I first heard about Catan, back when it was known as “Settlers of Catan” and was featured on a YouTube channel. My brother actually owns the Star Trek version, though I have never actually played it before myself.
When opened up and set up, the game appears a little like Carcassonne, the idea being to build. However where Carcassonne builds the board game as you play, Catan is a set space for the game board, but with randomised tiles, giving you a different game everytime you play.
Since it was our first time playing, we chose to use the setup shown in the front pages of the rule book. There were only three of us playing and so we didn’t add the red player in. As mentioned, the tiles are placed randomly so field, quarries etc are all in different places. Players then choose to add their roads and settlements (though again, we followed the ‘first time playing’ set up in the book). Once you’re settled in, you claim your first lot of resources and then play begins by rolling the dice.
On each play, you roll the dice and according to it’s number, the settlements on the edges of those numbered hex spaces, claim the corresponding resources. Then on your go, you may also trade or build. Once you’re done, it’s the next players turn and the same applies. You build roads and then in turn settlements, to claim more resources and the more settlements you own, the more points you gain.
Play continues around and around, with players claiming their resources and choosing to build. Trouble comes in the form of a robber though, every time a seven is rolled. This sets you back some and loses you resources, which at times can be frustrating.
To win the game, you need to reach a score of ten. You score one point for every settlement and two for every city (none for roads). You can also buy development cards which ocassionally score you points too. Additional points can be gained by building the ‘longest road’ too.
Catan can take quite a while to play and is part luck but also some skill and planning as well. It’s quite relaxing to play and not too compeitive, but I’m not sure it would be great for younger children. My youngest didn’t play with us that night and I think maybe she would have found it hard work.