Late to the Game: The Settlers of Catan

Family Games GeekMom
Image: Sarah Pinault
Image: Sarah Pinault

A  few weeks ago, friends of ours discovered The Settlers of Catan. It was decided very quickly that a parental date night was needed, and so we made plans for a slumber party with the intent of settling Catan after the kids were asleep.

I had only heard of the game in passing, so my husband, who was fully familiar with the game, suggested that I watch Tabletop with Wil Wheaton for a run down on the rules. This was appealing for many reasons.

  1. I heart Wil Wheaton
  2. My husband loves to explain rules, I love his passion but would rather learn by playing.
  3. I heart Wil Wheaton

It was my first episode of Tabletop and I was impressed. It was informative and entertaining, but beyond that, it was really great to see people enjoying a game so much. It was much easier to follow the rules through actual game play than through a plain text reading of the rule book. I plan on watching Tabletop again before playing the newly acquired Castle Panic.

We ended up playing the expanded edition of Catan but there were several things I learned on Tabletop that I predict would have ordinarily taken me several games to pick up on.  So expanded or not, I felt fully prepared.

CatanIf you are usually put off by epic games such as this, do not be afraid. We played a single game and it took close to three hours. Unlike a three hour game of Monopoly, however, it was not until the game was over that we realized how long we had been playing and that we all needed to pee. This game remains engaging, keeps your interest and doesn’t make time drag.

You begin the game by laying out the tiles, a different board each time, and then every player places two settlements. On each turn, you roll the dice to determine what happens across the board. The number on the dice determines which territory produces resources.

Different combinations of resources help you obtain things like roads, settlements and cities. By trading with other players, you can gain needed resources. Beware: Rolling a seven brings on the wrath of the robber, who will stand in the way of the procurement of resources wherever he is placed. Points are earned in several different ways: by accumulating settlements; by building cities; and by achieving special goals, such as having the largest army.

The first person to achieve ten victory points ends the game. I managed to win my first game thanks to a points earner I had seen on Tabletop – extra victory points for longest road.

My only real concern about this game is the minimum amount of players. There must be three people in order to play and my three year old isn’t quite there yet! So we either need to take in a lodger or buy the two player version, The Rivals for Catan, to play with any regularity. Another option, of course, is to make the cupcake version of Catan, but then I think I would only need one player!

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9 thoughts on “Late to the Game: The Settlers of Catan

  1. Love Tabletop. Since watching, we have gotten Munchkin (Thanks to Ken of GeekDad), Castle Panic and Zombie Dice with a few more on the wish list. Heck, we might run out and get a game tonight now that you made me think of my wish list. LOL

  2. I have the Star Trek version in my shop, Sarah. Just say the word and it`s a christmas present! 🙂

  3. Congratulations on discovering Catan and Tabletop – your first steps into a larger (cardboard) world! 🙂 Soon you’ll be exploring titles like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders or Pandemic. Pretty soon all your spending money will be going to the flood of awesome designer games coming out these days. BTW, finding another couple or two to play with regularly is a great way to overcome the 3-player minimum for Catan. Board games are supposed to be social, eh? Or connect with some professors or math/computer science students at a local college.

    1. We have several couples who we could play with, but we all have 0-5 kids that have extremely varied sleep habits. Sleepovers are a big help for us in overcoming that obstacle, and we’ve just reached a good age for it across households. Carcassonne, hmmm that’s the second time it has been recomended. Ye gads what is happening!!!

  4. If you get the Traders & Barbarians expansion, in addition to a lot of new scenarios, there are official rules for a 2-player variant of Catan. You might be able to apply the rules without the actual scenario though.

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