Theme: In Catan, you play a group of people who were exiled from their homes and stumbled upon the continent of Catan.
How to Win: The first to score 10 Victory Points wins.
Components: Heavy cardboard map pieces with numbered tokens, wooden player pieces (roads, settlements, and cities), resource cards (sheep, wheat, brick. lumber and stone), development cards.
How to Play: After you create ‘Catan’, this can be done either randomly or the book has a ‘suggested’ layout, you will choose a starting player. This player selects an intersection on which to place their first city and a road. The second player will do the same. Players place their second city in reverse order – so for a two player game, the second player would place first and the first player would place second. This time the players will gain the resources their second city touches.
On a player’s turn, they will roll the dice and on a roll between two and six or eight and twelve, the players will determine if anyone is touching that number. The owners of the city/settlement adjacent to the number rolled will receive the corresponding resource(s). On a roll of seven, the player can place the Robber on a space to steal a card from an adjacent opponent and stop your opponent from collecting the resource the Robber is currently occupying. The active player will then have the chance to trade, purchase a building, purchase a development card or build a road. Players can continue taking actions until they wish to stop or cannot take any more actions. Play continues until someone reaches 10 Victory Points
Thoughts: I have always loved civilization building games and growing up they were mostly for the computer. Not to mention the first few civ-building board games I came across, my wife wouldn’t play as they were extremely complicated. Catan is anything but complex and it scratches the itch of playing a relatively quick civilization building game. There is something satisfying about seeing your civilization’s road stretch from sea to shining sea (not to mention cutting off your opponent’s road in the process) and watching your settlements grow into cities (and doubling in point value).
The one caveat is that it’s a dice game, so you could be bursting at the seams with resources with lots to do or sitting there bored out of your skull because you aren’t rolling the right number. This is counterbalanced by playing with more than two people. Just like Monopoly, trading is allowed by the active player. Sure, just because you are playing a two player game of Catan trading doesn’t just magically disappear, but why would I want to help out my only opponent? I have played Catan the most with just my wife and we play it just fine without trading – though it can get a little irritating at times. I have also played a few games with three players, but it was the most fun when we played with six people.
You do need an expansion to play with five or six, but if you have a larger friend/family group, it is definitely worth it. Catan with six people is amazing and the trading mechanic comes in handy when the continent gets bigger and your civilization can’t quite reach the resources you need to reach. This will be a game that my children will soon be able to play, at least my seven-year-old is, as there is little to no reading required and they really just need to be old enough to understand the how the development cards work (as these are kept secret for the most part).
Overall, Catan is a great introductory game for those who are still stuck in the ‘90s about their games of choice. It’s fast – Setup takes about five minutes, plays in less than an hour for experienced players and tear down is even quicker. It’s also simple once you play a few rounds – two things parents love to hear. Catan was the inaugural game for our gaming group ‘The Merry Meeple’. To date, the best quote ever came from one of our members as I was setting the game up, “Whoa, I’ve never played a game where you had to build the board.”
[This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I wouldn’t recommend a game I didn’t like or think you wouldn’t enjoy. Any games linked have been recommended to friends and family long before this blog.]