Recently the content of this blog has been largely to do with computer games. I believe that videogaming is merely but one of many forms on gaming, though it must be said it is a very important one. To steer 103's content away from games consoles and the like I could easily wax lyrical about the joys of traditional pub and board games or I could bore you with endless suggestions, reviews and strategies for very obscure games that don't require a HD display to enjoy. I could talk about Apples 2 Apples or I could explain the intricate human experiment that is the parlour game of Mafia (and I may even choose to do so in future posts) but if I am going to direct your attention to a game that is worth your time in a big way I would have to go for Settlers of Catan.
Every time you play Settlers, the game board is a randomly generated honeycomb from a deck of hexagons. Each six-sided tile on the board represents a land mass that produces a particular type of resource such as bricks, wood and sheep(!). The rough objective of the game is develop and expand your settlement and its economy faster than any of your opponents, where the snag is that development requires resources and the game is designed so that no one player is likely to be able to meet all their own resource requirements at any given time. It's frustrating not being able to build a city because you can't find enough gosh darned wheat, especially when your mate across the board is awash with the stuff and will not trade.
Shrewd cooperation and diplomacy becomes a necessary aspect of gameplay and Catan delivers a great social gaming experience that is never quite the same twice. The social aspect of the game also allows less experienced gamers to effectively impose a trade embargo on players that develop too quickly and this usually results in a tense endgame and a dramatic conclusion. More importantly, the game usually resolves itself within a reasonable time limit of 90 mins including set-up and explanation so a host could easily include Settlers as part of a nice 'n' nerdy social experience at their home.
Without going into the rules too much (although I assure you that they are very easy to pick up, even for inexperienced/casual or young players) I can say that this game is way better value for your money than most games that are out there on the market. It's replay value is immense and every penny you spend on the game is worth it to be able to say "I've got wood"* every 5 minutes. There are also very good expansions for this game should you want to go more hardcore with it. An essential purchase for board game enthusiasts,
*if little ones are playing I prefer to call that particular resource 'lumber'.