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Posts Tagged ‘Klaus Teuber’

It would be good if we really had a parrot called Coco

October 1, 2012 Comments off

Catan Junior is pretty much what you’d imagine from the title: a version of Settlers of Catan, reworked with a younger audience in mind. I was a little wary of this, having heard less than stellar reports of an earlier attempt to shift the Catan franchise towards a younger audience (Kids of Catan), but over the last few months a steadily expanding body of positive reviews have built up. Then, while I was off at the highly enjoyable TringCon, I stumbled across a copy at a very reasonably price, so I laid my cash down…

Pirates everywhere! (Though here we’re forgetting to keep hold of our parrots.)

I mean, there are pirates in this version of the game. Surely that’s enough?

Actually, my early impressions of the game are great. The basic mechanics of the game are almost identical to the original Settlers, but trading has been tweaked (so you trade with a non-player market or the bank), resource cards have been replaced by gorgeous tokens (though the design of the gold counters leaves something to be desired) and the development cards are now “Coco the parrot” tiles which do something good for you when you buy them.

We’ve played this a couple of times so far, with three and two players, and both worked well. Actually, during our first play I rushed reading the rules and we ended up playing with unlimited trading and no bonus for collecting parrots. This actually worked out quite fun, mind, but we have shifted to the proper rules now. The game zips along quite quickly, even with Miss B getting distracted and singing a song or chatting about the fact she doesn’t think there should be as much wood as it isn’t as interesting as goats.

In some ways I think this is actually better than the original Settlers. It is certainly less likely that someone makes a poor or unlucky start and never recovers. This could really turn into a very good gateway game which I’d be more than happy to play with an adult group. I think the “Junior” label is a bit unfortunate as it makes the game sound like more of a kids’ game rather than the great little family game it actually is.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 5¾): “Catan junior was 10 out of 10 when you could get a lair onto Spooky Island because you had the most Cocos. I liked it because it was still part of the points because lairs score points when they’re on the board.”

The game: Catan Junior (Mayfair Games), 2 to 4 players, aged 6+.

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Desparately Seeking Settlers

August 10, 2012 1 comment

Miss B game me a bit of paper. It was actually partially used a sheet of stickers, on the back of which were a load of letters and squiggly symbols, some of which were next to boxes. “I made you a code because I didn’t want Mummy to see what it said,” she explained.

Bletchley Park, eat your heart out!

I was just about to go out for the evening so I promised to read it the next day and she said she would help me in case I found it tricky.

The next day we sat down to decipher the message, which was actually a perfectly good substitution cipher, even though a few of the symbols looked like the same squiggle. There was a key provided and the boxes were for me to write the deciphered plaintext. A few minutes later (with Miss B helping in the cryptanalysis process) we had the deciphered message:

“TO DADDY ID LIKE TO PLAY THE SETLER GAME”

I am so proud, and on so many levels.

And when such a cool message is delivered in such an awesom way, what could we do? Well, that afternoon we cracked out Settlers of Catan and had our first game with the proper rules. This is quite a bit of extra complexity over the “KinderCatan” rules we had used before, but probably no more tricky than some of the other games we have played. After having fun building the board from the hex tiles, Miss B learnt the game from a bit of advanced briefing and then getting the rest over the first few turns. In play she fixated a bit on getting the longest road rather than building settlements, but it all worked out pretty well for her.

Settlers has never been great with two players, but the additional space available did make for fewer problems in play as we effectively each had half of the board to build on without interference. A potential problem in the game is that it is very easy for old hands to take advantage of younger and less experienced players in trades. Aware of this, we didn’t do much trading and on the times that we did, I always asked “are you sure this will be good for you?” before going ahead — and in many cases Miss B decided to not go ahead.

Overall this went really well and we’re hoping to drag Mummy in for a three player game in the not-too-distant future.

The updated verdict from Miss B (aged 5½): “I really liked building the roads and the settlements.”

The game: Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), 3 to 4 players aged 10+.

Yay! More bricks!

April 22, 2012 Comments off

It’s time for one of the biggies: the Settlers of Catan. Actually, I think Miss B would struggle greatly with the full game, so a simplified version is in order, so enter Kindercatan, a variant aimed at providing the bones of the full game with not-completely-trivial gameplay that a four-year-old could enjoy.KinderCatan

Well, I can’t speak for a four-year-old, but the five-year-old and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. We were actually using a brand new set, so had all the tiles and counters to pop out, which was fun but meant we took a long time setting up, alongside a lot of questions about what all the bits were for. I made a minor mistake with the setup (due to having only printed out a black and white version of the rules), but that didn’t seem to cause any problems.

Kindercatan definitely introduces some of the core concepts of the game in an easy way and Miss B was soon completely comfortable with resource production, trading with the bank (there isn’t really much room for trading between players) and building stuff, and in a very close finish she won the game. We’ll definitely be playing this again and I don’t think it will be far down the line before we play the full game.

The verdict from Miss B (age 5¼): “I liked it but I don’t know why I liked it.”

The game: “Kindercatan” variant of Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), normally 3 to 4 players aged 10+.