Catan (Catan GmbH, 1995)


Date Played: March 16, 2019

Gist of the Game: You are trying to settle an island, building roads, settlements, and cities. To do so, you must harness the resources of the island: wool, bricks, ore, lumber, and wheat. You can trade with your fellow settlers for resources, but beware: the first player to 10 victory points wins. In addition to cities and settlements, victory points can be earned by having the longest road or largest army (knights gained through development cards, which can be purchased with the same resources you would use for roads, cities, and settlements). You can also trade with the bank, although on much less favorable terms than you are likely to find among your fellow settlers. The board’s resource tiles can be randomized, as can the number marker that indicate what dice roll is necessary for that resource to be dispensed. Because of the vagary of resource dispensing and the resource requirements for the various installations you can build, the game can be fairly slow moving, with not much happening on several turns. When placing your initial road and settlement, it is best to take into consideration the likelihood of resource dispensation and the kinds of resources you’ll need for the biggest victory-point-earning items.

Color Commentary: At long last! Because my sister visited at the start of her spring break, I finally got to play Catan! Hooray! Having played it, I think we can definitely modify it for two people so I can train for tournaments (this will probably just involve us each playing as two settlers with the strategy of trying to maximize each color’s chances of victory, rather than trying to leverage one color for the benefit of the other), but I also definitely wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing so before we had an initial play through. We played two rounds, the first using the game’s recommended set up for beginners and the second using total randomization (see the resulting bullshit in the picture above. Seriously. BULLSHIT. Poor M had a glut of bricks and a hard time getting much else). Not to brag, but I definitely dominated both games. Ok. Perhaps it’s more likely to say that I was neck-in-neck with my sister for both games and it was things like having the longest road and the largest army that ultimately pushed me over the victory threshold.

I hadn’t quite been expecting the slow pace of the game at times, but it gave me plenty of time to work through possible placement scenarios and trading needs. I like when placing initial roads and settlements that the order goes 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, so that no player ends up wholly advantaged or disadvantaged. Except M (orange) on the bullshit board, actually, now that I think about it. We sort of forced him into Bricksville on his last placement when he was Player 1. (From M: actually I positioned myself exactly where I wanted to be as part of an aggressive strategy that did not pay off.) I don’t think I’ll enter the tournament at the board game convention this April, but I’ll plan to enter it next April, or perhaps at the board game convention in October if they have a tournament. As long as I lose at a sufficiently high level to get some kind of prize, I’ll be happy on the first go. M and I have also talked about strategizing to help at least one of us advance further. Preferably me.

One thought on “Catan (Catan GmbH, 1995)

  1. Original Catan ends up feeling a little like Mille Bornes, where you spend almost the whole game with not enough resources to do what you want, and then as soon as you DO have enough resources, probably you’ve won, or just narrowly lost.

    There’s also an interesting sort of rhythm, where in the early game you need more bricks and lumber to build roads and settlements, and in the late game you need more stone and wheat to build cities and buy development cards.

    I think the expansions change the game in a number of possible ways. Like the barbarians expansion, if I’m not mistaken, has something like 5 different alternate rules. Some, I believe are like upgraded versions of the same game, others are more like a different game that uses the same pieces. So anyone looking to buy an expansion would want to read up on the possibilities beforehand.

    The other standalone versions, I think have bigger boards and start you off with more resources, and also some rules variations. I think the most recent standalone is an Aztec one that has jungle spaces that produce a couple entirely new resources. I’ve also seen the America Catan still in some stores, beyond the bigger map, I’m not sure what else is different about it.

    There are probably also official rules to have some randomization while avoiding bullshit board layouts like the one in your photo.


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