might argue that good early decision-making puts players in a stronger position than others, chance plays a major part.
The trading aspect of the game, with the scarcity of resources, is the best part of Settlers. It’s clever and works perfectly.
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Settlers of Catan review: The verdict
Repeated playings might render its magic less potent, but if this kind of game appeals, the Settlers of Catan board game will be a hit in your household.