One of the many awesome wedding presents Ann and I received (and yes, we have finally begun sending out our thank you’s now that she’s defended) was a copy of the boardgame Settlers of Catan.
Before we got married, our board games consisted of multiple editions of Risk, a specialized version of Axis and Allies, Star Wars Monopoly (original trilogy, of course), Ogre, and a copy of Scrabble that Matthew gave me after seeing the previously listed games. Having decided that we wanted to better entertain our friends (if we still had them) we registered and received many more socially-acceptable games such as Cranium, Balderdash, and Sorry (thank you Aunt Judy, Uncle Joe, and Alex!).
Along with those games, which I enjoy but have played many times, I registered for a game that was new to me — Settlers of Catan. I knew that it had sparked the wave of German board games in the nineties of which I had only once played a disasterous game of Puerto Rico. Despite that experience, I’d heard good things.
Just before Christmas, Matthew and I talked Sheila and Ann into playing a game, and though it takes at least two hours to play, we actually enjoyed it alot. We’ve now managed to squeeze in a second game, and I think I’m hooked. The real source of addiction, however, is that you can play on-line against people (or bots) thanks to a really nice java version of the game. With most of the game mechanics automated, it’s possible to play games in only 15 minutes.
Although there is decently steep learning curve, once you get the hang of the game I think that most of the people reading this post would find it quite enjoyable. The basic idea is that you need 10 points to win, and these points can be acquired in a combination of many different ways. The game is played on a hexagonal map represting the distribution of resources on an island. The resources are randomly distributed and randomly numbered. Each player starts with two settlements located at the vertices of the hexagons, and at the start of each turn dice are rolled. The hexagons with the same number as dice roll produce resources for any adjacent settlements. These resources can be used to build new settlements, roads (new settlements must be connected to old ones), or various upgrades. The randomized game board and random resource generation give a nice poker feel to the game, especially since interacting with the other players is crucial.
Anyhow, I suggest trying the game out.