Friday, September 7, 2007

The Settlers of Catan

The one game that I love to play is The Settlers of Catan. The fact that I was never a board game addict and I got hooked onto it, explains it! There are few things that have really got me hooked onto this game and I never seem to have enough of it. Spending hours playing it is been the case since I started playing it. It helps to relax and is interesting!

The Game Plan:

The uninhabited island of Catan needs to be built with settlements and that can be done by multiple traders (the players) who have the resources as Wood, Bricks, Ore, Sheep and Wheat to make roads, settlements and city. Each settlement is worth 1 point and a city is 2 points. And then there are other ways to earn points. The first player to earn 10 victory points wins the game. Random maps are created each time you play, so each game provides a new and exciting challenge. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles. Owing to this randomness, every game will have a different resource that is rare! What strategies worked in the last game will not work in the next!
So the idea is, to be the dominant force on the island each time you step onto it!

This is how typical board in Settlers looks like.

Image copyright :
Andreas Steinhoff, images used through Wikimedia, Creative Commons.

The reason why I love this game is that the game allows you to focus on multiple things at a time.

I just love the randomness involved with the game. Every time the board is laid out, there is a different terrain. Thus it becomes extremely important to know where to build settlements.

There is the probability factor involved, wherein one has to know that the number 6 and 7 are the most probable numbers rolled as a combination of the dice. And accordingly place settlements and build roads. 

There is trading involved so you learn the rules of business and at times end up making deals.
Trading is the main method of player interaction in the game; astute trading is another route to victory.

There's teamwork involved at times where two or three people conspire against the person with the most points and refuse to trade with him/her. This way they have to wait for the right resource or make further strategies how to gain that resource.

There is also a Luck factor involved and hence there may be a case where the robber is sitting at the resource you are on, and people keep throwing that number time after time! It's fun and at the same time frustrating for the players! However, bad luck in the game can be mitigated by trading.

The adaptability of the game after each turn is something exciting. After each turn you have to figure out what the other person in planning to do and hence plan accordingly. There may be instances where your roads are blocked and you just cannot make further settlements!

Lastly the surprise element! With a certain set of cards one can trade for a development card! What's exciting is that these are like trump cards. They can contain victory points, or they can contain other things like build 2 roads, or collect 2 resource cards or a monopoly card, where you collect all of one particular resource from the other players! This adds a twist in the tale, as you may be planning on doing something, and then the opponent(s) plays this card! So all your plans needs to be re-worked upon!

This is one addictive game!

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