Settlers of Catan: Online & Free

747px-Settlers_of_Catan_-_standard_mapI have a blast playing Euro Games. By far my favorite Euro game is Settlers of Catan. I was introduced to this awesome game by a few of my cousins that used to live nearby. Sadly, they’ve graduated high school and have moved away leaving my Catan player base generally below par. To counter-act this lack of Catan playing, my pal Randy directed me to a location to play Catan online!

Aso Brain Games is a site built by a couple of competent developers from the Netherlands. They’ve coded an excellent Java version of Catan that allows you to play solo or multiplayer; basic ‘Catan’ or ‘Cities and Knights of Catan’. To avoid copyright violation, the game has been renamed to Xplorers.

If you’re on the hunt for an online Catan game…
Aso Brain Games is all you need :)

Also, if you’re a fan of Carcasonne, they’ve got that game as well…dubbed “Toulouse.”

A Weekend of Euro Gaming

MeepleAs I alluded to in my post on Settlers of Catan, I’m a fan of European board games (Euro Games). In my mind, American gaming companies (sans Avalon Hill and Cheap Ass Games) have a lot to learn about good, fun, sexy games. I’m not alone. I was born into a competitive family. My sister is just like me. In fact, this weekend I plan to drag my wife down to Boston for a weekend of board gaming with my sibling. We’ve begun initial planning; you know, travel timing, board games we’re bringing, and a schedule.

Yes. I said a schedule. You see, we have a number of board games between the two of us and there are only so many hours in the weekend. My sister asked for a schedule and I replied with the following ‘loose’ schedule:

As for a game schedule: I’d say this:

Friday:
7:00-7:30 arrival and situation (greetings, bathroom, games transport, parking, etc)
7:30-8:00 Food & I explain Thurn and Taxis (a very easy game to understand)
8:15-9:45 Thurn and Taxis
10:00-12:00 Carcassonne

Saturday:
6:00-8:30 Robo Rally
8:30-10:00 Settlers: Cities and Knights
10:00-12:00 ???

Sunday:
10:00-12:00 ???
1:00-3:00 ???
3:00-5:00 ???
5:00-6:00 pack up and leave

Room for movement and change…but not solid enough for my sister who really wants to maximize her gaming. Here was her response:

Fabulous… we should firm this schedule up and maybe have it printed out and laminated by Friday. I have some edits already…

I like what you have started but we have to consider that Friday you and Abby may be tired from traveling and Thurn and Taxis will be a new game to Joe and me. I suggest we play 2 sessions of Thurn and Taxis Friday evening in order to #1 accomplish learning a new game, and 2# give Joe and me the opportunity at a fair game once we are fully educated, therefore letting the potential fun-level sink in, in order to up the chance of Joe wanting to own the game himself. (thoughts?) Rarely it seems, can a newly introduced game be played only once and still be fully appreciated by a non-gaming crowd. (again, thoughts?)

Saturday I agree that we should start early in the evening with a new game considering it is always a bad idea to teach a new game once a crowd is teetering on becoming tired. Waiting until later could be detrimental to the potential for crowd likeability if newbies are tired and irritable… so. You will have STUDIED thoroughly the rules to Robo Rally by 6pm when play commences. Again, as long as the crowd is on board I believe this should be played twice. Then starting at 10:00pm we can end the night on a strong note with a game previously learned and loved: Settlers: Cities and Knights. (thoughts?)

Sunday we should be up at 8/9ish. Breakfast by 9:30. Play begins promptly at 10:00am. I suggest a nice light session of Ticket to Ride to kick off the morning. Easy to teach, yet not to thought provoking for those still in sleepy mode. Then another Settlers: Cities and Knights match… Joe will want this and we will need to get it over before Abby is tired and not compliant since it isn’t her favorite game. :)

1-2:00pm: Carcassonne. I believe at LEAST one session will be in order.

The last and final game should be dictated by a crowd vote. Each person will select their game of choice, whether that be a new game such as A Game of Thrones which remains unplayed, a newly learned game, or game that one itches for a re-match at. These game selections will be placed in a hat and the the selection will be drawn by the pregnant lady representing pureness of heart. We will all engage in the final game with smiles and enthusiasm as we recognize that no matter what the selection, this is our grand finale.

(THOUGHTS?)

I almost busted a gut at how precise the schedule was. She saw fit to give Abby and me a little room to poke around Boston during the day on Saturday before we got back to gaming. Awesome. It’ll be a sweet weekend!

Settlers of Catan

747px-Settlers_of_Catan_-_standard_map I’m a fan of Settlers of Catan. The game is ballsy and tons of fun…as a matter of fact, I played and triumphed last night :) Anyways, for those of you out there that haven’t a clue what the game is about, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The players in the game represent the eponymous settlers, establishing a colony on the previously uninhabited island of Catan. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles (“hexes”) of different land types each producing one type of resource: ore, grain, wool, lumber, or brick. One hex is desert which does not produce anything.

As players establish towns and cities on the island, each settlement can receive resources for its adjacent hexes (with cities yielding more resources). The resources, represented by cards, can be used to build more roads, towns, or cities, and to obtain development cards for later use. Various achievements, such as building a town or establishing the longest road, grant a player one or more victory points. The winner is the first player to accumulate ten victory points on his turn.

Players are allowed to trade among each other the resources they have produced, and to trade “off the island” for a hefty price. It is difficult for any one player to produce all the resources necessary for progress, so astute trading is the strategic heart of the game. Player interaction is further complicated by the presence of a robber, which is used to steal from other players and hinder their production of resources. There is no combat. Apart from moving the robber, refusing to trade, and cutting off building routes, there is no way to harm other players. The settler theme and economy simulation gameplay are similar to the 1983 personal computer videogame M.U.L.E., though Teuber may have developed them independently.

Settlers of Catan has rapidly become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex. At a recreational level, the game is well-suited for family play. No one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards quantized goals that are within reach, such as building a city in a certain space. Home games generally take between one and two hours to complete.

The layout of the board and restrictions on building allow for a player to be boxed in through poor play or bad luck. Also, given the random component of board layout, it’s possible for players to gain a monopoly on certain resource, and demand steep trade rates from other players.

Along with the main game, you can buy a number of expansions that will really changed the game! The Americanized expansions are: Seafarers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan, 5-6 Players Basic, 5-6 Players Seafarers, 5-6 Players Cities and Knights. One thing that sucks in that regard is the fact that if you buy the 5-6 Player Basic expansion and the Cities and Knights Expansion…well, to play 5-6 player Cities and Knights, you need to buy another box…5-6 Player Cities and Knights. It gets a little expensive, but well worth it!

If you have the chance to try this game out…do so. Don’t be daunted by the rules as they seem complex at first, but they really are simplistic. You’ll thank me later.