Catan Junior - An Introduction to Settlers of Catan

 
"Catan Junior" has just been released by "Mayfair Games," and it represents a simplified version of the bestselling board game "Settlers of Catan." It is intended for younger children ages 6 years old and up, and is remarkably similar to the standard version of the game.

Most of the key elements of the traditional game are included in "Catan Junior." However, instead of settlers, the players represent pirates. Each pirate collects resources and builds ships and pirates lairs on available island sites. There are 5 resources available, including cutlasses, goats, wood, gold and molasses. Players alternate turns rolling a die to determine which resources will be coming their way, and then build or trade resources to complete their turn.
Players must be careful, because a die roll of six will allow a pirate to move the "Ghost Captain" to another island. "The Ghost Captain" was once the ruler of all of the islands, and begins the game on his perch from "Spooky Island." Once he is moved, no resources are produced for the pirates who
have lairs surrounding that island.

Additionally, a special "Coco the Parrot" tile can be purchased with the correct combination of resources. In that case, players are rewarded with a special bonus allowing them to build a pirates' lair for free, receive 4 free resources, or move the "Ghost Captain" to an island of their choosing.

Play continues until one player successfully builds 7 pirates' lairs. Once that occurs, that pirate is declared the winner. "Catan Junior" is intended for 2-4 players, and the game board contains two different playing sides, depending on the number of players. Basically, there are 3 more islands available on the side intended for 3 or 4 players.

We arranged to test the game with several elementary school children. We set up the game at our office, and invited 4 kids ages 7-10 years old, each accompanied by a parent, to join us. Everyone seemed to understand they were part of a focus group testing and playing a brand new board game.

We asked the parents to sit in an adjacent room and let the kids play the game without their help. I explained the game in detail to the kids, and stayed nearby to answer any questions as they came up. We played the 4 player version of the game, selecting the appropriate side of the game board.





The first game lasted the longest, maybe 45 minutes, because there were a lot of questions, which although easy to answer, did interrupt the game flow, and slow things down a bit. The second game went by quickly in less than 30 minutes, and the third and final game lasted about the same length of time. We had allocated 2 hours for the game play, and we knew the parents were getting anxious next door, so we found we had just enough time to get some feedback from the group.

Here are several of the kids' comments regarding "Catan Junior"....

The ten year old said, "It was fun, and I won two of the games."
Another said, "I liked being a pirate and building things."
Yet another said, "That was really great, but I hated that mean pirate (Ghost Captain)."
And the ten year old left by saying, "I would like to play against my dad, and beat him."
Maybe the most important comment was shared by all, "I want to play again."

The Toys Bulletin staff all agreed that 'Catan Junior" was an appealing and exciting game for youngsters, and a great first step toward gaining an appreciation for the regular "Settlers of Catan" game.

"Catan Junior" retails for $34.99 and can be purchased at Amazon.com.
-- RJ Cullen


 

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