Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a popular German breed of board game. It has a few simple and attractive concepts which somehow make it into an incredibly fun game. Incredible, as I can literally not quite credit just how it is so much fun.

The game has you collecting resources from the land you own, correspondent to the throw of the die. By spending these resources, you can essentially choose to claim more land, add value to the land you own, or progress your overall operation. Similarly to other games I’ve played (such as the Age of Mythology board game), you collect Victory Points by achieving things. Accumulating 10 of these, openly or secretly, results in a win for you.

Catan board

Much like in Monopoly, trading is very open and player-defined, except for a few rules which streamline proceedings by making it impossible to tribute another player in an imbalanced fashion.

The roll of the die tends to benefit all players the same as long as they’ve spent their very first turn wisely. As a result, the game relies more on skill than on chance, and there is an overflow of things to be found within its mysterious depths; far too many strategies to comprehend on the first or second play. Players of Catan gain a web of understanding, and must gradually soak it in the game’s very ichor.

As there is only one moving board piece, the game can be played effectively on paper. This is something I am currently documenting, but a thorough reference to the Catan box contents has been posted on boardgamegeek by one droberts441.

Since this game has been called the board game of our time, you would do well to check it out if you’re not already a fan, it really is very good.

Ideal Randomisation

It’s harder than I thought to blog regularly, not because I’m running out of ideas, but because of the time constraints. Now, my post propa:

I like to play games that I make up in my head. They usually require paper, and a randomiser, such as a die (or dice) or a calculator. They can range from RPGs, to war games, to farming simulations. Like in one of my previous posts, the games that you make up yourself can be the most fun, if you apply imagination. However, I want to be able to do that everywhere; in class, at home, in transit, and in bed. Paper is mostly available, but each situation demands something different from a randomiser. Here are my demands:

  • Small
  • Limited (preferably no) mechanical noise
  • Requires no extra space (to roll or flip)
  • Does not require flat surface (to roll or spin)
  • Available/portable/generally practical. (As in, a phone in a classroom is not.)

I will be marking these using a positive coefficient; higher number means desirable result, out of 5:

ID Size Noise Space Surface Practicality Total
Die 6 5 0 1 2 3 11
Spin wheel 4 3 3 0 1 11
Coins 5 2 1 3 4 15
Calculator 0 5 5 5 1 16
Phone 2 5 5 5 1 18
Frustration-style 4 0 4 3 0 11

…and on reflection, a phone isn’t really that ideal.
What I think would be perfect, is a little electronic device, the size of a d6, with 7 inset LEDs, which has a small on-off switch, and a little roll button. preferably on a key ring. I think that if that doesn’t exist, there is a gap in the market.

More thoughts on this another time?