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Subject: Lawyering Up for My Messy Divorce with Settlers of Catan: A Review rss

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Brandt Fundak
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"She's a devil in disguise
you can see it in her eyes
She's telling dirty lies
she's a devil in disguise
in disguise"

--Christine's Tune by the Flying Burrito Brothers

If Settlers of Catan was my girlfriend, I would seriously think about breaking up with her. If it was my wife, I'd be getting a lawyer. Of all of the games that I play (and I play a lot of them) Settlers is the only one that makes me angry while I play it. I'm not just talking a little upset here--I'm talking totally livid. And yet for some reason I can't stop coming back to her.

In retrospect, it's easy to see how I fell into Settler's manipulative clutches. When she shows up for the first time around people who aren't used to her style, everyone in the room "Oohs" and "Aahs" because of her European fashion. When the crowd hasn't seen it before, modular map hexes and the robber impress. People are amazed that she doesn't use her dice to move your pieces, but instead to dole our resources. And those harbor hexes! Allowing you to trade with the bank under better terms or with your opponents? That uncouth hussy Monopoly sure doesn't have that kind of class. And that tramp certainly doesn't have bonuses like the Longest Road and the Largest Army--and she definitely doesn't make it possible for a player lagging behind to come out in front by stealing these bonuses from their opponents. When Settlers is in front of a crowd, everyone knows that whoever is with her is the luckiest guy in the room.

Of course, this is what everyone sees before you take her home. Once you get comfortable with her, the granny panties come out and the flaws start to show. Sure, using the dice to dole out resources, and the way the counters are laid out on the map is designed to mitigate the randomness, but you still can't get rid of it totally. Yeah, the odds say that certain numbers will come up more often than others, but even the Craps table is designed to profit by the fact that a 7 is only going to show up 17% of the time. Other cuter games, like Macao and Alea Iacta Est have figured out ways to mitigate dice randomness better. And even though trading with your opponents seems like its a great thing, Settlers gets off on getting opponents to team up on one player in a three player game. If there's four players, sometimes you can get someone to listen to reason, but usually she turns them against you too. Most of the time, she just gets everyone to ignore everyone else, having them prefer to trade with the bank rather than their opponents. That's not much a trading mechanic. And while she looks like she's got lots of possibilities, it's really a mirage--usually games are ruled by a lack of brick or ore, usually giving the victory to whoever has a stranglehold on the rare resource before the game has barely begun.

Just the other week, my co-workers Jason, Terry and I were playing our weekly Friday game of Settlers. Jason and I were chasing for the same spot, and it was one of those spots that was not only going to give a player the victory, but a dominating victory. Jason won the spot, I kept rolling 2s and the next thing you know, I'm not on speaking terms with Settlers anymore.

So I've had it. I'm done with Settlers of Catan and her hurtful, manipulative ways. I'm seeing her as she really is, warts and all, and I'm done.

Oh who am I kidding? I can't quit this brutal hag. There's still just something about her, that I can't give up.
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Mike Sobotta
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I only bust it out when my family is around. Hopefully I can get them to try citadels next.
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David
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Given you dislike it so much (with good reason in my opinion) what aspect of the game is it that makes you keep coming back for more punishment?
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Brandt Fundak
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david_os wrote:
Given you dislike it so much (with good reason in my opinion) what aspect of the game is it that makes you keep coming back for more punishment?


it may be nostalgia...Settlers is the game that got me into Euro gaming. Plus, that's what the guys want to play on Fridays. Better to play something than nothing at all.
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Simon Woodward
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I read somewhere else here someone said that Settlers is a game that tends to make people angry. I haven't played it enough to know, although I sure get mad when I get blocked where I am planning to build my roads, and I can't do anything about it because of the stupid dice. I do think the trading is supposed to be the heart of this game, but really I'd just prefer to play multi-player solitaire...
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David
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bfundak wrote:
it may be nostalgia...Settlers is the game that got me into Euro gaming.


Continuing with the relationship analogy then, it's a first-love / high-school sweetheart scenario then...
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Holger Hannemann
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The beginning of our relationship was quite similar, but now that I've met the European high-class call girls I rather see Settlers as the beautiful but awfully stupid table dancer to be the attraction at parties with my friends.
Sad but true!
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max raymond
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I see Settlers has a Friends with benefits. I don't call that often and when i do, it's not the best night i could have.

But she's so reliable!





(I'm ashamed of my poor taste metaphor)
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Linda Baldwin
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I still get the requisite amount of enjoyment from Settlers, but I don't play it every week. What you may need is a break. Separate vacations. An affair. Something. Go from once a week to once a month, and get some other games into the rotation, and you may bring back some of the romance.
 
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Brandt Fundak
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Carmilla wrote:
I still get the requisite amount of enjoyment from Settlers, but I don't play it every week. What you may need is a break. Separate vacations. An affair. Something. Go from once a week to once a month, and get some other games into the rotation, and you may bring back some of the romance.


We'll find out if that's the case on Friday. One of the gaming group was out of town on business last week and we didn't play at all. The other member of the group told me he was having withdrawal this morning. I haven't gotten that far yet, but by Friday, it may be different.
 
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