Monday, 13 June 2016

Catan 5th Edition from Asmodee games Unboxing and Review

Today we look at the 5th Edition of a classic in gaming. Settlers of Catan, now renamed just simply Catan.
I really like the art on the box, it has a "classic" look, which really suits the game.

Catan, or Settlers of Catan as it was first known, was first released way back in the mists of time in 1995, so is somewhat of an elder statesmen in gaming terms, but has won many, many prestigious awards in its lifetime.  But is it fun? and has a 20 plus year old game still got it today in a board gaming renaissance which Catan helped itself helped to start, and is so full of excellent board games.

Take a look at what some others have aid about Catan

“Settlers has become so popular in Silicon Valley that it's now being used as an icebreaker at some business meetings.”
-Wall Street Journal

“Over the past few years, Settlers of Catan has transformed from an activity enjoyed by a small niche of gamers into a mainstream hit.”
-The Atlantic

“Settlers manages to be effortlessly fun, intuitively enjoyable, and still intellectually rewarding, a combination that's changing the American idea of what a board game can be.”
-Wired Magazine

“...the new generation of postcollegiate gamers is gravitating toward more complex games of exploration and trade...like Settlers of Catan...”
-The New York Times

“Settlers has spread from Stuttgart to Seoul to Silicon Valley...it has become a necessary social skill among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”
-The Washington Post

“Settlers has its own elegant economy, in which the supply and demand for five different commodities are determined by tactics, luck and the stage of the game.”
-Financial Times
 

It plays 3-4 players, and they recommend about an hour play time, which seemed right for our first games, though it may get quicker as you learn it more, or take slightly longer if there is plenty of bartering (arguing, begging, inappropriate deals done) for resources.  It recommends players of 10 and over.  Olivia (7) got it, so I think its a guideline, if your kids are experienced give it a whirl with them, in fact just give it a whirl with them anyway, they will have plenty of fun, and if you don't mind guiding them so will you.

Lets pop the box open and take a look at what comes inside.....

 you get a couple of dice, and bags of wooden "meeples" a box of cards, tokens that need punching out, a rules book, and some catalogues showing you other expansions in the Catan range (there are lots!) and a little leaflet for an app that can give you suitable sounds whilst playing.
 The wooden parts are all nice, and well painted.  You have a piece that represents the robber, villages, and cities, and the straight pieces are roads.

 The tiles that need to be punched out represent the different types of resource producing land, and the numbers go onto the tiles randomly to determine which ones produce the resources.
 The card art is very nice, and clear on which resources you can collect.

Here is an example of some of the development cards you can get, all with really nice artwork on them, and very clearly stating what they do.  I really like these, they have a kind of 90s look in my opinion which I find very nostalgic, but they still do not look out of place with the game, and they went down well when I asked the other gamers what they thought of them.  The response was they had not noticed, but now I mention it yes they do have that look, which they liked.

The basic idea of the game is that the players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan (call yourself Queen as Olivia did, Emperor as I did, or supreme ruler as another friend did or any title you like) by building settlements, cities, and roads. Resources are generated each turn with dice rolled to determine what resources the island produces, which is based on the tiles, and the numbers you see on them.   You roll, add up the number and tiles with that number produce their resource for players adjacent to them. There are five resources, wood, grain, brick, sheep, and ore, and you sue these to buy advancement cards, villages, upgrade to cities and lay roads.  Each of these actions has a certain cost in resource, for which there are handy reminder cards for each player which helps keep thing moving along nicely as you don't have to check the rulebook every few minutes.


Setup includes randomly placing the tiles (each showing a resource or the desert) in a honeycomb shape and surrounding them with water tiles, some of which contain ports that can help you.  Then number disks, which relate to resource tile. Each player is given two villages, and  2 roads  which are, in turn, placed on intersections and borders of the resource tiles. Players collect a hand of resource cards based on which hex tiles their last-placed house is adjacent to. A robber pawn is placed on the desert tile, who can come into play in the game if a 7 is rolled, to move, stop resource production and let you rob from other players.


A turn consists of possibly playing a development card, rolling the dice, everyone (perhaps) collecting resource cards based on the roll and position of houses (or upgraded cities—think: hotels) unless a 7 is rolled, turning in resource cards (if possible and desired) for improvements, trading cards at a port, and trading resource cards with other players. If a 7 is rolled, the active player moves the robber to a new hex tile and steals resource cards from other players who have built structures adjacent to that tile.

Points are accumulated by building settlements and cities, having the longest road and the largest army (from some of the development cards), and gathering certain development cards that simply award victory points. When a player has gathered 10 points (some of which may be held in secret in development cards) they win.
Set up of the board is pretty quick as the outer water tiles all clip together like a jigsaw, and then you can randomly place the inner tiles.  This randomisation adds some great replay value as wit the different combinations of tiles, and numbers on the tiles you will never really paly the same game twice.

The game packs away perfectly, with excellent box control, a space for everything to go into nicely, and it also contains extra clip bags for all the tokens once they are punched, so im very impressed, and happy with that.  Nothing worse then having to sort out a million tokens before you play due to bad box design (looks at you Fantasy Flight Games.... amazing games, bad box control)

In play the game is fairly fast, there is no real downtime, some amusing bartering of resources goes on, "who wants a sheep!" being an example, as you trade, or not (to stop your opponents building for themselves).  ITs not too hard to learn, and flows fast once you have it down.  It really can be taught very very quickly, even to non gamers so it IS an excellent gateway game to get people into the idea of boardgaming.  The theme works for me, as in my mind im expanding my little empire, building roads, harvesting, building towns and cities, and exploring.  The fact the board looks nice when set up as well really helps get new gamers interest.

Its very well supported by Catan Studio who have learn to play guides to make it even easier, and all sorts of expansions, and rules to keep you going with your adventure through Catan.  You can also find digital versions of it for your phone or web browser, or just on your PC or laptop.  The resources provided here will prove really useful for learning, and teaching the game, and adding more to your play through.


Olivia's thoughts......

I liked to be the queen of the island and have the most towns, and roads, and everything if I can.  I like the pictures on the cards for resources, It makes it easy for me since I don't have to read them, and the other cards do not have much writing on so I can concentrate on willing.  I would play this again yes! and then I can set up the board different each time so I can get all the things I need.  I like how colourful it looks too when its set up. 


With an RRP of £39.99 you can pick up your own copy by finding your local game store here, and the sheer amount of expansion, and replayability makes this a must have in anyone's collection.

Come and join us in all sorts of gaming chat in our Facebook group here, and come follow us on Twitter @rollyoursix join the chat, and tell us about your games!