Formerly known as Settlers of Catan, Catan has become one of the most popular modern board games available. While it may look complicated at first glance, it’s actually pretty easy to learn the basics and start playing. There’s even an online (albeit older) introduction, as well as an iOS and Android assistant app. Both are nice options, but at first I think it’s fine to just go by the small rules booklet included with the game.
In Catan several settlers (i.e. 3-4 players; 2 are supported, while an expansion can handle up to 6) have discovered the island of Catan and begin to build and develop. The first step is to lay out the land tiles (the hexagonal pieces), which can be done in a fixed or random order. On top of these land tiles round number tiles are placed, also randomly.
These numbers are what coordinate with each dice roll; the number that comes up each roll is what resources are dolled out to each player that has a piece next to that hexagonal tile. The player that rolled can also spend resources that he or she has acquired to build roads, settlements, and cities. If he or she needs resource cards they don’t have, they can also trade with another player as well as the bank (at a higher 4-to-1 ratio).
The order of play continues in a clockwise order: each player rolling, resources handed out, and items constructed. One caveat is if a 7 is rolled; instead of resources produced, a robber on the island allows that player to steal a resource card from another player. Also, if anyone is holding more than 7 cards, he or she must discard half of their choice of cards, rounded down.
The first player to reach 10 victory points wins the game. This come from settlements, the longest road constructed, and having the largest army.