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Subject: Settlers of Catan - A Mini Review rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Settlers of Catan was the breakthrough game of the mid 90’s, doing for the games industry what Harry Potter did for children’s reading. Players are thrust into a race to build the greatest colony on the isle of Catan and in doing so be crowned the Lord of Catan. Each turn players set about developing their colonies (which start as 2 settlements) by gathering and trading resources. Resources can then be used to build additional settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, lay roads and purchase development cards which may enable them to gather an army. The game revolves around the resources available - wood, wool, grain, ore and clay. Resources are gained by the placement of player’s settlements and cities on specific terrain. Each type of terrain provides a specific resource – hills offer clay, mountains provide ore, forests give wood, pastures house sheep (for wool) and fields contain wheat (for grain).

This central resource theme is in turn dependent on the layout of the game board and it is here that Catan broke away from the traditional board gaming pack. The board is made up of individual hexagonal tiles – with each tile being of one terrain type. By randomly laying these tiles down at the beginning of play, the game ensures that each play is totally unique with almost infinite possibilities.

To add even further variability each terrain is given a numbered token ranging from 2-12. At the start of each player’s turn 2D6 (2 six-sided die) are rolled. The total of this roll determines which terrains produce their resource for that turn and any player with a settlement or city placed on the border of those terrains can collect those resources. Gaining access to ports is also critical as they can enable players to take advantage of resource monopolies they have acquired and gain access to resources they are poor in. The nature of the game almost ensures that players will have difficulty in accessing at least one resource type, so ports and trade negotiation with other players is essential. Building more settlements, cities, the longest road and the largest army earn players victory points and the first player to reach 10 victory points is declared the winner.

The Final Word

Settlers of Catan is definitely an elegant game. Its variability and multiple paths to victory make it one of the most re-playable games on the market. The free-flowing rules make it easy for experienced and novice gamers and these attributes led to the collection of 3 key industry awards, the first two awards in particular are the pinnacle for games worldwide.

The lack of combat and mass die rolling is a plus for many gamers and Settlers has the highly desirable reputation of enticing families and partners to play! Over 8000 people worldwide have taken the time to offer a rating for Settlers of Catan. Not surprisingly it also ranks at #3 on the sales ranking data (according to funagain.com). Settlers has had many imitators over the years but the original is the real deal. Check it out for yourself.
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