TableTop Thursday – Settlers of Catan

Greetings friends!

Today we are going to be looking at a multiplayer game, Settlers of Catan, created by Klaus Teuber and revolves around resource management, trading and strategy.

Game Overview

During the first round, the starting player places a settlement on an open intersection and then places an adjacent road. The other players then follow clockwise until every player has done this. However you must follow the distance rule but I’ll talk about that later in the rules.

After that is done, the person who went last builds a second settlement and an adjacent road, the other players follows anti-clockwise, you also take your starting resources depending on the tiles your second settlement is adjacent to.

The game is primarily for 3-4 players but you can get additional expansions and versions to allow 2 player gameplay or added depth/variety!

What you do in the game

Settlers of Catan begins with placing the tiles in a pre-determined or random location along with the number tokens on each of the tiles. These tokens are numbered between 2-12 while skipping the number 7; this means that depending on what you roll with your two dice this will change what resources (if any) that you obtain. For example, if you have a settlement next to the numbers 5,2,10 and you roll a 2+3 you will gain the resources from number 5 but not 2 or 10.

These resources then can be used for several purposes: Building a road, building a settlement, upgrading your settlement to a city or building a development card. Each of these functions differently: Roads let you join settlements and build additional settlements. Settlements allow you to gain additional resources and Cities produce addition resources. With development cards doing even more additional things, such as Knights (to move the Robber) Victory points or Progress cards which either gives you 2 free roads, 2 free resources or a monopoly (which steals all resources of one type from every player, though you have to be careful, if no one has any of that resource, you won’t get any!)

Adding in trade between the bank and other players and the robber (you roll a 7 to move the robber to block a tile) and you get an extremely tactical game which can provide hours of entertainment or in some cases frustration (if you’re bad at rolling dice!)

How it looks/How easy is it to understand what’s going on

Settlers of Catan itself looks extremely simplistic and is easy to understand what tile is what resource!

Settlers of Catan board

However this does not take away with how it looks! It looks beautifully crafted and is extremely nice on the eye.

How easy is it to pick up?

For me, it took between 15-30 minutes to pick up what was going on and to learn the rules. This can be said for the majority of people as well but there will be instances where people will pick it up in quicker or slower times.

It also was pretty quick to figure out what was going on, you roll 2 die and you get resources according to what you roll, everything is easily explained and easy to follow!


  • Each turn follows a pattern and generally goes in the same order – though experienced players may combine the final 2 phases (as it is allowed!) but newer players tend not to as it makes it easier to pick up!
  • At the start of each turn, you must roll to determine resource production- with the result affecting every player! That person whose turn it is then can trade with either the bank or other players and then after build a road/settlement/city or buy a development card. They can also play a development card at any time during their turn. After all this is done, the dice are passed around to the left and the pattern starts anew.
  • However, rolling a 7 forces you to move the robber to a tile to block it from producing resources, the robber however can also be moved by playing the knight development card. The person who moves the robber also steals a random resource card from a player who has a settlement adjacent to the tile the robber is placed on. Not only that, if any player has above 7 resources cards in his or her hand, then they must discard half of their cards ( rounded down) back to the bank. Meaning that rolling a 7 can also be a determent as well as a blessing for anyone.
  • Knight cards stay in front of you after being played, the reason behind this is because once you have 3 or more knight cards you receive a special card which is called the “largest Army card” and this gives you 2 victory points. If anyone happens to get more knight cards played, they will take the special card back!
  • Roads also have a special card called “The Longest Road Card” which means if you have the largest road of over 5 road segments adjacent to one another; you bag another 2 more victory points!
  • Each Settlement must abide to the Distance rule which means you can only build a settlement on an open intersection and if none of the 3 adjacent intersections a settlement or city.
  • Each Settlement also gives you 1 Victory point and each city gives you 2 victory points, first to 10 points wins.

Basic Hints and Tipsbricknlumber

For starting players, the most important thing to note is that you must look at where the resources are and what numbers are associated to them! The numbers 6, 7 and 8 are statistically the most rolled numbers when rolling 2 die, so try to get control of those numbers!

  • Brick and Lumber are the most important resources as these allow you to build roads and settlements!
  • Don’t underestimate the strength of development cards! You can turn a game around with getting the development cards that you need!
  • Make sure to plan your route for your roads and leave plenty of room to expand
  • Don’t forget you can also block your opponents from good placement due to the distance rule!

My Experience

In my experience I have spend hours upon hours playing Settlers of Catan with friends and random people due to the constantly changing map and tactics that I have had to employ.

The first time I played it was at a gaming event called Insomnia with a few friends, I was initially worried that I wouldn’t pick it up quickly enough to stand a chance within the game with experienced players. This changed quickly as I realized that this game was a nice mixture of luck and strategy. However, as you can imagine- this can cause friendships to be strained ( in a competitive way) as you refuse to give them resources, block placements and cut off what they want to do… of course this goes both ways causing people to laugh and cry at the multiple situations that occur due to the ever changing map state.

Since this first game, I have played countless games both on the board game and their online version causing me to constantly see new strategies and map changes. I have never in my countless hours of playing seen a single game that went the same way.

However the trading aspect of the game is what finalizes the game for me. It is simple but it is not unique to Catan; however it is perfect for this game. With the interaction between players bluffing about what resources they have and trying to scam more resources out of someone since they REALLY need that piece of clay. This is what makes the game, the interaction between friends and players of the game.

Settlers of Catan boardFinal thoughts

As you can probably tell, I am a HUGE fan of Settles of Catan and I’ve only really played the base version! I would love to try out the expansions in the future and I may write up about them once I have done to further talk about my experience about them!

The simplicity of the resource management, trading and building added with the complexity of ever changing maps and strategies due to luck and opponents makes a game that can be replayed for hours upon hours.

I have heard people and critics call the game a gateway game into the board gaming world, and I would have to say that the description is apt. It has won many awards over the course of its history and I look forward to playing additional games of Catan in the future!

Places to purchase

You can pick “Settlers of Catan” up from The Catan Shop Site, Amazon and other major Retailers from £35/$50

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