The Kids of Catan
List Price: $49.00
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(Worth 4,410 Funagain Points!)
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Each player has a set of buildings to place. Placing a building uses a whole wagon load of resources: 1 each of wood, bricks, and wheat.
The roll of the die determines how far the wagons will move. When any child stops beside a resource that they need, they can load the resource into their wagon.
When your wagon is full, you get to build a new house! The house must be placed in the right spot in the village. Then the resources are returned to the board so they can be collected again!
After you build all your houses, you begin collecting resources again to build the Town Hall. The player who builds the Town Hall wins the game! Of course, children are also encouraged to play with the wonderful wooden buildings by themselves, and to create their own games and adventures in Catan!
The Kids of Catan is a childrens game from veteran designer Klaus Teuber. It is an absolutely adorable game with big, brightly colored wooden pieces that kids love to play with and a huge rotating game board. What is truly amazing is that it captures a lot of the theme and feeling of Settlers of Catan but is orchestrated in a manner that is easy for young kids to play. It exercises counting, shape recognition, and set collection skills along with the best trait that all board games teach kids: taking turns. Kids of Catan is a fantastic childrens game and I highly recommend it for anyone with little kids (ages 3 5). It is fine for older kids too, but is definitely geared towards the young ones.
The board is assembled and placed in the center of all of the players so that the color they want to play is shown on the side of the box facing them. The resource markers (all 15 if there are 4 players, 12 if there are less than 4 players) are placed around the board in the spots that match their color. The 12 red-roofed buildings are evenly divided among the players.
The youngest player goes first. They roll the die and rotate the game board clockwise a number of stops equal to the die roll. All players now look to see if their pawn is next to a resource that they do not already have in their wagon / cart. If so, they take the resource and place it in their cart (in the spot closest to their pawn). If not, they do nothing. If they land next to the robber, they lose the resource closest to the back of their cart and place it in any appropriate empty spot around the edge of the board.
When a players cart is full (containing one of each of the three resources: wood, brick, and wheat), they place one of their buildings into the center part of the board (in a spot with the right shape) and take out all of the resources from their cart and place them back around the edge of the board. Play continues until someone has built all of his or her buildings. Once this happens, that player tries to build one more building: City Hall. The first person to build City Hall wins. If multiple players can build City Hall on the same turn, they all win!
The components are top-notch: beautifully painted wooden buildings and figures, thick cardboard board, and clearly written / illustrated rules. Most German games for kids have great components, and this one is no exception.
The game play is simple and straightforward, which it has to be for kids this young, yet it does incorporate a minor decision-making / tactics element: where do you place your resources when you have to empty your cart? Kids quickly learn that placing them ahead of their cart (so that they can land on them again sooner) instead of behind their cart is usually best, though some kids will look at what others need to fill their carts and place the resources so that they are as far as possible from the players who need them.
The game play is perfect for my three year-old. It is fine for my five year-old, though I found she would start to get bored after a little while, so I added a house rule to spice things up a bit (which incidentally makes the game play a little more like Settlers): if you land on the robber on your turn (when you have rolled the die), instead of losing a resource you get to steal a resource from any other players cart! The resource must be the most rearward in the cart (similar to the regular robber rules) and it must be one that you can use (i.e., you do not already have it in your cart). If nobody has a resource you can use, nothing happens (we experimented with take any resource you like from the board instead of nothing happens, but we found that to be just little too powerful). If you land on the robber during someone elses turn, the normal rules apply (you lose a resource).
Obviously this makes the game meaner and thus probably only appropriate when playing with older children. We play with this rule even with our three year-old now, but he has immunity (you cant take one of his resources). Give it a try sometime and see what you think. Our kids enjoy stealing from mommy and daddy, and I like that it increases the player interaction and tactics just a little.
Overall, I think the game is fantastic! It is the perfect complexity level for young kids and it exercises basic game-playing skills (counting pips on the die, taking turns, etc.) as well as basic mathematics (counting, set collection) and matching (colors and shapes). The production level of the components is outstanding and the game is visually exciting, especially as the village develops in the center of the board. I recommend this game with no reservations: if you have kids in the 3-5 ish age range I think they will love it, and it is one of those rare games for that age group that is actually engaging enough for Mom, Dad, and older siblings to play along without grating their teeth. Mayfairs timing for releasing their version couldnt have been better: it makes an outstanding Christmas present!
One of the all time great games for introducing people to Eurogames has been Settlers of Catan. Love it or hate it, see it as the greatest game of all time or a highly overrated game, one cannot deny that the game has been one of the most influential games in the last ten years. Thousands have enjoyed it, and Ive met people whove played the game who Id least suspect. Its been a powerful game for me, using it as an introductory game. And even though its not my first choice, its been an excellent one. Now cross that with my goal to get my four-year old interested in gaming, and The Kids of Catan (Mayfair Games, 2003 - Klaus Teuber) looks like a superb choice. Here we are, matching what many call the most important game of the last years with a new crop of gamers - toddlers - how could it go wrong?
Well, in that respect the game succeeds. The game is almost entirely luck-based, but it provides an excellent counter to the roll-and-move genre, which has so heavily saturated the younger generations market. The components are absolutely gorgeous, and are certainly toddler-proof. The game itself is a simplified, simplified version of Settlers - but its an introduction to a great world of games! The high price tag notwithstanding, this game is a worthwhile addition to ones collection - but only if they have children, as there is no redeeming value for adults.
The game board actually fits in the box, with a wooden well holding the board, and a turn-table in place, so that the turn-table rotates smoothly atop of the board. Around the outside of the turntable, on the board, there are sixteen spaces, colored in three colors: red, green, and yellow. Into each of these is placed a resource: grain, brick, and wood - each into the appropriately matching colored space. One space, however, is black - and into that one a black pawn is placed (Erik). A pawn is placed in the appropriately colored spot on the turnstile, each followed by three slots where resources can be placed. Players then, in turn order (youngest player first, then clockwise), choose a building from a group of red-roofed buildings. Once all twelve buildings have been chosen, a final building - the City Hall - is placed aside. The turntable is turned so that each pawn is next to a resource, and the game is ready to go.
On a players turn, they roll a six-sided die (with numbers 1-3 on it, twice). The turntable is moved that many spaces in a clockwise direction. Each player places the resource in the space next to their pawn in one of the three slots behind their pawn (their cart). However, they can only do this if they do not already have one of that particular resource type in their cart. If a players pawn ends up next to Erik, they must lose one of their resources (the last in the cart). The lost resource can be put onto any empty space of that color.
Once a player collects one of each of the three resources, they may build one of their buildings. They replace the resources back onto matching colored spaces, and place one of their buildings in the appropriately matching square in the middle of the table. If the player has already built all of their buildings, they can build the City Hall in the same manner. Whichever player builds City Hall first wins (it is possible that two players could build it on the same turn.)
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Absolutely, incredibly beautiful. The game is fairly expensive, but the toy factor is huge. And when I say toy factor, the game can actually be used for toys, although I cringe at saying such things. The houses can form a little village for kids to play with, and I do allow my daughters to do such right before or after a game (while Im watching, of course - its anathema for me to lose a game piece.) The houses and pawns are all very large wooden pieces, brightly colored, and easy for small, chubby fingers to hold and use. The board itself is beautiful, and the way it fits into the plastic insert in the box is quite ingenious. When the game is near completion, and all the pretty little houses are in the middle of the game board surrounded by large, beautiful resource - it looks pretty fantastic. Such great bits certainly excite kids, and make this a fantastic gift for those with young children.
2.) Rules: The rules for the game were not hard to understand; in fact, a four page illustrated story preceded the four pages of full-colored rules. The story, which can be read to children, helps set up the theme of the game, and is interesting in its own right (to children, of course). Kids pick up on the rules quickly, and they especially enjoy how everybody plays, even when its someone elses turn.
3.) Strategy: There is almost none, except a very smidgen of strategy when placing resources back - and that is to make sure that they are close to you. Many variants could be added to the game, such as when landing on the robber, you can steal a resource from another player - or trading, etc. However, with the basic rules, the game leaves a bit to be desired - for those who are six or older. For younger tots, this game will provide all the strategy they need, and a nice intro to the German gaming world.
4.) Time, Players, and Fun Factor: This means that although the box says its for ages 4 +, we found that even two year old children could play the game, and that after the age of six, interest tapered off. Still, thats four years of life for a game, and one that plays in less than half an hour. Very young children will have a blast playing the game, although older children and adults will find it incredibly dull. But, as a parent, I enjoyed playing it with my daughter because she was so enamored with the pieces.
If you dont have very young children, dont buy this game, its not worth your time. But if you do, then this is an excellent choice. If only American games made their children games with such excellent components - and had a ladder of games that the child could advance along with, such as the Catan family, then we might see some more quality games in the stores here. As it stands now, however, we must sadly wait for that day, and play Kids of Catan some more. (Until my daughter turns five - at which time Carcassonne hits the table - Settlers at six, etc., etc.)
This games is for REALLY YOUNG kids!! It could almost be a first game as there is not strategy to the game, the dice only has the numbers 1-3 on it and everyone gets to go everytime. One of the big problems with playing it with young kids is that the pieces continually get knocked over by little happy hands.
You could change it up a little bit by having the ability to move the board either direction and using a dice that actually has 1-6 on it, but I doubt that would help the game play itself. This game is good for teaching the need to get certain resources (as a super baby step to actually playing Settlers of Catan).
My 4 year old was done with it before we even got to city hall and we were letting hr role everytime since it doesn't really matter who rolls because everyone goes everytime.
It most redeeming quality is that it had the Settlers of Catan name.
We much prefer The Kids of Carcassonne for easy of play plus a little stragey if you want. My daughter and all her friends beg to play that game when they come over.