Settlers of Catan and Intro to Econ

Settlers of Catan is an amazingly fun game however, quiet intricate.

The-Settlers-of-Cata-full-thumbI enjoy using this game as a way to hammer home concepts such as scarcity, factors of production and opportunity cost and is a great way to introduce supply and demand.  It is a nice way to wrap up Intro to Economics and move into Micro. More than that it is a great strategy game that will kick start your competitive edge.

Settlers involves building settlements, cities in an effort to score 12 points (this can be modified for time purposes if need be).  In order to build these settlements, and cities you need to get a hold various resources such as wood, iron ore, wheat, brick and sheep.  The problem is only certain land areas (which are associated with specific numbers) are capable of producing specific resources.  To gain these resources you need to have a settlement or city on a land that produces the specific resource you need. If the number associated with that land is rolled on the dice then you will acquire that resource if you have a settlement or even better receive 2 if you have a city.  Otherwise, you must trade the resources you have collected with players who have the resources you need.  Being that you are in competition with each the other players, trading may be easier said than done.

Back CameraScarcity is definitely an underlying issue throughout the game. It will definitely cause frustration for some students, and joy for others….much like how our economy works today.

After the game I suggest having students playing in each game evaluate the role scarcity played throughout.

Have students think about the following questions:

1) What resources were limited in the game?  Why.  Who had them?  Were they willing to trade them? If so for how much? 

2)  How might you change your strategy for next time?  Explain.

3) Where do we see the concept of opportunity cost in the game? How could we use this concept to help in making decisions in our game play?

4) To what extent is Settlers of Catan a good representation of the real world?  What aspects of the game hold true in the world?  Explain. Make sure to reference key concepts we have discussed thus far in Intro to Econ. 

Have students take photos of the board will they are playing and take notes during the game to reference decisions they have made.  Taking photos and taking voice memos with phones and other devices with allow for a quick way to track the game.

Watch out, this game has a tendency of creating addicts!!!! Friends become enemies very quickly as the competition gets revved up…and if you happen to be playing me, prepare for defeat.  ;)

Happy Gaming!

The Management

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John Gangi

Creator and IB DP Econ/ MYP Humanities Teacher at New International School of Thailand
John is teaching DP Economics and MYP Humanities at the New International School of Thailand (NIST) in Bangkok. Prior to NIST John taught at the United Nations International School of Hanoi and the International School of Tanganyika. He has enjoyed teaching Economics for the past 9 years.

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