Settlers Of Catan employs social interaction (Board Game Review)

I am not an avid board game player, I enjoy a little bit of Monopoly, UNO, Cards Against Humanity and traditional games you play as a child. I recently, however, played Settlers of Catan which is unlike any game I have played before.

Settlers of Catan is a board game for up to four players, you construct the board yourself and each of these pieces represent resources that you collect during the game. You have settlements which you place on the board, your settlements can not be within one road piece distance of another settlement (even your own) and you must connect your settlements with two roads. Settlements are important because what ever piece of the board you settle on, indicates the resources you will collect if the dice lands on the number shown on this resource board piece.  The goal of the game is to have your settlements equal 10points, the idea is to make trades with other players to gain resources that your need.

Firstly when we were tediously setting up the board all I could think of was how fast and efficient this would be if we were playing the game on the computer. Board games that have merged into the computer gaming sphere have allowed the removal of these ‘chores’ (Xu, Barba, Radu et al. 2011 p.3).  Xu, Barba, Radu et al. (2011 p. 3) also introduce the idea of there being five categories of game play; Chores, Reflection on gameplay, Strategies, Out of game and the Game itself.

I found this board game at the beginning to lack entertainment especially learning the ‘Chores’ we needed to undertake. However, as it progressed and we moved into the ‘strategy’ category of the game play it resulted in strategic fun. Of course it then ended slowly and the entertainment value once against ceased due to there being a clear winner early on and we were merely waiting for that player to just achieve that magic number of ten.

Settlers of Catan though allows deep social interaction between players, through strategy, trading and its overall turn base structure. The turn base structure allows time for external conversation, strategy conversation and allows the centre of attention to shift through –out the game (Xu, Barba, Radu et al. 2011 p.9).

Overall this game became mundane and repetitive. However, this would not have been the case if there was not a clear winner for the last forty five minutes of game play.

References:

Xu, Y, Barba, E, Radu, I, Gandy, M & MacIntyre, B 2011, ‘Chores are fun: Understanding social play in board games for digital tabletop game designs’, Georgia Institute of Technology, pp.1-14.

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