there is a difference between people who play games and game players – the people who commented on the intro to this blog series post that they love ‘Balderdash’ and ’30 Seconds’ are people who play games… for game players [and it’s not a judgemental difference, just a difference] are the kinds of people who can invest some serious time in a game for both the vibe of the game [people who play games] and also the thrill of the chase [so maybe the difference is purely that what i am calling game players here is the ones who are more competitive… but i do think there is more than that and while i can tell the difference live, it is hard to articulate it here] – if you used to play all night Monopoly games and set aside a whole evening for a game of risk with five of your friends then chances are you are more likely to be a game player…
and if you are a game player then The Settlers of Catan is probably for you – in fact, taking time to learn the game and playing it once or twice will probably help determine which of these two categories you fall into. but if Monopoly and Risk are the only lengthy board games you have ever known and loved then this is a great place to start and a launch pad into many other interesting, fun and challenging games…
the biggest transformation from the Monopoly/Risk games of ages past is the fact that the board is made up of hexagonal shaped pieces that represent the five resources you will be needing to buy and sell within the game – wheat, wood, ore, sheep and brick – which are shuffled up and laid down differently every game. so the board is different every time you play – then numbers are added to each piece of the board which will relate to the dice throws later which also adds a further element of difference and need for strategy shift every game.
being a dice-throwing game there is certainly an amount of luck present in the game which can possibly make or break a game, but for the most part the highly skilled players will win more times than the lesser skilled players, and so there is definitely a greater challenge in Settlers of Catan than there is in say playing Uno without the fast card rule.
the game itself is a combination of dice throws and resource gathering and road/house building as you race towards the 10 points needed for a win.
in 2008 i happened to be in Joburg the same time they were holding the national Settlers playing competition and after five rounds of intensive play ended up being one dice throw away from winning the thing when the unimagineable happened and i threw a seven and had to give half my cards back to the bank and was not able to complete the building and one point i needed for victory… still for a year i was the official second best player in south africa [a year later i was getting married on the weekend of the competition and so definitely chose a better place to be!]
but if you are wanting to see whether you are a game player or someone who simply plays games, or if you are still excited by Monopoly and Risk and have not yet discovered new board-changing games of which there are many in various shapes and forms and styles, then The Settlers of Catan is a great place to start.
have any of you played it? what are your thoughts and reviews?