Monday, 19 January 2015

Settlers Of Catan

The island of Catan. Very hexagonal-y.
Type: Strategy
Time to explain to others: 15 minutes
Time to play: About an hour
Difficulty: Some rules, but simple 2/10
Portability: Many small pieces, not recommended. Low.
                    (There is a dedicated travel edition. High.)
Overall: 9/10

Where to even begin on Catan? The game of games, the saviour. Catan, first published in the late 90s revived a moribund industry, and showed people that board games didn't need to be boring, day long pursuits *coff coff Monopoly coff coff*.

The game is simple, you are Settlers on the resource-rich island of Catan. Each turn, random areas of the island will be activated, and generate their respective resource (stone, wood, bricks, sheep, etc). The player(s) that control that area will collect said resource(s) and use them to expand their control of the island, by building settlements and roads. 

If it sounds boring, it really isn't. You can only build a certain distance away from an adversary's area, so the island runs out of space FAST. You don't get to fight, but it is easy to block someone else's advance. There is also a Thief who adds a measure of randomness to the game, and allows players to delay others (specially the ones further ahead in the game). There is also a measure of bartering as you can trade your resources for someone else's and you both need to agree on the terms. The winner is the first to achieve a certain number of victory points (achieved by building, certain extra cards, and by having the longest road on the island (and you'd be surprised how often this one actually wins the game)).

Rui's conclusion: A fun, party-y game. The absence of active destruction helps the light atmosphere, as does its simplicity. The only limitation is that it has to suffer some adaptation to work with 2 players. Fun, pretty and still kicking after 30 years. A classic and a must have.

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