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Our family plays a lot of board games and have discovered a whole new group called Strategy Games. They're different from games like Monopoly or Life, in that the winning strategy changes from game to game. Today my son wanted to play Settlers of Catan.

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Settlers comes with board pieces that represent resources that were valuable to early settlers (like wheat, sheep, iron, brick and forests). To start the game, the board pieces are shuffled and laid out in a preset pattern. Because the pieces are in random order inside the preset pattern, you never know which resources will end up where. Every resource piece gets a number from 2-12 (corresponding with the possible numbers from rolling two dice).

Each player starts out with two settlements at different places on the board. They take turn rolling the dice and getting resources if they have a settlement on a board piece when the number comes up. It's not as complicated as it sounds. If you have a settlement beside the forest piece with a number six on it, and the dice roll is a 2 and a 4, then you get a card with the forest symbol.

Players can use the cards to build up their settlements. If you want to build a road, you need to trade in a forest and a brick card.

The strategy comes into the game when you try to pick the best spots for your settlements before another player can build there. Of course, random chance (the dice rolls) determine what resources you have to work with.

This game is great for families with players of different ages. There's no actual currency in the game, just resources that can be traded between players or with the bank. In some games, wheat may be plentiful and no one is interested in trading for it. But the next time you play, it could be scarce and everyone needs it.

In the game we played today, it looked like my son was going to win. He had good spots for his settlements and was getting more resources than me. Then, it all turned around. The numbers beside my settlements started coming up all the time and I was quickly adding more settlements. Even he was intrigued by how the dice rolls altered the outcome of the game, and we had a good discussion about what strategies he could have used to keep things even between us.

Don't feel too limited by the age guidelines. They say 10y and up. My son has been playing it since he was 6y. He started out watching other people play the game and quickly learned the concepts. With younger children, you may want to partner them with an older person until everyone understands the game.

If your kids need to learn about negotiating for scarce resources, or your family wants to have some fun, try playing Settlers of Catan.


Settlers of Catan Game Settlers of Catan Game
Posted to Board Games | Children's Games


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