Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Scrabblette's gaming education continued last night with the introduction of an old classic - Settlers of Catan. I was particularly keen because I have the anniversary edition and I felt it was important that Scrabblette knew why that chest lived in our lounge room. The kid was sort of keen to play - he prefers Cities and Knights - so we had three players. (By the way, Settlers is not the most expensive game I own. I will tell you which is at the end of this story.)

For the first time I didn't use the recommended board set-up and made my own. I think I made one mistake - there was one location with 9, 8 and 5 which was pretty lucrative for Scrabblette over the course of the game. I started with two inland locations and the kid started with two harbours. Scrabblette and I both had settlements on the 8 sheep, I was on a 6 wood by myself, the kid was on an 6 ore and an 8 wheat by himself.

I could tell from the start that Scrabblette and I were going to clash roads. I chose to do that because Scrabblette is less aggressive than the kid, and if he tried to cut off my roads he'd succeed at any cost. So Scrabblette and I found a compromise where she built a long road around the water and I built through the middle. My early plans were foiled when she built a settlement just where I wanted to, and for a long time she was out-producing me. It didn't help that 6 was rolled only once in the first half of the game and 5 and 10, which Scrabblette did very well out of, were rolled a lot.

The kid pursued his usual strategy of buying development cards to get the largest army. One day I'll play so as to force him to do something else and see if he can cope. He did get a lot of knights, and succeeded in using them to extort resources from Scrabblette. I called his bluff and he confessed he was trying to extort resources using a cathedral. Nice try, kid.

I was trying to build rather than buy development cards so didn't have any knights and rarely rolled any 7s, so I was able to avoid most of the arguments with the robber. I encouraged the others to attack each other, of course, but most of the time the robber was on Scrabblette it was on the 8 sheep that we shared anyway. Because no 6s were being rolled wood was quite rare, and there was a bit of 4-1 trading going on. The kid was spending all of his resources on development cards and wasn't using his harbours.

Scrabblette was doing very well. She claimed Longest Road and had 5 settlements. The kid had 3 settlements and Largest Army. I had 5 settlements. Finally, the 6s started coming. In about 4 rounds we rolled 6 6s, giving me a total of 18 wood over that period. Scrabblette was desperate for wood, so I traded her 2 wood for 2 brick, and built 3 roads, making my road as long as hers. On my next turn I built another road and claimed Longest Road.

You should have heard the shriek. In fact, you probably did. Scrabblette had the resources to build a city and was ready to win on her next turn. Losing Longest Road cost her the win. She dumped her city plan and started building roads to claim it back. Whew, that was close. I started to wonder if I could win.

Scrabblette did claim Longest Road back, and got a Progress card to build two roads for free to rub it in while I just kept building cities. The dice were starting to fall my way and I was getting some good resources. The kid even started building cities, which is very weird behaviour for him. Scrabblette wasn't getting resources from all the 6s which were being rolled which kept her poor and unable to build a city.

Eventually I found myself in a good position. I'd managed to wrest Longest Road back from Scrabblette with all of my wood, and had 9VPs, 3 sheep, 2 ore, 1 wheat and some wood. I generously offered to trade some of my wood to Scrabblette for a sheep, and she accepted. I used my sheep port to get another ore and another wheat, built a city and won the game. Maybe Scrabblette shouldn't have made that trade?

But then the kid was annoyed too! He had 2 cities, a settlement, Longest Army and 2 VPs on development cards, so he was on 9VPs as well. Wow, he was in with a chance of winning! It turned out to be a very close game, with me on 10, the kid on 9 and Scrabblette on 7, down from 9. We'd all had our chance to win. It turned out to be a good close game, the best the kid has played, and a very good effort from Scrabblette for her first game.

Finally, the most expensive game I own in terms of price paid is the Harry Potter trading card game. I spent $A500 on Settlers and probably a bit more than that buying endless boosters. I don't think any other game I own cost more than $A200 including expansions. The kid had to learn to read so he could play Harry Potter without showing me his cards, so it was worth it!

1 comment:

noclafder said...

I am not sure if you folks have tried out Settlers of Catan online...but my favorite is Sea3D available at http://www.s3dconnector.net as a stand alone client. The few downfalls: No Cities and Knights, and no Computer players...however it does have a wide following and games are pretty easy to find.