Boardgame Battles: Settlers of Catan vs Risk

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Playing board games as a child is a much different experience than playing as an adult. When you are a kid you play Monopoly with wonder, you aren’t worried about forming alliances or which properties are the most economically viable. As an adult you form conglomerates with your fellow players before eventually betraying your partner. Many a “game night” have ended with one player legitimately angry at a close friend because they neglected to keep their promises.

One of the most infuriating games to play with friends is Risk, last time I played with a group of a friends my buddy Kyle dissolved an alliance and utterly eviscerated fellow MT author Ty. I don’t think we even finished the match because tempers were so high. Yesterday we played a similar game of domination called Settlers of Catan. Both Risk and Settlers have their advantages but which game is more fun? Here is the battle between Risk and Settlers of Catan.

Before we get started, here are two videos recapping the rules of Settlers and Risk.

Settler of Catan (Cringe Warning)

Risk

Gameplay

No matter how you look at it, Risk is essentially about deception. It’s called the game of “world domination” not the game of  “friendly alliances”. If you do start an alliance it is inevitable that somebody will stabbed in the back before the game is over. Settlers of Catan is different as the game is won by collecting points and there is no means for controlling an already claimed settlement.

In Settlers a player must collect 10 points to win the game, this can be done through several means. The most traditional way to accrue 10 points is to build settlements and cities. Players build settlements, roads, and cities using the various resources that receive by strategically placing their settlements on sources of brick, wheat, wood, ore, and sheep. However, in the beginning of the game it is often tough to have a strong source of all resources this necessitates trading with other players. Fostering good trade relations with your fellow settlers will ensure your victory.

Additionally, while the average game of Risk might last anywhere between 4 and 8 hours, a standard of game of Settlers of Catan typically won’t last longer than two hours.

For the more diplomatic, Settlers of Catan is a great game to play among friends without getting at each others throats. However, if you love being the best and knowing you are the best, Risk is the game for you.

Variation

The wonderful thing about Settlers of Catan is that every game is completely different.  Settlers uses a deck of resource hexagons that can be arranged in any way imaginable to create the island of Catan. Risk is always the same, you are on planet earth with 7 continents that go unchanged. Because of this players usually develop their own foolproof plans for domination. Some people choose to garrison troupes in Australia for half the game until they can exploit a weakness and exploit. Others will strike fast and collect as many territories as possible.

Settlers takes a little bit more critical thinking as your goals for each match change drastically. In one match your board may offer an abundance of sheep but no brick. Additionally, there are countless expansion packs for Settlers of Catan including but not limited to, Seafarers of Catan, Cities & Knights, and Traders & Barbarians. Each of these offer new resources and ways to gain points.

Risk has tons of specialty boxes but they all seem to recreate the original game with a thematic twist. You can pretty much play the exact same game in Risk: Lord of The Rings but instead of invading North America you are invading The Shire.

Fun Level

I can talk about gameplay and variation all day but what we’re really looking for is how much fun a game can be. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I am going to vote for Settlers of Catan as victor in the fun department.  The game doesn’t last a horrendous 8 hours and there is less of a chance you will slit your roommates throat after he goes behind your back and steals South America.

That being said, Settlers of Catan might be a bit too confusing for a younger generation. If you are planning a board game night with the family and you have kids under the age of 12 it might be better to simply stick to Risk.