If you’ve never played Catan but feel like everyone you know is obsessed with it, you may be wondering what the big deal is.
With more video games coming out every day with exceedingly impressive graphics, you may be asking yourself how a board game can be so popular.
If you’ve never really seen the appeal of board games in general or perhaps you don’t know where to start, Catan is the ideal candidate for your first foray into the world of analog gaming.
What is Catan?
To put it simply, Catan is a board game that can be played with up to 4 players (6 players with expansions and up to 8 players if you choose to play colonist.io) where you collect and trade resources in order to settle across the land of Catan. In the base game, the player with 10 victory points is the winner.
How Do You Earn Victory Points in Catan?
Catan sees you earning victory points for a variety of actions such as building settlements and upgrading these settlements to cities.
Bonus victory points can also be earned by purchasing development cards and drawing a +1 victory point.
Finally, there are also up to 4 victory points up for grabs for whoever plays the most knight development cards and whoever builds the longest road, although these can end up going back and forward amongst players as the game progresses.
How Do You Produce Resources in Catan?
Catan allows you to produce wood, brick, hay, and sheep with corresponding hexes making up the board. During initial set up you place numbered tokens from 2-12 across the board.
Each turn, whenever a player rolls two dice, you collect the relevant resource from any of your settlements or cities that are touching a hex with that number token placed on it.
Players are then free to trade amongst themselves to acquire any resources they need throughout the game.
So Why Is Catan So Popular?
So you’ve heard the basic rules of Catan, and still may be asking yourself, why is Catan so popular?
When you pair the relatively simple goal with a few different strategies to achieve victory, the result is a game that is easy to get the hang of but hard to master.
As with any game involving dice, there is also an element of luck that levels the playing field for veterans and new players alike.
Personally, I’ve played more than my fair share of games where the ‘newbie’ ends up on top.
The bonus victory points awarded through earning the longest road or largest army cards also add undeniable tension as the tide can turn in a few turns.
Dominating the game of Catan can often make you a target, only for another player to sneak ahead before it’s too late for the rest of the group to notice.
Are There Expansions for Catan?
If all of that wasn’t enough, this is just why the base game of Catan is popular. There is also a wide range of expansions out there from Seafarers to Cities & Knights (and many more).
These expansions add more strategy and different ways to win if the base game wasn’t enough.
With so much love being shown for Catan, there is even a game being developed by the same studio behind Pokemon Go, which uses a similar concept, allowing you to settle in the real world as well as a Catan film in the works.
Although I can’t vouch for how good either of these will be, it shows how much love there is for Catan.
Is It Easy to Fall Out With Your Friends Playing Catan?
Okay, this is a bit of a joke, but playing Catan isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I have plenty of Catan experiences when the sense of rivalry can take over the group.
There are many strategies that involve taking other players’ resources or even limiting their resource production through using knight cards or even rolling a 7.
In my friend group, I have also witnessed people forming alliances with each other, only to stab them in the back later on in the game.
As with any game that is worth playing, there will definitely be a competitive element when playing this game…just don’t take it too seriously.
Can I play 4 Player Catan Online for Free?
Sometimes it’s difficult to get everyone in the same room for a board game session.
The recent lockdowns have also shown us that this isn’t always an option. Luckily, you can also play 4 player Catan online for free.
Colonist also allows you to play up to 8 players on some maps that are not available elsewhere.
As this is free, it’s also a great way to try Catan to see whether you like it before potentially playing the board game.
Hopefully, by now you understand why Catan has attained its cult status in the board gaming community.
This game has gone on to inspire a whole host of new board games over the years.
Make sure to let us know in the comments what board game you love to play, or even a board game that you are excited to play