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Saturday, February 28, 2009

A minor landmark

At a loose end and getting a bit stir crazy Wednesday evening, I called Tony to meet up for a couple of beers. His assent was to be expected, his return call to say that we'd be playing Settlers wasn't. We'd got Di her own copy for her birthday at the weekend, and she was keen to give it its 1st outing. So the game we played that night represented 3 firsts:
  • First play of Di's new game.
  • My first play of the new edition of Settlers.
  • My first time playing Settlers in the pub (although Roborally was actually the 1st boardgame I played in a bar).
The game itself went really well for me. My setup left me without a sheep region to begin with, but I had an immediate route to one, which no one chose to contest. My other settlement, across the island, gave me a similarly uncontested route towards a 3-1 port. That much was OK. Building my 1st city on turn 2 of the game was even better. I imagine that this is a record which will stand for quite some time. And I just pipped Tony at the post - he built his own 1st city on turn 3.

The midgame was notable for how unusually open was the longest road. More often than not the initial setups ensure that 1 or more players are simply cut out of any challenge for those 2VP. In Wednesday's game, any of the 3 of us could've made the run across the centre of the map to join up our 2 initial roads into 1. I did it in the end, finishing off by building 3 roads in 1 turn instead of the settlement and 2 roads I'd been thinking about - 2 roads would've left Di with the chance to block me and, as much as I needed that settlement, I just had to guarantee those 2VP first.

I never looked back after that. My regions enjoyed good numbers and my cities meant that the resources were rolling in when those numbers came up. I quickly built 3 cities and I was buying development cards by the fistful (an exaggeration, but I did twice buy 2 in a single turn). Soon enough I had enough in hand just to sit through 3 turns and play Knights (the original German name for the Soldier has been adopted in the new edition) for the largest army and victory. Only Di could stop me, by grabbing it first. She didn't. I also had a victory point card in hand, so that I was on 11VP when I won.

Score
Do you really need me to count it out for you?! :b

Afterthoughts
As noted, this was the 1st time I'd played using the recently released new edition of Settlers. I have to say that all 3 of us were well impressed with it. I've always liked the Mayfair edition, preferring its vivid colours to the more muted tones of the German edition. The new edition is graphically more attractive IMO. A more practical change is the addition of a clip-together surround after the fashion of those long since used in the Seafarers expansion. Readers familiar with Settlers will appreciate the convenience of something as simple as the board pieces being held in place.

I also like the way the game comes set up for storage. The resource and development cards are in a box. There are ziplocs for all the other parts. And the plastic box insert has a place for everything in the new deeper box. Personally speaking I'd've been happier to see the old box size without the plastic insert, but then I'm an ecofriendly gamer geek with 100's of baggies in stock and a serious labelling habit. There is a much wider market at which Settlers is aimed which will appreciate these little touches I believe.

There are a couple of gripes from this gamer. The symbols for the ports are less instantly recognisable than those from the old edition. The value of ports and their specific resources used to jump out at you, unmistakable. Now they don't. The other gripe is that I'm sure that the cards are of thinner stock than the ones in my old set. Not good, but not quite the retrograde design step of the ports symbols. ;)
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