The Settlers of Catan - Board Game Box Shot

The Settlers of Catan

| Published: 1995
The Settlers of Catan game in play
image © Mayfair Games

Players are recent immigrants to the newly populated island of Catan. Expand your colony through the building of settlements, roads, and villages by harvesting commodities from the land around you. Trade sheep, lumber, bricks and grain for a settlement, bricks and wood for a road, or try to complete other combinations for more advanced buildings, services and specials.

Trade with other players, or at local seaports to get resources you might lack. The first player to achieve 10 points from a combination of roads, settlements, and special cards wins.

User Reviews (129)

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Comic Book Fan
73 of 75 gamers found this helpful
“Welcome to Catan!”

As one of a handful of new settlers on this newly colonised island, your goal is to build and expand, using your resources to become the dominant individual on the island.

Like many others who have written reviews of this great game, Catan was what I consider to be my first ‘real’ introduction to the wonderful world of board gaming, so it felt right that it should also be one of the first reviews I posted on the site!

Let’s take a quick run through how the game works…


The game kicks off with the players randomly creating the board (although quick start options are provided for first time plays, and a cheaper cut-down version of the game also exists which doesn’t include the modular board). This results in a random placement of different resource-generating hexes, each with different numbers on them.

Each player then takes turn placing a first town and road, before then building a second town and road (the placement of these first settlements can be crucial for the players strategy as the game goes on…)

After collecting starting resources, the game then starts…

Each turn two dice are rolled, with whatever number comes up generating resources on each of the tiles with that number on them – if a player has a building (town or city) attached to that tile, they gain resource of that type (Brick, Granite, Wool, Grain and Wood).
On their turn, a player can use any resources they hold to build (for example a road can be built using 1x brick and 1 x wood resource) if they are short on a particular resource they can barter with other players to gain what they need.

Players build roads out of their villages to allow them to expand and build more villages, which can eventually be upgraded to cities. Players score victory points for villages and cities built, as well as being able to gain additional points for having the longest road or largest army.

Gameplay continues until one player reaches 10 victory points.

Whilst this is incredibly simple, it makes for a very enjoyable game, the bartering element is particularly good, and adds an element of tactics to the game as some players gain dominance over particular resources.

As mentioned, there appear to be different versions of Catan out there, but the components in the ‘full’ version are excellent.
The board pieces are very well made and go together nicely – without much worry of it slipping apart as you play – the cards are all of a good quality, and the little wooden pieces that make up the roads, towns and cities are just lovely.

Play time
A typical game of Catan takes about 30-60 minutes, although it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll probably want to play it again straight after!

Catan is a classic ‘Eurogame’ – it’s simple enough that almost anyone can pick the game up in a few minutes, but has a wonderful play mechanic that makes it possible to play with a wide range of strategies whilst also being just random enough to keep things interesting.

The modular nature of the board also makes the game infinitely re-playable – the board is different every time you play so no two games are the same.

This game is surely the definition of a ‘gateway game’ – that much should be clear from the number of users who, like myself, were dragged into the world of board games after playing this! For this reason alone a copy of Catan should sit on every gamers shelf, even if only to be brought out to play when non-gamer friends visit (although I’d be amazed if that was the only time it came down from the shelf!)

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
173 of 179 gamers found this helpful
“Stands Alone, and a Step to Greater Things”

Settlers of Catan has converted many into gamers over the years. Going to any convention (or boardgaming website!) and you’ll run into people that trace their modern gaming roots to a game of Settlers of Catan. It has become one of the handful of great “gateway” games, and will continue doing so for many years to come.

One of the things that makes Settlers of Catan such a great introduction to boardgaming is that it uses many of the items people are already familiar with in gaming, but in different ways than they are used to.

Game Components/Mechanics

Viewing a game of Settlers of Catan in progress looks very different from the standard mainstream boardgames, but there are similarities that make approaching and learning the game easier. Having these similarities makes the game feel more accessible.

Board Layout – The tiles make a map, with the vertexes/sides of the hexagons making it clear where paths will go. Different colored tiles easily show that different locations will do different things.

Dice – One of the staples of traditional boardgaming, but here instead of moving a pawn the number of spaces rolled, you’re using the dice to gain resources. You’re still starting your turn by rolling dice – as in many games – and once you see how resources are distributed, it all makes sense.

Resource Cards – These are very much like currency in other games, coming in colors (or goods types) instead of cash. The cards’ color matches the hexagons on the board, easily showing the link between them.

Trading – Other games allow trading, but often the rules around trading are not well defined. Settlers of Catan tells you what resources are worth for trading with the board (4:1, with the possibility of getting 3:1 or 2:1 on ports). If you don’t like these rates, see what an opponent will give you. For players that don’t like to trade with opponents, they still have an option available to them, and they’ll quickly learn that those that trade are building a lot more on the board.

Robber – Ah, there’s the pawn we’re used to in most games, but it’s not owned by any one player. Rolling a 7 lets you move it once, and thematically it makes sense that having a robber on a hexagon limits the resources it produces, and steals from someone near its location.

Building – When you’re aiming to show advancement in a game, what better way than to give more houses which can be upgraded to cities (similar to Monopoly‘s house/hotel structure). Once you build a settlement (house), you gain resources from it when its number is rolled (akin to someone landing on your property and paying you).

Victory Points – The end of the game is very well defined. Once someone can get 10 points, they win. At pretty much all times, players can see how many points any player has (except for hidden victory point cards). You can look at a game state, see who has how many points, and have a good idea how much longer the game is going to take. Compared to games like Monopoly, Risk, or Clue this can be a great thing, especially with people who have tighter schedules.

My Thoughts

I am one of the people that experienced Settlers of Catan as my first modern boardgame. I had been a collectable card game (CCG) player for many years, and the concept of a one-time purchase that didn’t require everyone to have their own cards was very appealing. Settlers of Catan is a straightforward game, once you see how everything works. There are many small rules that are easily forgotten, or could be confusing to a new player learning the game on their own, so having an experienced person teaching the game is important. More is going on during a game of Settlers of Catan than in other gateway games like Ticket to Ride, making it harder to learn on your own.

I’ve noticed that when used as a “gateway” game, people that respond positively to Settlers of Catan are more likely to move on to other more involved games than people taught with Ticket to Ride, Alhambra, or Carcassonne. While I’ve seen my share of people that will continue playing just Settlers of Catan it seems to be a great jumping off point for other games, making it more of a stepping stone. The other games I’ve noted seem to have a larger percentage of people that like the game, and are happy to keep playing it over and over with little interest to move to other games, which make them less of gateways, and more of landing points. People that like Settlers of Catan seem to be looking for more of a challenge, and want to see what more it out there. They’ve seen what can be done with components they are used to, but utilized in different ways, and they want more.

Settlers of Catan will remain one of my go-to-games for introducing more strategically minded people to boardgaming. With that said, I am very hesitant to suggest someone I’ve never gamed with pick up a copy at one of the mainstream stores that have started carrying it and learn it on their own. The rules can look scary to someone not used to such things, but when explained by someone with experience, Settlers of Catan will continue to light the spark in future gamers!

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I play blue
Book Lover
Comic Book Fan
Smash Up: Ninja Faction Fan
57 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“Late to the Party, but the Most Excited One There!”

My family didn’t play many board games when I was growing up; what games we had were more “classic” games: Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, Uno. When I went to college, some dorm-mates introduced me to Settlers of Catan, but it didn’t stick. A few months ago, I returned to the game and fell hard for it.

However, by now the vast collection of Catan games and expansions are either classic staples of most game nights, or sort of “old news” for people who have moved on to new games. Even though I’m late to the party, I still love playing this game when I can get anyone else interested.

What I Love:

I love the design of this game. The flexible game board of hexagonal tiles linked to resource cards and assigned random dice values are all brilliant mechanisms, making a game where the principle action in each turn is something as haphazard as rolling a pair of dice as strategic as possible. Initial and subsequent Settlement and Road placements become more and more important, rather than static and irrelevant. As a Social Gamer, I enjoy the impromptu interactions with other players through trading and debating why not to place the Robber on certain important tiles.

What I Dislike:

I am not a Strategic Gamer, so I often make poor decisions at the outset of the game, and pay for them throughout the game. This is frustrating for me, as it is for everyone. My wife has commented that there gets to be not enough elements to turns, and play can last too long.

Overall Impressions:

I really love this game as is. I haven’t tried any of the expansions, but I’m eager to see how they expand on an already great game. I enjoy the base game immensely, and my only real problem with it is that I came too late, and everyone else seems to be already on to the next thing.

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I play black
Book Lover
71 of 74 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Nine Years In Catan (Review & Tribute)”

I purchased Settlers of Catan on Memorial Day, 2003 after playing at a friend’s home the night before and lying awake part of the night wondering how I could have built differently to acquire more ore. My family played Settlers at least twice-a-day for the following two weeks. Nine years and a hundred games later I still enjoy this Euro-classic by Klaus Teuber where players compete for supremacy on the Island of Catan by being the first to earn 10 victory points.

First published in 1995 (Mayfair Games), Settlers of Catan has seen many expansions and 4 editions (U.S). It was awarded Game of the Year in both Germany and the U. S. Though the game is 17 years old and there are reviews-a-plenty, I add mine as a tribute to a game that revolutionized my gaming experience. The copy I consider here is the U.S. 3rd edition.

The artwork of Catan (by Stephen Graham Walsh) is mostly in muted earth tones, the images recalling illustrations from children’s books. Its simplistic wood-block components are well-suited to its mechanics. The individual hex-shaped tiles that are arranged to form the game board are good quality and ensure a decent level of replayabilty. The overall feel is earthy and slightly Old World.

In Settlers of Catan players earn victory points by collecting resources (brick, lumber, wool, grain, ore) and converting certain combinations of these into roads, settlements, cities, and developments (e.g. 1 brick and 1 lumber are needed to build a road). Players collect a resource by either building on a hex that produces that resource or by trading with other players.

So many reviews already exist that a detailed description is unnecessary. But in brief, a player follows three steps on his turn:
1. Collect resources. This is accomplished by rolling 2 dice. Every hex contains a number-chit and those corresponding to the roll produce the resource for any player with a settlement or city built on that hex.

2. Trade. The player whose turn it is may then barter with other players for needed resources. He may also trade directly with “the bank,” though typically at a much greater cost. (If he is built on a port, the price will be reduced.)

3. Build. The last step is to convert those resources into roads, settlements, cities, or development cards – cards which provide additional victory points or other elements to improve a player’s game.

Settlers need quite a bit of luck in taming Catan. The geography of the island (i.e. the random drawing and placing of the hexes that comprise the game board) can result in certain resources being especially lean and/or especially plentiful for a particular game. More importantly, dice-rolls determine which resources are produced on each player-turn. Less influential is the random draw of Development Cards.

Nevertheless, the core of this game is resource management. The key to winning is the ability to see in your hand of resources the combinations that convert most effectively to victory points.

Strengths & Weaknesses
The game’s greatest strength is providing multiple paths to victory. The game is designed in such a way that a player can roll with the punches and adapt his strategy to win by various means. One may win with many settlements and sprawling roads, or be cut off from expansion and win by building cities and buying Development Cards.

Because there are various ways of achieving victory points, no one’s ever out of the game. Any player can make a comeback even when behind by several victory points.

Furthermore, the fact that every player (potentially) collects resources on every player’s turn is a particularly enjoyable design element which fuels the game, reduces player-downtime, and actually draws all players into each player’s turn.

Nevertheless, as with any game where dice are central to play, there are times when a player simply cannot obtain resources, no matter how solid his strategy or how well he has positioned his settlements. Such randomness can make the game feel repetitive, and if encountered often enough, frustrating.

Settlers of Catan belongs in any game collection and will appeal to both the casual player and the game-enthusiast. I play Settlers more seldom now because my collection has grown. And while it is true that in this new, rising era of board games, many others offer more depth, more strategy, Settlers of Catan will always have a place at the top of the list and a place in my heart.

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I Am What I Am
Video Game Fan
18 of 18 gamers found this helpful
“Fun mix of strategy and luck”

Players build roads, settlements and cities across a board using resources. Different resources are collected from the hexes you build on depending on a dice roll at the start of each players turn. Players can trade resources with each other. Settlements and cities are worth points; first to 10 points wins.

Who is it for?
Gamers and non-gamers alike will enjoy this game as well as the whole family. Not really enjoying monopoly and scrabble as a child, this is the game that got me into the hobby and it is generally seen as a great gateway game. Catan has strategy but the dice rolls allow for even a first time player to beat a seasoned pro, which is part of why I like this game but may not be for some as the strategy does not run too deep.

– Everyone is involved every turn with gaining resources and trading.
– Easy to learn.
– Great wooden pieces.
– Great replayability – you can randomise the board, there are good expansions and I’ve been playing this game for years and still want to play it.

– The hexes can be a little difficult to keep together if they warp (I own the 4th edition of this game).
– The game can be quite long. I usually play this with 6 players and we won’t be playing for less than 2 hours, sometimes more like 3 – 4 hours with expansions, albeit we talk a lot during the game!

Should you own this game?
If you want a fun enjoyable game, with a mix of strategy and luck which you can get even non-gamers to play then this is a must have on your shelf. The 5-6 player expansion also adds more players if required. If however, you prefer strategy games on the heavier side then try before you buy.

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Gamer - Level 2
61 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“I've got wood for your sheep...”

So this is it, I gave my first ever heart to this game because it is literally my favorite casual board game. I have played it on average once a week for years now. I hope you like my review and end up loving this game as much as me and my friends do. Enjoy

Catan is a land being settled by the players. The board is made of hexagonal tiles depicting five kinds of land types. These land types provide five major resources for players to collect, trade and use to build settlements, cities, roads and armies. The five resources are Lumber, Brick, Grain, Wool and Ore.

Each turn players roll two dice to see which resources generate. Hexes are marked with chits labeling them between 2-12 excluding the number 7. If you have a settlement on the hex when it is rolled you gather that particular resource. When you have enough resources to build something you can on your turn.

When the 7 is rolled a robber token comes into play and you move the piece onto a hex. You get to steal a resource card from another player that has a settlement on that hex. You can buy development cards that are worth Game points, can build your army, get you resources, and generally help you build your settlements. The game is played until a player gets 10 points

This game requires a lot of cooperation in its trading component. Players quickly become negotiators, lawyers, diplomats and business people to fill rolls and advance their strategy. Each game is extraordinarily different and random and require you to develop different strategies every time.

Getting bad picks on your initial set up. Nothing can make a game go slower than when you get poor numbers and not the resources you need. I have said it over and over, the initial set up phase is the most important part of the game.

A little bit of everything. Build roads, then an additional settlement, then either cities or development cards. Take your points in whatever way they come to you. If you see that multiple people are going for longest road let them and instead go for largest army. If you only focus on one thing you will not win.

I have seen just about every single strategy work out to some degree of success, which is why this game is so much fun. The only thing that doesn’t work out well is hoarding cards because if you have more than 7 cards when a 7 is rolled you have to get rid of half rounded down. What a waste!

What a great game, an hour to learn a lifetime to master. I feel that there is luck in the draw but like the best games with dice (backgammon, monopoly) the main winning factor is always strategy. This game is very interactive as it gets people talking each and every turn. I have seen fights break out and tempers flare, but I always feel that even if I lose, that I still had a lot of fun playing the game.

10 out of 10

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Treasure Map
16 of 16 gamers found this helpful
“Gaming Revolutionary ”

This is a review, not a description of play.

I remember when my older brother first brought home Catan and asked us to play. “Of course” i thought, we love boardgames, “I’ve played tons of monopoly and the farming game”. We played, and we LOVED it. My whole family, we played it all the time. We thought we had discovered the greatest game ever. We bought multiple expansions and failed to see how the game would ever be surpassed. However, our affection for the game wavered and soon fell. We hardly play it now. And this is why.

Settler of Catan is a great game for the Era in which it was produced. I would wager at the time most people had only play big commercial board games with set boards and very repetitive play. Settlers of Catan was not the first game of its kind: changing board, more strategy based then luck, but it was the game that I believe introduced ( and still does to this day) the population to meatier, more fulfilling gaming. Where gaming became more than a casual activity and became a lovable hobby beloved by many. I almost never play Settlers. I decide to play better games that i own, games that play well with two, that are co-op, that have more strategy,less luck dependent, better for new gamers, better themes, better components, are more re-playable, and take less time. Now I don’t want people to think that Catan is a bad game, its not. Its just that now there exist many options that most people would find more enjoyable. I fully believe that most of the gaming community would not be here without this game, or for that matter many games that exist today that were inspired by it. Gaming has undergone a revolution and I believe Catan is one of the games at the fore front.

What I like:
1. Changing board
2. Good strategy
3. Multiple Options.
4. Passive Aggressive maneuvers of the robber.
5. Can be quick with the right people.
6. Easy to learn for new people.

What I don’t like.
1. Can be long with the right people.
2. Some games you know you will lose after 20 minutes but must wait another hour to finish.
3. Trading, one of the main mechanics, becomes obsolete once someone is within 2-4 points of winning.
4. Games start to feel the same.
5. Needs expansions to be re-playable.

Fun game that has been out done.


Fun tidbit. Members of the NFL Greenbay Packers love to play Catan, they take the game to all the cities they visit and play before games. Catan really is bringing people into the hobby as it did to me.

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My First Heart
My First Wish!
My First Favorite!
Gave My First Grade
72 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“The Monopoly of the Modern Age”

Settlers of Catan has been around. Not just in the time sense (it’s over 15 years old as of this review), but also in the sense of how much visibility it has. Board gaming as a full on hobby really caught hold with this modern era that Settlers helped usher in.

Now-a-days you can find this game practically anywhere – Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, and many bookstores. I think I’ve even seen it at a supermarket before.

And that’s why it’s like Monopoly. Not only can you find it pretty much anywhere, but it’s pretty likely that more than one of your friends owns it and even more likely that they’ve played it in some form.

The actual gameplay has much less in common with Monopoly though. Your board is a bunch of hexes that represent resources that can be collected from them and they’re laid out at random. You still build stuff to help your cause, but instead of houses and hotels, you’re building towns and cities, roads too.

And instead of hoping the other players land on your properties, you’re hoping the number rolled on the dice matches the number on the hexes you have a city next to, since that means you get to collect the resource that hex provides.

Setup’s pretty easy since it’s mostly random. The hexes that make up the board start face down, you mix them up, and then you start laying them out inside the bits that hold all the hexes together. Then you’ve got all these disks that have numbers on them and you do the same thing – face down, mix up, deal out.

The next step is where each player takes turns putting down a town with two roads connected to it until all the players have two towns on the board. There’s a lot of strategy that can go into this part of the game.

Once the game starts each player will roll two dice on their turn and any hex that has the same total as the dice gives resources to all players who have a town touching that hex. Then players use the resources they have to build more things.

These can be additional roads or towns, upgrades to towns to make them cities (which doubles the amount of resources you get from a hex it touches), or cards. These cards either give you interesting things you can do to other players, give you knights which work towards one of the way you get victory points, or many other things.

Victory points are how you win, and there are a number of things that give them to you – it’s better to learn the game through the rule book rather than a review.

What makes this game fun are all the decisions you get to make coupled with another thing it has in common with Monopoly – the deal making. It’s quite common to have a resource you either don’t have access to, or that’s hard to get because the number for it isn’t as easy to roll on the dice (like 2 or 12).

That’s when you can start making deals. You’ve got the brick I need, but I’ve got the ore you need – so we swap. But is it an even trade? Brick does a lot of useful things, but ore is needed for most of the really big stuff. Does that mean I deserve two brick for my one ore? How badly do I need that brick? Tons of factors go into what kind of deals you’ll make with the other players and it can get really fierce, which is a lot of fun.

Then there’s the robber. This little guy gets put on the only hex that doesn’t get a number (the desert) and any player who rolls a 7 gets to move him to another hex. While the robber is on a hex, that hex can’t produce resources. He also steals things (what kind of a robber would he be if he didn’t), so there’s that bonus to him as well. He can be used strategically or purely as revenge on someone who got the best of you in a trade. He’s a great part of the game.

I enjoy this game. There are plenty of other games I like more, but not so much that I don’t want to still play this game every once and a while. It’s a great game because although it is what is commonly referred to as a Euro-game, it doesn’t follow a lot of the things that people say Euro-games HAVE to be. Euros aren’t supposed to be random (dice, hex layout, & number layout are all random), minimize the amount of player interaction so that it’s how well you play the game and not how well you dealt with the other players that gets you the win (the robber, some of the cards, and deal making are all about messing with the other players), and theme is less important than good mechanics.

It’s that last one where Settlers of Catan falls fairly much in line with its other European brothers. Though I must admit that way the designer incorporated the theme for the game works well for me. Sure the mechanics have nothing whatsoever to do with building up this imaginary island, but the way the theme is expressed hits you from enough angles that it doesn’t matter.

Overall the game is definitely one you should check out, and most likely one you should buy. I won’t presume to believe that there’s no one out there this won’t be a fun game for, because that would be idiotic. Instead I’m just going to say that it’ll appeal to nearly anyone. It’s a really well done game and even with the existence of games I like much better – I’m not going to turn down a game.

These are the high points:
Good Components
Very Solid Rules
Easy Enough to Learn
Very Easy to Find
Not Very Expensive
Easy Enough to Find Other Players
Good Implementation of a Theme, Especially for a Euro-Game
Nice Player Interaction

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I'm a Player!
64 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“Game that started all games”

Catan is one of the first board games I’ve ever played aside from the classics such as monopoly, hotel, etc. Playing Catan changed my world of board games as it became one of my favourites and here is why.

Board Game Components

Exceptional workmanship – the individual pieces were identical and had no flaws and the quality of the cards were very good. However, expect wear and tear over time (my cards are starting to get dirty and grimy due to countless hours of catan fun)

Overall Gameplay

Easy to learn, involves everyone every turn.
-instructions are easy and not confusing
-games can be quick or long depending on the board and players (30 mins to 1.5 hrs)
-every board setup is random (different map every time!)

The game

1. Outside sea frame is assembled (takes like 30 secs)
2. Resource tiles are shuffled randomly and placed on the board
3. Number tokens are placed accordingly as per instructions
4. Players randomize play order
5. Players place starting settlements and roads
6. Collect starting resources
7. Let the game begin!

The “pros” and “cons” of the game

-the map is always different
-can play up to 6 players with expansion (only 4 for the base game)
-countless hours of fun
-clever and organized design
-easy to learn and pick up
-trading :)
-players are engaged and involved throughout

-dice rolls (all up to chance)
-robber (players may pick on one person)
-avid gamers may prefer more challenging games


Overall, you don’t really need to be a gamer to enjoy this game. But I’ll guarantee you will have lots of fun. Gamers who enjoy more challenging games may find Catan to be lacking in strategy-gameplay or tied in with chance too much. However, most will find Catan to be a staple in their collection

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Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
21 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“The Foundation for Your Collection”

Settlers of Catan is my new go-to for game night. The resource management is fun and a lucky roll will always make you feel like you can make a come-back. The ever changing board is great, since it keeps each game different and experienced players might not be able to start with an edge if the turn order isn’t in their favor. I don’t think I’d ever go back to Monopoly if this is the other option I have.

Is it Pretty?
It’s simple, but that doesn’t make it any less good looking. Your new map will look so wonderful and promising when you lay out the tiles and each resource is simply, but still beautify designed.

Who’s it For?
The great thing about Catan is that it’s for everyone. It was always being played at my college and I’ve had no problem getting my brothers and sisters into this. My mom also liked it a lot and wanted to play again the next night. It’s easy to teach and learn. The most complicated parts for new players are the development cards, but even those are understood after a quick explanation. Considering there’s almost zero text and simple rules, this game works for anyone.

Why is it in My Collection?
This is one of those basic games that help introduce people to modern board games that aren’t called Monopoly. It’s also incredibly fun to play. The resource management can make you feel like a tycoon, hoarding all the sheep, or a pauper, willing to trade your firstborn for some wheat. It’s the first game I take out or suggest when having people over for games and it’s just a fun time.

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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
119 of 129 gamers found this helpful
“A Must-Play in every gamer's experience”

It occurred to me that I’ve reviewed the Cities and Knights expansion, but not the core game itself. Which is a shame, since Settlers is the game that brought us to the promised land, away from Interdimensional Risk and Drunk Candyland, and to a place where games are good and fun all on their own merits. It’s a game that holds a place in our history, and every single gamer in the world should play it at least once.

Settlers was one of the first games I ever played to hold to the Fun Ideal: Every player should play until the end of the game, and should have fun throughout. While some games left you so far behind that you couldn’t win, there was satisfaction to be gained in the process of building right up until the end. No one was ever eliminated. In their next game, they could have a goal of “Doing better than last time.” It was a game where you had standards that you could actually improve on. You could create meaningful strategies and fine tune them over time. This was a breathtaking change from most games I’d played up until then.

As a teacher of a Games and Game Theory class, I make sure to always play this game right at the beginning of the semester. The game is easy to pick up, and players have to make choices quickly. If they play this game three times, by the third game, I can already ask them to evaluate those decisions. Did they design a strategy that was meaningfully different than other players? What is your favorite way to win this game? In just a simple little package, Settlers delivers very different results here. And once you tack on the expansions, this game is brilliant.

While I prefer to play Catan with the more complex Cities and Knights rules, Settlers of Catan has stood the test of time as a gateway into better gaming. Find the games you like in the world, but make sure you try this one. For all the games that came after, it’s like we all owe Settlers just a bit of our gaming experience.

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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
49 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“A modern classic!”

Many have already noticed that The Settlers of Catan changed board gaming in a profound way. Of course there were more board games besides Monopoly before Catan came out, but somehow Catan triggered an avalanche of new board games with (I believe) 600 (!) new board games this year released at Spiel in Essen. The importance of Catan can therefore not be underestimated.

The game play is well-known these days. The game board consists of hexagonal tiles representing resources (wood, brick, wool, wheat and ore) on which a number is placed. At the start of the game you place two village on the vertices of three tiles (one or two might be a sea tile) and you add one road placed on two adjacent sides of two tiles connected to the village. This is a very important phase in the game, because afterwards you have to build roads and villages connecting to the roads first placed. So a bad selection can spell certain doom. “Choose wisely…”

The game consist of game turns taken by each player. You throw the dice and when a number of a tile comes up that is connected to a village you get one resource of that type (or two if you upgraded this village to a city). With these resources you can build new roads, villages and cities (replacing existing villages), but you seldom have exactly what you need. Therefore you are allowed to trade with other players. Crafty trading makes building much easier, but when you get too far ahead players might not want to trade with you anymore.

You score point for villages and cities and by having the longest connected road (with a minimum of five roads) or by having the largest force of knights (which comes from development cards that you can buy with your resources, with a minimum of three). The first one with 10 points wins!

The Settlers of Catan is a well-designed game and easy to learn for almost every age. Building things (and not destroying) appeals to almost everyone, so you are able to put Catan on the table for almost every audience. Also the nice wooden figures are a great improvement over plastic or paper. Nowadays it is very common to find wooden figures in board games, but I remember my first game of Catan (the German version, must have been in 1996 or 1997) and I was impressed by this use of wood.

Of course there is a luck factor in this game, but by carefully selecting the starting locations and building to resources and numbers you don’t yet have you can get around this. Some knowledge of probability theory helps, for dice do not remember the numbers thrown. So any number is as likely to come up. Most of the time the most experienced and cunning player wins, but close finishes are common. And sometimes Lady Luck does not smile on you and it does not work out. So everyone has a chance to win or at least score some points without need of much deliberation and thought.

Is it a gateway game? Yes and no. For some people Catan is about the limit with respect to rules. Especially if they don’t play that many board games. So Catan might easily be put on the table, while more complex games stay packed away. Of course, for seasoned gamers other games are appealing as well, but I find myself returning to Catan now and again (even with friends deep into gaming), because of it’s simple elegance and plain fun.

“Anyone got wood for my sheep?”

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Novice Reviewer
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Baron / Baroness
71 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“Board Games 2.0”

Is there a game that has revolutionized boardgames more than Settlers of Catan? For me and I think thousands of other gamers, no other game has ushered in the renaissance of boardgames more. Sure everyone and their mother (literally) has played Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble. Maybe it’s because of these games that board games as a hobby stagnated for decades. Then came Settlers and several others that reinvented the genre and heralded “Board Games 2.0″.

The game takes 5-10 minutes to setup – Essentially each player chooses a color and tiles the represent 1 of 5 different resources are basically randomized into a farming world.

After the initial board setup, players take turns placing their initial settlements and roads. There are different reasons and strategies to pick some placements over others, but essentially players choose optimum probability spots and then the game begins.

Players take turns doing a series of events. First they roll dice to determine which hexes will “produce” crops for the turn. After collecting the resources, the player whose turn it is may trade with other players and then spend resources to build or buy development cards.

The game becomes more interesting through a robber mechanic that moves around stealing resources as well as development cards that can do some neat tricks. There are also prestige awards for having the largest army or longest road on the board.

Once a player reaches a predetermined number of Victory Points (calculated from numbers of cities and settlements among other things), the game ends.

Most likely everyone on a board game website has played Settlers of Catan – it is probably the most famous of the “new” board games. If for some reason you haven’t got around to it yet, make it a priority! Not only is it a great game with tons of replayabliity, but it also is referenced all the time in board gaming circles.

Gameplay: 4/5 – Solid mechanics that show up in many other games after it, lots of opportunity for individual’s strategy
Fun: 4/5 – Tons of inside jokes from this game, easy to play after a few beers
Replayability: 4/5 – Games are always a bit different, different ways to win
Learning Curve: 3/5 – For casual gamers it will take a few games to completely get a hold of the rules
Tilt: 5/5 – Personal favorite game and so I have to move the Tilt up all the way
Total: 4/5

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8 Beta 1.0 Tester
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Advanced Reviewer
74 of 81 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Let's Play Settlements!”

Settlers of Catan… talk about a simple game becoming an industry juggernaut! Settlers of Catan is a great game for a couple key reasons.

1. It’s very accessible. Everyone from the hardcore gamer to the most relaxed casual gamer can jump right into this game relatively quickly. My family games range from my mom, who’s as casual a “gamer” as you can get (and calls the game Settlements) to me and my brother who are very avid gamers and everyone else in-between.

2. The nature of the setup makes for a completely new game every time. The board is broken up into individual tiles that are places randomly so no two boards are the same. This makes strategy and replay value high.

3. “anybody got wood?” :P

4. There’s multiple strategies to win, so anyone at the table has a good shot at winning and when they’re behind, there’s a couple avenues available to stage a comeback.

5. The game fosters a need for interaction and diplomacy. Personally, I feel games that have an aspect of “outside the game” to them, make for great games. There’s no hard fast rule stating you can or can’t convince the other players in the game to not trade wheat to Bobby, but it’s very much encouraged that you do so.

6. It’s got lots of expansions, granted this doesn’t have anything to do with this particular core game I’m reviewing, but the expansions give gamers a wealth of diversity to expand their gaming experience and add new twists to the table.

Settlers is a wonderful game that’s truly “fun for the whole family”, whether that family is your mom, dad and kid sister, your college dormmates or your group of weekend gaming buddies. I have yet to have a friend or family member walk away from a game of Settlers disappointed with their experience. So sit down, roll some dice and have fun getting those settlers working overtime in the rock quarry!

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Rated My First Game
59 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“The ultimate gateway game”

Settlers of Catan is the first non-mainstream boardgame I ever purchased. I had read several reviews on this “European Style” game (more on that later) and so I decided to try it out. In Settlers of Catan, players try to develop to build settlements, roads and cities on the island of Catan. This is done by collecting different resources that the island produces and using those resources to build your domain. As you build your domain you collect victory points and the first to 10 wins.

Hardcore Score: 7

Even though this is a gateway game. Serious gamers still like to pull out the ‘ole tried and true’ Settlers. Because each game is different based on how the island is built, each game will have it’s own strategies that must be developed and tweaked during gameplay. The biggest drawback to the game for serious gamers is the amount of luck in the dice roll. Even though you may have your settlements built in the best locations to obtain resources. If the those numbers never come up on the dice then you are ‘resource starved’ which keeps you from building the things you need to obtain victory points

Wifecore Score: 7

Since this is an excellent gateway game, this is a great way to introduce casual gamers to a different style of game than they are used to playing. The rules aren’t overly complicated and by playing just once or twice they will have a good feel of the game and how to develop their own strategies. The only drawback is that setup takes 5-10 minutes and a game could last up to 90 minutes. A casual gamer might not be used to taking such a long time to play one game, so it might be worth giving them a heads up before they play.

Kidcore Score: 4

This game is probably best played by kids 8/9 and up. While the rules aren’t hard to grasp, sometimes the strategy can be just because there are so many options that can be done each turn. Plans must be made several turns in advance in order to be competitive. And due to the length of the game, I’ve had my younger kids get bored and leave the table. While this is a great gateway game for adults, it may not be for young kids.


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