Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Sheep to Stone to Wheat to Wood (Settlers of Catan)

Welcome to the Island of Catan, home to...well, nothing yet.  This is where you come in.  You are here to establish a new settlement on this empty island, alongside and against fellow entrepreneurs.  But be warned, thieves lurk around every corner, waiting to steal your sheep.  Establish a base, build an army, make life successful for all, and some day you may become ruler of this island!

GAME DESCRIPTION: A 2-4 player board game, each player attempts to create roads, settlements, towns, and armies to gather "victory points", or VP.  The game begins by each player placing 2 settlements, 1 while going around once clockwise, then the 2nd while going counter-clockwise, starting with the last player to place their first one.

RESOURCES:  There are 5 resources:  Brick, Ore, Wool. Grain, and Lumber.  All are used to buy roads and new settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, or obtain resource cards.

ROADS/SETTLEMENTS:  These are the meat of the game. Each tile has a number printed in the middle that determines when a particular resource is gathered.  At the start of each turn, the player rolls the dice.  When a player has a settlement located next to the number rolled, they obtain the resource from that location.  Roads are used to extend your area of control, allowing you to build more settlements elsewhere.  You may only build roads off of settlements, and settlements off of roads

TRADING:  During a players turn, they may offer trades to any other player for what seems fair or needed to both sides, or trade in 4 of one type of resource for 1 of any other type.  At the boarders of the map are "Port towns".  Once a player has a settlement located on one of those port towns, they can either trade 3 of any one kind type of resource for 1, or 2 of one specific type for any 1 resource of the players choice, depending on which port the player has.

THIEF:  When a "Knight" Resource card is played, or a 7 is rolled, every player with more than 7 resources in their hand must discard half their hand.  In addition, the player who rolled it places it on top of any number they choose.  If their is a settlement connected to that number, that player loses one of their resources to the roller.  And, until a Knight is player, or a 7 is rolled, no players are allowed to gain any resource when that number is rolled.

RESOURCE CARDS: These cards have varying effects, such as automatically gaining one VP, pushing you to victory, or gaining a knight, allowing you to move the thief token and steal one players card.  But you must wait one turn after purchasing any of these cards before you can play them.  Resource cards must stay in front of the player until the end of the game, as they are a permanent effect.

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VICTORY POINTS:  The aim of the game is to get to 10 VP.  The player who has the most knights in front of them at any point will obtain the "Largest Army" card, granting them 1 VP. The person whose has the longest unbroken road tokens in a row also gains 1 VP, and the "Longest Road" card.

CONCLUSION:  It's hard.  This game requires a lot of time, patience, and planning.  The dice element of this game makes it so that it is easy to hardly get any of a particular kind of resource, and an overabundance of another.  On top of that, it is fairly easy to forget certain rules due to the rather large abundance of them.  Even with these flaws, the game does make it so that no one person can ever get too far ahead of the rest.  The dice element I called out also makes it so that even the player in last can still have a strong chance of winning.  It's a great game for an intense, small group game night. But I think I'll pass on playing for a while.

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