The Settlers of Catan

settlersbox.jpeg If you asked people in the street to name three new books, films, TV shows or music they’ve enjoyed in the past 20 years, you’ll soon have hundreds of different answers. Ask them to name three boardgames, and you will likely only hear “Monopoly, Scrabble & Cluedo” (aka Clue)*. Not an exaggeration, most people have no idea how far boardgame design has progressed recently. Modern boardgames compare to Monopoly like a BMW compares to a Model T Ford. It’s that different.   I was shown Settlers Of Catan in 1996, just after it was first published and it changed my life**. The epitome of modern German game design, Settlers is totally engaging. You have to think, make decisions, barter, trade and influence the other players. You don’t attack people, but you can block them. You don’t get eliminated and the game takes about two hours tops. Settlers does use dice, but you win by being smart, not lucky. The ‘board’ is modular, large hex tiles, so every game is different and fresh.
Settlers setup.jpeg Settlers Of Catan won the Spieles des Jahres (SdJ) in 1995, the highly prestigious jury prize, and has gone on to sell millions of copies with many expansions & variants. More importantly, the SdJ stimulates game designers and publishers to constantly strive for high quality, novel, easy and fun family games. Today, the market has expanded rapidly through Europe and now ‘eurogames’, as we call them, come from all around the world.   Should you buy a copy of Catan? Nope, not right away. I suggest you do some research on the game***, ask around, find one to play. Maybe you’ll love it, maybe not. You might prefer Carcassonne, or Ticket To Ride, Power Grid, Pandemic, Hey! That’s My Fish,Niagara or Manhattan. There are hundreds upon hundreds of fascinating, easy, quick games you’ve never heard of. But at least you’ll discover there is life after Monopoly. * combined age 107 + 72 + 66 = 245 years ** after 15 years, I have over 1700 modern boardgames *** I recommend you check out the previously reviewed Board Game Geek for more info. -- Jon Power The Settlers of Catan $33 Comment on this at Cool Tools. Or, submit a tool!


  1. Holy crap. I had to play this game like 1000x with my family this past holiday. Fun game, but I also got to witness my parents get in a shouting match for probably the first time in all my 36 years. It can get pretty competitive.

    1. Hells yeah the game can get competitive. My wife and I have decided it may be bad for our marriage. It’s the only time we ever shout at each other, and we’ll still be arguing about trades the next day.

  2. That’s a bang-on list of board games. I recommend Ricochet Robots, and Ingenious be added to that list.

  3. Yeah its great and all… but its a bit old? What happened to Smallworld? Or Carcassone? Or the old Cheap Ass Games line?

    1. I’ve played many fine products from Cheapass Games, but Last Night on Earth is our current favourite. However, it has opened some eyes to the possibilities, and a friend got Settlers of Catan for Christmas. Looking forward to it!

  4. Germans make the best board games.

    Best things about the game is that it’s not a grinder… you don’t grind your enemy to death like Monopoly, you race them to the finish, and the tide can change at any moment.

    1. Given the tone of this post — tired of Monopoly? Here is another game with a bit more complexity and entertainment value! [pp.] — I’m not sure Arkham Horror (which is the game I assume you refer to) is a good recommendation. Arkham is very complex for the average gamer and often soul-crushingly difficult in a way that might turn someone off completely.

      IMHO Carcassonne, which several other Boing-ers have mentioned, is an excellent companion recommendation. Relatively new board game players might also enjoy Acquire; I’ve introduced several non-gamers to that one with great success. They might also like Puerto Rico, which is just a bit more complex. The nice thing about all these aforementioned games is that they introduce gamers to new types of play, new mechanics, etc. Once you discover what you/they like, you can try similarly styled games.

      I am a big fan of Railroad Tycoon,Cosmic Encounter, and Agricola. Once you begin to explore all of the board game possibilities out there beyond Hasboro and Milton Bradley, you’ll find that board games can be very entertaining indeed.

      1. I agree that Arkham is unghodly difficult and has an unbelievable number of pieces BUT it is a teamwork game, and non-gamers who are friends with gamers find it very accessible, as there is basically no interpersonal conflict inherent to the game. It’s players v. the insidious clockwork machinations of the game.

        1. I suppose that my greatest reservation to introducing novice gamers to Arkham is its frenetic pace and the fact that each round has a fairly significant number of phases and modifiers; there is a lot to remember! But if a new gamer joins up with more experienced, patient gamers, I agree that it can be a lot of fun.

          Strangely, my group of gaming friends is moving backward in gaming time — we have just begun a D&D campaign, some of us for the very first time. It has been exciting!

          1. re: “just begun a D&D campaign”

            What version?

            Have you seen the re-release of the “red box”. Man – talk about a wave of nostalgia.

          2. Wheras I just spent my new years day playing Axis and Allies. I may have a thing for large numbers of small pieces.

  5. We’ve taught/trained converted close to 20 people now and everyone has a blast. Catan has to be our favorite off-the-shelf game!

  6. Totally agree – Settlers is brilliant, although we hardly ever play basic settlers now; the Cities and Knights expansion pack adds such an amazing level of variation to game-play that going back to basic Settlers just seems to simple.

    Another brilliant game to add to the list (just discovered over Christmas) is Dominion – lots of fun, variation, and fairly quick games.

  7. I’d also add Puerto Rico and Alhambra to the list. Tichu is a great card game (thought few things can beat Fluxx).

  8. As far as not-well-know games for kids (recommended 6+ but my four year old loves it and plays it well), I highly recommend the card game Rat-A-Tat-Cat from Gamewright. Quick games, and lots of replay value. We’ve played this one for hours.

  9. Board Game Geek is a wonderful resource for games, but it’s probably the most spartan, poorly designed website I’ve ever seen. Do not be alarmed or intimidated! Persevere through the clutter and you’ll find a ton of excellent games, reviews from people who have played the various games more than once, and links to similar (and/or possibly better) games you may enjoy.

    BBers should also note the (relatively) recent crop of cooperative games like Pandemic, which I thoroughly enjoy.

    I can further recommend Seg says:

    I love Settlers! It’s a great social game as it requires you to interact with the other players in order to succeed. Thus you’re more engaged with the players and have to show your strategy a bit.

    While not exactly a board game (it’s a dice game), Zombie Dice is a great game. It’s very easy to learn and is a great social game. The basic premis is that you roll dice to collect as many brains as possible, avoiding a total of three shotguns dice. After each roll you decide if you want to bank your brains or keep rolling. Simple and very entertaining!

  10. If you are into board games or if you would like to get to know more of them and try them out you have to go to

    There are plenty of great boardgames to play online. Although the main language is German, there is also a big and growing english-speaking community (and you can navigate in English). The site is non-commercial (just geeks). You will find plenty of willing people there to explain new games to you and they add new games as they come out. And it is all free! Oh, and it all started with the Settlers of Catan many years ago.

    Any Puerto Rico fans out there by any chance?

  11. If you play board games, of course you should buy a copy of Catan right away. That’s like saying you should do more research before buying a little black dress, or “Kind of Blue”, or a Smith & Wesson .38. It’s basic and essential, and not the sort of thing you end up regretting, even after you move on to something more complex.

    1. What am I supposed to do with a gun? I live in Sweden, getting one isn’t difficult but I mean it would be costly on the blöack market and I mean its not like I can carry it with me or use it for something relevant. Wouldn’t a good hunters rifle be better? Something you can actually use? But beyond that, I agree, Settlers should be in every home.

  12. i have played this game a zillion times in my youth and i enjoyed it every time even though i lost most of the time.
    @ Wingo: i refused playing it with couples after a few of such shouting matches. either that or they will trade each other cities for sheep.
    I dont know about the american version but i do not care for the new plastic design of cities and settlements (it used to be more simplistic and in wood).

    great suggestion for a gift is to make your own set of pieces for birthday, in different themes (eskimo iglu cities, starwars theme, you name it!).

    maybe people here can share some personal rule changes?
    me for example:
    – i like to play up to 12 points instead of just ten
    – we replaced the robber with a jabba the hut figurine and called him the rapist (well, we were 15yo boys)
    – modified “friendly robber” rule (roll again instead of the robber until everybody has at least 3 points)

    PS: just introduced it to my parents on christmas. excellent idea!

  13. Carcassonne is one of my favorites and there are enough expansions to it that it’s effectively mind boggling just how many avenues of strategy there are.

  14. This game is so addictive. It is a great example of really smart, well thought out design. The reconfigurable hex tiles are a stroke of genius. It means you never play the same game twice. I absolutely love it.

  15. Luck CAN make a huge difference in Settlers of Catan – mostly because the dice rolls can be very important.

    Traditionally the best way to manage this is with a dice deck – a deck of 36 cards, one for each possible combination of dice rolls. (With 2d6)

    If you never reshuffle the deck until using them all you have perfectly distributed dice results, but personally I recommend shuffling after a certain point – half the deck, or after 5-10 cards etc..

    It’s just nice to be able to manage the random element sometimes – you should be able to pick up a dice deck for less than $5, or just make one yourself with a sharpie and old deck of playing cards.

    Settlers of Catan is not a game in particular need of it, because it has some design elements to mitigate the randomness – the resource trading at the docks for example helps when you keep getting the same roll over and over.

  16. Settlers of Catan is an absolutely wonderful introduction to board games in the German manner. Many of my friends and I that got into playing lots of board game started with Settlers.

    The game breaks down a little bit once the average skill level of the players increases. Players begin to make wiser opening moves that give them access to all of the resources that they need, which makes trading disadvantageous. The selection of the first two settlement locations for each player end up deciding how 80% of the game will play out.

    I would absolutely recommend picking up this game to anyone interested in playing more complex board games. Most of the groups I play with have moved on to other games, but this game is a great introduction to modern games.

  17. This is the game that got me into conflict/strategy board games, but I have a couple other suggestions:

    – Eurorails/Empire Builder: train-building games set in Europe and USA, respectively. Think Ticket to Ride on steroids.
    – Agricola: This is my new favorite, easily matching the Cities and Knights expansion for Catan in terms of complexity. You have to build a farm and feed your family, trying to get the most victory points in a set number of turns with limited resources. It is maddeningly addictive!

  18. The math related to the age of the listed games has left me scratching my head. All three date back to the 1930s at the latest (Cluedo to the late 1940s); not one of them dates back to 1903-04 (making it “107 years old”).

  19. Settlers is certainly a better game than Monopoly… but I think I was sick of it after a 3rd or 4th play. I’ve played it many unenjoyable times since then. Problems:

    – You make a fairly limited number of interesting/non-obvious decisions throughout the course of a fairly long game.
    – The decisions made at the very beginning (your first settlements) are way too important. Usually at least one person in the group is unpredictable and will inadvertently screw someone over completely. Oh good, it’s 45 seconds in and I can’t win in any straightforward way because I have nowhere to expand.
    – It doesn’t matter if 8 is rolled an even number of times as 6 (or is guaranteed to do so because you’re using “dice cards”). What matters is what’s rolled that one turn you’re both waiting for a brick. If someone makes that road first to the place you both want to go, then it doesn’t balance that out that you get two bricks later. There’s all sorts of thresholds in the game that magnify probability in random/un-fun ways.
    – Even with reasonable players, the game has a tremendous amount of “rubber banding” where nobody can get too far ahead because of collusion among the other players (in thievery, trading, and expansion). Purposefully doing poorly so as to not get branded as “the guy in the lead” makes for a stupid game. And since nobody gets really ahead, the winner is often whoever gets lucky on the last few turns, or who ends up being able to hide how they’re doing best. FUN!
    – Playing seriously requires boring things like trying to remember how many of each resource each person has (to optimize thievery and “monopoly” cards). Screw that. Combining Candyland and Memory doesn’t make for a fun game.

    Honestly, I recommend staying away from Settlers. I think it gives people the wrong idea about what “serious” board games are like. Play Carcasonne instead. It’s a luckfest, but at least it isn’t masquerading as something else.

    1. “- Playing seriously requires boring things like trying to remember how many of each resource each person has (to optimize thievery and “monopoly” cards). Screw that. Combining Candyland and Memory doesn’t make for a fun game.”

      Is this really an issue? If you’re playing with all power gamers then perhaps, but most people play games to be social and as a diversion. The issues you bring up aren’t really a barrier to playing or making it enjoyable–or a gateway to newer, more complex games than Monopoly.

  20. Here’s a few that really stand out for me:

    ‘Robo-Rally’ is classic for the programmer in everyone (always entertaining watching a room full of adults rotating their hands and heads around trying to figure out their next move).

    ‘Agricola’ is almost ubiquitous as the ‘top’ modern boardgame, a farm/family building game – though it can be fairly hard and takes some serious thought… you start off thinking it’s easy and by halfway through you realize your kids are going to starve at the end of the next season.

    I also recommend ‘Dominion’ – a great strategy cardgame/world-building game that’s very high speed and, depending on the deck, can be a solitaire or competitive game.

    Another vote goes out for ‘Pandemic’ – the coop aspect is great, and it can be very hard to win (there is an expansion where someone plays a hidden terrorist who triggers outbreaks :) )

    Finally, the eternal classic ‘Risk’ is infinitely playable (the 2210AD version with mechs and moonbases is brilliant).

  21. We built this city, we built this city, we built this city of ore, and grain…

    I’d pick Ticket To Ride over Catan as an introduction to the eurogames, though. No dice, great theme, and it just works brilliantly. No fights over MY DAMNED LUMBER HEX NEVER COMING UP.

  22. Settlers is indeed fun – you can play a free version of it online here: (called xplorers for copyright reasons) The same site has a online Carcassonne (called Toulouse) and a couple others.

    And Monopoly… worst boardgame ever. You know who’s going to win within the first 10% of the game, and it’s almost impossible for there to be a sudden reversal.

  23. I second Pandemic (Video Review, Ticket to Ride (Video Review) and Carcassonne.

    Some other current favorites from my family:

    Zooloretto – Video Review

    Formula D – Video Review

    Cosmic Encounter – Video Review

    Forbidden Island – Video Review

    Vineta – Board Game Geek Page

    Top Secret Spies – Board Game Geek Page

    San Juan – Video Review

    Dominion – Video Review

    Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age – Video Review

    Zombies!!! – Video Review

    Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers – Video Review

  24. There are indeed various “issues” with Settlers, but that doesn’t stop it from being an amazing piece of design that opened the door for 15 years of continuous innovation and delight in board game design. Over 600 new games were launched at the Essen games fair last October (including mine ;) ) and I believe that the BoardGameGeek lists almost 50,000 different titles now. And sure, there are many games that are “better” than Settlers, but that’s like saying that there are many films better than Laurel & Hardy…

    For me, the most interesting aspect of recent developments has been the gradual realisation that board and video games can not only co-exist happily, but also each do things that the other can’t, and are learning from each other as they go.

  25. For Settlers fans who like the bartering component of the game a lot, I highly recommend Bohnanza, a card game in which you are a bean farmer try to buy sell and trade your way into bean farming wealth. It’s a great in between game for gaming nights as a game runs less than an hour and it’s very social.
    I also strongly second recommendations for Ingenious, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride (although I personally prefer a game called Eurorails for train games as you get to draw your train routes with dry erase markers and I like dry erase markers, but Eurorails is quite slow).
    Thanks for the game geek post!

  26. The best thing about Settlers is it’s a gateway to more complex stuff out there if epic levels of board-game-related nerdiness are your thing.

    We figured out maximal play styles for Settlers of Catan awhile back, and now my board game group is heavy into Twilight Imperium. It’s the logical next step from Settlers of Catan. To laypersons I describe it as Space Risk on crack. It’s a hex layout like Settlers in that it’s different everytime, with added elements of exploration, politics, and fleet management.

    The main and major drawback is that it takes six to eight hours to complete a game. (If all players are veterans, you can finish an epic game in six hours; if half or more of the players are playing for the first time, don’t expect to finish in under eight.)

    But oh em gee, is it ever fun.

    1. Wow! You clearly have a different concept of “next logical step” to me.
      I have developed a general theory about teaching games to people, which is that you can introduce one or at most two “new” concepts to people at once without them screaming and running away. The trick is to find the right way to slide people along the path.

      So, for instance, one of the reasons Ticket to Ride is a brilliant “gateway” game is that the central card mechanism is Rummy – which pretty much everyone already knows. So that part of it doesn’t seem intimidating and all you have to do is to explain that set melding relates to routes on the map.

      Another example is For Sale, which is a beautifully simple “pure” auction game with one mechanism in it that plays in 20 minutes. And after that you can go on to games with auctions as part of them knowing that the auction bit won’t feel at all scary.

      Leaping from Settlers to Twilight Imperium though?! Whilst I don’t disagree that it is on the same road, it does feel as though it’s more than just a single step. Unless you have already embraced the dark side of Gamer Geekdom, I suppose…

  27. Add “Ave Ceaser” to the list of boardgames worth playing, as well as “Escape from Atlantis” – the latter being often found in ordinary toy shops.

    Both have that ideal boardgame tenet of being able to make moves specifically to screw over your fellow players. No boardgame is complete without!

    Likewise “Metro”.

    Quite like The House on the Hill, too, but you really need some horror-fans to play with in order to really enjoy the genre traditions that the game delivers.

  28. Ok, Everyone. Stop what you are doing now, and get Battlestar Galactica: The board game. NOW.

    I’ve played all those games, and this one is by far, the best. a 4 hour game flies by like it lasted 30 min, the role playing and differents strategies you can use to play this game are infinite.

    If you like a challenging, fun and engaging game, TRY BATTLESTAR GALACTICA NOW

  29. Heartily second Cosmic Encounter, Settlers, Pandemic, Twilight Imperium (for heavy gamers only)… oh, hell, everything mentioned so far.

    And add Dominion (current, and possibly permanent, favourite card game) and, for cooperation under pressure and sheer adrenaline rush, Space Alert (a game I once described as ‘trying to play Roborally while someone sets your house on fire’).

    I love everybody in this thread.

  30. While in Toronto try out “Snakes & Lattes”: a nice little cafe with 1,500 board games for you to try before you buy!

  31. This is what happens when you grow up and get ‘normal’ friends. No one to play with. I have just about convinced one group of people to try Settlers. I haven’t gotten to play it yet, but it looks fantastic. Its mainstream success is an testament to its broad appeal.

    If this fails my 4 yr old is at least a grade and 1/2 level ahead of her age and she loves games. She is already bugging me to play that “Knights and Dragons” game I told her about.

  32. Settlers is okay, but if you’re terrible at strategery, then it kinda sucks. I prefer Scotland Yard, Sorry, Gold Rush or the Amazing Labyrinth.

  33. Being German and a boardgame geek, I second Twilight Imperium as the pinnacle of strategy board games.

    Longest game was 13 hours or so.

    Honorable mentions in the top-notch strategy game category:

    Game of Thrones and the Starcraft Boardgame with the Broodwar expansion.

  34. If you like the trading aspect, do try out Bohnanza. The Wikipedia article has a thorough description (which may sound a bit boring on a first view, though). The game is highly communicative, as negotiating good deals with other players is crucial. (Sadly, many puns in the naming of bean types do not translate well or not at all.)

  35. Another vote for Dominion here. It’s not much to look at, but by the end of my first game I was almost delirious with how good it was.

    Not mentioned yet: Cutthroat Caverns and Drakon, two simple yet thoroughly entertaining games, each a variation on the “adventuring party must escape the dungeon” theme, both with lots of neat stab-your-friends-in-the-back action.

  36. Wow. I hadn’t realized just how long ago I fell off the boardgame turnip truck. Other than Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, and a couple of the fusty old relics mentioned in passing like Sorry and Candyland, I’ve never played, seen, or heard of any of the games mentioned in this thread. At all.

    I think Risk might be the newest board game I’ve played. Nope, I tell a lie: it was probably Mouse Trap.

    You mean there have been further advances in boardgames in the last forty-seven years?

  37. Catan was the gateway game that brought about an awareness of the broader board game universe. Shortly after playing it I was on, and soon purchased Agricola. After that, it was difficult to go back to Settlers, as it is very luck dependent, with chance mattering much more over the beginning of the game. I would recommend the game to those who don’t know much beyond your standard monopoly-esqu games, but games like Stone Age and Dominion are also pretty easy to pick up and play, and I think they offer a better package. Some people really love the player interaction, and they might prefer Settlers for this. For many others, however, the strategy is the thing, and there are much better games out there (Puerto Rico, Agricola, Through the Ages). In any case, try one of them out; board games are too much fun to miss out on.

  38. I’m another one for the Rail Games- and not just Europe and North America- the versions for India, Australia, and a fantasy land (Iron Dragon) are also quite good. We’re definitely going to get Russian Rails soon.

    In my (college-age) circle, Apples to Apples and Scattergories are always a big hit. Recently we’ve taken to Shakespeare: the Bard Game, which is especially effective if you play with some actors or other theatre enthusiasts.

    On a similar note, there’s also Catchpenny, the game of 18th century street peddling! The money is confusing at first, but going to “Debtor’s Prison” is way cooler than the Monopoly Jail.

  39. If you like the tile matching mechanic of Carcassonne you should definitely give Drakon a try. It’s not as deep as Carc, but still loads of fun.

    Ticket to Ride is fun, but TransAmerica is a good gateway game to the railbuilding genre too. Very easy to learn and quick to play.

    Somebody needs to mention Bang! It’s a Wild West themed card game best without 5-7 players. It’s a game where everyone plays a character who works on one side or the other of the law (cept the renegade, he has his own goal), but only one person’s role is known at the start of the game (the Sheriff). Everybody has to watch their fellow players’ actions to figure out who are lawmen and who are outlaws.

    Saboteur crosses the traitor finding/tile matching mechanics up to model dwarves trying to get to a vein of gold. But if the traitors in the group foil their efforts, they get the prize instead.

    At about the same level of strategy as Settlers is Citadels. You’re trying to build a city worth the most points by choosing from a pool of roles that give you special powers. The order of choice is determined by where you sit relative to the king. Don’t like the choices you’re getting? Make yourself the king and you’ll get first pick next round.

    The “simplest game that yields the most hatred” award would go to Coloretto. All you’re doing is turning over cards and then adding them to one of a few rows, eventually picking a row. Good luck getting a row that somebody else hasn’t sullied with a card you didn’t want.

  40. Personally, I find Settlers much nicer to look at, and less exhausting than Carcasonne, although I enjoy both. My latest favorite hasn’t been mentioned yet, and is not a “board” game per se, but more of a tabletop card game. It is called Killer Bunnies. It’s an especially good game if you are seeking a new challenging party game, as it is pretty complex (More so than both of the previously mentioned games). But, take note that it’s not great for people with poor eyesight cause it has small text.

  41. There doesn’t happen to be anyone involved in the game industry reading this thread? I have an idea for a game and started prototyping, but I have no idea how to get it published, other than to make samples and get them to the publishers.

  42. Actually I heard about this game last summer on Reddit and purchased it for my kids and dutifully learned the rules so I could teach everyone else and we got together as a family and played ONCE. My kids would rather play Age of Mythology than Settlers of Catan.

  43. Catan!! No other game has me (and husband) up at 2am, totally exhausted and bleary-eyed yet insisting on another round!

  44. My gf and I played in a Catan tournament at a local boardgame convention. The winner got a trip to Indianapolis to play in the national tournament. It was pretty epic.

  45. Carcassone. Get this one. Its very casual and actually works pretty well with just two people, unlike other games.

  46. Settlers is a modern classic. Although I do love Puerto Rico, and I’ve heard great things about Agricola.0

  47. My kid and her buddies spent many a winter day (and I mean all day) playing Killer Bunnies. Great game. A combo of cards, dice, luck, skill and all out crazy. A little silly, some weirdness, totally customizable and has expansion packs.

    I heard nothing but loud laughing and mild threats when the gang is consumed by a giant round of Killer Bunnies. Good for about 10 and up.

  48. The original version of Arkham Horror is quite a lot simpler; the current version is a bit complex, and has a very badly organized rule book (one section, midway through the booklet, is called “other details” and one near the back is called “miscellany”).

  49. I read about settlers a few months ago (maybe a year ago) in wired and bought a copy for our little family. My 35 year old wife won the first two games, then our 7 year old son won a couple. Finally, me at 47 (and supposedly the nerdy/geeky/smart one) finally got to win one!
    Settlers seems to have just the right amount of luck vs. skill so anyone of any skill level has a chance to win. The rules seem a little complicated for a second grader at first but it amazed me how quickly our son got the hang of it. Perfect for casual gamers like ourselves.

  50. I cannot believe it took until comment #37 for someone to mention Cosmic Encounter! It originally came out in 1977 and went through ten expansions, then was reprinted by four different publishers. The current Fantasy Flight edition is lovely.

    1. You just need to be careful which version of the game you purchase. Some are much better than others. I agree that the newest Fantasy Flight edition is great!

    2. I can’t believe it took 37 comments before anyone mentioned Zombies!! I’ll give my shout-out to Ninja Burger.

      I’ve only played board games out at a bar/pub, so I have a great apreciation for any game that can be easily learned while drunk.

  51. Gah! I am so sick of everyone I know wanting to play this game all the time. Of course, I always lose…

    Nobody ever wants to play Blokus with me. :(

  52. Another vote for the Empire Builder series of Rails games (Empire Builder, Euro Rails, Lunar and Martian Rails, etc).

    The simple game mechanic of drawing a rail network in crayon is different from any other brick-and-mortar game I’ve ever seen. The simple mechanics lead to really interesting situations.

    To make it more “interesting” (read competitive [read possibly violent]) I enjoy a variant with communal delivery cards, creating a lot more interaction between players rather than simultaneous but independent races.

  53. where to start with the list of games to recommend!? In no particular order:

    * Catan ^^
    * Carcassonne
    * Carcassonne the City
    * Formula De (the original French version with F1GP not “drift”)
    * Dominion (Card / deck builder)
    * Stone Age
    * Puerto Rico
    * Oregon
    * Agricola
    * Kill Dr Lucky (like Clue but in reverse)
    * Last Night on Earth (zombies, with active brains)
    * Powergrid (who thought power stations were fun?)
    * Munchkin (funny, eveil card game)
    * B-Movie (very silly card game)
    * Ticket to Ride

    captcha = deutsche pubbed – fitting really!
    * Battlestar

  54. I was recently introduced to Dominion offline and then discovered which has an interesting history: “As a result of the site’s popularity, some board game publishers have presented new board games on BrettspielWelt before they are first published.”

    Although parts of the site and client are in German these pages helped me get started with Dominion:

    They also have Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan among other games.

    Be aware that many people on BSW play Dominion *fast*–I got used to seeing a lot of “schnell” when first playing. :)

  55. Settlers is really great the first couple of times you play it, especially if the only board games you’ve ever played are pre-1970 American warhorses like Monopoly and Risk or the take-that card games (Munchkin, Fluxx, Killer Bunnies, most anything with zombies) that some groups gravitate towards.

    But it’s badly flawed. The dice-rolling mechanism used for production in this game worked properly in its original design. But the original design, which included what is now the Seafarers of Catan expansion, was a longer game than Kosmos wanted to publish, and they had Klaus Teuber cut out those pieces of the game.

    With two results: first, there aren’t enough dice rolls over the course of the shortened game, making game-killing abnormal distributions much more likely than they are in the full game. About one game in four, a player will set up in a more or less correct position and be unable to get the resources needed to build roads and the vital third settlement until far too late in the game. It’s pretty frustrating to be that guy: you didn’t do anything wrong, and you could play the game as well as it can be played and still come in last place.

    The other result is less annoying, but it’s another mark of the design not working quite right: wool is almost unnecessary, and so your hand fills up with sheep unless you’ve built to the 3:1 wool port.

    There are those who will respond to the first objective with the argument that luck isn’t that big a factor, to which I can only say, play some more. Or, alternatively, look at the many, many follow-up Catan games Teuber has designed since Settlers, and note that every single one of them uses a randomization scheme with a tighter distribution of results than the original game.

  56. I really want to play Settlers on M$ Surface. It calculates resources automatically; my friends and I tend to miss a resource every few turns.

  57. Okay I admit it might be because I am German… but how is there anyone that hasn’t heard of the Settlers of Catan?
    This whole “different than your classic boardgames” shtick is just strange… Catan is about as classic as it gets.

    Monopoly might be a notch above it, sure, since it’s been around longer, but this whole thing is a bit like saying “sure you all know ER but have you heard of this amazing unconvential show Scrubs?”

  58. Such a great game!

    I really like
    Diplomacy and Euro Rails.
    I have fond memories of playing those in front of a fireplace tucked away in the backhills of a Colorado ski house many years ago.

    Diplomacy brings out the primal conquering nature of all involved. Quite fun, but you will never look at someone the same way after playing with them.

    Another great thinking game is Pente. Think hipster Checkers.

    Lastly, everyone knows Yahtzee, but there are a couple modified versions of it available on the net that really take it up a notch.
    My favorite is Maxi-Yahtzee which used 6 dice and has few more combinations that turn an ordinarily boring game in to a tacticians paradise. Some of the combinations require you to think before rolling which is refreshing when it comes to that game.

  59. Oh, come on people – best board game ever surely remains Avalon Hill’s classic version of Dune (with the Spice Harvest expansion set). Someone has to, please, re-release this…

  60. Speaking of re-releases, Stronghold Games is releasing a new version of Survive, which I love (despite having played it a whopping two times in my life: once at 10; once at 20). It looks really pretty, too.

    And I’d play Blokus with you, Anon.

  61. Actually that award is called “Spiel des Jahres” (no -es on Spiel), which means “game of the year” in German.

  62. I have to agree… those saying Settlers is the best game out there are just dipping their toes in the water… hop on over to and become lost in a sea of fantastic games… This year alone we’re going to see some AMAZING titles reaching our shores… London by Martin Wallace is fantastic!

  63. Favourites with us are Battlestar Galactica, Powergrid, Pandemic and a few others. Trouble is there are SO many games, and all seem so good. I want more time to try them all!

  64. is the authoritative source if you want to learn more. They also have a very active and large community of members who are more than happy to help new gamers out.

    Last November I went to the annual BGG CON in Dallas. It attracts gamers from all over the world. If you have any interest at all I would check out one or both if you can.

    I have played thousands of games of Catan, it is one of my favorite.

  65. Settlers is by no means the best game out there. It was pretty cool at the time, and definitely sparked boardgame craze going mainstream. We must have played it about a 1000 times in 1995 (and that’s no hyperbole!).

    There are a few quality games that are older (RoboRally, ASL), but they tend to be heavier, more specialist/geeky games, and none of those even show up in the Boardgamegeek top-20.

    The latest hit is definitely Dominion. You can learn the game in 5 minutes, yet the variety is almost infinite. Because the cards are different every game, you have to devise new strategies every time. It’s very deep, and yet also very easy. That’s a wonderful and rare combination in a game.

    Agricola is pretty high on my list too. It’s actually a pretty big and complex game, but you don’t really notice it because everything makes so much sense! A big hit in my family.

    Of course there are countless other games that are worthwhile to play. Carcassonne is great with kids but still fun for adults. Ticket to Ride and especially Trans-America are great lightweight railbuilding games. Power Grid is amazing, Arkham Horror definitely hits a sweet-spot in its genre, and even a seemingly heavy-weight geeky game like Chaos in the Old World is surprisingly easy, fast and balanced, due to modern game design insights.

    It’s impossible to list all the great games here. Go to Boardgamegeek’s game list and find out for yourself!

  66. I’m amazed nobody has mentioned ‘Lost Cities’ as an excellent 2 player, card based game. My spouse and I have been playing it for a year and still enjoy it.

    I also agree that Catan is good, but Cities and Knights of Catan is better.


  67. Arkham Horror’s my favorite. Yeah, it’s a little intimidating to learn, and it can be very difficult, but our group plays it on a weekly basis and we love it. The teamwork is great, there’s a lot of opportunity for storytelling and roleplaying if you’re into that, and we’ve actually managed to beat every Ancient One… now we’ve bought the first two expansions and are trying to beat them again, along with the new ones! Even when we lose, it’s usually a close call, and pretty exciting… rarely, it can be a soul-crushing, hopeless defeat where everything goes against the players despite their best efforts, but that’s what Lovecraftian deities are all about, right?

  68. If you live in Toronto you can try the game out at Snakes and Lattes. It’s a cozy cafe with about a zillion great board games — perfect for a small group of friends to meet. I hope the idea catches on and spreads.

    (For the record — I have no affiliation with S&L, just like the concept and live nearbye)

  69. Funny to read that as a german. I think I really couldn’t name a friend of mine who doesn’t know “Die Siedler von Catan”. As a matter of fact most people I know, own that game…

    I can also recommend Dominion, which won the SdJ 2009 and is an US game.

    (Imagine a german movie winning the Oscar for best movie… okay one could think we got best supporting actor last year, but Mr. Waltz actually is from Austria :D)

  70. settlers is a great game but i really love carcassonne. unfortunately no one i know can stand to play it with me and we always end up playing settlers where free trade amongst everyone causes me to lose every time. it’s like chess vs chutes and ladders; strategy vs chance. i can strategies farm placement till the cows come home but can’t compete against two players trading resources for 5 minutes then winning the game in 10.

    btw, don’t play carcassonne without ‘the river II’ and ‘cities and knights’. the rules don’t change too much but the game alters just enough to extend the play time. plus you get the big meeple and 5th player pieces with ‘cities and knights’.

  71. oops, i meant ‘inns and cathedrals’ not ‘cities and knights’.

    also, i just noticed that prices have gone down on a lot on these games since only a few months ago. you can also find catan at target stores.

  72. Best way to make Settlers interesting again after you’ve burnt out on it?

    Make it a drinking game.

    Roll a 7, take a shot.

  73. This is the one time when the BoingBoing comment thread for a Cool Tool is pure win, compared with the CT thread. I was annoyed at first when the ‘comment here’ link started to come back for CT posts, instead of forcing us to comment there (which made more sense, I thought), but leave it to BB’ers to know all the best games, and not just complain about whether this is a ‘tool’ or not!

    I’ve already put in an order for Carcassone at my local comic and game store. Can’t wait.

  74. Amazing game! Love it to bits!

    It’s one of those games that really gets to some people when they play it. They start getting cranky and swearing at each other. It’s pretty funny to watch. xD

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