Zohar wrote:But please stop explaining how I'm supposed to feel while playing, and how my experiences and expectations are somehow wrong.
I'm not denying the possibility that you get trapped in the game.
What I'm trying to say, is that the game Catan is designed such that its virtually impossible for a single opponent to trap you. To be trapped, you need to have multiple players trying to screw you over. It has happened to me before (after I won two games in a row, the 3rd time, everyone "ganged up on me" to box me in to ensure that I lost). So yes, I've been boxed in before, but only by multiple coordinated players. At that point, I think I can blame my friends instead of blaming the game however.
That's part of what makes Catan a good game. Its difficult to be a jerk and actually win. As stated before, "boxing in" opponents nets you absolutely zero points. The game is cooperative in most cases. Its far more efficient to trade (even 3-to-1) than to fight in Catan. So as long as everyone is "playing to win", the games usually end up being pleasant. There are very few opportunities for combat or conflict.
Of course, no board game is immune to assholes in your social circle. Any board game can be ruined by an explicit jerk. But more often than not... in "well designed" board games... being a pleasant player is synonymous with winning. IE: in Catan, building cities away from others nets you more points than boxing enemies in. Trading 3-to-1 with players is a more efficient path to victory than "hogging all the resources". Etc. etc.