The Settlers of Catan is the game that got it all started for us. Hubby had some cousins come into town for New Years and they brought this game with them. We had a ton of fun playing and we still do (as you can tell by the well worn box).
When you open the box, this is what you see. There is a nice little compartment for everything.
Inside, you will find a deck of cards. It includes clay, wood, sheep, wheat, ore and development cards. We will talk about how to get these cards during the game play section.
You will find some Building Cost cards. This is your reference for what cards you need to build each item. Take the card that corresponds with your color.
There is a Longest Road card and a Largest Army card. These are worth 2 points each. The first person to seven roads takes the Longest Road card. As soon as another player gets more roads than the person that has this card, they get to take it away. The Largest Army card is for the first person that gets three Knight cards. This works the same way, as soon as someone has more Knight cards than the person with the card, they get to take it. We will talk about how to get Knight cards in a moment.
There are four colors of pieces. Each person will choose a color. In each set, there are four cities, five settlements and fifteen roads.
To set up your board, take the six boarder pieces. They are numbered and fit together like a puzzle.
Take the hexagon tiles and mix them up. These are the ones that give you cards. They match the card backgrounds. The red is clay, light green is sheep, dark green is wood, yellow is wheat and black is ore.
There is also a desert tile. This is where the robber starts. You don't receive anything from this tile.
Lay the tiles out randomly inside of the boarder.
Take the number tokens. They are lettered A-R. These go on top of the hexagon tiles (skipping the desert tile) You will notice that some are red and they all have dots on them. The red ones are the ones most likely to be rolled. The dots under the numbers indicate how likely it is that the number will be rolled.
Put the numbers on the board. You can start in a corner and go alphabetically or you can do it random. If you randomize it, you need to make sure that the red ones aren't by each other. Put the robber on the desert piece.
Set out the cards and you are ready to play!
Roll the dice to see who goes first. Whoever rolls the highest number gets to place their settlement first. You get to place one settlement and one road. Settlements are placed in the corners where three tiles meet unless they are placed on the boarder. They MUST have at least two straight edges between where they are placed and any other settlements on the board. Roads go along the straight edges between two tiles. Go around and take turns placing your first choice. After the last person places, they get to go again and pick their second place. Continue going in reverse order so that the first player gets last choice for their second settlement and road. Each player will start with two settlements and roads on the board. Take the resource cards that correspond with your second placement. Resource cards are to be kept secret from your opponents.
You are now ready to play! Roll the dice and look to see if you have a settlement or a city on that number. You take one of that resource for each of your settlements on that tile. If you have a city piece on it, you get two. In this picture, if an 8 was rolled, red would get four clay resource cards. If a seven is rolled, you get to move the robber. The robber makes it so that if that number is rolled, they don't get a resource for that tile. The person that rolled the seven gets to randomly choose a card from the person that has a settlement or city on that tile. A seven also makes it so that if you have more than seven cards when it's rolled, you lose half of your cards, rounding down. So if you had nine cards, you would lose four. Neither the orange or the red would be able to gather cards if a 10 is rolled.
After you roll your dice and everyone has gathered their resources, you enter the building phase. You can trade cards with your opponents but they can not trade with each other. The only rules for trading are you can not trade the same type of card. For example, you can not trade a sheep for more sheep. You also can not give something for nothing. You can trade for different amounts of cards. For instance, if you are the only one with wood, someone can give you two clay and a sheep for one of your wood. If they won't give you what you need, or if there just isn't any in play, you can always trade in four of the same resource cards for any one resource card from the bank. There are also ports around the board. If you have built on one of these ports, you can trade in for less than the general four rule. There is one port for each resource. If you are on one of those ports you can trade in two of that resource for one of whatever you want. In the above picture, orange is on the wheat port. This means they can trade in two wheat for one of any other resource. There are also three to one ports. In the above picture, red is on this port. That means they can trade in three of the same resource for one of a different resource.
Refer to your building card to see what you need for each item. You can build however many things you have the resources for. Here's a breakdown for you:
A road takes a clay and a wood. These are not worth points unless you have the Longest Road. Then they are worth the two points for having the card. Roads have to be attached to either another road or a settlement or city.
This makes it possible to block your opponents roads. The white player has blocked the red player from expanding their road
A settlement takes a clay, wood, sheep and wheat. These are worth one point. Remember, they must be two spaces away from any other settlement or city on the board.
A City takes three ore and two wheat. These are two points. You get these by upgrading your settlements. You can not place a city on the board without having a settlement already placed there. If you run out of settlements, you must build a city to get a settlement back. Once the cities are all used, you can not upgrade any more settlements.
A Development card takes a sheep, wheat and ore.
Development cards do different things. There's the red Knight card. You can play one of these to move the robber. This is helpful if it is placed on your tile. You can play this card before or after you roll the dice. These are what makes it so you can get the Largest Army card. The yellow ones are a victory point. The green cards give you resources. There's a Road Building card that lets you place two roads. Year of Plenty lets you pick any two resources from the bank. The Monopoly card lets you choose a resource and announce it. Every other player has to give you all of their cards that are that resource. These are only worth points if you have the yellow victory point card or if you have the Largest Army card. Leave the Development cards face down in front of you until you are ready to play them. The victory point card is the only card you can play right after you buy it. All other cards must wait until your next turn to be played.
Once someone gets to 10 points, the game is over and they win!
I really enjoy this game. There's a lot of strategy that goes into figuring out how to grow your settlements. There's a bit of luck with the dice rolling. There is also some negotiating while trying to get what resources you need from your opponents. There also may be a little bit of banter going on as you cut people off, place the robber on their number or beat them to where they are going. This game is easy to learn. Our nine year old LOVES this game. He is always there asking to play when it gets pulled off the shelf. He is able to play it pretty well on his own. We had to help him the first couple games, but now he does it mostly by himself. The games last about an hour so it works great for a game night when you might want to play multiple games.