Monday, 4 September 2017

Catan Game Review (age 10+) for Blogger Board Game Club

Our latest review is a very familiar name in the game world - The Settlers Of Catan is rightly a classic, and Catan is simply a name change. A beautiful game which gets trickier as you become more experienced, yet a complete novice can start to play it in 15 minutes.

The aim of Catan is to build settlements and roads, then farm, mine and trade resources and expand your settlements into a network of cities. Each settlement has a value of 1, each city 2 and development cards can also have value. The winner is the first person to have a total score of 10.

The box is gorgeous, with a textured matt illustration, and that does reflect the muted classic colours of the game itself. It is beautifully presented. The hexagonal cards which form the board are thick and excellent quality and the playing pieces are painted wood.

In typical with other games of this quality, storage and longevity is considered and there are spare plastic bags for storing playing pieces separately, as well as a useful plastic insert in the box. The wooden houses (settlements) and churches (cities) and roads are perfectly coloured and smooth.

The 19 hexagons and 6 edging pieces to form the board, and the tokens to represent totals thrown by the two dice are pressed out from thick, excellent quality card. There are also 4 building costs cards (one for each player) and 2 bonus cards (worth 1 point each) to be given to the longest road and largest army, as long as they meet the minimum criteria.

Catan is played with a board and cards, and there are 95 Resource Cards and 25 Development Cards. Resources are farmed or mined from any of the hexagonal terrain cards which you place a settlement or city upon and are used to build your settlements and roads.

The board can change every time you play. Each of the uniquely decorated hexagonal board pieces represents a type of terrain. It's in the player's best interest to try and build settlements on each type.  Each hexagon is given a randomly selected number and when that is rolled, harvest is earned from that terrain. The central hexagon is always desert, and where the thief starts the game. He's moved whenever a 7 is rolled, and a resource is stolen from whoever has settlements on the hexagon he is placed on.

Up to 3 settlements or cities can be built around each hexagon, always 2 roads apart, and you must build a road before you can place a settlement at the end. Each settlement can be upgraded to a city by spending resources, and then it gains 2 resources each time it's number comes up. Your settlement will always cover 2 or 3 hexagons unless it is at an edge.

Settlements and cities at the edge of a board may be at a port, in which case you can take advantage of trade via the sea. On your turn you can also trade with other players if they oblige.

During play the board looks a lot like this this (except we only had 2 players left because my 19yo went to work, you should ideally have 3-4 players). The blue player is clearly trouncing the orange one. The orange was my 7 year old, who loves playing Catan, despite the recommended age of 10+. Gameplay is easily understood, much harder to master.

Each move starts with a throw of the dice and allocation of any earned resources, but then can involve trading Resource Cards, exchanging resources for roads, settlements, cities or development cards and playing Development Cards. Replayability is very good and although a game can take an hour, we've found it's more like 2 hours with our junior players or older tacticians.

We really like Catan. It's a great family game and rightfully a classic which has spawned a thousand imitations. Even newer players can occasionally win as there is a lot of luck involved as well as skill. The board changes each time and every game is very different, but the idea of building a community is one which appeals to most people.

There is scope to expand your game with packs for additional players and extra rules to change gameplay. The numbered tokens are double sided for a trickier version once you've mastered the original Catan game.

Catan is available to buy now rrp £44.99 and is recommended for 3-4 players aged 10+. Available from all good games stockists instore and online, including Amazon, where it is currently on offer at only £28.44 - an excellent discount and a brilliant thing to put away for Christmas.

We were sent our copy of Catan to review - which is ace because we only had the Star Trek Edition beforehand!

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