Friday, May 18, 2007

Settlers of Catan is the new Monopoly

Image from

It has been my personal quest to have the game Settlers of Catan replace Monopoly as the national default boardgame. JonMichael Ramsus of Flak magazine says that in some ways, it already has:
Has [Settlers] become the new Monopoly? In many ways, yes. It won the Game of the Year award in Germany, the vanguard of the modern boardgaming world. It has released not less than 25 expansions, rethemings and sequels, all of which significantly change gameplay and offer varied degrees of difficulty. Settlers has sold (and continues to sell) millions of copies in Europe and the United States and thousands of game are played daily on Internet gaming sites and, now, on Xbox Live Arcade, for those who believe "putting away the game" should involve hitting an off switch. Heck, there's even a junior edition called the Kids of Catan — it's gotta be better than Chutes and Ladders. You may think, "If there was a game that was on its way to being regarded as the next Monopoly, I would have heard about it." Well, you just did.
Here are the ways in which I feel Settlers of Catan is superior to Monopoly:
  • Playing time is shorter for Settlers; games are usually over within 90 minutes.
  • Players are not eliminated from the game, whereas in Monopoly a player can be eliminated long before the game is over.
  • There are fewer "meaningless events" in Settlers; many game events in Monopoly (e.g. most "Chance" and "Community Chest" cards, landing on cheap properties, etc.) are completely trivial and have very little impact on the game.
  • Even when it is not your turn, there are numerous things you may get to do as a player: collect resources, trade, etc.
  • The board in Settlers can be reconfigured, giving each game a slightly different feel.
  • In Settlers, there are more ways for players to gang up on a player who is ahead of the others. This tends to create close, exciting games. Monopoly often reaches a tipping point where one player achieves a dominant position, but their inevitable victory still takes a tedious amount of time to play out.
  • In my experience, there are more interesting decisions to make in Settlers than in Monopoly, though that may be because it's been a long time since I've played Monopoly.


Blogger Sarah said...

What's not to love about a game where I get to ask you to trade me a sheep for a brick?

6:15 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Well, one drawback of Settlers is all the sheep jokes one must endure during the trading portion:

Player 1: I've got wood for your sheep.

Player 2: TMI! TMI!

Puns like that, along with the fact that to create a sailing unit (in the Seafarers expansion) requires one wood and one sheep, ensure that the table banter at a Settlers game always remains sophomoric.

6:39 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger Miguel said...

I played twice on my recent visit. (Great to see you guys!)

Like I said under that photo, I was very excited that the Settlers game led to some real life trading for me.

(According to the rulebook, those are "wool" cards, Zac - get your mind out of the gutter.)

8:39 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger John said...

My friends and I feel the same way about the Settlers of Catan. We were looking for a new way to spread the word about the game, so one day for fun we decided to go out with a video camera in New York and film ourselves trying to get people to trade real things for "Catan resources." We got enough footage in one day to turn it into a faux series.

You should check it out.

This is the trailer, but there are a couple other episodes posted as well.

11:53 PM, January 17, 2008  
Anonymous Samuel said...

Haha I love this game! I always horde the wheat and it always pulls me through to the finish and I'll win :)

I got it from my source to Buy Board Games for excellent prices.

6:29 AM, October 02, 2008  
OpenID jdm314 said... (annotation) (alt text)

11:50 PM, January 03, 2011  

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