Settlers of Catan is a phenomenal game of strategy, player interaction, and a little bit of luck. I never used to be a big fan of board games... the only thing I ever played was Magic Cards and that was a phase back in grade school.
So now I am the proud owner of Taboo, Cranium, Monopoly, Settlers and many more to come. I believe board games slowly to tickle one's fancy when one reaches a certain level of maturity. However, Settlers of Catan is one exeption. It is designed well enough that even the most attention deficit 14 year olds will want to SETTLE down and play a game or two.
The game goes a little something like this. You and 3 other opponents are "Settlers" at a place called Catan. It is an area abundant in resources such as, ore, sheep, brick, wheat and lumber. The idea of the game is to expand your initial settlement into a civilization by utilizin these resources. Each patch of land produces one type of resource mentinoed above and the frequency of production depends on the number associated with that particular piece of land. The numbers range from 2-12 and you may wonder why? it's simple. the game involves the rolling for two 7 sided dice. if you know a little bit of game theory (or just dice rolling) you would be able to tell me that 7 is the most commonly rolled number, while the percentages decrease as the number reaches towards either extreme with 12 and 2 being the least likely numbers to be rolled (6, 6 and 1, 1). So the idea is to settle on property with highest frequency of production. Using these resources one can build roads, settlements, cities, raise armies, chapels, harbours etc. It may sound complicated as you read it, but it is actually very easy to learn. The great thing about this game is that one can play and learn the same time without being too disadvantaged.
Another great thing about this game is the variation in game play with every new round. The map is randomized because it is pieced together with multiple hexigons. The numbers associated with each hex is also randomized. Therefore, the number of combination this makes is quite substantial. Therefore, everygame is different, and strategies are different.
What I enjoy the most about this game is the interaction between players. You can trade, attack, back stab and seek retribution. Sometimes the game can get hostile just because players get so caught up in it. All in all though, noone gets hurt and the players all eventually laugh it off.
I highly recommend this game, because it is fun and intellectual. On top of that, there are two expansion sets for it that allow you to do a great amount more. So get the Basic Settlers of Catan first if you are interested and if you find that you like it, then give the expansion sets a shot!