I swear I can poll my friends and 9 out of 10 would look at this and not even be remotely interested. I'm not either. The theme is unpalatable, the title of the game is ambiguous to conveying any sense of fun... and I really don't see it as being a whole lot of fun anyway. The box graphics are downright ugly. This is a geekish cult hit to be sure... so please don't use this game to try an indoctrinate the average Joe into the hobby.
I'll give it an extra point for having positive design reviews from its legions of hobbyist fans, however.
Yeah, this was my first introduction to Eurogames as well and I did really like it at the time. I loved that my g/f (of the time) and all her friends loved playing it as well. Getting to game with females was a new thing for me and I liked the social aspect of involving the g/f.
Nowadays, I can't stand this game and far prefer Agricola, Puerto Rico, Power Grid and the like. The trading aspect of Settlers of Catan just drives me nuts cuz, like Monopoly, he who can manipulate the others the best seems to do well. It's not really why I game and is why Diplomacy is my most hated game of all time.
It's also difficult to go back to dice. I like how dice are used in Twilight Struggle. I hate how dice are used in Settlers of Catan, Risk, Axis & Allies and all that jazz. Oh man, don't get me started on Battlelore either.
Overall, it's a good game, even a great game maybe. But I'm sure I can fire off 30 better board games off the top of my head. There's always something better to be played.
In terms of game mechanics:
You like the trading aspect of the game? Try Pandemic, it's better.
You like playing with a modular board? Hmmmm? Find that fun, do you? Battlelore is way more fun.
You like rolling dice in a game? You're Chinese or something? War of the Ring is like the best die-rolling game of all time.
You like building routes and networks? Power Grid ftw.
In terms of themes,
You like the Civilization aspect of the game? Obviously Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is a FAR better Civ-themed game. Man, I love that game.
And if you actually, unlike me, like Negotation in a game, then play Twilight Imperium 3rd edition instead.
My point is that Settlers of Catan is a stepping stone for getting into much better games. I don't think it really deserves much play time once you've grown up and moved on.