“Well _____ is a good game, but it’s no Settler’s of Catan.”
This is a common comparison used by my husband and I when playing new games, and I would assume in the life of many other euro gamers. SoC has become the yard stick that many other euro games are judged on, at least here in the states where euro games are a more rare treasure. But why? And is it really a good measuring stick?
I believe that this game is so readily on the tips of gamers’ tongues when someone inquires about our hobby because it is a very well known game (at least within our geeky realm) and was often one of the first, if not the first, euro game that many of us played. My husband and I are a good example of just that. We were just starting to get into the hobby of gaming, and like many people, that meant scouring the shelves at Wal-mart trying to find something other then Risk that actually had some skill involved. When we finally started going to hobby gaming shops, SoC was the first really good game we purchased. It’s what made us fall in love with the hobby.
In terms of shear mechanics, this game has a lot going for it. It plays in only a couple of hours, everyone is in the game right up until the end, there is just enough luck to help newbies but is still strategy based enough to allow for improvement in your game, and lots of social interaction occurs during the game, yet it is not a “party game”. This combination makes for a “best of all worlds” situation.
Availability also makes this game a winner. While you still can not pick it up at your local big box chain, it is available at game retailers everywhere. From Christmas mall kiosks to Hobby gaming stores, you will undoubtedly run into this title. Even my local comic book store, which only carries about a dozen games, has this one gracing it’s shelves. This ease of access means that many more gamers have or will play this game, and makes it a gateway game for non-gamers.
Lastly, this game is customizable without being collectible. There are many expansion sets to give this game a bit more punch, but unlike CCGs you are not going to be out of luck if you fail to pick up the latest and greatest expansion. The current expansions allows you to scale the complexity and difficulty of the game, as well as the number of players that it supports. This allows the game to be tailored to the taste and size of any gaming group.
Settlers has a superb blend that many games would do well to strive for. It’s not too long, but offers a great balance of luck and skill. It’s availability means that finding a copy is simple, and its expansions allow it to be the appropriate size and difficulty for most gaming groups. With so many good things going for it, why would gamers not bring it up in comparison?
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