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Subject: The Island of Catan: Europe's Favorite Vacation Spot rss

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Ike Evans
United States
Shakopee
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Preamble: I always enjoyed board games growing up, but besides Monopoly and Chess, my choices were pretty limited. When I became an adult, I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted more out of life. Where does a nerd like me go for something fulfilling? Why, the game store of course!

So I walk in the gaming store in 2004 and I ask the guy behind the counter: I'm looking for a game that will challenge me strategically, but will still be something my wife/mom/dad/brothers will sit down to play with me as well. His answer was: you are looking for Settlers of Catan!

And so it was. Settlers is the first Euro game that I have ever bought, and even though I've bought lots and lots of other games since, I have never found any other game that both me (the nerd) and my family (the anti-nerds) will sit down together to play consistently.

Value:

The base game is listing for $37.00-ish on Amazon. Not an amazing deal for what you get, but still very much worth it. Besides being the first Euro game I've ever owned, it is also the first game that came with wooden components. I'll admit that I would be greatly please to never see another board game with wooden rectangles/cubes ever again!

Artwork: for the older version, and for the newer version.

The artwork is pretty standard for run-of-the-mill Euro franchises. Nothing terribly inspiring or not.

Timeplay: For the base game, a four player game can be accomplished in under 90 minutes, or even less. The game runs about perfect for a family setting, but maybe a bit short for gaming groups that I like to jump in with.

Gameplay:

The game presents a wonderful blend of both luck and strategy. Interaction with other players is required if you want any chance to winning, because otherwise you will lose out on the ability to make progress in the game. Meanwhile, cutting off players or stealing from them are very well integrated into the game. When I play board games, I don't like solitaire. I want to get in and interact with other players, and Settlers does this extremely well.

My only point of criticism is that on a four player game, the board can get choked up real easily. There have been several games where I have almost nowhere to expand to, and there's nothing I can do about it other than roll the dice and wait for the game to end. This problem is easily fixed by going with a three-player game.

Expansions:

I have only played the Knights and Cities expansion. Although the expansion isn't a total bust, per se, it is not required to make the game any better. In fact, after playing the expansion several times, my family eventually reverted to just playing the base game because everyone seemed to just enjoy it better.

Also, it is worth noting that the expansion does increase the game time, which suddenly gets to be too long for my family.

That said, the expansion might be the way to go if you are looking for a way to just change up the style of gameplay.

Theme:

I never really felt like the theme was all that strong in the base game. It does get a little stronger with Knights and Cities, but it is still lacking. Fortunately, the gameplay is strong enough that the lack of theme isn't a terrible mistep.

Verdict:

Several critics have come out recently to suggest that there are a lot of other games out there that do what Settlers does, except only better. Granted, I haven't play a lot of Euro games, but I have failed to see any one Euro game out there that replaces Settlers. Even after ten years, Settlers is just about the only game I can consistently get my wife to sit down and play with me. And hey, for that reason alone, I will never get rid of it from my collection.
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James Newton
United Kingdom
Wiltshire
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In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, my avatar is a scan of a hand-drawn caricature by cartoonist Jim Naylor which was done at my company's 20th anniversary dinner.
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ikesteroma wrote:
Expansions:

I have only played the Knights and Cities expansion. Although the expansion isn't a total bust, per se, it is not required to make the game any better. In fact, after playing the expansion several times, my family eventually reverted to just playing the base game because everyone seemed to just enjoy it better.

Also, it is worth noting that the expansion does increase the game time, which suddenly gets to be too long for my family.

That said, the expansion might be the way to go if you are looking for a way to just change up the style of gameplay.

You really need to try the other expansions before rating Settlers expansions, because they all expand the game in very different ways and suit different tastes.

Yes, Cities & Knights changes the game play - which some prefer and some don't. Personally speaking I prefer to keep Catan as the gateway game that it is - and like you said, with some gaming groups it continues to be popular - and so don't own or play this expansion (i.e. I suspect I feel similarly about it to you).

However, Seafarers adds "more of the same" - more space to "settle", a different type of thing to build (ships) and then a few scenarios for different maps and ways of using them. This is and expansion I will happily play with from time to time.

And Traders & Barbarians adds some optional extras so you can spice the game up a bit (fisheries as a different "resource" type, Harbourmaster as another way of getting victory points) and then some scenarios if you feel like adding very specific aims and extra "tasks" necessary for victory. If I could only have one expansion it would be this one.

And I haven't played Explorers & Pirates and so can't comment on it.
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Ike Evans
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Quote:
Yes, Cities & Knights changes the game play - which some prefer and some don't. Personally speaking I prefer to keep Catan as the gateway game that it is - and like you said, with some gaming groups it continues to be popular - and so don't own or play this expansion (i.e. I suspect I feel similarly about it to you).

However, Seafarers adds "more of the same" - more space to "settle", a different type of thing to build (ships) and then a few scenarios for different maps and ways of using them. This is and expansion I will happily play with from time to time.

And Traders & Barbarians adds some optional extras so you can spice the game up a bit (fisheries as a different "resource" type, Harbourmaster as another way of getting victory points) and then some scenarios if you feel like adding very specific aims and extra "tasks" necessary for victory. If I could only have one expansion it would be this one.

And I haven't played Explorers & Pirates and so can't comment on it.


You bring up a good point. When I can manage to find the time/money to get around to getting the other expansions, I would really enjoy trying those out.
 
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Jörg Baumgartner
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I would suggest to try and find a place in a game that uses ecpansions before buying blindly, unless you are seriously hooked.
 
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