Update – February 2017

It’s February!

Let’s review how well I’m doing with my New Years Blogolutions:

  1. To try and post as regularly as I can, even if it means sitting in Starbucks for five hours writing posts.

Well, I haven’t been to Starbucks, I will admit, but that’s only because there isn’t one near where I live now, and it’s very cold outside. But! I have achieved regular posting even if I haven’t achieved the desired every Sunday for Catan posts and Wednesdays for other stuff.

2. To follow through on all my plans for the year at least long enough to see if they’re worth making a permanent feature.

I’ve done okay at this one. I’ve achieved two posts for the Games You Can Make At Home series, and one Catan post, so that’s one new thing and the theme both present there! However…. I haven’t managed to research any games. Things have been busy round here and my internet access is rubbish at the moment. But I’m getting proper Wifi on the 6th, so I should be able to pick things up then!

Other update news…. The next game in line with #Discworldathon is Guards! Guards! which will (fingers crossed) be going up in the middle of the month. The re-readathon for that is being hosted by A Novel Haul here on WordPress and also Twitter with the handle @anovelhaul. So feel free to follow up on what she’s up to with the re-readathon.

That’s everything for now, if we’re lucky I’ll get a post up on Sunday, we’ll have to see.

Over and out~

Mim

The Seafarers of Catan

5 - 5

Year of Publication: 1997

In The Beginning…

Was the island of Catan, and on that island small groups of people settled and expanded, becoming farmers, miners, shepherds and lumberjacks. However, the island proved to be too small to sustain multiple civilizations, so some of the people took to the seas to find new places to settle, and they became known as the Seafarers of Catan!

Okay, these Catan posts are going to be a little different to the normal reviews; as I’ve already done a full review post on the original Settlers of Catan I’m not going to do the “What’s In The Box” photos for any of the expansions or extensions, but instead only for the spin-off editions, like Starfarers of Catan or Star Trek Catan as those games are very different to the original. Instead all I’m going to do in these posts is to say which pieces are added to the base game to play the expansion and then review the differences in game play and give my opinion. All clear? Excellent! Without further ado:

What’s New?

Seafarers is obviously set over multiple islands, so each colour player is provided with 15 ships of their colour, which can be built by spending one sheep and one wood resource cards on your turn, and can then be used to travel to new places.

In addition to those the expansion also includes a large number of sea hexes and extra sea edge pieces to make the board bigger. Because several islands are involved in playing this game there are extra Catan Chits, with numbers on them to produce resources. There is also the new resource of gold, which allows a player who has a settlement built on one to claim one resource of their choice every time its number is rolled.

In original Catan each settlement gains a player one victory point, and a city is worth two. In Seafarers you get a bonus victory point for the first settlement you build that’s not on your original island, which is quite exciting. There are a few additional tiles that you put underneath such settlements so you don’t forget those points.

Lastly, in addition to the robber who lives in the desert, there is now also a pirate ship, which, obviously, lives in the sea.

Playing The Game:

As you can see from the above pictures, the way players begin the game is exactly the same as in the original Catan game, each player starts with 2 settlements, each with a road attached, and takes resources from one of those settlements to begin the game.

A players turn is exactly the same as in the original game; you roll the dice to claim resources (being wary of 7, which I’ll explain the differences of in a minute), then you build roads/settlements/cities/ships or development cards or trade for resources with other players and play development cards, and then you pass the dice to the next player, ending your turn.

Rolling Seven!

Rolling seven is the same as in the original Catan in that the player who rolls seven gets to move the robber, and can take a resource from any player effected by where they move it to. Additionally any player with seven or more cards in their hand still has to discard half of them (the lesser half in the case of an odd number, i.e. if I have 9 cards with a seven is rolled I must discard 4).

BUT!

In the Seafarers version of Catan the player who rolls the seven has the choice of moving either the robber, or the pirate ship. The pirate ship works slightly differently to the robber – the robber prevents resources from being harvested in the hex it’s on, but doesn’t do anything else. The pirate ship however has to stay in the sea, and so, instead of preventing resource production, it prevents a player from building new ships that would sit on any of the sides of the hex it’s on.

dsc_0319

As you can see, in this picture the pirate ship has been moved onto a hex that the orange player (me) is currently trying to sail through. However, until the the pirate ship was moved I could not build any more ships there.

Game play proceeds in the normal way; each player tries to build settlements, roads, cities and development cards in order to collect the required number of Victory Points – in this edition 13 – to win the game.

dsc_0322
Blue wins the game!

The winning player is the first to reach 13 Victory Points and the game ends immediately when that happens.

Strategy:

I would say that getting to the coast is key in this game; with the addition of ships the possibility to extend your road is literally doubled and the extra Victory Points gained both from having the longest road, and from building settlements on new islands are valuable. The winning player when we played had a combination of luck (good dice rolls gaining him lots of resources), settlements upgraded to cities, the longest road, development card Victory Points and settlements on a new island – so literally every possibility in the game!

Also, if one player is in a much better position to win than the others, feel free to make an agreement with the other players to not trade any resources with them, there’s no shame in sabotaging someone else’s chances to further your own cause!

In Conclusion:

This expansion is, in my opinion, worth buying, as gives that little bit extra to the basic game, making it more interesting. This game also has many different scenarios, some of which I may write short reviews of over the coming year, which gives it more diversity than the original version, which can be altered, but not drastically.

I recommend this game as an excellent family game, and good for both board game nerds and board game likers who aren’t ready for anything more intense.

dsc_0325
The smug face of the winning player.

 

 

Update! And Happy New Year!

Alright everyone!

It’s January and the Twelve Games of Christmas are now finished until December. Hopefully they’ve been an entertaining interlude over the holiday, but now it’s time to get back to business!

As promised I am now going to unveil all the plans and things that we’ve been preparing for this year.

The Plans:

Aesthetic Blog Changes:

First though, for anyone who’s been on the blog regularly, they might have noticed that we’ve had a bit of a makeover. Dave took an editorial walk around the blog and we decided that it was probably time for a change. So,  there’s a new banner, which is tied into part of my plan for the year, plus there are some updates on the About page, making our About info somewhat more up-to-date.

We now have a Contact page, which is quite exciting. Our official blog email is there and that’s checked at least three times a week by me. We’d like to invite anyone reading this to contact us if there’s a game you think we should review, or if you’re developing a game and would like us to play it for you, and help promote it!

Whilst Dave was wandering around editing stuff he thought that the blog looked somewhat like it was run by a pair of goths, hence the new, slightly less gray, colour scheme.
Okay, that’s all the aesthetic changes that have been made since November, now, onto the plans for the year!

The Games and Posts-Related Plans:

As you’re all aware from my November and December Updates there are interesting things happening this year.

The first of which is the already mentioned Discworldathon, which is happening on three blogs run by my family, and a fair few others run by people I don’t really know. Over the rest of this year there will be Discworld game posts going up, approximately every other month starting this month. These will be much shorter than our previous in-depth game reviews, and more tied to the books and films. These are a side-branch of what we normally do, as we thought a little cross-genre blog interaction could be a really good and interesting thing, definitely something with potential for the future. Discworld fans, keep an eye out for those posts!

The second plan for this year is to begin research into old games, from different countries around the world. To research the cultural history of those countries, and the developments of the games that they traditionally played. To be totally honest I don’t have any idea how that’s going to pan out, or even if it’s going to work. At the moment I don’t really know how much information is available to me and I don’t have tons of time to trawl through every resource or book or whatever. So, we’ll see how that goes. My intention is to try and post one research-based post per month, focusing on one country at a time. If there’s lots of information to be had I may extend it to two months focused on the same country.

The third plan is for a series of short posts, similar in nature to those about the Games We Made making suggestions for games you can make at home if you’re bored, or if you don’t have lots of storage space for boxes and such. My idea is make a collection of paper games that can be stored flat in one big folder, or something similar. Those posts will be a little sporadic, as they’re taking the back burner to all the other stuff at the moment, but I think they’ve got potential to go on for a decent amount of time.

Lastly, Games We’re Reviewing This Year!

I hereby proclaim this to be a Settlers of Catan year! I intend to find and play every expansion and spin-off of this game series over the next twelve months. Although there are a lot, there aren’t actually enough to post a different expansion or spin-off every week for twelve months, so the Catan posts will be mixed in with other Catan-ish games that I can find over the rest of the year.

Very very lastly: I can’t promise one post every week at the moment, as I’m in the throes of moving into a new flat, which doesn’t have any wifi yet, and might not have for quite a while. So I’m going to have to borrow wifi from other people for a while, or write all the posts on my phone (which isn’t an appealing idea to me). My new years blogolutions are:

  1. To try and post as regularly as I can, even if it means sitting in Starbucks for five hours writing posts.
  2. To follow through on all my plans for the year at least long enough to see if they’re worth making a permanent feature.

That’s everything! Hopefully this wasn’t long enough to bore you, and you’re still going to come back and read our first real post of the year, whenever I get it done!

 

The Settlers of Catan

5 - 5

Number of Players: 3-4

Year of Publication: 1995

Creator(s): Volkan Baga, Tanja Donner, Pete Fenlon, Jason Hawkins (Artists) and Klaus Teuber (Designer)

Create the Best Civilisation and become King of Catan!

Okay, you don’t actually win the title “King of Catan” if you win the game, but it’d be cool if you did. Instead, you just win the sheer joy of winning, which is almost as good. Settlers of Catan is a brilliant game, primarily for its simplicity and versatility. Because of the way the board gets set up, no two games are ever going to be the same and it’s got so few rules that anyone can learn to play!

What’s In The Box:

The stuff!
The stuff!
  1. 19 Terrain Hexes and 6 Sea Frame pieces – set up in one possible arrangement for play.
  2. 9 Harbour Pieces
  3. 18 Circular Number Tokens (chits)
  4. 95 Resource Cards (19 each of Stone, Sheep, Clay, Wood and Grain)
  5. 25 Development Cards
  6. 4 “Building Costs” Cards
  7. 2 Special Cards
  8. 16 Cities (4 each in Orange, White, Red and Blue)
  9. 25 Settlements (5 each in Orange, White, Red and Blue)
  10. 60 Roads (15 each in Orange, White, Red and Blue)
  11. 2 Dice (one Yellow, one Red)
  12. 1 Robber
  13. 1 Game Rules and Almanac Book

Playing The Game:

Objective: To develop your civilization fastest in order to gain 10 Victory Points and win the game!

Setting up the Board:

To start the game you set up the board so it looks more or less like the photo below. You give a few of the Terrain Hexes to each player. They’re then laid out in that honeycomb kind of pattern, and edged with the Sea Frame pieces. There’s no set layout for the beginning of the game, so the hexes you get given can be placed anywhere. Once the board is set up each player chooses a colour and takes all the Cities, Settlements and Roads for that colour. They also take the Building Costs card of that colour. Then the Circular Number Tokens are placed on the board. These tokens all have both a number and a letter on them, numbering from 2-12, missing only 7, and having the respective letters A-R. One player then chooses a starting tile, and places the Token with A on it. The other tokens are then laid out in alphabetical order moving clockwise around the board. One of the Terrain Hexes is the desert, this is the only Hex which doesn’t have a token placed on it.

Starting set up for the game.
Starting set up for the game.

Once that’s been done, the grey Robber figure is placed on the desert Hex, and each player can then place two of their Settlements, and two Roads on the board. Settlements (and later Cities) are always placed on the corners of the Hexes, so your Settlement will be on the point on a Hex where two or three Hexes meet. Roads must be placed on the edges of Hexes and connected to a Settlement or City of their colour. To start, your Settlements can be placed anywhere on the board, but following this they must always be connected to a previously existing Settlement by a road. To start each player collects one Resource card for the tiles they have Settlements on, for example, at the start of the game above, White would receive two Stone cards, one Clay, one Wood and one Crops.

Turns:

A players turn is divided up into the following phases:

  1. Rolling the dice, moving the Robber and collecting Resources
  2. Trading Resources with other players or the bank
  3. Building Roads or Settlements, upgrading to Cities and buying Development Cards

Rolling the dice always happens first, and the number rolled reflects which Resources will be produced on that turn. There are two Number Tokens for each number that can be rolled, apart from 12, once the dice are rolled, find these, and anyone with a Settlement on the corner of the corresponding piece receives one Resource card for that tile. On a roll of 7 no Resources are produced, and the Robber’s moved. The player that rolled the dice can now put the Robber wherever they like. If placed on a tile, the Robber prevents any Resources being produced for this tile until someone else rolls a 7 and moves him, so he can be a huge inconvenience to your opponents.

Like this:

Here the Robber was preventing me from receiving any Sheep Resources
Here the Robber was preventing me from receiving any Sheep Resources

Next you can trade Resources. This is done verbally and with the exchange of cards. One player simply states which Resources they need, and what they’re prepared to offer for them, and other players may accept or decline. Or haggle, if they feel so inclined. if a player has a lot of one Resource they can trade five of one Resource in to the bank, in exchange for one different Resource of their choice. If a player rolls a 7 all players must also count how many cards are in their hand, if they’ve got more than 7 Resource cards in their hand they must discard half of them, in the case of an odd number, for example, 9, you round down, so you would only discard 4, not 5.

It’s also possible to use the Sea Ports to trade resources, but you have to have a Settlement or City built on one of the three points adjacent to a port to use it.

Finally you can build things, your Building Costs card tells you how much each thing will cost you in Resources, and you discard Resources into the Resource bank to build on the board or buy Development Cards. Settlements or Cities must be connected by at least two roads, so they cannot be on the points next to each other, meaning that only three Settlements can ever be on one Hex. You must also have a connecting road before you can build a Settlement.

Play continues like this until one player has gained 10 Victory Points!

Winning the Game!

Winning the game actually isn’t very difficult, each Settlement you build is worth 1 Victory point and each City is worth 2. So you start the game with 2 Victory points, for your two Settlements placed before game play starts. You can also gain an extra 2 Victory points for having the longest unbroken road, this is one of the Special Cards, and is awarded once a player has a road at least five segments long. However, this card can get passed around a bit, as other players build longer roads. In the game we played, I had the longest road:

I was Orange, my road was 8 segments long
I was Orange, my road was 8 segments long

So I got the extra Victory points on the Special Card:

Longest road!
Longest road!

So, the end of our game looked like this:

I win!
I win!

So, ignoring the tea, ice cream and small rubber duck, this is what the game looked like at the end, I had acquired here, Longest Road, Largest Army (which is the other Special Card, Knights can be acquired by buying Development Cards and you get Largest Army once you’ve got three) and then also some Cities and Settlements.

Strategy!

This game can be played strategically, at the start of the game, when the board is being arranged, look for areas where a lot of one resource are concentrated, if you build both your starting Settlements on these and then quickly expand your Roads you can create a monopoly on one resource, forcing other players to trade with you for whatever you demand. Alternatively, try and build you Settlements so that you get as many different resources as possible. Both these are acceptable ways to start the game. One thing I would say to not do is this: unless you’re going for monopoly on something DO NOT BUILD YOU SETTLEMENTS CLOSE TOGETHER TO START. Doing this is going to severely inconvenience you later in the game. It makes getting Longest Road, or heading out to resources on the other side of the board much harder. Also, don’t be too harsh with trading, if you have something another player desperately needs, don’t ask too much for it, as they might get annoyed, and refuse to trade something you really need later in the game. It’s all a question of balance, getting as much as possible out of the trade without being unreasonable.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. One of the first European games to achieve real popularity outside of Europe – it’d sold over 15 million copies by 2009.
  2. There are over 50 Scenarios and Variants now available for this series of games.
  3. There are only four base expansions to this game, which are: Catan: Seafarers, Catan: Cities & Knights, Catan: Traders & Barbarians and Catan: Explorers & Pirates.
  4. Die Siedler von Catan is a novel, set on the island of Catan, written by Rebecca Gablé following the popularity of the initial release of the game.
  5. Settlers has been created and recreated online over the years – it used to be playable over MSN, for everyone out there who remembers when MSN was the going thing!
  6. A series of mini stuffed animals based on the resources produced in the game was released by Mayfair, call Catanimals.
  7. A version of the game to be played on Nintendo DS was announced in 2008, but has yet to be released.

To Conclude:

This game has a rating of 5 because of how versatile it is, and how easy it is to play, the rules have little to no ambiguity in them, the storage space in the box is well laid out and therefore not annoying, and it’s a really, really fun game to play, which takes between an hour and an hour and 40 minutes, more or less. Which I think is an almost perfect running time for a game, long enough to be interesting, without becoming boring! It’s a brilliant family game too, as the simplicity of the rules allows for younger players!

Update – March 2014

This month is going to be themed Conquest, Survival and Civilization Games. Long have I been a fan of RTS (real time strategy) computer games, basically having been addicted to Red Alert back in the day and it still probably being one of my favorite computer games of all time. So naturally, I quite like the idea of these games, as they’re a table top version of the same thing; additionally I used to be a big fan of Warhammer in my early teens so this a slightly less costly version of that too. However, the first game in this month doesn’t fit quite so nicely with the others but we figured it had to go in somewhere as my amazing sister got it for me for my birthday and its one of our favourite games! Also the last one is a bit of an odd fit but likely you can see how they’re kind of related.

Games for March: – Conquest, Survival and Civilization Games

Monday the 3rd – Escape from Atlantis

Monday the 10th – Battle Cry

Monday the 17th – Conquest of the Empire

Monday the 24th – The Settlers of Catan

Monday the 31st – Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery

Other Things to Note:

  • Ratings system! As I should have mentioned before we’ve taken to rating games out of five, and we’ve even done it in pictures of little chess pieces that can now be seen at the top of our review posts! Additionally, if you actually go to the post rather than viewing it on the home page you’ll see there’s a function to rate it yourself out of 5 stars at the top; if you give it a high rating we’ll assume you’re rating the quality of the post, if you give it a low rating we’ll just assume you’re rating the game and you don’t like it very much.
  • Another point of interest is, to highlight some movements in the games, we started making stop-motion animated gif pictures that are pretty cool and will hopefully get cooler as we get better at it. Check out our first one of The Luggage in the Guards! Guards! post HERE and expect a few more in the coming months.
  • I (David) have also started another blog that’s about freedom, philosophy and just obscure things; it’s called Illusion of Free Will check it out by clicking that hyperlink, it’s full of obscure thoughts that cross my mind.
  • Lastly, we’re thinking of putting a word limit on our posts to try and force us to be concise, is this a good idea? Are our posts too long? How can we make them better? Let us know in the comments.
  • And just because this picture made for twitter to promote our Cripple Mr. Onion post is so cool, here it is again:

CMO

Like us on facebook HERE and follow us on Twitter HERE and more cool pictures will be showing up on your news feeds!