Catan is a competitive area settling board game with many expansion packs. The aim of the game is to be the first to settle the island of Catan. Players gather resources to build towns and roads. The amount and type of resources a player gets is directly linked to their placement of towns. Because of building limitations, players often have to trade resources with other players in order to move forward. The first player to gather 10 victory points wins and ends the game.
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Pro Fun social experience
This is a game that promotes casual conversation during gameplay. You can haggle for resources with other players. You can create drama by intervening in your opponents plans, for example, by breaking their chain of roads, or building a town in their way to the port. You can also make alliances with other players and then betray them when a better offer comes along.
Pro Players have control over the pace of the game
A game of Catan can take around 2 hours in a 4-player game. It's not a frantic game, there is no penalty for taking a while to figure out how you want to play your cards. You can keep it leisurely, or speed it up if you want to.
Pro An intellectually rewarding strategy game
This game allows you to try different, rewarding strategies. For example, you can create a monopoly over one resource, use the ports to trade with the bank for cheaper or try to buy the majority of victory points using the special abilities cards. There are a lot of options, and you can adapt and switch things up as the game goes on.
You also have to think ahead and pay attention to what your opponents are up to. For example, if you've decided to go for the 2 victory points for having built the longest road, you have to watch if anyone else is doing the same thing, because there can only be one longest road.
Pro Teaches you about basic economic principles
This game teaches how to bargain, the meaning of scarcity, and how free markets work by forcing players to experience these firsthand. You can play without bargaining, but it is more fun to embrace the economy aspect of this game as it's a great learning tool.
Pro You can increase replayability with different expansions
There are expansions for Catan such as Explorers & Pirates, Cities & Knights, Seafarers, and many more. Each one expands on the base game by adding extra mechanics. For example, the expansion Cities & Knights introduces city improvements that give various benefits to the player, and knights that protect them from invading barbarians. Expansion packs usually add game length and tactical complexity, which in turn greatly improves replayability.
Pro Allows for multiple strategies in a single game
There are distinct stages in the game (early, middle and end-game), which have different strategies. For example, when the game has just started out, you won't have much other options except rolling the dice to gather more resources. In contrast, the end-game is a lot more alert, because multiple players at a time can be just 1 or 2 points away from victory. The game changes between these stages fluidly, and you have to be present and engaged at all times to stay ahead.
Pro Suitable for 2-6 players
Catan is relatively flexible in terms of the amount of players. It's recommended to be played with at least 3 players, but it is possible to work around that. There are no official rules for a 2 player game, but you can go around that by each playing two colors. The base game has 4 player slots, but people can team up, thereby increasing the number of possible players. There is also an expansion pack available, which allows for two more players to join the game without having to team up.
Con Constant haggling
One of the more prominent characteristics of Settlers of Catan is haggling, which can get tiresome if you're not into that sort of thing. You can expect to be bargaining for resources throughout the whole game, since your placement of villages does not guarantee getting a constant supply of a particular resource.
Con Chaotic expansions
Due to the game's popularity, there have been quite a lot of expansions over the years. While you can combine some of them easily, others not so much. It can be quite messy to figure it all out by yourself. There is a guide on the Catan website containing rules for combining expansions.
Con No official two-player rules
There are no official two- player rules thought there are some two-player rules that users have created and can be found online.
Con Not a good game for a younger audience
Success is heavily dependent on thinking ahead and planning. Even though the recommended age is 10+, it is not a good game for children who may lack the skills needed to get the most out of the game.