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Monday, Apr. 21, 2014

Settlers of Catan - Part 2

Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2009, at 3:30 PM

So, last week I talked about an exciting board game called Settlers of Catan. I suggest reading 'Part 1' to get a general idea of what the game is before proceeding with this blog entry.

Settlers of Catan has some great strategy involved that can change with every single game because the game board changes every time. The main game can be played with 3-4 players, which can be frustrating if there are only two people around to play it. However, it can also be frustrating if you have more than 4 people wanting to play which usually happens around Game On. Thankfully, the makers of the game released a 5-6 player extension kit which allows up to 6 players per game and another expansion called Traders & Barbarians that includes rules and variants for many different types of Catan games including a 2 player version. Now that I've mentioned Traders & Barbarians, it may also be good to understand that there is also other expansions available for Catan. Cities and Knights is one of them that allows you to play with different rules. Overall, there are tons of expansions and products to make your games of Catan always changing.

The base game is still most people's favorites and gives plenty of variation in itself. There are lots of ways to look at strategy in the game and I will attempt to go over a few. First, the player that slowly builds up roads and knights. This basically allows that player to get 4 victory points without ever building another city or settlement. Whoever gets longest road receives 2 victory points and whoever has the most knight cards played, also gets 2 victory points. That is pretty huge and a lot of players tend to not focus on these two areas as much as they do expanding their cities and settlements. Another strategy is to block off specific people or make 'alliances' with certain people. There is no reason why two people can't work together to gain victory. Unfortunately, an alliance always tends to end badly with one person eventually breaking the alliance. Blocking off people can be hilarious in the game but usually ends up hurting you as well. For instance, if only one player is producing bricks from his resource tiles and the rest of the people in the game are refusing to trade that player - that player usually ends up doing the same to you when you want brick, thereby cutting you off. It's a hard balance to strike with all the players. Sometimes blocking someone off or creating an alliance ends up hurting you more than if you just looked out for yourself to begin with.

Each person feels like a different strategy works for them, but most players can agree that ports are an important part of winning. Around the edges of the game board are ports that allow players to trade with the bank. Each port has a number next to it and a picture. Some will allow you to trade 2 bricks for 1 of any resource while others are more vague and allow you to trade 3 of any one resource for 1 resource. The ports become important when no one will trade with you because you are about to win or if you produce a lot of one resource that nobody wants. This would allow you to throw all those extra resources into the port and get the stuff you really want. This is perhaps the single best thing a player can do for himself. Ports will help you win games if you play them correctly.

Catan is a deep and diverse game that is way to hard to even start to explain the strategies and immense amount of variations available. One of my favorite variations is adding 'Fish' to the game board as a resource. I really enjoy playing Catan and I rarely come across someone that doesn't like it after playing a game or two. The first game can be rough especially if playing against experience players, but the second game is where people really start to enjoy the experience because they start to formulate their own plans on how to win.

I highly recommend Settlers of Catan to any group of people for parties, family game nights or just something to do. As I said before, I'd be glad to demo it or play a game with anybody that wants to try it out. Just send me an email at gameongames@gmail.com or stop by Game On and we'll set up a time to play! Anybody have their own strategies to share or hilarious stories that came from playing Catan? Post them in the comments.

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Cody Dame
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A blog devoted to all forms of gaming - mostly the non-sports related, however, we will throw in some sports every once in awhile.
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