Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tumblin' dice

Hayley and I were invited to dinner last night at the house of a couple with whom we are friends. Dinner was lovely, and the occasion was a good chance to catch up for four people who all have time-consuming careers. After retiring to the living room for after-dinner drinks, a board game was proposed. Our hosts explained that they'd had the game introduced to them fairly recently by a relative and had enjoyed it so much they had been waiting for opportunities to introduce it to other people. A board game wasn't something that Hayley and I had been expecting to play, but we were intrigued and willing to give it a go. We were both very glad that we did.

The game in question is called The Settlers Of Catan and it is simply the most fun board game I've played for a long time. The best way to describe it is as something of a cross between Monopoly and the computer game Sid Meier's Civilisation as there are clear comparisons with both. That said, the game plays unlike anything I've ever played before. As the rules were explained before we started playing I was thinking "This sounds really quite complicated, and not the kind of game I want to be playing after a few glasses of wine", but I couldn't have been more wrong. Whilst the gameplay can become intricate and the dynamics of the game complex, playing the game each turn is actually relatively simple, and both Hayley and I managed to get the hang of what needs to be kept in mind and aimed towards in order to win early on in our second game, after having the first to find our feet. The game ultimately feels very well balanced; it's not too tricky to introduce someone to the game and get them to understand the basic concepts, but it's also a game which isn't afraid to come across as intelligent. I can imagine a game between a few seasoned veterans being fascinating to watch as a masterclass in trading, management of resources and making the most of a given set of circumstances.

I would recommend The Settlers Of Catan to pretty much everyone. Hopefully someone writing on this blog at least will look into it, because it'll give Hayley and I people to play against once we've got hold of our own set and had a bit more practice.


TheTelf said...

Yep - I know James and I have both played it a fair bit (him more than me), and I certainly agree that it is an excellent game.

If I'd argue anything it's that getting a rubbish starting position can hamper you quite a lot compared to the other players, but in general it's an enjoyable and balanced game.

Seconding the recommendation to others who haven't played it before.

James said...

I think the starting points can often be slightly deceptive as a good point is quickly surrounded and expansion choked off and placing last can often let you surmise how rare various resources will be an position yourself accordingly to take advantage of market demand.

My brother has the seafarers expansion which seems to be fairly cleverly written expansion.