This is the 5th Edition (latest version) of Catan, the classic board game, winner of multiple awards since 1995.
How do we play Catan?
To begin the game, we build the game board with hexagonal terrain tiles. Catan is now born – a beautiful island with mountains, pastures, hills, fields, and forests, surrounded by the sea.
We each place two small houses on spaces where three of these terrain hexes meet, as our starting settlements.
And so it begins. I roll two dice. An “11”! Each terrain hex is marked with a die roll number. Each player who owns a settlement adjacent to a terrain hex marked with the number rolled receives a resource produced by this hex. Hills produce brick, forests produce lumber, mountains produce ore, fields produce grain, and pastures produce wool.
We use these resources to expand across Catan: we build roads and new settlements, or we upgrade our existing settlements to cities. For example, a road costs 1 brick and 1 lumber. If we do not have the necessary resources, we can acquire them by trading with our opponents.
Each settlement is worth 1 victory point and each city is worth 2 victory points. If you expand cleverly, you may be the first player to reach 10 victory points and thus win the game!
Catan is a board game that effortlessly combines fun and intellectual rewards on one board, for you and your friends to enjoy.
First designed and built by Klaus Teuber in 1995, Catan, which was once called The Settlers of Catan, has only continued to rise in popularity and relevance even after 25 long years.
This never-dwindling relevance many believe is because Catan isn’t just some fun board game, but it also gives players the challenge of operating and thinking in a complex environment while engaging in trading and exploration as they try to build a virtual economy. All of these are done with so much simplicity that it’s hard not to love the game!
The board game is set on the island of Catan, and you and your friends would have to take the roles of settlers on the island.
Catan will have you and your friends compete intelligently to reach the victory point of 10 by building settlements, cities, and roads. To make such a civilisation, you would need to roll the two 6-sided dices and collect any of the resource cards (wood, sheep, brick, wheat, and ore).
To setup the game, the edge pieces with numbers written at a corner are connected by matching the numbers. To be clear, the edge pieces are those that have waters and ports on them. When you have successfully connected all the edge pieces, you may proceed to lay the hexagonal tiles on the board randomly. These hexagonal tiles have all the resources printed on them. There’s also the desert hexagonal tile, which produces nothing. This is where you place the robber at the start of the game. It’s best to start laying these tiles from the edge and continue towards the middle until they are all laid in place, and the board is complete.
Next, the number pieces are shuffled and randomly placed on all tiles except the desert tile since it produces nothing. The placing of the number pieces, though done randomly, must also be done to avoid pieces of the same colour standing next to each other. For instance, you cannot have a red number piece on one tile and another red number piece right next to it on the next tile.
When this is done, and there is no conflict of colour as described above, you can place the robber on the desert hexagonal tile.
The cards, including the resources and development cards, are arranged beside the board before the game begins. There are five different resources cards (wood, ore, sheep, brick, and wheat), and each deck is arranged separately; that is, the wood separate from brick, which is also distinct from sheep, and so on. The deck of development cards is also stacked separately. There are five types of development cards: knight, monopoly, year of plenty, road building, and victory point cards.
Then there is the Largest Army and Longest Road cards that help identify, at any particular point, the player with the most number of knights or most extended road networks, respectively.
Finally, each player gets two settlements and two roads and places them along the edges of the hexagonal tiles once it has been decided who the first player would be. Once all of these have been put in place, you may now proceed to play Catan.
How to Play
When it’s your turn to play, you may start by playing a development card. Once you draw and play a development card and the mandate on it is fully resolved, you can then roll the dice. The number displayed by the rolled dice is calculated to correspond to the number piece on each tile, and when the number you rolled matches the number on a tile you have built a settlement on, you get one resource card of that resource tile. If you have created a city adjacent to the tile, then you get two resource cards.
You may then use the resource cards you have gathered to build more settlements, cities, roads, or get a development card.
If the number you rolled is 7, then all the players with eight or more resource cards in their hands must discard half the numbers of their resource cards rounded down. As the active player, you will then move the robber to any hexagonal tile of your choosing. Once you have moved the robber, you can then blindly steal a resource card from the player who has built a settlement or city adjacent that tile. Also, the player with the robber on the tile near his settlement will be unable to produce any resources subsequently until the robber is moved away.
You may also trade with other players or the bank for resources you think you need.
How to Win
To win, you need to be the first to gather ten victory points. And to collect these victory points, you need to do any of these three things; build settlements and cities, have the largest army or longest road, and play the victory points development cards (market, library, chapel, university, and great hall).
It is best to keep your total victory points to yourself and announce it only when you are ready to claim your win.
This fantastic board game continues to strive in popularity and is enjoyed by both seasoned gamers and beginners alike. You could be just a beginner and win your first game against experienced players. Just be sure to come along with a solid strategy and know what you are doing.
An interesting bit about Catan is that the next game cannot be judged by the previous, as each game is unique offering new challenges.