July 26th, 2007


It was a little over a year ago that I saw Settlers of Catan for the first time. Brian had been telling me about it (and a bunch of other card/tile-based games) for a while, but when a bunch of us Internetians met last year, he brought Settlers with him.

I didn’t play, but I observed some play, and it confused and frightened me. “No, thanks!” I said.

Settlers of Catan was introduced in 1995 by a German games company, and it won “Game of the Year” that year in the German market. From there it’s gone on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide and gain several expansion packs. (source) In a nutshell, the game is about getting resources and using those resources to build roads, settlements, and cities in an effort to earn Victory Points. The first person to get ten Victory Points wins the game. It’s about strategy and trading, but it’s more about sitting around a table talking to friends.

About two months ago, Settlers came to Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft’s “download games to your console’s hard drive” system (which, as a side note, is completely awesome). It was a departure from their usual offerings, like Pac-Man, Gyruss, Castlevania, and Street Fighter II, along with several made-for-XBLA games. I decided to download the demo and give it a try – partly because Brian was hassling me to do so, but partly because I was interested, despite my claims otherwise. I’d been hearing about the game from other people here and there as well, and a demo I could play against the computer seemed a good way to get my feet wet.

The demo had a Tutorial that led me through the whole process of the game, step by step. About two seconds after I played the tutorial, I bought the full game. Shortly thereafter, I played an online game with Brian and a friend of his. I was hooked.

A few weeks ago, we took a trip down to Louisville, Kentucky, to see Josh and Gretchen. Before we hit the road, I stopped at our local game shop and picked up an actual copy of the game to take with us. If I’m remembering correctly, two games were played that weekend. Since then, a week hasn’t gone by that a game hasn’t been played. I introduced it to some people in the Career Class, and we’ve since learned there were already some fans in the class. Most Career Class gatherings now tend to have a Catan outbreak. A few weeks ago, a fellow classmember bought the 5-6 Player expansion pack (thanks, Jeremiah!) and gave it to me, so now even more people can play at the same time. There was one gathering over at Lee‘s house that saw two games going on at once, with a total of ten people playing.

While the game is fun, for me the better part is playing with friends and talking. Sure, there are bouts of bitterness here and there (“Why won’t you trade with me?” “You’re 8 points ahead of me!”) and the occasional… let’s say “non-standard, non-legal” moves made (read: “cheating,” whether intentional or not!), but it’s good to sit down with friends and play a game and talk, whether it’s around a table or on Xboxes in different parts of the country.

Two other effects the game has had:

  1. Brian gets to say “I told you so!” to me (And he does. Often.)
  2. Now I’m considering buying a copy of Carcassonne.

8 Comments on “Settling”

  1. Kenthe2 says:

    Welcome to the club. I been playing for two years. In fact I just played a game last night…and I won. Not that that's the most important thing, but it sure is fun.

    You're right though, about sitting around with friends. It makes the game fun.

  2. Kenthe2 says:

    By the way, Carcassonne is another fun game. It works better than Catan as a two-player game, which is great for newlyweds or couples with children too young to play (my family).

  3. Brian Arnold says:

    I would agree – Carcassonne makes for a much better 2p game. While you're not supposed to play Settlers with 2p, I've done it, and it's definitely not the same.

    We've sometimes mixed it up, where we'd do two players, but each player controls two teams on the board, and you're trying to steer one to victor, but that goes a bit fast, so then we'll bump the point count to like 14 cumulative points. It tends to work decently.

    My next recommendation would probably be Ticket to Ride, but I wouldn't really push another game until you've had a lot of Catan and Carcassonne. :)

    And I won't say "I told you so" because, well, I've said it enough lately. :D

  4. wendles says:

    Yeah, well, sorry about that bitterness coming from my end of the table the other night. Guess I need to work on not being such a sore loser.

    (oops…I actually won that game didn't I?)

  5. M. Kate says:

    Thanks brian its provided a many a good time.

  6. wew says:

    Kelley's late husband, Edward, loved this game so much, he started an after-school club when he was in his second year of teaching!

  7. SpirituallyStarving says:

    With all your road trips to see friends … you should know there are travel editions of these games that you could say … play while taking the train to go see your bother and his wife, or your mom, or your friends! I would suggest a bus trip as well as they are always interesting, but I think it would take to long to teach someone you may meet, while a train you may find that 30 year old xbox live gamer that has been itching to test his newly acquired online skills to some real world test.

    I was going to buy Settlers of Catan for Noah a year ago, I went back to the game store (ironically the only game store I have been in that has NO video games at all) and pick it up and they have been sold out every time I have made my way there. Now I am toying with the idea of playing it on Xbox Live, I just haven't had the time to-do more than download the demo.

    Having played both Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan so long ago I am afraid I would be destroyed online :-) I think my gamer skills are better related to hey there is a bad guy, lets go nuke him!

  8. Coach C says:

    Every time you post about gaming (video, not gambling) it sounds like Charlie Brown's grandmother on the phone to me.

    I just don't understand. . .

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