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Subject: First Two Face-to-face Games rss

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Bill J
United States
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I have been playing the computer version of Settlers of Catan for a few months now. But it wasn't until I was visiting my extended family that I had the opportunity to play a face-to-face game. After the two games we played last night, it will be really hard to want to go back to the computer.

Usually, when I try to introduce my family to a new game, I'm met with stares and deep reservations. I can hardly blame them since I've tried to introduce some of the heavier SPI and AH titles in the past ("C'mon everybody you'll love Empires in Arms!") Great strategy game, but hardly post-Thanksgiving dinner material. So, I was facing a room of doubters when I started unpunching the hexes and counters in the kitchen last night.

Happily, the mechanics of Settlers are so elegant that a group of novices were soon expanding their empires across the island. The first game consisted of four players and had a 'geographic race' character with a lot of attention paid to road length and the carving of territory. To my delight, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the game! It did not take long for everyone to grasp the concepts of bartering, production, and building. My sister won the game and my nephew finished second, I was third, and my brother-in-law came in last.

If the first game was like a race, the second game was more like a war. The players started to look at the game economically and militarily. Accordingly, roads took on the function of walls to isolate scarce commodity producing areas, the robber was put to vicious use (by the rolls, and by the many, many soldier cards played), and negotiations were very intense since everyone noted what commodities were NOT readily available. In our case, wood was in shockingly low supply having the 2, 11, 12 as production rolls. The fourth wood location (with a 9 production) was constantly being robbed and made nearly useless. So, whenever a port trade was made for wood, or if somehow a roll generated a wood normally, everybody pounced on that player (lots of robbery). Appropriately, when the soldier cards ran low, the high stakes bidding for wood began! After a 90 minute game, I built my last city and won the game.

A good time was had by everyone with promises made to "play that one again" at the end of the evening. (YES!!!) Overall, this game is a lot of fun, easy to play, and posseses enough sophistication to keep players coming back for more.
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