The robber amidst settlements

Settlers of Catan may well be the David Bowie of board games. It has endured longer than all expectations and it has re-invented itself countless times. What started as a humble German board game over ten years ago has spawned numerous expansions, game variations and web and console based interpretations. Catan breathed life back into board games. It has helped to shift the family away from the television and back to the living room table.

In Catan, you are one of several settlers, vying for control of the unsettled island of Catan. Each player starts with two settlements with roads leading out to start their expansion. Where a player’s settlements lie help to determine their ability to go forward for they sit on three resource types that are received continually throughout the game each time its number comes up on a roll of the die.

The catch? Other players are striving towards the same resources and goals. Plus, there is the robber to contend with. He comes into play whenever a player rolls a seven. The player who rolls a seven, selects a resource tile to play the robber on; thereby ceasing any resource production from that tile until the robber is moved again.

Players move forward in the game by using the resources they collect from their settlements to expand. The game finishes when one of the players reaches an agreed upon number of points (usually 10). The game board is made up of resource tiles and numbered discs, allowing for new boards to be created with each game. This flexibility, coupled with the various expansion packs, take the 3-4 player original game up to 6 players and add new tools and obstacles with which to contend.

Catan is a different kind of board game. No one is eliminated as the game progresses, allowing players to strive towards personal goals and still be a part of the excitement. It also reinforces inventive thinking and digital -age literacy skills necessary for 21st century learning.