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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, April 12, 2007
Settlers of Catan...
The Settlers of Catan 'Doulogos Edition'The last couple of times that our congregation's "Christian Education Committee" met, we did so over a meal. We each brought our spouses and our kids and made an evening of it, and after the meal we sat down while our spouses and kids were off visiting. Our meeting doesn't last too long, so while the families are visiting we conduct our meeting - it is a formula I highly recommend for we have all found the meal/visit format more friendly to family and more conducive to fellowship than the "let's get together in the vacant church basement on a Saturday over a card table and hash out things" approach.

The last couple of times we met thus, after the meeting, our host brought out a board game to play: "Settlers of Catan" (see the picture!)

I had never played it before, much less heard of it, but I found it to me a perfectly delightful game. The game can be played with two players, but it best played with three or four. If you want to play more than four you need to buy an expansion pack which will allow you to play up to six players.

The game is played on a board that changes every time you play it. The board itself is actually a set of 19 "Land" hexagons ("L") and 18 "Water" hexagons ("W") that surround the land (see the cheesy diagram below).


There are five different "types" of land hexes that each produce a different natural resource (grain, sheep, bricks, ore, and wood), which are used as a sort of currency in the game. Resources can be traded amongst the players and used to purchase such things as roads, cities, settlements, or community development cards (sort of a "community chest" card).

There are 18 "chits" as well numbered as follows: 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 11, 11, & 12 - the numbers correspond to the sum of a 2d6 roll (a pair of six sided dice added together). The circular little chits (similar to bingo chips) are randomly placed on the various land hexes at the start of the game, one chit per land hex (with the exception of a "desert" land mass which gives no resource and has no chit). The board is therefore set up so that the land layout changes every game, and the chit layout changes as well.

The game is won by being the first player to get 10 "victory points". A victory point is awarded for each settlement, two for each city, two for having the longest road, and another two for having the largest army - there are also incidental victory points that can be had by purchasing development cards along the way.

To purchase roads, settlements, cities, or development cards requires resources, and these resources are handed out each turn to all players when the dice are rolled - such that if you have a settlement or city that borders the land upon which the chit with the number just rolled resides - you get the resources of the land thus rolled, even when it isn't your turn.

The strength of the game is in the inevitable scarcity of resources - you will find yourself, say abundantly in possession of one type of resource, but woefully stripped of some other resource - and you will have to trade amongst the other players to get what you lack without throwing the game away - because everyone can trade, and because trade really the only way you can get all that you need in a timely fashion it makes for a very involved game - no matter whose turn it is, you are in the game - either to trade with your own resources directly, or to encourage (or discourage) others who would trade in a way that may increase or jeopardize your hope of victory.

Having played it a couple of times I decided to buy one last week, ordering it through a local retailer (rainydaygames.ca) because he seemed to have the best price I could find anywhere. I played it with my two older kids (6 and 9) the other day and it was instantly their favorite game of all time.

I mention this because while I love my children, I secretly loath playing games such as Monopoly Junior, Clue http://rainydaygames.ca/, <insert game name here> Junior, etc. I mean the games are either so simplified that your kids haven't got a hope of winning against you unless you make an effort to lose, or they are so pointless you don't really enjoy playing them. Now there are some of you I am sure who will blow the "but it is all for the kids" horn - that is, who will say you don't play games with your kids for your own enjoyment, you play games for their enjoyment - and I wouldn't disagree with that - but I wouldn't suggest that this be the goal for which we shoot.

This game has that one rare quality that I look for in a family game - can it be played and enjoyed equally by all players regardless of age - and in that category it wins hands down. This game has a second rare quality that I also look for in a family game - is is actually fun to play - and the answer here is yes. Now the amazing thing is that there are very few family games that score a "yes" on either of these questions and of those far fewer that score a yes on both. That sounds like high praise because it is. The game is good, clean, fun; new every time; and can be enjoyed by everyone (even our three year old played with us - though she was much helped through it and did lose interest after the first half hour).

I give it a five star rating. If you have a family and want a game for games night that you can all enjoy and not grow tired of - pick one up. If you are on a church committee that has to meet every so often - pack the game along, turn your meeting into a fellowship potluck, and after the meeting you can all play Settlers of Catan together - and laugh.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:50 AM  
  • At 3:25 PM, April 12, 2007, Blogger Bryan said…

    You haven't heard of the game before? Dan F has a copy and we've been playing it for a few years now. Jonny has played it all night at Tim Horton's since there is a bunch of people from University who play it.

    I liked the game at the beginning as it was something new, and although I will play it since all my friends do, it's not a game I really enjoy.

  • At 4:07 PM, April 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have known about the game for quite a while now (I remember hearing about it after it won all those prestigious family game awards), I just haven't had the opportunity to play it all that much since I didn't have a game of my own.

    It's a shame you don't really enjoy it.

  • At 6:42 PM, April 12, 2007, Blogger Theteak said…

    Yep, great game. Our family is board/computer game nuts. Did you know there is a Christian version of Settlers? Where you have to build Jerusalem or something. There's another game we like even more called 'Carcassonne' - our families should get together and play a board game sometime...it'll cost about 25K...but it'll be worth it.

  • At 6:51 PM, April 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Teakster - you can flip for the air fair, and we will flip for the game! I have heard of Carcassonne, but haven't played it yet. The "Christian" version of settlers of Catan is called Settlers of Canaan, and I had considered buying it...

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