Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre
'One of the driving factors in Settlers—and one of the secrets to its success—is that nobody has reliable access to all five resources. This means players must swap cards to get what they need, creating a lively and dynamic market, which works like any other: If ore isn't rolled for several turns, it becomes more valuable. "Even in this tiny, tiny microcosm of life, scarcity leads to higher prices, and plenty leads to lower prices," says George Mason University economist Russ Roberts, who uses Settlers to teach his four children how free markets work. Wheeling and dealing turns out to be an elegant solution to one of the big problems plaguing Monopoly—sitting idle while other players take their turns. Since every roll of the dice in Settlers has the potential to reap a new harvest of resource cards, unleash a flurry of negotiations, and change the balance of the board, every turn engages all the players. "The secret of Catan is that you have to bargain and sometimes whine."'
In 1991, Klaus Teuber was well on his way to becoming one of the planet's hottest board game designers. Teuber (pronounced "TOY-burr"), a dental technician living with his wife and three kids in a white row house in Rossdorf, Germany, had created a game a few years earlier called Barbarossa and the Riddlemaster, a sort of ur-Cranium in which players mold figures out of modeling clay while their opponents try to guess what the sculptures represent. The game was a hit, and in 1988 it won the Spiel des Jahres prize—German board gaming's highest honor. Winning some obscure German award may not sound impressive, but in the board game world the Spiel des Jahres is, in fact, a very, very big deal. Germans, it turns out, are absolutely nuts about board games. More are sold per capita in Germany than anywhere else on earth.
Settlers of Catan, Siedlers