Why “Settlers of Catan” is in my game-board closet
Settlers are the perfect example of a great “nerd” board game, and I’ll be using it as the staple for what I’m looking for in an average board game. Now don’t get me wrong I love complicated board games at the table. I recently picked up “Imperial Assault” which comes with four rulebooks, but I don’t just sit around and say, “Hey, let’s crack open 40k and have a go at it!” You have to plan for that sort of thing and set-aside time for it. Plus those kind of games are table top not actually board games. Let’s just hop into the thick of it and I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about.
- First off with setup and takedown, it’s not unreasonable for a good solid game of Catan to take less than an hour. Between people who already know how to play and it’s not that surprising for it to take that long even if you have some newbies.
- It’s just a beautiful game! Every tile in Catan is subtly different and even having played the game since high school I still notice the cool intricate details about the people or animals on the tile pieces. The game pieces are made of authentic bits of wood and are fun to handle but at the same time, it’s not easy to mess with the board while playing it. On top of that, all relevant information is easy to understand and obtain. Seriously it’s just written there plainly, easy as pie for anyone to get, and not only that; you understand how you are doing just as easily and can add up your score simply. This makes the playing process smooth, fun, and engaging, while keeping it easy to understand.
- The rules are easy. Each turn has two phases: you roll/collect resources, and then you spend your resources. The goal is to spend the resources to get a total of ten victory points. That’s it! It’s so straightforward and easy to play! Anyone can pick it up, even your, maybe not so nerdy, significant other. My dad loves board games and card games but doesn’t really get into the non-mainstream games because you immediately think RISK when you think of non-mainstream board games and most of the time people don’t want to take a wrecking ball to their friendships or relationships. Catan is like a board game gateway drug.
- Catan can get devilishly complicated. Things start out easy but can get a little sticky when players start proposing trade embargoes, start competing for longest road, or there is a resource shortage. The real beauty of games like this is that it’s not the rules that make it challenging; it’s the player’s interaction that makes things tricky. In this way, rules get out of the way for players
- Catan gets players talking! If you want to win then you have to trade, and if you’re going to trade you have to talk. In that respect Catan doesn’t force social interaction it just gives you a great segue into it and is a lot of fun.
With these points for Catan I can’t really think of anything negative about this game. I mean sure it’s not too far into the meat and potatoes and there are lots of people who want something more substantial, but on that note; I see Catan as a CASUAL board game that just about anyone can get behind. Honestly there’s nothing wrong with this game and the expansions just make it more fun in my opinion. I totally suggest any nerd have this in his/her game closet.
Image is from Catan.com