So my wife and I went over to her brother's to play games and hang out with his friends Saturday night. We brought a whole bunch of games, including The Settlers Box™, and others that would accomodate 6-8 players.
We played a game of TransEuropa first. White lost 1 point the first round, went out the second round, and surprised everyone with a lightning-fast finish in the 3rd round, ending the game.
But that's not what this report is about.
At 11:00 PM, with 7 players, we decided to set up Settlers. I used the 8-player "Peanut" setup detailed in the Mayfair second edition rules: 2 basic islands stuck end-to-end. I was able to squeeze all of it into the Seafarers border for a nice stable map. One of the guys carved a pineapple up into roads, cities, and settlements. Sadly, I didn't get to a take a picture of it; it was awesome.
We finally got everything set up and everyone to the table at about 11:45. We used the "special build" rules where everyone can build in between turns.
The island was pretty bad; brick and ore both got crappy numbers on them, and there was a shortage of them all game -- except for Brown, who got Cities on his 9-brick, 9-ore, and 10-ore, making him a frequent victim of the Robber. Myself, I just bought a ton of Development cards, taking the Largest Army easily. Brown eventually won by taking the Longest Road and building a Settlement on his final turn. (Myself, I had 7 VPs -- good for second place, I believe -- with 2 VP Dev cards and the Largest Army.)
The game took 1 hour.
With that many players, I was expecting a 2-3 hour game. But I imagine that all of the resources getting handed out, plus the opportunity to build after everyone's turn, made the game move quickly. The trading actually reminded me of Bohnanza a bit: because 6 people get their turns before you get another one, you have to take advantage of the special building phase or risk losing a lot of cards to the Robber; since harbors and 4:1 trading can only be used on your own turn, you end up making a lot of trades to get useless cards out of your hand so you can build during the special phase.
All in all, it was a blast. I would definitely recommend a 7-8 player game for those who are a little wary of the idea. It moves surprisingly quickly and the trading is really emphasized.