Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Welcome to the Game Zombies' realm!

Game Review

The Settlers of Catan Card Game

Ages 10 and up
Game © 1998  Mayfair Games, Inc.
Date reviewed: 6/15/2004
game in play
Uncle's Games link

2 Players 45-90 minutes


Settle the Land of Catan -- establish settlements, roads and cities while competing for resources with your rival.


To set up, each player chooses a starting colored deck.  Players set out their initial two settlements (linked by a road) and the six region (aka resource) cards as per the rules. The arrangement is specified, but which resources are in which slot is up to the player.

There is a large deck of expansion cards.  These are separated into five stacks in the center of the table.  To begin,  each player chooses one stack of cards.  From these cards, they draw three starting cards for their hand. Then they replace the stack on the table.

On each player's turn, the player rolls the six sided die and the event die.  The rolled event takes place immediately.  Then each player collects the resource that matches the number on the six sided die. (Yes, both players collect the resources.)

Next, the player may do any of the following in any order:

  • Play one or more action cards (yellow cards)

  • Trade resources (with your opponent or the default 3-for-one trade)

  • Expand your principality (buy roads, settlements, cities, green or red cards)

At the end you your turn you replenish the cards in your hand.

The basics of play are fairly simple, to put a card into play, you need to have the correct combination of resources to purchase it.  Once purchased, your resources are gone and you need to produce more, or trade for different resources with your opponent.

When building your principality there are a few things to remember.  First, settlements may have at most one green card above and one green card below them.  If you upgrade your settlement to a city, then the city may have two cards (green or red) above and below. To add additional settlements, you need to have one road leaving a settlement before placing a new settlement.

There is a slight difference in road costs form the Settlers of Catan -- you need 1 lumber and 2 bricks in this version.

The yellow action cards have no resource cost to use them, but some have special abilities that can only be played under certain conditions.  The yellow action cards let you steal a resource from an opponent, destroy a green or red card of your opponent, attack one of your opponent's knights, or counter an action card played by an opponent.

There are a few principality additions that help the game progress, items like the abbey allow a player to hold more cards, and cards like mills and fleets double resource production for certain regions or allow better resource trades.

The Event die is the randomizer of the game -- there are 5 different events: 1) Tournament -- the player with the strongest knights gets an additional resource; 2) Commerce -- the player with the most commerce points can take a resource from their opponent; 3) Brigand attack -- if you control more than seven unprotected resources you lose all of your wool and ore resources; 4) Year of Plenty -- players get an additional resource of their choice; and 5) Event card - draw an event card...some are good, some are bad.

To get commerce points you need a city and a red card with a commerce symbol on it.

To win, you must be the first player to control 12 victory points.  Victory points are found on cards as a small flag symbol -- usually on red cards.  Settlements are one point and cities are two.  The player with the strongest knights gets one additional point, and the player with the most commerce points gets an additional point, too.

Cards closeup -- settlement  & resources

closeup of a city & road

Winning Conditions:

  • The player who acquires 12 victory points first, wins

other cards

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Down!If you have played The Settlers of Catan, then you understand the gist of this 2-player version.  However, if you are like us, the reason you enjoyed the original Settlers is one of the big reasons you won't like this card version.  The game tries to reduce the 3-4 player version down to a card game: in the original game, players must interact to build their settlements and roads on a common map.  In the card game, there is no common map, and players honestly do not need to interact much and can even forego trading with each other so as not to help their opponent. With the exception of a few action cards that are used for sabotage, players virtually play solitaire in a race to the 12 victory points.  Admittedly, this is a little bit overly harsh, because any player familiar with the original will automatically begin to trade with their opponent, this in itself helps move the game along -- but the rules don't really encourage player interaction beyond the sabotage attempts.

It is difficult to play this card game without comparing it to the original, but we'll give it a shot.  The game is balanced insofar as both players have equal chances at receiving resources early in the game.  The resource tracking system, however, is cluttery and prone to error: You rotate the region cards to show how many resources you have, one brush with your arm, or slight gust of wind and your economy is disrupted.

There isn't a lot of action to describe most turns.  Early on, neither player can control a knight or any commerce points, so the event die usually doesn't do anything.  If your resource luck is bad, you'll have trouble getting your game moving. Luckily you can trade out cards for other cards in the five central drawing stacks.  If your luck is good, you'll put a new card into play every other turn or so until you get some of the double production cards to get your game going well.

The game requires a fairly wide playing surface.  You need several feet of lateral space as you add settlements, you gain more resource cards -- and those really spread out on the table or floor fast. If you are looking for a compact card game, this isn't it... I've seen Magic the Gathering games that have smaller space requirements.

The primary reason for the thumbs-down rating is that most of the reviewers expected to play more like the original Settlers -- this card game tries to look like it, but doesn't feel the same...You can't block someones road with strategic planning; You can't really negotiate well when trading because you only have one opponent; Resource production is very slow and because of the way you track resources it is easy to lose some by overlooking them.

This game is best suited to fans of the original that can never get a third player -- If you can get a third player, stick with the original.  If you are curious about the Settlers of Catan series, don't start with this one -- it's only a so-so game.  It's balanced, but there are much more fun card games out there.

Where to buy:

Your local game store or online game stores -- it costs about US $20.

Uncle's Games link

Other Reviews
Zombie Main page