Reviewed by Nina Chester
Catan; a quality board game, designed in Germany and manufactured in the USA, aimed towards adults with an age guide of 10+ although a junior version is available, 3-4 players is the ideal and expansion packs are numerous.
I first became aware of Catan back in the mid 1990’s as some kind of mystical world that my brother’s friends were playing, I was never invited to join in and the world of Catan has remained on the edge of my memory for the last quarter of a century.
With this in mind I was delighted to be asked to play with three friends on a cold winter’s afternoon. We are all ‘ladies of a certain age’ who regularly enjoy each other’s company and the odd glass of wine. We are no strangers to games afternoons, favourites are Scrabble or Monopoly, a real low point was Brussel Sprout roulette last Christmas. We like to play, and we like to win but our main aim is to laugh, with Catan we laughed a lot, however, there was serious competition between us as well as negotiation.
So, what is Catan? It is a game of trade, of building, of chance, and of risk. The hexagonal board is easily put together and due to the frame and hexagonal pieces it is stable, we used the suggested setup but a practically infinite amount of variations are available.
Each player starts by placing two small wooden ‘houses’ in their own colour, these are settlements, and two wooden road pieces the aim of the game is to build, settle and trade to gain Victory points, the first to 10 victory points wins.
As we started it did remind us of Monopoly but so much better, also a little bit of Cluedo and sometimes Risk. But it is Catan and these games should instead be likened to it.
Initially it felt complicated but within ten minutes we were understanding the basic concepts, we appointed a banker although this is not necessary. As you play the games gathers momentum, you have cards to trade or barter with but only on your turns. Sometimes it felt like we were playing old maid or poker, at one point I was in dragon’s den having done my pitch the dragons, ok friends with wine, wanted my resources, I has power and I was going to use it to my advantage, strategy the game calls it, good fun I say.
The dice randomise the game, but the robber makes it, in that every time a 7 is thrown the player who threw it moves the robber and this can have a massive effect on the everyone. Cards are lost, taken. Cards cannot be gained. There are so many elements to Catan.
Our first game took almost 4 hours but expert games in tournaments take around 45 minutes. I doubt they have as much fun as we did, and I bet they’re not chanting ‘Logs build Roads’ or on their hands and knees looking for the dice.
Catan, the best game for middle aged ladies and everyone else from 10+. We are arranging our next Catan event and this time all the strategy books and websites will have been well read.
For more information visit www.catan.com.
Available to buy from Amazon here.