While digital games, aka video games are pretty awesome, there are some truly awesome gaming experiences to be had while removed from one’s television. I am talking about games you play on a table. Crazy I know, but hear me out. The social interaction of these more traditional games is something that video games still don’t come close to (in my humble opinion of course). Over the next while I will be bringing some of the better examples to your attention. I know quite a few of the Mashers quite enjoy them already, but I get the impression most of you folks tend to stick to digital ones. I will discuss some of the better board games, card games and tabletop miniature games in the hope that by some slim chance you may be persuaded to give them a try. You might find you like them quite a bit.
In Part 1 I will talk about two of the most well known “Euro Games”. Euro Games (or German Style Games) are a category of board games that (according to the all knowing Wikipedia) “generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction, and physical components, which are frequently wooden player tokens or markers. The games emphasize strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. German-style games are sometimes contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.” The two games I chose to startthings off with are The Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. I chose these two as these is at least a good chance you have heard about them if not played them. After all they can be found on your consoles, iPhones, iPads, PC”s, etc.
The Settlers of Catan can be said to have paved the way for these Euro Games in the US and other places not found in Europe. It came out in the mid 90’s and has sold extremely well (in excess of 15 million copies). I haven’t come across many people that don’t like it. It manages to have that magic formula, which is to say its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex. Also, as mentioned before, no one get knocked out of the game. This makes it a great family game.
Players represent settlers to the island of Catan where you build settlements, cities and roads. The board is represented by hexes placed in a circle that represents the island. The hexes are placed randomly at the start of the game and have different images on them representing different resources.
In order to build on the island, players need to spend resources (brick, lumber, wool, grain, and ore) represented on cards. On your turn you roll two D6’s. The total number of the dice roll indicates which of the hexes will be productive during that turn (the hexes are numbered). Anyone with settlements or cities adjacent to these hexes get that resource. To spice things up a bit, a roll of 7 (the most likely number to be rolled) brings a robber onto the board. They can place the robber on any hex which makes that hex unproductive until he gets moved again.
Players are allowed to trade resources amongst each other at a rate agreed upon by the two players, or alternatively you may trade with the “bank” at a rate of 4:1. The goal of the game is to get ten victory points. you get points for settlements and cities as well as other achievements such as having the longest road or largest army. Armies don’t really serve much of a purpose in the core game. Resources can be spent to buy a development card. Three types of development cards include cards worth one victory point; knight cards (or soldier cards), which allow the player to move the robber as if they had rolled a 7; and a third set of cards which allow the player one of three abilities when played.
Most people will have a pretty good understanding after the first game. However, there is a some strategy there that might take a bit longer to get to grips with. It is really a very elegant game that everyone should try at least once. You can learn how to play it HERE.
Carcassonne is another popular and well known Euro Game. It was one of the first board games to introduce the idea of players building the game board as the game progresses. The game starts with only one predetermined tile. The other 71 tiles are shuffled face down. On your turn to pick a face down tile, and place it adjacent to any already played. The tile must be placed in a way that extends the features it touches. that is to say cities connect to cities,roads to roads, etc.
Once the tile is placed you may opt to place one of your meeple (miniature people) on that tile. It may only be placed on the tile you just put down and must be placed on a specific feature. For example if you place it on a city portion, you then own that city. You may not place it in a cit that directly connects to an unfinished city (or road or field) that already has another payer’s follower in another connected tile. However you can be sneaky and place it in a way that doesn’t connect, but can be connected in a future turn. If you succeed then you share the points from that feature. If you can get more followers in that feature than your opponent you get all the points.
That is the game in short. It really becomes a game of jostling for terrain, making it difficult for opponent to complete features, or attempting to annex theirs. It is a very simple game, but there is plenty of strategy in there. There are also about a dozen expansions that can really mix things up.
Thats it for now. These two games are awesome and I have spent a scary number of hours on them. I will be bringing plenty more interesting games to your attention in the near future.