Archive for category Retro Reviews

Retro Review: The Settlers of Catan

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of interviews with game designers lately, especially the Inquisitive Meeple. One of the recurring themes is that a lot of the current generation of game designers got introduced to the hobby through an obscure game called Settlers of Catan. Well, not that obscure. Hard sales information is hard to come by, but a recent New Yorker article gives 18 million as the number of copies sold since its release in 1995. It is reaching the pop cultural status of Monopoly and Risk, appearing on TV shows as itself and in parody (30Rock’s Colonizers of Malaar and The Simpsons’ Emissaries to Byzantium). Although it still has a way to go to reach Monopoly’s 250 million copies sold, it is starting to show up on shelves in Walmart and Target, instead of just specialty stores, so that sales number is poised to keep rising.

Settlers of Catan, or Catan for short) was one of the two games that introduced me to boardgaming (the other was Empire Builder). And although I wrote a review of the Helpers of Catan expansion scenario for the base game, I haven’t talked about the base game. This month, the Dice Tower Network has named Settlers of Catan the game of the month, so it seemed like a great time to return to the basics, and talk about why Settlers of Catan is still such a great game.

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Retro Review: For Sale: Seller’s Keepers

A friend got Stefan Dorra’s For Sale at Unpub 4. I had heard of the game as one of the classics, but had never played before. I have lost all 5 games I’ve tried but I still want to play again, which is a testament to the staying power of this game. As an older hobby game (1997), its pedigree is well established, in fact it is game #172 on Board Game Geek. (For reference, new game IDs are over 150000) And even the current Gryphon games edition has been around for 5 years. So why I sat down to write this not because I thought the game needed another review, but because I want to provide a more insight into who I am as a player and designer. (And It looks like I’m not the only one just learning the game now. Jamey Stegmaier, also just played it for the first time, and posted his thoughts.) And so this is the first review in the category of Retro Reviews, where I look at older games. Read the rest of this entry »