If you haven't played Settlers (as my family refers to it) before, you're in for a real treat. And a whole lot of stress too. Oh, and did I mention the strife?
Settlers is, in a way, similar to Monopoly, but more complex. It requires more forethought and strategy, and usually a lot more time too. Add the Cities & Knights or Seafarer expansion packs, and things get even more exciting. It can take many played games just to understand all the rules, and many more before you claim the coveted Lord of Catan title. That is unless you're one of the very annoying, and very lucky, first time winners!
TUAW's covered Settlers of Catan and Catan for iOS in some detail before, so I'll jump straight into how Catan performs on the Mac.
The Mac version of Settlers, also titled Catan, remains true to the original board game. You're able to play the original Settlers of Catan rule-set or add the Cities & Knights or Seafarers expansions.
Catan can be played in one of two ways: solo campaign with the expansions, or scenario, where you choose from a variety of pre-set maps, including playing the original rule-set. Scenario mode also lets you play with others in a hot-seat style, multiplayer mode, similar to the iOS version. I guess you'll have to trust your friends not to look at your resources when it's your turn!
Unfortunately there's no cross-platform multiplayer mode, let alone a simple online multiplayer mode for the Mac version of the game. Catan would be the perfect game to start playing online on your Mac, pause and then continue on your iPad or iPhone, but it's not so. However, there is Game Center support in the form of achievements and local game statistics.
Campaign mode offers you ten challenging competitors to overcome in order to win the game. There are three difficulty settings to make sure you're always challenged. Pre-game banter between the characters preludes the start of each game. It's fun, but I mostly skipped through it all to get on with the game.