The Settlers of Catan is a magical game that is beyond deceptive; while it only takes a few turns to learn the rules, it can take more than a lifetime to master the aspects of the game. First off, the game is ruthless. Unlike some other games which have controlled or no trading, anything goes in this game, which can lead to some powerful treachery that has not been seen since the days of Julius Caesar and Brutus.
The point of Catan (as it is called in short) is to acquire enough victory points to win, which, in most games, is ten. These victory points are achieved through multiple methods, ranging from building cities and settlements with resource cards to fulfilling tasks such as building the longest road or having the largest army. The more cities and settlements you possess, the higher probability that you will collect a resource, which you can, in turn, use to build more, which results in more victory points.
Where the cutthroat element enters the game is in the positioning of the settlements and the building of roads. Once a settlement or road is placed, it cannot be moved. Settlements are used to collect resources while roads must be used to connect future settlements to the original two. Since roads are significantly cheaper to produce than settlements, it is advantageous to make a network of roads to secure the position of a future settlement. Once the resources start flowing in, it is possible to upgrade each settlement to a city, which will collect resources at twice the original rate.
So how does Catan work? It begins by having each player place a couple of settlements on the intersection of three hexagonal tiles. After this, you place some roads adjacent to those settlements, which follow the intersections between two tiles. Each hexagonal piece has a numerical value associated with it. When that number is rolled, everybody who has a settlement or city bordering that hex gains resources. If a seven is rolled, the person who rolled the seven gets to move a ‘robber piece’ to a hex of their choice. If a settlement borders that space, the robber gets to steal a random resource from that settlement. The game continues in that fashion until someone gets to the ten victory point mark.
Beyond what is listed here are a few other rules, but those will come as the game progresses and are not difficult. Other than the occasional feuds and back-stabs, alright a little bit more frequent than occasional, the game is great and developed. There are more expansions to Catan that can bring out certain elements or make it an entirely different experience, but without a doubt, the original is best. Hopefully next time you are at a gathering and somebody brings out the familiar red box, those who have never played before will give it a try. It is highly recommended.