MDA and 8 Kinds of Fun: Settlers of Catan

Recently, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Settlers of Catan. The main mechanics of the game involve generation and scarcity of resources. Resources are produced based on the outcome of two dice rolls, or sometimes can be generated with development cards. Because the probability of outcomes of two dice rolls are not equal, it creates a dynamic in which players will try to occupy spaces that generate resources more frequently. Another dynamic that rises from this resource scarcity might be to monopolize or settle around regions of resources that will be hard to come by, essentially creating a monopoly of sorts. Players can also trade or steal to acquire the resources they need, a dynamic that also comes about from the resource generation mechanic. Self-sufficiency via the seaport mechanic (trading 3 of 1 resource for any desired resource) is also another dynamic that might come into play. And the development cards mechanic allow players to steal, monopolize, build, and just generally wreak havoc on others. All in all, these dynamics create several types of fun: fellowship as a result of a trading or cooperative dynamic, challenge as players can often create obstacles for each other that they must overcome, and unofficially, competition as players exercise their dominance over their peers through luck, skill, and wit.


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