Settlers of Catan Review
One of the games that a board game review site would be incomplete without is The Settlers of Catan. This is one of the classic board games that most people will play at some point if they have any kind of interest in gaming, and to that point, I believe Target even stocks it now.
The Settlers of Catan can be either the most fun or the most frustrating game that you have ever played in your life. One of the reasons for this is related to a mechanic that Settlers introduced (which has now also been used in several other Mayfair games such as Anno 1503, and I believe Catan Adventures: Elasund - The First City, and Candamir: The First Settlers). In Settlers, each player starts their turn by rolling 2 dice. Once the dice have been rolled, each player collects resources based on whether their settlements (or cities) are adjacent to resources of the corresponding number. Thus, in theory, 6 and 8 should be amazing numbers to be on, and 3 and 11 should be pretty bad. Unfortunately, this rarely works out, and all of your best laid plans normally go astray (however when the 2 that you placed next to is rolled 4 times in a row, you start thinking this is a game you should possibly play more often... right after you get back from the casino). With that said, however, this is a very interesting mechanic and can make for a quite enjoyable game with the right people (in the same way that Monopoly can be enjoyable with the right people).
The second part of this game that can cause the game play experience to be amazing or horrible is the true crux of the game - trading resources. On any given player's turn, they will most likely have extra resources that they don't need and other resources that they're missing. At this point, its their role to negotiate until they can persuade (threaten?) another player into trading them what they need. If the people that you play with are looking for a trading game, then this will go well (until one person is close to winning, and then they will not find many trade partners either way), but if the people you are playing with are not interested in a trading based game, then the enjoyment will decrease.
A definite positive about Settlers, regardless of how you feel about the first two items, is the modular board. Since you can place the resource locations and corresponding numbers randomly, the replayability is quite high. That mixed with the fact that the resource generation winds up being quite random makes the gaming experience unique each time.
Overall, I would give this game an 8.5/10. I do not think that it is the greatest game ever created, but I would definitely recommend everyone try it at some point, and it is also a good "gateway game" that a gamer could use to introduce their friends into slightly more complicated gaming experiences than Sorry and Connect 4.
Check out more reviews from the Catan universe: Settlers of American and Catan Dice Game.