May 8, 2008

New Settlers of Catan Meetup

by Susan Rozmiarek

Due to the previously mentioned burnout and springtime demands on my time, this poor blog has been very quiet. It's time to wake it up again, perhaps with smaller postings more in line with my busy lifestyle. (edit: This did not turn out to be a "smaller" posting but I couldn't stop once I started to the detriment of the chores that I should be doing instead. Oh, well)

In News of the Blogosphere, let me say that I'm glad that I'm lazy and don't clean up things like out-of-date subscriptions in my newsreader. If I did, I would have never seen the new post on Chris Farrell's long abandoned blog pointing people to his new one. Chris' critical game reviews are some of the best I've ever read. I don't always agree with him but he often sees a game in a totally different way than I do which makes for very entertaining and thought provoking reading.

My gaming time has also taken a hit lately as well, which I hope to rectify in the coming summer as things quiet down. Hopefully, Ed and I can start attending our old, regular Thursday group again. We have been going to the monthly, local Meetup group which continues to grow quite large and diverse. I am often torn between hand-holding the noobs through their first game of Ticket to Ride or getting up a game of what I really want to be playing with the seasoned gamers. Fortunately, I still adore Ticket to Ride so it's all good. This group is on hiatus through the summer but to fill its place there is now the.....

Settlers of Catan Meetup group. It seems that there is a wave of newbies here being sucked into the vortex of eurogaming through the magic of Settlers and they've organized a dedicated group. Does that game have some invisible aura around it that I just can't see? I'm simply amazed at its gateway powers. I will admit that the card game version is partially responsible for sucking me into the hobby, but by the time I got around to playing the basic game, I'd already cut my teeth on the likes of Euphrat & Tigris, Elfenland, and El Grande and they excited me a lot more. BUT, I do start to realize the magic of Settlers with the addition of new twists and chrome like those in the historical scenarios and major overhauls like in Settlers of the Stone Age. There are still so many that I haven't played yet and I'm hoping that with this group I'll be able to work my way through them. Shoot, I still have the entire Das Buch to explore. We also hope to introduce people to a few other games besides Settlers.

The first meeting of the Settlers group went well. There was a lot of interest but unfortunately, attendance was limited due to the small venue. There were two tables going and Ed and I played a basic game with the group's organizers. They had been trying to play the game with just two and were quite enthused to be playing it for the first time with more. We felt that it would be rude to foist our house rule on our host's first game so we did not play with the Food Stamp Variant. I have said over and over how I refuse to play Settlers without this variant and once again proved that I need to live by my convictions.

After a dismal, resource-scarce game, Ed abandoned Settlers and broke out our copy of Pandemic that we had smuggled in and taught it to our hosts. It went over very well. I joined the other table to play Cities & Knights at the urging of a seasoned Settlers player who insisted that this was the only way to play and that I would never go back. Well, I wouldn't say that, but I did like this expansion quite a bit. Believe it or not, I had never played it despite the fact it has been on our shelves for years. What I liked in particular was the city development and the way it is tied into city resource production. Development cards are now much more a part of the game. I could have done without some of the added bits but on the whole I though they all added more decisions and flavor to the game. I do have one big caveat, though. I had to leave early and we only played about half the game. One of the biggest criticisms I've heard leveled at Cities & Knights is the increased length and I didn't get to experience that to judge for myself.

The organizers have secured a bigger place and the second meeting is next weekend on a day we can actually make it. Will our interest in Settlers hold? Will we be able to introduce them to other games and expand our gaming opportunities? Stay tuned.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 8, 2008 7:57 PM


Thanks for mentioning that Chris Farrell is back on the blogosphere, Susan; I hadn't heard. To be honest, I'm less fond of his writings than I used to be. His continued negativity (I always wonder with gamers who seem to dislike so much of what they play, why do you game?) and VERY strong opinions can be a bit wearing. Plus a tone of correctness has crept into his work. I mean, it's okay not to like Through the Ages and Twilight Struggle, but don't write about them as if EVERYONE should dislike them or assert that it's only a matter of time before folks wake up to the flaws in these games. It can get annoying. Still, he writes well, analyzes deeply, and can find redeeming qualities in even the most pallid and themeless Knizia game, so it's well worth checking out. I'm glad he'll be writing regularly again, if only to get my blood pressure somewhat elevated on quiet mornings. Thanks for posting the link.

Posted by: Larry Levy on May 9, 2008 12:24 PM

I certainly can't argue with you, Larry. He is one cranky gamer. I think his negativity is why I find his writings interesting. His are the type that I like to read after I've played the game, so I skip over some of his stuff.

Posted by: Susan on May 12, 2008 8:58 AM
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