A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Play Catan is a somewhat complex online multiplayer video game based on the popular turn-based strategy board game Settlers of Catan. While the online version of the game lacks the same amount of socializing that happens around the board game (especially in single player mode), kids get access to tutorials, and can more easily find people to play with from around the world. Play Catan requires more strategic thinking than a typical board game and it calls for both cooperation and competition, which may leave new players frustrated as things turn more competitive near the end of the game and players hoard resources. The out of date matchmaking interface makes joining and hosting games confusing, and the in-game interface shows its age too. The iOS app is a better digital experience, but the board game remains the gold standard.
What's it about?
In PLAY CATAN, players compete to govern a recently settled island by building up cities, roads, and settlements on the resource tiles that make up the game's map. Each newly built item adds to a player's total Victory Points, and the first player to 10 points wins. On each turn, a player rolls the dice. The number that gets rolled determines -- based on settled tiles -- which players receive resources. Players need to position themselves strategically on the board so they can get the most resources each turn, and must also trade with one another to try and gain an economic and strategic advantage.
Is it any good?
For fans of the original board game, Play Catan can be a fun, if dated, online experience, but it's difficult to learn how to play using the text-heavy and quick-paced online tutorials. A crowded matchmaking and game hosting interface makes it confusing to find the right game for kids and newbies. Consequently, it's better to learn how to play Settlers of Catan using the board game or iOS app. Once kids have a good handle on the game, it'll be fun to jump online and race other players to the top of the resource chain.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can explore the history of settlement in their regions.
Families can discuss how natural resources have aided settlers, colonists, and civilizations, and how resources have been used wisely and unwisely.
Families can explore different types of trade and exchange throughout history and across the world.
Families can discuss why Play Catan includes opportunities for cooperation and competition, and how/why players decide to help each other out or not.
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Math: arithmetic, probability, ratio
Social Studies: government, power structures, the economy
Hobbies: board games
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, strategy
Self-Direction: identifying strengths and weaknesses, working efficiently
Communication: asking questions, listening
Responsibility & Ethics: fiscal responsibility, learning from consequences, making wise decisions, respect for others
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Catan GmbH
- Release date: October 23, 2009
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: History
- ESRB rating: E
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.