Midterm season is here and it may be time to settle on lower grades because it’s time to play “Settlers of Catan,” better known as “Catan,” to get rid of that midterm stress.
You’re probably not going to study until the night before, so no one will care if you and some of your friends spend the night fighting over resources and where you should put the “Robber” in this classic game.
Catan has been around since 1996, but remains a staple in the board game industry as the numerous expansions and recent spin-offs including “A Game of Thrones: Brotherhood of the Watch,” released in 2017, keep it relevant.
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Mainstream games like “Sorry,” “Uno” and “Clue” may overshadow Catan in stores like Target and Walmart since they seem to take up more shelf space and have flashier packaging, but this is truly a hidden gem for anyone, especially with newer players.
Catan offers a simple goal which can easily be achieved — that is after players deal with some of the obstacles thrown at them.
The objective of the game is to earn a total of 10 points which can be acquired by constructing roads, settlements and cities, or by purchasing “Development Cards” with resources.
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At the start of the game, a number tile is put on each resource tile. Each player rolls the dice at the beginning of their turn and can collect the resource with the number tile which corresponds to the dice roll as long as the player has a settlement or city touching that resource.
Having both the resource and number tiles randomized each game forces players to have several strategies up their sleeves since it is all up to the roll of the dice. Strategy plays a large role in the game as cutting off opponents with roads can prove rewarding later in the game, but you can’t solely rely on a single strategy to succeed.
This is showcased in the highly-rewarding or highly-destructive “Robber” which can be moved by a player who rolls a seven on their turn. The “Robber” can be placed on any resource tile which makes it so players cannot collect that resource when the corresponding number is rolled.
Putting the “Robber” on the wood tile your roommate is hogging can help even the game if you fall behind and may relieve the stress of that paper you have due at midnight.
Players’ skill levels and a bit of dumb luck can have a large impact on how long games last, as having a single dominant player will likely end it quickly, while a group of new or veteran players can take some time to finish a single game.
Recent spinoffs like the “Game of Thrones” version help expand the universe and keep Catan alive for new players despite the fact it is old enough to graduate in May if it were a person.
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Catan is truly a hidden gem though it can be overshadowed by larger, flashier mainstream games, it will always give them a solid run for their money as the basic mechanics and periodic spontaneity keeps players on the edge of their seat and coming back for another game.
Put away the study guides and class notes because it is time to check out this hidden gem that earns a rating of 4.75 out of 5.