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.

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
174 of 181 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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Comic Book Fan
75 of 81 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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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
121 of 131 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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8 Beta 1.0 Tester
Subscribed to BG News
Advanced Reviewer
77 of 84 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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I play black
Book Lover
74 of 81 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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My First Heart
My First Wish!
My First Favorite!
Gave My First Grade
73 of 80 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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Novice Reviewer
Novice Advisor
Baron / Baroness
73 of 80 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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3 Beta 1.0 Tester
I Am What I Am
43 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“A Classic Gateway Game that has Earned its Reputation”

Settlers of Catan is the game that started the wave of contemporary games that we see today, and is indeed many peoples first foray into board games that are more intricate and strategic than the likes of “Clue” or “Monopoly.”

Each game, the board is created by placing a bunch of hexagons with numbers on them onto a map. These hexagons determine which kind of resource they produce, and the number determines what dice result is required for those hexagons to produce their resource. Players build settlements, connected by a network of roads, onto the vertices of these hexagons, getting those resources when the dice numbers come up. That is the basics. Sounds easy? Well, that’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean it is devoid of strategy.

Players will have all kinds of choices to make, deciding what to build, where to build it to maximize their resource gains, where to build to block off opponents, what sea ports to control to get better trading ratios, what kinds of trades to make, and others. This surprisingly simple game packs a bunch of options without ever feeling overwhelming or complicated.

The biggest complain against this game is that the luck of the dice can make or break you. This is a very true sentiment, and the only solace players have is that the better player will win more often over a large number of games. If game-by-game luck is a concern, it game be more or less eliminated by using a deck of cards containing the dice results, in the proper distribution.

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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
51 of 56 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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Treasure Map
18 of 19 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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Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
148 of 163 gamers found this helpful
“A game that creates gamers. Boardgaming 101.”

Settlers of Catan has been around a while, and it is the game that first taught me that there is more to board games than what Wal-Mart carries in their game aisle. The game has quite a bit going on, yet manages to be approachable.

When playing Settlers, you will find strategic elements, player interaction and luck all play a vital role.

When you open the box, you will find

19 tiles with various terrain
6 sea tiles
9 harbor tiles
18 cardboard number tokens, representing possible die rolls 2-12
95 various resource cards
25 developent cards
4 reference cards
2 title cards
16 wooden cities
20 wooden settlements
2 six-sided dice
a wooden meeple looking thing (the robber)
and the rulebook.

All of the terrain pieces can be placed on the table in either a per-determined fashion or randomly. For the first few games, you should probably stick with the game suggestion. The tokens, in addition to the large number have a letter. You put these in alphabetical order, starting in the lower left tile, going right in a spiral, working your way to the middle. In addition, you will notice that there is dots listed on the tokens as well. These indicate how many different combinations of two six-sided dice will add up to that number. The reason you put the token down a certain way is it spreads out the most desirable dice combinations.

So, you have your board set up. The tiles you see each represent a certain resource that hex produces. They are:

Fields, producing Grain
Forests, producing Lumber
Hills, producing Brick
Pasture, producing Wool
Mountains, producing Ore

There is also a desert tile, which produces nothing.

The base game plays 2-4 players. Plan on around an hour to an hour and a half to play. A first player is chosen however you see fit, and they choose a place to put a settlement. The settlement is placed at the corner of the terrain hexes, meaning it will be sitting on up to three tiles. The next player sets one down and so forth, but the last player gets to set a second settlement immediately after their first, and then the order reverses. This means the first player places their second settlement last. As opposed to this, you can take the recommended settlement placement the game gives you as well. You will also receive two road segments in your color, and you will place one of those in any direction between hexes touching your settlement as you choose.

When choosing locations of settlements, you want to keep two things in mind. All 5 resources are necessary to build the things needed to win the game. Ideally, you will want to have settlements accessing all 5 types. In addition, however, you want to have your settlement on terrain hexes with favorable die rolls indicated. If you have all 5 resources covered, but one has a 2, one a 12 and another an 11, your are going to be waiting a while to fill up your hand.

Essentially, each player is going to start their turn by rolling the dice. Everyone who has a settlement on a terrain tile with that sum receives a resource of that type. If, for instance, someone has a settlement on a Mountain with an 8 and someone else on a Forest with an 8, then the first player gets an Ore and the second a Lumber.

What do you use these for? During the course of the game, you will be purchasing new settlements, building an infrastructure to do so (roads) upgrading your settlements into cities and buying development cards. These settlements and cities will gain you Victory Points, 1 & 2 each respectively. The ultimate goal of the game is to score 10 to win.

By upgrading your settlement to a city, you will receive two resources of the appropriate type they touch instead of one. Every settlement/city needs to be two road segments away from another, regardless if it belongs to you or another player. You need to plan your roadways properly so they do not end up terminating and boxing you in, making it impossible to continue growth. With proper planning, on the other hand, you could surround a certain hex with up to three cities, giving you six of that type of resource every time that number is rolled.

The development cards you purchase can give you various boons. You can get free segments of road to place, free resources, victory points and knights.

Which brings me to the Robber. Every time a player rolls a 7, two things happen. Every player who has more than 7 resource cards must discard half of them, rounded down. In addition to this, the player who rolled the 7 needs to move the Robber to a new hex.

The Robber prohibits resource production on the hex it sits on. So, for instance, it is placed on a Forest tile with an 8, no one who has a settlement or city on that tile will receive resources when an 8 is rolled. The Robber can be used to curb resource production on a player you feel is either ahead or a threat to you winning.

The Knight development cards are used two ways. When purchased, you keep them face down until ready to use them. When you are ready, you play the card and chase the Robber to a hex of your choosing. You can either do this to clear up a hex that is costing you resources because the Robber is there, or to cause harm to another player. In addition to this, once a player has laid three of these cards, they are awarded the Largest Army award, netting them two Victory Points. However, should someone else overtake their number of Knights, they will get the award instead, so the player who gets it will always be having to try and defend that title.

In addition to that, there is an award for Longest Road. The first player to place 5 continuous road segments gets this title, along with the 2 Victory Points it entails. Again, should anyone exceed your longest road, they take that title.

You will also occasionally get development cards worth victory points, which you should hold onto until they will push you to 10 points. When someone has unrevealed development cards, there is always the possibility they are sitting on points, so you can never just assume that what is on the board and what awards have been given are the entire story.

So, what if you are weak on a certain resource? There are ways to get around that. First off, relying on yourself, you can always trade 4 of any one resource for one of any other to the bank. In addition to this, if one of your settlements or cities sits on special harbor tiles, you can get better trade prices. This is a give and take thing. The harbor tile itself does not generate resources, so you will be out one hex that will generate resources on a die roll by placing a settlement there. There are two different kinds of harbor tiles. There are some where a certain type of resource (brick, for example) can be traded two for one. Only a player on that particular harbor can get that deal. The other allows you to trade any resource three to one. You will need to evaluate your needs to determine if placing a settlement on a harbor makes sense for you, and if so, which one. Putting a settlement on a harbor that gives two to one for Ore is silly if you are weak on Ore already.

There is also trade between players. On your turn, you can state you are willing to trade. You can state you are looking for a certain type of resource and see what other players offer you. You cannot ask for certain resources when it is not your turn, but there is wiggle room for negotiations. In this way, you may be able to get resources you need from others, but you will be inevitably helping them as well. On the other hand, I wouldn’t hold my breath at getting something from someone you have been hounding with the Robber for several turns…

That is Settlers of Catan in a nutshell. There are a few downsides I have seen to the game. For instance, the game is very susceptible to Kingmaker unbalancing should someone decide they cannot win but will stop at nothing to make sure someone else does, unless you make some house rules regarding trading to avoid it should someone in your group be inclined to do this often. Also, the game in my opinion plays most fairly with 3 players. Most of the time, it seems to me that some sucker in a 4 player game gets stuck with 3 settlements and is completely boxed in.

That being said, I have enjoyed most of my games of Settlers, and there have been many of them. It is a great blend of various game mechanics, and I believe it does a great job of showing folks who know nothing more of gaming than Monopoly and Life that there is more out there.

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I play blue
Book Lover
Comic Book Fan
Smash Up: Ninja Faction Fan
58 of 64 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'm a Player!
66 of 73 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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Marquis / Marchioness
Advanced Reviewer
Professional Advisor Beta 1.0 Tester
65 of 72 gamers found this helpful
“THE Gateway Game”

Settlers of Catan is recognized as the biggest gateway game from Hasbro and Parker Brothers games into the gaming community. In Settlers of Catan, you build settlements, cities, and roads on a tiled map to collect resources until you have enough points to win.

The map is different every game because it is randomly constructed with hexagonal tiles and surrounded by hexagonal sea pieces. On each hexagon, a number ranging from 2 to 12 is placed on it, and whenever that number is rolled, all players with a settlement or city adjacent to that hex collects the resource that tile provides.

Resources that can be collected are sheep, ore, wood, brick, and wheat, which can be exchanged to build settlements (1 point), upgrade settlements to cities (2 points), build roads (2 points for having the longest road), or purchase cards. The cards can be used to help your position in the game, or to move the robber token onto a new hex (2 points for moving the robber the most times). The robber prevents his hex from producing resources, and when placed, the placer may steal a card from a player whose settlement or city is adjacent to that hex.

The rules are very simple in this game, but new players do have difficulty, mostly with the rule that settlements and cities must be at least a distance of 2 away from each other.

The components are fairly well done for the most part. The player pieces are simplistic, but are wooden shapes for each component. The tiles are of good quality, but if you end up with different version of the game and expansion like I did, the difference in tile design can be confusing. Also, some versions come with water tiles, and some versions come with a water border that snaps together like a puzzle. The puzzle border is nicer for keeping the tiles from shifting during play, but the sea hexes are nicer for expanding the map when and if you play with the seaside expansion.

This game looses some of it’s appeal as players get into other bigger games, but it’s still a fun classic to return to and is always an excellent game to introduce new players to.

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Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
24 of 26 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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