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Eye-opening GameSpot Review of Catan for Xbox

May 3, 2007

The recent review of Settlers of Catan for the Xbox 360 written by GameSpot was somewhat eye opening. It was actually a pretty kind review that didn't criticize the game as much as I'd feared (based on the Google Current lampooning of Board Games with Scott and the UK Tabloid making fun of Jon Power), and the explanation of the rules in the review was pretty well done. However, I must say that the review reminded me how the "uninitiated" tend to view the idea of playing board games for fun. I can sometimes have a narrow view after spending a fair bit of time on this site, which makes me perceive fine differences between various strategy board games as wide gulfs, when they're all actually exceedingly indistinguishable from a laymen's perspective. It's odd to be reminded of that.

My favorite line was when GameSpot called Settlers a "slow-pouring strategy game" and said "it's a fairly esoteric turn-based strategy game with a dry sensibility." Compared to many of my favorite strategy games, I'd never in a million years have thought of Settlers as "slow-pouring" and certainly not as "esoteric ... with a dry sensibility." Sounds more like some of my other favorites like Java, Caylus, or Age of Steam, heh, but I guess even the game we all consider the classic gateway game is slow-pouring, esoteric, and dry to others.

Other lines from the article that were interesting:

"The rules of Catan are a bit confusing initially"

"It is a game of resource management and very careful planning that rewards players that think far ahead. While that might sound a bit dull and overly complex..."

"There are also game-speed options to play around with, though even on the highest speed, Catan is a fairly slow-moving game. Matches can take anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on how skilled the opposing players are. It's a time investment for sure, but a worthwhile one." -- It's strange to think of 20-45 minutes as a long "time investment" and the game described as "slow-moving" when it takes that much time on its highest speed. I don't even think of 120 minutes as a time investment, and while I do consider the 300 minutes for Die Macher, Antiquity, or Dune a "time investment," it's more than worth it, heh.

"All this might sound daunting if you're more into the Hungry Hungry Hippos brand of board games."

"If you're looking for something simple to supplant your current Uno addiction, Catan probably isn't going to do it for you." -- If you have an "Uno addiction" then you have bigger problems than Settlers not appealing to you...

"Settlers of Catan, a cult favorite among board game players." -- I never knew we were a cult!

Here you can find the full review if you're interested.

(See this Forum Thread for this article plus additional comments on it)