Catan Card Game
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In the Catan Card Game Players compete to become the master of medieval Catan, by settling new lands, acquiring resources, expanding settlements and cities, recruiting nights, and defending territory.
Well, the first thing to be said about the Settlers Card Game is that it's not "Settler's Lite"... this is still a big game that will easily take an hour and possibly 2 to play.
One good thing about the card game is that it pretty much allows focusing on specific and essential elements of the board game. I mean, how important is the board in settlers? Sure it's an element, but almost peripheral as far as I'm concerned: Settlers is about resources and infrastructure, and the "geographic" element was never that strong. Settlers Card game focuses on the essentials and amplifies on them.
Another big plus is the EXCELLENT card art, easily surpassing anything I've seen so far. Even the roads link up with matching spaces in the city and settlement cards. It's excellent.
One weakness that tempted me to give it a 4 may go away with experienced players. Basically, it's possible for one player to get a certain set of cards and resources that can allow that player to dominate the game.
In the end, it is surprising that such a big and epic game comes out of such a small box.
I came across my copy a few years ago, largely by accident, but have never looked back or regretted a single penny that I spent on it.
I'd walked into my local wargames shop, and asked what sorts of games they had for two players that had plenty of strategy, but that wouldn't take too long to play. I was shown SoC the card game. It intrigued me, and the chap who owned the store commented how much he'd enjoyed it himself.
I was sold!
Looking around the 'net to see if anything new had been done with the franchise is how I found this site and it's reviews, and thought I might share my thoughts on it.
Firstly, 'The Settlers of Catan' card game is not really comparable to the board game. This might seem obvious, but reading some of the reviews here it is clear that many people thought it would be and were thus disappointed.
This doesn't mean that it doesn't play well, that it lacks strategy or that it feels as if the game and its namesake are unconnected. Quite the reverse in fact; it is an excellent game in its own right, whilst keeping the 'feel' of the original.
The rules are deceptively straightforward, and actually allow a lot of freedom for players to negotiate with each other or fight a war or anything else in their bid for domination. It is quite possible to recover from a bad start with a bit of luck, and there are many cards and events that can be used to further your cause, or protect you from certain events in future.
There are several main strategies to winning, and several subtle variations of each. Broadly speaking these are:
The nature of the game is such that any player who relies soley on one strategy throughout the game can be beaten. The key is to use the flexibility of the rules and the game to your advantage.
It is a testament to this game's broad appeal that I've not only convinced people who dislike boardgames to play, but that said people often ask me for a game of SoC!
As for the product itself, it is well turned out. The cards are attractive, and the tokens are embossed lacquered wood. There is a comprehensive rulebook, complete with a full illustrations and an almanac of all the cards in the game.
I've scored The Settlers of Catan card game a 5. I feel that more could have been made of the military features, and that cultural points could have been added in addition to the existing commercial and military ones. Despite this, I've yet to play a more engaging two-player game (and believe me, I've played a lot!)
This is one of my favorite two-player games. It's fun to try to beat your opponent in building up your kingdom faster. A measure of luck and randomness keeps you on your toes.
The game designer has successfully created an interesting and fun variation of Settlers. It has some of the flavor of the board game, but it's also a great game in its own right. We have so much fun building up our kingdoms, that whenever someone reaches 12 points we are always disappointed that the game is over already. Maybe we'll start playing to 14 or 16 points.
It's even better with the expansion cards, which add a little more interesting complexity. My wife and I took out some of the original cards and mixed in many of the new cards, to add more variety. (This is not actually allowed in the rules, but we like it this way.) So we play a less confrontational version of the game, with most of the 'attacking' cards removed, where you steal a resource or destroy a building (my wife's idea). It's still fun, and it allows you to focus on building up your own kingdom faster than your opponent. We left in the 'disaster' type cards, so there are still plenty of risks and setbacks to add to the challenge.
I can only assume that many of the people who have given this game low ratings were expecting a two player version that was exactly like the Settlers of Catan board game, and thus were disappointed. That's too bad. This is a card game and it's for two players only, so obviously it's not going to be the same as the 3-4 player board game. (If you want a two-player board version, check out Settlers of Zarahemla.)
Accusations of this being merely two-player solitaire are not fair. You can trade with your opponent, and you will also interact and compete in other ways. It's true there is probably less interaction than in the board version, but a lot of that is due again to the fact that there are only two of you playing.
I give this game top marks and highly recommend it to everyone who is looking for a great two-player game.