I’ve played Settlers of Catan thrice now. And thrice has it been settled by someone else. Alas, it was not meant to be. Maybe Middle Earth needs my help? Settlers of Catan somehow manages to be refreshingly new and exciting each time I play; perhaps due to playing with new people, or maybe because the game relies much more on strategy than luck. The resource-gathering aspect of rolling the die ensures that each player has something to do even when it is not their turn, and the bartering of resources encourages interaction and often hilarious conversation with the other players.
Since Settlers of Catan has such a simple concept, and yet so much depth and strategy, the game feels almost as if it should be considered a collaborative endeavor. For instance, any time a seven was rolled, the robber was immediately placed on Shep’s brick factory. Despite everyone essentially working towards their own goals, it was simply understood that Shep should not–and would not–control the brick industry. This of course ended in disaster as Rachel, who ironically enough also happened to be the banker, turned into an emporium for every resource on the board and bought her way to victory.
Settlers of Catan is the kind of game that can be enjoyed by anyone. Despite my losing streak, I nevertheless find myself wanting to play more; surely, this is the sign of an excellent game concept. A competitive game that includes elements of collaboration adds a layer of depth that is impossible to find in any solely collaborative, competitive, or co-operative game. To succeed in a game like Settlers of Catan is to understand the human psyche, to know that Shep is always up to no good, and to weigh the benefits of any action before it is made.