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Subject: Catan Card Game -- Nearly Great rss

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Rob Koch
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Being new to games other than the usual fare (Chess, Go, Risk, etc.) I thought it would be good to try the game that everyone who plays board games seems to rave about: Catan. However, since my gaming group is usually limited to 2 the card game seemed like a good option.

As other reviews have certainly laid out information regarding the contents of the box, quality of card stock and so forth I will spare you having to skim past it.

Initial setup of the game while certainly not intuitive is simple. The cards are simple, to the point and clearly written. The rules are also direct and largely unequivocal; they are as they are written which is good when you play with people who (like yourself) love to quibble about semantics. Time from tearing the plastic open with my teeth to ready to start our first game: Roughly 10 minutes. Not too shabby.

Initial game play, at least for the first few turns, is occasionally frustratingly slow if the wrong resources for early development are not rolled for (curse you gold!). However, once resources are not in such limited supply things proceed nicely. From this point the game proceeds as one would expect based on the variables present and the rules.

While I am satisfied with the overall concept, the rules and the general state of game play there are a few things I would mention as potential points of improvement:

Rhythm: The game is slow at the beginning, and then very fast towards the end as the opportunities for achieving victory points expand relative to the presence of a city and enough resources to build city dependent buildings. While this makes sense, If you were to write in one column opportunities for points prior to cities and after, the amounts would be rather disparate making for a jerky feeling difference in point opportunity availability. Ideally I would like game play to ramp up more smoothly as opposed to a slow trickle and then a flood. While this isn't a major fault by any means its something that could be improved.

Randomness/Luck Factor: While this might be more about personal preference, I find the reliance on luck a little bit too high when it comes to resources. While this is mitigated by the ability to trade, the situations where both players are frustrated by not having what they need at their disposal seem too high. If that isn't the case resources can also lead to extremely asymmetric development, leading less patient players to frustration/dismay.

Overall I am pleased with the game and enjoy it for what it is. In terms of personal taste I don't generally like a game where strategy is significantly hobbled by the availability of randomly assigned elements. This however is not a game destroying fault in this case. It is occasionally frustrating, but overall it doesn't stop me from enjoying play. From the standpoint of this being some manner of simulation of development in a "real" context, the use of the random element is well implemented; So, as I opened this final paragraph with, I enjoy the game for what it is.

My final verdict then is recommended so long as you aren't too put off by the outcome of the game hinging relatively heavily on the random factor.
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Ben Wang
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Remember that you can choose the first 3 cards in your hand. It can mitigate the luck element in this game.
 
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Alex Churchill
United Kingdom
Cambridge
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"If we knew what we were building, it wouldn't be called research!"
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The other things is that if both players are sitting waiting for resources, it's fine for the turns to pass back and forth very quickly. It's good to learn that in the Catan card game, you don't have to do something every turn.

It's usually good to be cycling through cards looking for something useful, but if you've got a particularly good hand, don't be afraid of simply doing absolutely nothing for two or three turns until the resources come in. Once we learned this, the game progressed quite a lot faster, as turns can be very quick until resources are available.
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Gary Bradley
United Kingdom
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Trading aside, one can use the Scout card cleverly in order to influence the extra resource acquired when expanding the road. This allows a shrewd player to "bend his luck". I.e. arrange things so that most dice rolls are covered and always get him something each turn, which can then be traded for what he really needs to move his build plan forward.

Alternatively, there are many sneaky ways to influence how one changes the cards held in hand so that one can suddenly switch to pursue the construction of something he does have the resources for instead of futilely holding onto something he lacks the resources for, where the dice have been cruel.
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