Board games have been around for over 5000 years. The oldest board game known to us is called Senet, played in Egypt around 3100 BC. I’ve never played that one, but I’ve played plenty of other games like Sorry, Monopoly, Ticket to Ride, and the focus of our review: Settlers of Catan. I’ve never been a huge fan of board games because of one common problem: not many of them are one player, if any. So, I prefer my games to be of the video kind.
Of all the board games I’ve played in recent years, however, Settlers of Catan is probably my favorite. It’s a fairly recent addition in the grand scheme of things, releasing in 1995 and created by Klaus Teuber from Germany. The Switch version of Catan plays just like the board game, except you can actually play against the computer if you want to play solo. The board is made up of many hexagons that fit together and the basic goal is settle in every available corner that is possible while trying to score 10 Victory Points. I think Wikipedia explains the overall premise the best:
“Players build by spending resources (brick, lumber, wool, grain, and ore), represented by resource cards; each land type, with the exception of the unproductive desert, produces a specific resource. On each player’s turn, two six-sided dice are rolled to determine which hexes produce resources. Players with a settlement adjacent to a hex containing the number just rolled receive one card of the corresponding resource; cities produce two cards of the corresponding resource. For example, if a player has one city and two settlements adjacent to a grain hex, that player would take four grain resource cards if the corresponding number was rolled.”
There is even more to it than that, but we won’t go into more detail here. Perhaps the biggest question you may have about the port to the video game world is the multiplayer aspect of it. How would they do it locally? You have resource cards that need to be secret, and kept safe. The answer is that they do NOT have local multiplayer. But if your friends are over, why don’t you just break out the board game? At first I was a little disappointed, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense that this was not a feature.
The single player is about what you’d expect from AI in a board game. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes dumb, but challenging enough to aid you in working on your strategy for settlement placement, when to buy cards, or whether or not a longest road is going to help you. It’s still pretty fun solo and a good waster of time.
The only real complaint I have about Catan is the trading system with AI opponents. I would set up every trade conceivable and every single one would be turned down. On the next turn, I would get a trade offer from one of the opponents that was exactly what I was offering. It seemed to never work when I instigated it. I’m sure there is an algorithm they use to determine if the AI opponents are going to accept trades, I just never got it to work very well for me. I ended up taking trades when it made sense, but gave up instigating my own.
The strength of Catan for the Switch is the portability of the system and the ability to play others online, but not locally. It has to be done with the online service and that’s just fine by me. I like this game because it allows me to strategize whenever I want, not only when buddies come over to play on board game night.
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 6/106/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
Catan is about what you’d expect from a board game translation to a video game system. It’s fun, challenging, and it really is excellent for strategy formulation in different situations. I liked it for testing out theories I had about how settlement placement would play out and whether or not certain tactics I thought up would actually translate into a win. If you are a fan of Catan, I think you’d be very pleased with this title.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.