Tag Archive: settlers


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?

So this last week we played Settlers (card/board game similar to but better than Risk for the uninitiated) 3 times and i didn’t win any of the games… two of them were extremely frustrating cos of the nature of the games where i was totally taken down by the dice throws or lack thereof and in fact during the one i went thru a run of 13 dice throws and only picked up once (which is just crazy)

But actually the main point is i lost… three times… unheard of for last year’s Settlers National Championships silver medal position placed person (ha, seriously though) and for someone as competitive as me (a lot!) it should have been tough and sucky and painful – and to some competitive extents it was – but actually it has been a great week… in hindsight and life lessons and character growing and so on… because i really have been trying to work on my losing, and do much better at it.

Some people are just natural…um not natural losers, that sounds bad, but natural good losers i guess – one of the guys we played with is a dude called James who stays pretty much the same whether he wins or loses, whereas we have pretty much a whole whine society who will tell you it was the dice throws and the board setup and the trading and blah blah blah (and i’ve previously been chairman of the society so the fingers are point right back at me no worries) and James just enjoys the game i think…

And that’s cool, and it’s what i’ve been wanting for a long long time. But i am very competitive. And i think there is a way to stay competitive but have the same level of enjoyment whether you win or lose. Especially if it’s my wife beating me (as she did at Scrabble and Thurn and Taxes – new game we played – today) because i seriously love her a lot and it brings me great joy when she wins. Now i just have to increase the joy when she wins against me.

So ja, working at becoming a bigger loser. And we got a game on tomorrow lunch so the opportunity is very definitely there.

[oh wow, just read previous blog and didn’t even remember that i’d written it – obviously a topical topic, Al.]

brett i-whinehouse

My name is brett and i’m a whiner.

“Hi Brett!”

And it’s not cool. And i’m really trying to change, and it usually manifests in games [Settlers of Catan largely, occasionally Scrabble or Rage, sometimes hockey…].

And it’s usually justified situationally. For example Settlers last night which is a Risk-type (but much, much better) strategy game, where i started with a vengeance and everyone including myself thort i was going to dominate and then i went (playing with 6 people) 15 turns in which i picked up only twice… and so the dice-throwing cost me the game, no doubt… BUT Emo Kev played a great game and won and, as far as i can make out, the lousy dice-throwing was not his fault at all… and so my pointing out (repeatedly, and possibly keeping a scorecard) how lousy the dice-throwing was, detracted from his win, which is swak. Sorry Emo Kev.

And it really is something i have been trying to work on and even before last nite’s game i said to myself ‘no talking brett just play the game’ but i don’t think i’ve had as unlucky a game dicethrowwise as last nite and so i just got completely sucked in and whined.

Urgh.

[i should add in addition to that, that whining has been a part of my game winning strategy when i do win because it misdirects and makes people hesitant to grab cards from me and rather pick on other people so i am fully aware of that – i have used it to good effect on a number of occasions to sneak wins… but that is not cool.]

We’re playing again Thursday. I’ll try be better.

p.s. ‘whiner’ not to be confused with ‘winner’ cos they are VERY different.

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