15 November 2007

Review: Settlers of Catan

In Eric's family we are big into games. I've always loved games, but we didn't play a lot of games when I was growing up. One year for Christmas, my brother, Steven, got Monopoly. He, my mom and I did stay up all night playing Monopoly that year. I also recall getting a set of dominoes and begging people in my family to play with me. Plus, we also sometimes played Uno and Crazy Eights. But really, nothing like Eric's family.

And so I've decided to blog about the games we play- what they are, the basic ideas of the game, and why I like and dislike each one.

Today, the topic is Settlers of Catan. I was first introduced to this game during my freshman year at college. I immediately fell in love with it because of the strategy involved, the changing nature of the board, and the clear and definite end to the game.

In Settlers, there are hexagonal pieces that fit together to make a board. The pieces represent goods including ore, bricks, wood, sheep and wheat. Somewhere in the board is a desert hex, and the board is surrounded by an ocean with ports. In order to earn goods, you must be built on a hex when the number on that hex is rolled. As you acquire goods, you can purchase development cards and build more settlements and cities, thus allowing you to acquire even more goods. Also, the robber comes when a 7 is rolled. The first player to 10 points wins. I know that was a lousy explanation, but I'm not trying to teach you to play. I'm just giving you the gist of the game.

When I was first introduced to this game, it took me a long time to win. In fact, I was so obsessed with winning that people could call me at just about any time, and I would agree to play with them. Folks would be in the Morris Center looking for somebody to play, and somebody would say, "Call Sherry. She'll always play." They were right; I would. Once I finally won, I no longer would drop everything to play. It took me a while to get there, though.

I like this game because it is generally pretty easy to track people's points. You rarely have a surprise ending where somebody comes out of the blue and blows everyone out of the water. At the same time, games are often close as people wait for just the right number to be rolled at just the right time.

I also love that the board is different each time. Sometimes everyone has more sheep than they can handle and is begging for ore. Other times everybody wishes they could get rid of their wood to get some brick. Sometimes you build on the desert just so you can have two goods with good numbers. It's always, always, always just a little bit different than every game you've played.

And there's a lot of strategy involved. You want to be built on a wide variety of goods (hopefully all of them), but you also want to have good numbers as well as a wide variety of numbers. There have been games where I was built on every single number. That means I get at least one good every time somebody rolls. Sweet deal for me. If you're only built on 5, 6, 8, and 9, you have a high likelihood of getting those numbers rolled, but it's not necessarily as good as having a wide variety of numbers. There is also strategy in where you build, what ports you use, when you play your development cards and where you upgrade your settlements to cities.

If you enjoy strategy games and have not yet played this one, I highly recommend it.


Bart said...

Settlers is fun. On the luck-strategy continuum, it may be a little too much on the luck side, but it's still fun.

Are you and Eric available for a New Year's Eve game night again? If so, we just need to get Abe and Erin and we'll be good to go!

Janssen said...

I remember playing this MANY MANY times with you and MacKay and having him beat us both every dang time. Whenever I could tell I was going to win, my heart would start pounding and not stop until I had actually won. I was always SO afraid he was going to trounce my MUCH NEEDED WIN!!