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Subject: ((The) Settlers of) Catan - A Five-point Review rss

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Sean May
South Korea
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Roll dice to randomly generate resources, use same to buy development cards for bonuses and to build more settlements, roads and eventually cities for points - ten points wins the game.

Aesthetics: 7

For its age, Catan really doesn't look too bad. It's nice and colourful without being garish. The hexes are a decent size and the jigsaw puzzle-type frame usually holds everything together. Usually. The development card art is a bit bland - maybe that's one reason I tend not to go for them. The village (I always call them villages and not settlements because cities are settlements too), road and city piece are cute wooden pieces that have a classic look and feel to them. I like the fact that the basic colours are white, orange, red and blue: it's kind of an unusual selection, but yellow and green perhaps wouldn't have stood out too well on the board.

Gameplay: 8.5

It's criticised for being too random, and that is a problem, but I don't find it much of one. I find it quite thematic that sometimes fields produce a lot or a little. As long as you don't take it too seriously, it's really quite entertaining when a 4, say, comes up way more often than a 6. Good players will always try to place their initial villages in optimal positions, but that randomness can screw over even the most careful of planners. Nevertheless, intelligent placement of villages and cities will always prove the best strategy in the long run.

I like the strategy in Catan. It's not oppressively heavy. Sometimes you have to wait a few turns to implement the next stage of your plan. Sometimes you'll have to trade with the other players. If you're winning, you'll have to accept that maybe they won't want to trade with you. And yes, sometimes you will have to pass your turn without having done anything other than roll the dice. But you'll be back on track next time ... or the time after. At least rounds don't last too long. Generally, the player with the best strategy will win.

Interest: 7.5

I've never actually played anything other than the base game, so I have to admit that it's pretty bland. Your only way to interact with people (apart from trading and moving the robber) is to build a road or settlement in their way. Basically constructing two things, towns and roads, is an extremely simplistic form of kingdom-building, but I love seeing these little colonies grow. There's no magic or horror to the game, and only the barest bones of world-building or narrative. However, I prefer to think of it as classic, rather than simplistic.

Fun: 8.5

I've always enjoyed playing The Settlers of Catan, and, as I get more into board games and play more recent and more sophisticated games, I don't think my enjoyment will fall off much. It's a very solid, simple game that does what it does well. I generally always feel that we could have played to 12 or 15 points - and that's a mark of a game that doesn't outstay its welcome.

Replayability: 6

I want to play Catan more often than I do ... but I don't.

Overall: 7.5

A classic, simple, solid game. It may not be fair from round to round, but, over the course of a game, the player with the better strategy will likely win.

I've retconned this review slightly to add one more category: Replayability. While I was at it, I upped the Gameplay rating from 8 to 8.5, the Interest from 7 to 7.5 and the Fun from 8 to 8.5.

The previous Overall score was also 7.5.
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