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Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First game with Catan veterans rss

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Joshua Buergel
United States
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I sat down on Monday night to a first game of Struggle for Rome with three people who have been around the Catan block a few times: Chris, Mark and Jarrett. I still have a lot of affection for the Catan games, even though I rarely play any of them except the two-player games any more. Rolling two dice for production is always going to cut a certain amount of ice for me, since Settler of Catan is the game that launched me headlong back into board gaming. I enjoyed Settlers of the Stone Age and the tweaks it made to the Catan formula, so I figured that Struggle for Rome would be a nice time. We all sat down, I read through the rules with everybody listening, and then we took run at things with few rules questions.

The first observation, that Mark made, was that the starting positions don't really matter, since the movement rules and positions of the arrows ensure that you'll be able to get to the same places no matter where you started in the starting area. So that's nice, it helps reduce the reliance on the initial setup. It also seemed at first blush that the first player, with the ability to get to a second plunder location without spending additional resources, might be in a powerful position. However, looking at the numbers you'd wind up with for production in that situation convinced us that it probably wasn't such a powerful spot.

For those who don't know, you start out with two tribes who are wandering around the board, smiting Roman cities and carrying off plunder (and, usually, their own bodies). The intersection where those tribes are standing will also determine your production on the following turn, in the usual Catan manner. The other twist is that the first player in a round makes four rolls (re-rolling and duplicates) for production, flattening the distribution of numbers and ensuring that there won't be and crazy swings in number frequency that result in a runaway. It's another clever adaptation, and we were unanimous in liking it.

Anyway, as things developed, we quickly spread out across the board, plundering as we went. There wasn't too much competition for really juicy plundering locations, although there was some jostling for position. We quickly learned that livestock was king, and started camping good pastures if we didn't have anything else to do. Jarrett started piling up the supply wagons in an attempt to make a massively profitable plundering stack, I started angling for a couple of Scourge of Rome VP cards and Chris was the first to settle down, with Mark quickly following on the edge of the Iberian penninsula.

Fueled by good luck in plundering, drawing a number of no-casualty plunder chits, as well as a fortunate draw of three of the cards which permit unlimited movement, I managed to secure two Scourge of Rome cards for 4 VP. I also drew two VP cards, so after I settled down, I would only need to expand twice to get the requisite 10 VPs. That turned out to be a fairly easy task, and I won 10-8-6-5. We all agreed that the game was better than Settlers of the Stone Age, and I think we'd all be willing to play again.
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