“The number of dots means it’s less likely you’ll roll that number – although I have seen this game break the laws of statistics many times.”
“Since she can’t afford to build a road, can I finance a road in her name?”
“There’s less of my red pieces on the board than anyone else’s, which makes me a minority. Therefore, if you steal from me, it’s a hate crime. So keep that thief away from me!”
These are the things I heard, among many other humorous phrases, while my friends and I experienced playing Settlers of Catan for the first time, with one of my friends who brought the game over guiding us through it.
This board game is very much a gateway to playing even more complex, highly original board games that exist in the world outside the universe of Candy Land and Snakes and Ladders. If you’ve ever been interested in playing board games in your spare time, but haven’t had the faintest clue where to start, Settlers of Catan can provide you that seamless introduction.
One way to think of this game is as a rural version of Monopoly, where the purpose is to collect various resources and build roads, settlements and cities, all the while collecting victory points which are used to win the game. The game is always kept interesting with the grey “thief” game piece which allows someone to take a resource card from another, this occurring every time a “7” was rolled. When we played, it seemed like everybody rolled a “7” at least three times before the game was over.
While I listened to my friend who owned the game explain the rules to me and my four girlfriends in detail, I was concerned at first that there were too many rules for this game to really be considered an easy transition into the world of board games. However, after a few rounds into the game, I realized that once you got it, you got it. You might have a question or two as you play the very first time, but there really is a moment early in the game where everything clicks into place in your mind and you will be able to play along without difficulty.
One great aspect of this game is that there is a great sense of re-playability. The layout of the board is made up of removable hexagon pieces, so the locations of all the resources are different and randomized every time you play. There are multiple ways in which a person can earn victory points to win, such as by gaining enough “Knight” cards to develop the largest army or by building the longest road between two settlements or cities.
Another winning factor about this game is, unlike Monopoly, it ends, and it doesn’t take three or more hours for somebody to win! The average time it takes for somebody to collect enough victory points to win this game is always reasonable.
All and all, a night spent playing Settlers of Catan with friends is a really great time. I warn you right now, you won’t get far into the game before the many “wood” jokes begin to fly between you and your friends. There will also be many groans around the table when a “7” gets rolled, not just once or twice, but consistently.
I highly recommend picking this game up and calling your buddies over to try a riveting night of building roads and settlements, as opposed to a monotonous round of Call of Duty deprived of any physical human interaction. If you all end up having a blast, then you’ll know you’re ready to take on any other board game that you happen to come across.
To see a humorous skit of a group of friends playing this game, take a look at this bit from the people behind the web series Board with Life. Also, if you’d like to learn about other great intro board games besides Settlers of Catan, click here to see an informative video from the same group.