Eight-Bit Generation

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Game Night - Settlers of Catan: Seafarers (first time!)

MJ Clark
United States
Palo Alto
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Which: Settlers of Catan: Seafarers
First time!
Who: MJ, Celeste, Forrest, Danny
Where: The TC
When: May 30th, 2011, 9PM

Forrest came over with the Seafarers expansion for Catan tonight that he had just bought, so we're trying it out for the first time! For our first scenario we're trying out "Through the Desert" but putting down the land and number tiles randomly. The rules for this scenario are that everyone must start on the main land mass on the side of the desert that's larger. Foreign lands include the islands and the region opposite the desert.

Here was our initial setup:

The prized regions are the gold mine locations because you can choose whichever resource you want when you get to it. They are always in the foreign lands apparently.

The game setup progressed around the table starting with Forrest (to my left in the picture) and ending with me. This put me in what I thought was a pretty bad position. However, this particular random setup resulted in some pretty prime starting locations. Basically, the first towns were all in prime spots (mine probably being the weakest), but the second round of initial placements, I felt I got dealt a pretty bad hand. I ended up with a settlement at the 9b/10w/8s and the 6w/11g/12c. The second spot in particular is weak because 11 and 12 rolls are quite rare. So I was not a happy camper to start. See the final game for a feel of where we started (next time I'll take a pic of our starting locations for a better feel).

Forrest, I think, did a bit of research before coming over with the game. He positioned himself such that he would obtain wood and sheep on a five roll while the rest of us were pretty ignorant about the importance of ship building. I personally ended up in a surprisingly good situation as a result of dumb luck--I had a 6w and an 8s to start with despite the other weak numbers I was on. Danny and Celeste were not as well off, I think partly due to not realizing that sheep would be so vital to rapid ship expansion. None of us did badly overall, however (except due to bad luck on rolls--sorry, Danny).

Despite my position being land-locked to start and having weak numbers, I got a few lucky 11 and 12 rolls early that gave me grain and coal for an early development card (knight). The other thing was a streak of five rolls that gave Forrest a TON of sheep and wood early on, and also gave Celeste a lot of wood. Coupled with 10 rolls early giving her brick, she quickly got the longest road first and extended across the desert into new lands. Forrest also managed to expand over to and block the three-part island very early thanks to this lucky 5-streak.

For my part, the 8/9/10 spot and the 6w spot were huge boons. The only port open to me was actually in Celeste's longest road, so I ended up severing that to build a settlement for 3:1 trading, which moved longest road to Forrest.

Later in the game, I got and held onto longest road after expanding across the desert. Celeste and I nabbed the 5-gold spot, which was very lucrative due to the 5-streak. Forrest and Danny both went for the 8-gold/10-coal island. About half-way through it was kind of a strange almost team match-up with me and Celeste versus Forrest and Danny. Both Celeste and I managed to bump up to cities pretty swiftly thanks to our gold spot (and luck on 7-rolls--I never had to divide my hand despite having a lot of cards at one point).

Forrest ended up winning due to expanding to two islands. Frankly, the bonus two points for each island made it pretty fast for him. I was at 11 points a few turns early, but that was with three cities and longest road--only being able to access one of the island areas (across the desert) really hampered my game. I also left myself open for Forrest to cut off my longest road, but by the time he could have done it, even where he cut it off, I still would have retained the card due to a draw. That was purposeful but I think a bit risky on my part. Still, with only one point to go, I didn't feel like protecting that point was so incredibly vital.

Still, it was a lot of fun and surprisingly close. Myself, Forrest and Celeste were all very close and Danny would have caught up within probably two turns if it weren't for a lot of bad luck on rolls (he was the only guy without any settlements on a 5 spot, which was very streaky tonight). Had I been a bit more present and a bit less delirious the last two turns, I would have tried to build a regular settlement anywhere and just won the game. Whoops!

Here was the end result:

(Me=White, Celeste=Blue, Danny=Red, Forrest=Orange)
Pepsi Max did not sponsor the game, though you wouldn't know it from the picture.

I liked this expansion quite a bit. I am looking forward to playing it again. It offered a different experience from the vanilla game, which is very cool. Looking forward to playing it again (and this time with a bit more forethought--I was distracted at the start tonight!).

Other thoughts:
I'm psyched about my new Small World box. Twenty dollars at Storables and Home Depot later and I have Small World and all expansions in one easy-to-carry, well organized box with room for expansion when Small World Underground comes out! Maybe I can post about it another day. Also, I'm looking forward to our next game of Arkham Horror! So great!
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