Tag Archive: board games


beauty.

so recently i started another blog called ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!]’ which has a different theme for every day and i have decided that i am going to post the Saturday Round Up on my Irresistibly Fish blog so that subscribers can have access to the week that we have just vibed through… so if you missed any of these, pick the ones that look interesting, and enjoy… [the FRIDAY one feels like one of the most significant things i have written for a while so would love for you to at least check that one out if you haven’t and share it with your peoples]…

Monday saw us being enlightened as to the amusing eating habits of a variety of wild animals, performed by a rather silly man.

Tuesday took a look at the death of Margaret Thatcher and some of the unfortunate happenings related to that.

Wednesday asked the question of how your relationship with yourself is doing at the moment.

Thursday was some more self-reflection, but this time linked to the state of your heart, and God’s.

Friday took a rather cutting look at the labels we put on other people and what that might say to them, and to us. [MUST READ!]

[for Last Saturday’s Round Up featuring celebrity marriage tips, angry umbrellas and Cloud Man, click here]

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there is a difference between people who play games and game players – the people who commented on the intro to this blog series post that they love ‘Balderdash’ and ’30 Seconds’ are people who play games… for game players [and it’s not a judgemental difference, just a difference] are the kinds of people who can invest some serious time in a game for both the vibe of the game [people who play games] and also the thrill of the chase [so maybe the difference is purely that what i am calling game players here is the ones who are more competitive… but i do think there is more than that and while i can tell the difference live, it is hard to articulate it here] – if you used to play all night Monopoly games and set aside a whole evening for a game of risk with five of your friends then chances are you are more likely to be a game player…

and if you are a game player then The Settlers of Catan is probably for you – in fact, taking time to learn the game and playing it once or twice will probably help determine which of these two categories you fall into. but if Monopoly and Risk are the only lengthy board games you have ever known and loved then this is a great place to start and a launch pad into many other interesting, fun and challenging games…

the biggest transformation from the Monopoly/Risk games of ages past is the fact that the board is made up of hexagonal shaped pieces that represent the five resources you will be needing to buy and sell within the game – wheat, wood, ore, sheep and brick – which are shuffled up and laid down differently every game. so the board is different every time you play – then numbers are added to each piece of the board which will relate to the dice throws later which also adds a further element of difference and need for strategy shift every game.

being a dice-throwing game there is certainly an amount of luck present in the game which can possibly make or break a game, but for the most part the highly skilled players will win more times than the lesser skilled players, and so there is definitely a greater challenge in Settlers of Catan than there is in say playing Uno without the fast card rule.

the game itself is a combination of dice throws and resource gathering and road/house building as you race towards the 10 points needed for a win.

in 2008 i happened to be in Joburg the same time they were holding the national Settlers playing competition and after five rounds of intensive play ended up being one dice throw away from winning the thing when the unimagineable happened and i threw a seven and had to give half my cards back to the bank and was not able to complete the building and one point i needed for victory… still for a year i was the official second best player in south africa [a year later i was getting married on the weekend of the competition and so definitely chose a better place to be!]

but if you are wanting to see whether you are a game player or someone who simply plays games, or if you are still excited by Monopoly and Risk and have not yet discovered new board-changing games of which there are many in various shapes and forms and styles, then The Settlers of Catan is a great place to start.

have any of you played it? what are your thoughts and reviews?

i gather a lot of people out there will have known settlers of catan but i imagine a lot fewer of you will have heard of this gem – Carcassonne – or as we like to refer to it “Kucky Sahn”

in the slightest bit similiar to settlers in that the board is different every time (thus each game is vastly different unlike a risk, cluedo or monopoly which have a relative sameness to them) and in fact the gameplay is creating the board…

basically your turn consists of taking a square board piece out of the bag and placing it on the table adjacent to another piece already down and then adding one of your men to either a road, a city, a monastery or farm piece – this carries on and whenever one of the above elements are completed you get your guy back and score differing points (1 pt for each road section, 2 for each city piece, 9 points for a completed monastery which is 9 cards big etc) and at the end of the game you score points for all the completed cities the land your farmers are on are touching…

again, one of those games you have to see and play to really get it but the bonus over settlers is that a good game will take between 45 min and an hour and 15 so a lot shorter if you don’t have the time for a whole evening game – and also the expansion packs (we have 5 or 6) are great additions to the game and you can mix and match them (the beautiful val big dream to play a game with all of them together one day) to create pretty much whole new games (cos strategy and tactics change with every addition)

you really should check out this game – again, a little pricey if you buy in south africa (knowing people overseas or who are travelling this way soon often helps a lot) but the price gets erased quickly by the hours and hours of fun that ensue… great way to spend an evening (2 games involving different expansions) with us to 6 people…

who remembers – with great reminiscory reverberations – sitting up all nite as a lightie playing monopoly til all hours of the morning? [pretty much the only way to finish a decent game]

or waging full on risk warfare with your little yellow three edge single men wedges and your bigger yellow five edge ten-men wedges until you had cornered the last remaining opponent in australia and piled the biggest force known to world domination in indonesia to ensure a ridiculously bad-sported overwhelming victory?

well i just thort it was time to highlight a couple of other games that may be just what you need if you have never evolved past those, cluedo, dominoes or uno…

and probably king of the pile is ‘settlers of catan’, or as i got to know it ‘die siedlar von catan’ [my good friend steve taylor taught me the game using a german set] quite a whole bunch of years ago actually, altho it’s maybe just in the last 5 or so that it has taken off hugely amongst me and my friends [in fact, three years ago i ‘happened to be’ in joburg when boardgames.co.za was running their annual Settlers competition and i happened to come second so for a while i was officially the number 2 player in the country!]

the thing about settlers as opposed to one or two of the other games i might mention here is that a game is likely to take you between 2 and 4 hours [our record is 7 and a half *cough* deane hill *cough* please move already cough] and so it is a longer game, but if you do have the time, it really is an absolute winner.

probly the coolest element of settlers of catan is that the board is different every time because the board is made up of these hexagon shaped cards that have one of five resources on them – wheat (hay), tree (wood), brick (clay), ore (ore) and sheep (baa) – and so these cards are shuffled and then put face up to form the board and a differing layout of the resources which affects gameplay – so the game is always different which is nice.

i’m not going to explain the whole game to you here cos it won’t make sense without seeing the board and the pieces and so on but the basic idea is that you have settlements (little hut pieces) and cities (bigger hut pieces) that sit on the edge of three resource pieces, and each resource piece has a number on it, and every time the dice throws and you have a settlement/city touching a resource with that number on it, you pick up the corresponding resource card – so as dice are thrown you are picking up different resource cards which you then use to build roads, more settlements/cities and buy armies and monopoly style community chest/chance type cards which give you special powers and bonuses.

and when settlers – as it is commonly called – becomes a little bit normal for you, there are a series of expansion packs you can buy – which are basically other games using the settlers formula and i’ll talk about my best one – cities and knights – in a later blog

you will never want to play monopoly or risk again… so if you have never played the recommendation would be to change your facebook status to “anyone got a copy of settlers of catan they want to teach me” and take it from there – the game itself will cost you a few hundred rand and so is fairly expensive (cheaper if you bring over from overseas) but it is worth hours and hours of fun and competition…

let’s hear it from those who have played the game…

to see my review of the settlers expansion game Cities and Knights click here