Games to play during Quarantine

As the world is being swept up by COVID-19 and people are being asked to quarantine themselves to avoid spreading the virus, I realized that this is a time where human contact is going to be kept to a minimum no matter where you are or how directly Coronavirus is currently affecting you. This is something that is particularly scary about this type of virus- it’s ability to spread quickly means that we have to isolate ourselves in order to keep things from escalating further.

As I start to plan my next few weeks where I will avoid public interaction, I realized that my belief that board games bring people together is only partly true. In reality, there will be board game groups and conventions that inevitably get shut down to increase safety, but those people already shut off from the outside world can use games as a way to entertain themselves during a difficult time. So in that line of thinking, I have decided to put out a list of board games that work well either solo or in small groups and would be good options for anybody who needs a way to entertain themselves during a time with less options than normal. I have divided the list up into single player game options as well as multiplayer for families who will be staying inside together (note, some of the single player games have multiplayer options as well). So, without further ado and in no particular order:

SINGLE PLAYER GAMES

pyramid

Solitaire (1 player)- There are a lot of different types of solitaire, so as long as you have a deck of cards you have plenty of possibilities! A personal favorite of mine is Pyramid solitaire, where you set up the cards in a pyramid and try and match 2 cards together to equal 13.

scythe logo Scythe (1-5 players)- Scythe was included as part of the review in my last post, but I wanted to bring it up here as well because there is a one player option for the game. While I have not played the game as a 1 player game yet, but I have heard the solo experience is challenging but fun!

Bananagrams 1Bananagrams (1-8 Players)- Bananagrams is a fast paced spelling game where you create a Scrabble-like board as you go. It’s a fun game for multiplayer but also can be entertaining solo, where you can test your speed in creating words with the tiles you draw.

 

IMG_2861

Zombicide (1-6 players)- Zombicide was one of my favorite Board Game of the Week games, and it is one I play regularly to this day. Similar to Scythe, I have yet to try out the solo version of this game, but with its flexibility and ability to play as multiple characters, this is a good in-depth game that will be fun and take up a long stretch of your day.

 

Dungeon Roll Chest Dungeon Roll (1-4 players)- Dice rolling games are always a lot of fun for me, and Dungeon Roll is high on my list in that category. This fast-paced game is perfect for multiple playthroughs and would be a good addition to anybody’s game collection.

 

MULTIPLAYER GAMES

 

spot itSpot it! (2-8 players)- Spot it! is a great game for children and adults alike, and fits well into the family game mold. The game itself is very straightforward- the goal is to find a symbol on one card that matches with another card. The fun of the game is that each card is different, and there are multiple different types of gameplay options that keep it interesting through multiple playthroughs.

7 wonders duel7 Wonders (2-7 players)/7 Wonders Duel (2 players)- I have reviewed 7 Wonders in the past, but I have not put up a review of 7 Wonders Duel. Nevertheless, both games are great options for playing with small groups- 7 Wonders fits well into the 3-4 player mold, whereas Duel is specifically created for 2 player games.

DixitDixit (3-6 players)- Dixit is another game that works well with families, and is suited to a 3-4 player game. It’s artwork is beautiful and the gameplay is simple and easy to pick up, meaning that it can be played by all ages. There is technically a way to score and win, but a lot of times people will just play for fun or until they get bored.

 

unnamedStratego (2 players)- Another game dedicated to 2 players facing each other, Stratego is a strategy-heavy game that is great to play in any circumstance. I recommend it for people who like chess and want to try something similar, but with a different overall strategy.

 

pic1534148Pandemic (2-4 players)- Part of me hesitated when choosing this game, based on the subject matter and how it directly correlates to why people aren’t able to be as social as they normally are. Nevertheless, this is the perfect game for groups of 2-4 and is a fun way to distract from the actual virus spreading. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea in this particular situation, but as I mentioned in my review of it a few years’ back, it is a great cooperative game that promotes working together in an industry that normally focuses on direct competition.

 

Obviously this list of games is nowhere near a full list- in reality, all of you can just as easily take out your own personal favorite and play that as often as you’d like. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the different types of games out there and how they can be a distraction during tough times. I hope that all of you are staying healthy and safe, and are able to enjoy this time of “social distancing” as best you can.

Concordia vs. Scythe- Double Game Review

 

For Christmas this past year, my lovely wife got me two new board games for our collection- Scythe and Concordia. We had a chance to play both before and wanted to make sure we had the games available to play any time. We have gotten a chance to play both games since and have had a great time playing each game- I highly recommend them both for people who like games like Settlers of Catan and other expansion/building games.

Since I have played both games recently, I thought it would be fun to do a comparison review and pit the games against each other as a way to kill two birds with one stone. I have set up 5 categories and given my thoughts for each, but first let me give quick summaries of the games:

Concordia- 

concordia board

Published in 2013, Concordia is a game based on the expansion of the Roman Empire. Described as a peaceful strategy game, Concordia focuses around expanding your foothold across the Mediterranean Sea by acquiring resources, adding colonists, and expanding your deck of cards which ultimately count towards your total points for the game.

Scythe- 

scythe logo

Set in an alternate reality with a 1920’s Steam Punk aesthetic, Scythe focuses on farming for resources, building Mechs and structures, enlisting recruits and fighting for territory on the board. Created in 2016, the engine-building feature of the game focuses on taking specific actions each turn and upgrading each type of action to be more efficient.

This obviously only scratches the surface of what these games are about, so let’s dive into the different review categories I created where we can go through the game in more detail.

Game Quality/Artwork- The first thing I can say about each game is that they are both beautiful quality with great design all around. Both games match the theme they created quite well, with Concordia having a classic feel with bright colors across the map, and Scythe diving into a darker and more gritty look. Scythe has more opportunities to show off beautiful artwork, with it’s player and faction mats and action cards all having expansive drawings of different characters and events in this self-contained world. Concordia’s cards are more simple but match the theme well, feeling like scrolls with a different message included on each.

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The one area I would say that both games were a bit lacking is the resource pieces: to me, this isn’t a major flaw, but it is something I noticed when playing both games. The resources you accumulate are represented by wooden pieces, and while the quality of the wood is good the shape and look of the resources themselves is a bit bland. The best example I can give is the Food resource in Scythe- to me it looks like a pot of gold which was somewhat confusing when I first played the game.

Note: I have the base version of each game, and after some research I saw that both games have enhanced versions with pieces that were better quality. I completed reviews based on the game versions that I had. Below is an example of the differences between Scythe’s pieces, with the base ones I have on the bottom:

resource compare

WINNER: Scythe

Rules- One thing that is important to know about these games is that they are complex and have a large number of different rules and components. Each rule book is substantial and there is a lot of time dedicated to understanding the flow of the game and the different components. Game setup was straightforward for both games, with clear pictures in the rules showing how the board should be set up and step by step instructions for where everything goes.

Of the two games, I feel like Concordia had a slightly better set of rules that were easier to follow. This might be because the game mechanic is a bit more straightforward, but when I read the rules of Concordia I knew the purpose of the game more at the beginning and felt more comfortable with the gameplay as a whole. Scythe feels more like a game that you should play with friends who have already played- trying to learn everything without guidance can be very difficult. In particular, rules for resource collection and movement feel more complicated than normal games and take time to fully understand.

WINNER: Concordia

Gameplay- By far the most exciting thing about these games is that they both have completely unique game mechanics from any other games I have played- they both are innovative and provide a great new style of gameplay for my game collection. Each one has its strengths and it’s honestly tough to say which style is better.

Scythe focuses on a gameplay mechanic where you can choose 1 of 4 options on your Faction card, each with 2 separate playable options. This means that in total there are 8 actions you can play each turn, and you can choose to take 1 or 2 actions depending on your resources and situation during your turn. These actions include moving your pieces, trading and farming for resources, enlisting for special effects, upgrading your board to produce more and cost less, deploying powerful and versatile mechs, bolstering your power/gold/popularity, and building structures on the board. The interesting part of the gameplay is that you can’t take the same action twice in a row, so you have to strategize how to play each turn and think a few turns ahead, while adapting to other player’s actions on the board.

Concordia, meanwhile, uses a card-playing mechanic that gives each player their own personal deck with different abilities on each card. You start with your whole hand available to you, and each time you play a card and take that action, your hand gets a bit smaller. Eventually you can choose to take a turn to pick up all of your cards again, but waiting to do this until later is preferred because you get money bonuses the longer you take. Card actions available in the game include moving colonists, producing resources for players in a specific territory, gaining coins, trading resources, purchasing new cards to add to your deck, and copying the effects of an opponent’s previously played card.

WINNER: Tie

Scoring- Another complicated component to these games is how they are scored- both games have a scoring mechanic based on the resources and goals accumulated throughout the game, and both games have a twist on how these points are accumulated. Concordia’s scoring is based on the number and type of cards in your hand at the end of the game- the more cards of a particular type, the more points you get for that card’s effect (example, scoring points based on the number of territories you control). Scythe, meanwhile, has the same scoring for each player but the multiplier is based on how popular your character was based on their actions throughout the game. You can gain or lose popularity through a number of different actions, and at the end of the game you fall under three tiers of popularity, with the highest tier scoring you the most points.

The biggest issue I had with scoring is that it felt like I didn’t really understand HOW to score in order to win the first time I played the games. Both Concordia and Scythe feel like games where you need to play at least once or twice before you are able to grasp the full strategy of gameplay. If this were a bit clearer upfront, it would make people first playing the games more comfortable with their moves and decisions. I felt like of the two games, this was more the case in Scythe than Concordia, which is why I give Concordia a slight edge in this category.

WINNER: CONCORDIA

Play Time- If you don’t like board games with long play times, don’t play these games… especially your first time playing, these are definitely multi-hour games. The time goes by quickly for both, but it definitely is surprising how quickly you lose the day or night as you play.

Technically speaking, both Concordia (100 mins) and Scythe (90-115 mins) are clear about this upfront. However, I would mention that in both cases I have usually gone over the expected times for these games. This definitely feels like it is because I am still learning the rules or playing with people who are learning the rules, but it’s important to mention nonetheless.

WINNER: Tie

Overall- I know that I have brought up some criticisms in this review, but in reality the areas that I had issue with were minor inconveniences at most. In reality, both of these games are amazing and I plan to include them in my regular gaming rotation.

If I were to choose between these two games, my personal preference has to be Concordia. Scythe is brilliant and I enjoy the gameplay and feel, but Concordia feels like a more straightforward game to me while still being just as exciting. The gameplay is fast paced, with turns going quickly, and everyone is engaged during turns to see how people make their moves and how much more time they have. Overall, both games are worth your time and money, but if you were going to pick up only one from stores today then Concordia would be my recommendation.

WINNER: Concordia (4.5 out of 5)

CONSOLATION: Scythe (4 out of 5)

 

Overwhelmed: Committing to Board Game Design

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Hello to everyone who is still following this blog! I have to admit, part of me is surprised that I have kept this page running even after I stopped posting regularly. I suppose part of it is due to laziness, another part stubbornness, but the main reason is that I have always wanted to find the time to build back up to posting about board games on a regular basis. Ultimately, I have had a lot of changes in my life over the last few years that have prevented me from doing that, but I have decided that in 2020 I will give it another shot.

In my first post back, I wanted to highlight something that has been giving me a level of anxiety for quite some time now. As I have written about in previous posts, I came up with an idea for a board game that I have spent multiple years tweaking, play-testing, and trying to mold into something that can be published in the future. Of course, the game is still not perfect- I have had some play-testers help me with tweaks and I made some pretty significant rule changes over the past few months- but I have found myself hitting a wall trying to decide where to go from here.

One thing that I have learned about myself is that I have trouble finishing projects that I start- I have an idea that I love and I work it to the point where I get tired of it and do something else. I have trouble committing to an idea and getting it past the finish line, and in this regard I think that board game design is my nemesis. There is so much that goes into creating a board game: creating the rules, play-testing, graphic design, manufacturing, reviews, funding… it’s all very overwhelming. I see some of the projects on Kickstarter and wonder if I can ever come close to that level of quality with my game. But I also look back at the time I have spent on Star Crashing so far and don’t regret it, because I do believe that this could be a game that is a lot of fun.

So I guess, I am writing this post for a few reasons. First and foremost, if any of you are feeling overwhelmed with a project or a goal, I hope you know that you’re not alone. Everyone struggles in life and things that are worth working hard for don’t come easy. Second, I am hoping that fellow board game designers, or aspiring designers, see this and feel compelled to offer their advice in the comments below. And finally, this is a long-winded way of saying that I am going to get back in the blog posting game! Hopefully you will all be reading a lot more from me as I try to get back to my reviews, musings, and board game development updates. So Happy 2020 everyone, let’s get to it!

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First Playtesters Done!

Hello All, I hope your Springs have collectively Sprung and you are getting ready for a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! This is just a quick update based on my last post which talks about my new board game prototype and offers up prototype boards for playtesting. Well, I’m writing with good news- the first round of testing is officially done! I was able to send off my 2 game copies to volunteers who tried out the game and have sent it back, with feedback pending. Shoutout to Libby and Kellen for kicking things off, I appreciate you giving the game a try!

IMG_6231 (1)

So now that the first attempt is done, I am again looking for volunteers who are interested in trying out my game! If you would like to receive a copy, please E-Mail jsdixonvab@gmail.com with the request or comment on this post and I will reach out to you directly. You can also go to my Star Crashing web page for more information about the game before you try it out!

Star Crashing- new Prototype and Web Page!

Well, better late than never I suppose.

After almost a year since my first official Star Crashing playthrough, and a lot of big changes in my personal life (moving to a new place, starting a new job, getting married, that sort of stuff) I’m back on the board game developing horse! Next on my list: make more than one prototype so I can share my game with other interested parties. I put some more work into this version, using stickers and glue instead of trying to photoshop everything into a single low-res photo, and ended up with a pretty great result:

I even made a logo to use for the boxes and all of my online accounts! I’m by no means a graphic designer but I feel confident that these games will serve their purpose until I feel confident enough to find a professional and start looking into mass production options. Based on that, the next step on this lengthy journey is a big one: board game testing by people other than my friends and family! That’s right, I’m opening my game up to the masses in the hopes that I can get some impartial critiques. So, if you find yourself interested in trying out a new game, I’ve got the perfect opportunity for you!

Which brings me to my second big update: the Star Crashing web page. I’ve created a page with information about the game and instructions on how to request a copy. You can go to the Star Crashing tab on this blog’s main page, or just simply click on the click right here:

https://theboardwalkgames.com/star-crashing/

Alright folks, that’s all for now- hopefully I’ll be writing again soon with an update about all the people who tried out and loved Star Crashing! And hey if not, I’m sure you’ll hear from me again in another year or so…

Game Testing Recap

Hey everyone! As I mentioned in my last blog post, rather than playing other people’s board games I have been working on a board game of my own. I came up with the idea for this game almost two years ago, and I have been fine tuning it ever since. Last weekend, I invited a group of my friends over for a play through of the game and gave them a chance to mercilessly rip it to shreds. Luckily, their criticisms weren’t all that bad, and I’m hoping to make the game even better thanks to their help!

A few highlights from the game testing:

  • 13 players attended, giving us the ability to play 3 separate games with 4, 4, and 5 players. I was able to watch the games and give guidance/answer questions which was extremely helpful.
  • In preparation for the game, I ordered 5 prototype boards and printed out playing cards. It’s not a finished product, but it works well for our purposes and it’s nice to be playing on an actual board rather than cardboard. Below are a few pictures of the board and the pieces!

  • While two of the three games used the standard set of rules I originally created, I gave the third game a set of variable rules to try out. It was a success, meaning that I now have two gameplay options to include in the rules and am even creating a third option for shortened gameplay!
  • I received feedback from every player in the form of a survey, with a number of recommendations for improvement. I am now in the process of making tweaks based on their suggestions.

Now that my friends have helped me with their thoughts/critiques, I am excited to say that the next phase is where all of you come in!

I Want You to Test My Game

 

Now that my friends have given me their thoughts, I am hoping to branch out and get some critiques from neutral parties. Since I know you’re all board game enthusiasts, I’m hoping that you will help me out by giving the game a try and letting me know what you think!

So, what is this game about you ask? And how do you get a copy to try? Both great questions! Currently I am in the process of making some tweaks to the game and getting some better-quality pieces. Once that is complete, I will be sending out a new blog post with a description of the game and some basic mechanics. I will also be creating a new tab on this blog with an online application to receive a copy of the game for playtesting. If the game sounds interesting to you and want to give it a shot, complete the application and I will send you one of the prototype boards to try out. All I ask is that you give me some feedback about your gaming experience, and if you liked it then spread the news!

Alright, that’s all for now- be on the lookout for the next post, I’m excited to see what you all think about my game!!

Back In Action

Hey everyone, long time no post! I’ve been putting this blog on hold for a very long time (almost a year to be exact) for a number of reasons. Work has been crazy, I’m getting ready for a wedding, and while my love of board games hasn’t diminished I find myself with less time to dedicate to finding and playing new games. All of that being said, I’ve decided to pick this blog back up for one major reason: I am currently in the process of designing my own game!

I’ve had this idea for a game for at least a year now, but I have finally started dedicating time to it and it’s turning into something really cool. I have recently ordered prototypes to use for play testing, and I am hosting a game night next weekend. If all goes well, I should be sending out the game to other bloggers for reviews, and getting a Kickstarter campaign up and running!

I will be setting up a separate page on this site to dedicate to the new game- it will have a basic rundown of the gameplay, some pictures, and an option to sign up to be a play tester yourself. If you have any interest in playing the game and letting me know your thoughts, or if you have any game design experience and are interested in working with me (I have minimal Photoshop experience and need a good designer/manufacturer), send me a message and I’ll follow up as soon as possible!

 

Board Game of the Week- Bang!

Bang! Full Set

  • Game Title: Bang!
  • Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Players: 4-7
  • Average Game Time: 20-40 mins
  • Game Publisher: dv Giochi
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3955/bang/
  • Game Designer: Emiliano Sciarra
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Bang! is a game that was recommended by one of my coworkers, who got it for me in an office Secret Santa. It’s taken me some time to play it, but I finally was able to bust out the western-style card game this Cinco de Mayo. After playing two rounds of the game, it was easy to see why it is a regular for my coworker: the game is easy enough to learn, involves enough strategy to keep you engaged but not too much to over-complicate things, and overall was a great way to spend an hour with my friends.

Bang! splits up each player into a number of different roles based on the main players of a classic Wild West showdown. Each role has a different objective as they play the game, and roles are distributed randomly so that nobody knows who is who (minus the Sheriff). The roles and their objectives are listed below:

Role

Objective

Sheriff

Must eliminate all the Outlaws and the Renegade, to protect law and order
Outlaw They would like to kill the Sheriff, but they have no scruples about eliminating each other to gain rewards!
Deputy They help and protect the Sheriff, and share his same goal, at all costs!
Renegade

He wants to be the new Sheriff; his goal is to be the last character in play.

Because nothing says Wild Wild West like a good chart…

The number of roles differs based on the number of players, so the game scales in intensity based on how many people are playing. There are also character cards that give each player specific traits and skills that help them reach their objective.

Once both roles and characters are dealt out, the game starts with the Sheriff and goes clockwise. Each turn consists of three actions: drawing 2 cards, playing cards from your hand, and discarding cards until your number of cards match your current hit points. Bang! LogoPlaying cards is the majority of the turn, and there are a number of different cards with varying immediate and long term effects. The most crucial cards are Bang! cards, which allow you to shoot anybody within range. Once you declare who you shoot, that player has the opportunity to play a Missed card, which lets them avoid taking damage. If a Missed card isn’t played, that player loses one hit point. Lose all of your hit points, and you are out of the game. The game ends when either the Sheriff is killed, or all Outlaws and Renegades are killed.

Bang! CardsThe strategy involved with this game took some getting used to, but once you get the hang of things it becomes fun and engaging. Knowing who the Sheriff is gives him/her a disadvantage, but the Sheriff also gets an additional hit point, gets to go first, and in certain instances has deputies to help. In addition, the Renegade only wins if the outlaws are killed before the Sheriff, so the player who is the Renegade has to work to harm the Sheriff without them dying and take out the rest of the characters first. The outlaws seem to have the easiest job, but with a number of other characters having different  motivations sometimes tipping your hat too early and going straight for the Sheriff can make things difficult for you. Overall it feels like you are able to win as any of the characters (in our first round the Sheriff won and then in round two the Outlaws won), so there’s a good sense of balance that some competitive games lack. Another fun aspect of the game is the shooting distance- shooting distance is based on who you are sitting next to, meaning it is easier to shoot someone next to you than someone with multiple people in between. There are weapons and abilities to enhance your ability to shoot, but there are certainly times when you are restricted in your ability to use Bang! cards on people.

The only real negative I saw in this game is that it seems to be tailored more towards larger groups. The first time I played with 4 people, the minimum number for a game, and because of that we had fewer roles to choose from in the game. We only had one Sheriff, two Outlaws, and one Renegade, meaning no Deputies were included. This made the game less strategic and I found myself wanting to see how the Deputies affected the outcome. In addition, the distance restriction is very low for 4 players because you can always hit two players and then you only need a slight boost to get to the fourth player. I found myself enjoying the game a lot more the next time I played it, when we had 6 people. The game included a Deputy which added strategy to who the Sheriff shot, and the ability to shoot everybody in the game was much more limited.

Bang-Box

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this game: it’s engaging, the style is cool, the cards are all useful to the game and the character abilities add a nice bit of extra flair as well. I recommend the game for anybody who likes mid-level strategy games and the ability to shoot your friends in the face… metaphorically, of course.

Jack’s rating: 4.5/5 stars

Board Game of the Week- Joking Hazard (for players 18+)

joking-hazard-box

  • Game Title: Joking Hazard
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Average Game Time: 30-90 mins
  • Game Publisher: Breaking Games
  • Website: jokinghazardgame.com
  • Game Designer: N/A
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Disclaimer: This game has adult themes and is meant for players 18 and up. Do not buy this game for children and then get mad at me that it is inappropriate. Please and thank you.

Another Kickstarter funded game that takes a popular comic series and warps it into a fun, ridiculous, and inappropriate game came into my life last week. Joking Hazard is a card game based on the comic Cyanide and Happiness, which you’ve probably heard of if you’ve spent more than five minutes browsing the Internet. In case you haven’t, Cyanide and Happiness focuses on awkward and inappropriate reactions to situations and condenses them into a three-strip comic panel. Joking Hazard takes these elements and turns them into an extremely clever, wild, and raunchy game with Cards Against Humanity-esque decisions and a feeling of depravity that just can’t be beat.

The game is very similar in gameplay to Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. You have a set of 7 cards, there is a judge that rotates clockwise every round, you play a card facedown and the judge chooses which card is the winner. The differences are fairly straightforward, but are important to the flow and style of the game. For starters, the cards are all single panels of a comic that you use to form a complete strip with two other
panels. The first panel is drawn from the draw pile, the judge places the second panel either before or after the first one, and then each player other than the judge chooses a panel to place at the end, completing the strip. This means that there is only one deck of cards, rather than two like in CAH and Apples to Apples, and each one is meant to be paired with other cards to form the final joke. The person who played the card that the judge picks keep their card to tally the score, and then play continues until you decide it’s time to stop.

The positives in the game come from the amount of creative ways you can play the cards and the game’s ability to keep you on your toes. Because each card is suited for a different situation, there joking hazard wife left meare a huge number of possibilities and directions you can take when playing a card. At first when I read my cards I assumed there was no way I would be able to use some of them, but sure enough a round came along where they were the perfect fit. In addition, the fact that the judge gets to play one of the cards is a huge positive in comparison to CAH and Apples to Apples. The judge actually gets to shape the story the way they see fit, which can very quickly add to the hilarity.

One downside to the game that I saw was that there are definitely times that your cards aren’t a good fit to the panels that have currently been played. This is an issue that comes up with any of these games, but the times when everything is a dud seems more noticeable when shown in comic style. This was rare when I played, but after a few more run-throughs I wouldn’t be surprised if it became more noticeable. In addition, the game seems to be a lot better in small groups. I’ve played once with 4 players and once with 10, and ultimately the game with 10 was still fun but it took longer and felt like some good cards got lost in the shuffle.

Joking Hazard 1

Ultimately this is the type of game you want to have for get-togethers, parties, and alcohol related shenanigans (if you are the type for that). I once again want to stress that this game is not one you want to be playing with or around your kids, but when you have a group of fun loving adults it is a great game to have in your collection.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Who Plays Catan Anymore?

settlers-full

For what felt like my entire childhood, Settlers of Catan was a staple of my game nights. My High School friends wanted to play any time we hung out, and it felt like I would be trying to conquer the resource island weekly. The first article I ever read about board games online was about how Settlers of Catan started the board game revolution and brought about a “golden age” in board gaming. I was under the impression that the game settlers-boxwould never get old… but I have started to realize that the Mayfair Games classic may not be as bullet proof as I previously thought. The reason that this idea popped in to my head was simple: over the past few weeks I played a few rounds of Settlers with two different groups of friends. After the last time I played, I randomly started thinking about how long it was since I had played and I couldn’t even remember how long ago it was. I’ve had so many other games to play, and it seems like Catan always finds its way onto the bottom of the pile. If I ever recommend it to my friends they usually say that they like the game, but would rather play something different. So I started to think about why I’ve been seeing this trend over the past few years. What makes Settlers the less popular choice nowadays? I think this is due to three big factors.

The first reason why Settlers isn’t as popular nowadays is the amount of games that are available to people now. Back ten years ago it felt like the only new game people had on their shelves was Settlers of Catan. I know from personal experience that if I wanted to board-game-shelfplay a board game, I would either be playing an old school game my parents bought me or I would be playing Catan. Games like Pandemic and Ticket to Ride started to catch on in the early 2000’s, and slowly but surely game shelves started to grow and grow with new, exciting games. Fast forward to the present, and it feels like there’s no end to the amount of game options available to the average gamer, making Settlers a secondary option.

The second reason for the decline in the play of Settlers is tied directly to the first reason- a lot of people don’t play Catan anymore because of overplay in the past. As good as any board game is, there is a limit to the amount of times you can play it before you need a settlers-boardbreak. Collectively as a community, board gamers almost all played Settlers religiously for years after it came out, to the point where it feels like a drop-off was inevitable. I know from personal experience that I played the game so much in High School and College that I was practically begging for a change, not because I disliked the game but because overuse breeds disinterest. That, coupled with the bevy of new games that arrived on the scene, meant that everyone’s favorite game became just another one of many great options.

The third and final reason for Catan seeing a drop in play is because of the continuing emergence of technology. While video games have been around for a while, the accessibility of smart phones and the mobile app explosion has certainly created a dip in a number of areas, including board game play. While board games are continuing to increase in popularity, a lot of that success is attributed to the game industry adjusting and adding technology into their games. Settlers is a more traditional game, and although it has embraced technology by creating an online game (you can find it here if you’re interested) ultimately when you think Settlers of Catan, you don’t think high tech.

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I firmly believe that Settlers of Catan is a game that will be around for years to come. It’s still one of the most sold games in existence and is considered a top 10 game by multiple different sources. Still, it’s important to realize that no matter how successful a game is, eventually its popularity will wane. And even though Settlers isn’t as popular as it was before, the positives that come with this change are apparent. So when I look at my game shelf and realize that Settlers hasn’t been played in some time, I like to think that it just means there are more and more great options out there to enjoy.