Settlers of Catan is a popular German breed of board game. It has a few simple and attractive concepts which somehow make it into an incredibly fun game. Incredible, as I can literally not quite credit just how it is so much fun.
The game has you collecting resources from the land you own, correspondent to the throw of the die. By spending these resources, you can essentially choose to claim more land, add value to the land you own, or progress your overall operation. Similarly to other games I’ve played (such as the Age of Mythology board game), you collect Victory Points by achieving things. Accumulating 10 of these, openly or secretly, results in a win for you.
Much like in Monopoly, trading is very open and player-defined, except for a few rules which streamline proceedings by making it impossible to tribute another player in an imbalanced fashion.
The roll of the die tends to benefit all players the same as long as they’ve spent their very first turn wisely. As a result, the game relies more on skill than on chance, and there is an overflow of things to be found within its mysterious depths; far too many strategies to comprehend on the first or second play. Players of Catan gain a web of understanding, and must gradually soak it in the game’s very ichor.
As there is only one moving board piece, the game can be played effectively on paper. This is something I am currently documenting, but a thorough reference to the Catan box contents has been posted on boardgamegeek by one droberts441.
Since this game has been called the board game of our time, you would do well to check it out if you’re not already a fan, it really is very good.