To gamers of a certain age, Catan is ubiquitous with entering the hobby. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think the options have grown so much greater that no single game draws people in.
(I do suspect that Dungeons and Dragons still holds that place for RPGs. But with the sheer number of exceptions and loopholes baked into every edition, after you’ve played D&D, you’re ready to take on almost every other system. It’s a useful starting point)
I have met people who put Catan on a pedestal and people who have nothing but disdain for it. I’m closer to the first group but I try not to have my glasses too rosé colored. (And apparently the game continues to sell just fine)
A big reason that I hold that Catan still hold up is that it does such a good job keeping all the players engaged and active in the game. The trading is intrinsic part of player interaction.
I’ve been told by multiple competitive players that tournament-level players in Europe almost never trade. That they consider trading to be a very weak, desperation move.
So… am I wrong? Is what I feel is one of Catan’s strongest points contrary to optimal play?
Well, I’m prepared to accept that that is a reasonable argument. But I’m going to play the social card.
Catan is a family-weight game for a family audience. And under those circumstances and conditions, trading and interaction is good. So there.
I’ll save the optimal play for if I ever get back into Go.