This game is a shit load of fun, easy to pick up for beginners and no two games play out the same. Not to sound cliche, but it really is easy to learn but difficult to master because you rely on other players to trade and win the game, so there is a large social aspect to the strategy.
Players assume the roles of settlers, each attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow; the first to reach a set number of points is the winner. At no point in the game is any player eliminated.
A brief rundown of the game:
Basically tiles (the hexagons) get randomly put on a board then numbers get randomly assigned to them. Each player starts by placing two settlements (the little single story houses) on a corner of some of them. Then each turn two dice are rolled and if your settlement is on the border of the tile the number is up, you get that resource. If you have two settlements there, you'd get two.
The resources available are Wood, Brick, Sheep, Wheat and Ore and you will need to use every one throughout some stage of the game. With the resources you can build things such as:
- Roads to expand your reach
- Settlements to get more tiles coming in each dice roll
- Cities to upgrade a Settlement (you get 2 resources instead of 1)
- Development Cards that are a random advantage in some form
There is also a Robber who screws you out of 1/2 your resource cards if you're hoarding if you roll a 7, then you move him to an adjacent tile. When he sits on a tile and that tile yields no resources if that number is rolled. On top of that the thief steals one random resource from a player who is on the tile he's sitting on.
There's also development cards that do random things like steal resources from a player or move the Robber, and also some achievements like Longest Road that you get when progressing through the game.
The goal of the game is to get to 10 Victory Points. These are usually made up of your Settlements (1VP), Cities (2VP), achievements like Longest Road (2VP) and random VP's from Development Cards. As soon as you reach 10VP you win the game.
A photo of our game last night.
The beauty of the game is that it is different every game due to the random starting positions of all the different resources, how you pick where your first settlements start, who you're playing with and many other factors.
If you're getting a shit load of wheat, you can trade someone else for whatever you need. This is where the social aspect comes in, you need to know what people want and how desperate they are to get you ahead in the game. You can only trade when it's your turn, or you're trading with someone whose turn it is.
You don't want to trade with anyone who has almost won, you don't want to hold onto your cards in case a Robber is rolled, you want to keep trading lines open with people who have lots of resource you don't want, you don't want to cut off the road of someone you trade with lots, and so on.
Last night we had 8 people, playing with 4 teams of two. Two people had never played before but were loving it at the end. The game was one of the longest we've played, but still only went on for about two hours - though we were slinging shit at each other and mixing a new drink throughout so it never dragged on.
If you see it at a shop, pick it up.
If you see it at a mates place, have a game!