Archives For Settlers of America Trails to Rails

Settlers of America Meets the Kids

Heather —  September 8, 2010

Some days, I am an amazing, inspired mom. And the kids all get along and play intense strategy games with educational value while working together around the beautiful coffee table I gave them for games and eating brownies…

Ok, So there were no brownies, only pretzels. And, ever since I put an adorable coffee table downstairs for them, they want to play on the floor.

But, still, the kids all got together to play the Settlers of America Trails to Rails, from the Catan history series.

I asked them to help me review the game…but I did have a secret plan…a plan to find a game that was difficult enough to hold their attention, yet fun…and one where they would not fight…you know, the trifecta.

I definitely hit the mark on finding a game that would challenge the kids. And the X Box stayed silent. I think kids really like board games deep down, sometimes where they don’t even know it.

This game has…game. Seriously. To begin, just take a look at the pieces:

  • 120 railroad tracks (in 4 colors)
  • 48 cities (in 4 colors)
  • 8 train engines (in 4 colors)
  • 8 settlers wagon (in 4 colors)
  • 1 outlaw
  • 40 goods cubes (in 4 colors)
  • 40+ die-cut gold coins (in 1 and 5 denominations)
  • 4 building cost overview charts
  • 1 map board
  • 2 dice
  • 12 die-cut number tokens
  • 95 resource cards
  • 24 development cards
  • 1 rulebook

And you will need the rulebook for the first games. I liked the quality and artwork of the board and cards and the wooden pieces. Our little one liked them, too. I liked that she was able to get some ideas about the settling of America while just hanging out with her brothers.

So, we began by getting all the pieces together and checking out all the resource cards. The game action is set in the 19th century and the players are in on the quest for westward expansion. This educational game is the latest in the Catan History Series, and just one of the many educational games Timberdoodle carries.

As play progresses, players collect and trade resources in order to build settlements, acquire locomotives and railroad routes, then race with other players to deliver the most goods.

I did especially like that the players have to work together during each turn. While ultimately there is one winner, the game had a feel that everyone was working towards a common goal. (I love that!) There was a lot of trading and building going on.

You know, I did not get this game specifically to “go” with a homeschool curriculum. I was looking for a game that had a good storyline…a theme…and wasn’t too easy.

The fact that the game could also be used to reinforce or to introduce American History and the concept of westward expansion, well that is just icing on the cake.

Overall, I think this is a good game. It is difficult, I believe. The game lasts about 2 hours and requires 3-4 players. It is marked for ages 12+ and I agree with that…although we did have one 5 year old playing.

She enjoyed all the playing pieces and really got into the resource cards. I think she learned a bit. I have no idea why her hair looked like she was from the Netherlands somewhere back in time.

I think the kids will be playing again soon…we even added a player towards the end…

The list price is $54.95, but it is on sale right now at $44.95. Also, I have not played any Catan games before and this one has me curious to go look at the others. For families, this would be one to play with your kids. Like I mentioned, it is not easy the first time, but is fun and worth learning how to play.

Check out Timberdoodle’s homeschool vodcast for all kinds of educational ideas for your kids. I really like their games and other homeschool curriculum and homeschool supplies.

As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Settlers of America in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.