Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AGI: Settlers Of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a game published by Mayfair Games. If you haven't heard of this game by now then you have been living under a rock on the moons of Jupiter. This Game jumped beyond just being a Gamers game and its not hard to see why.

You play as an independent town that builds and expands to based on the resources they gather. The winner is the first person to achieve 10 victory points.

As you can see in the picture,  the board is a set of hexagonal tiles. Each tile represent resources (wheat, sheep, brick), water, or desert. On each resource tile, a number token is randomly placed ranging from 2 to 12.  There 2 types of cards Resource cards and Development Cards. Resource cards are used to track the number of resources a player has.(one brick card = one brick resource) Development cards are special cards that can add victory points to your score or give special bonuses on a turn. Finally, there is the Thief. He starts in the desert tile. I will explain his purpose later. Each player then place down 2 towns and road tokens on the corners of 2 different of the hexes.

The Player turn start with him rolling the dice. The result on the dice creates resource cards that have the matching number on their number token. For example, you roll a 6 and a wheat tile has a 6 token that resource can be taken. Any player that has a town on a tile corner with the number rolled gains one of that resource. If the player rolls a 7 then the player can move the thief onto any tile on the board. Once the thief is a tile that tile no longer generates its resource. Next, the player can build roads and cities, and buy Development cards with the resource cards he has gained. A player can also barter his resource cards with other players for resource cards that he needs. 

Over all if you are looking for a game that will get your family into more than just Scrabble like games this is a good start drug.
The reason this game has taken off in popularity is because it easy to pick up and the gameplay makes it very family friendly.  I have played this with my parents and they picked up the games mechanics quickly. After the game they told me that they definitely would play this game again.  The game has enough strategy to keep the game interested and is still simple enough that the non gamer can enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AGI - Dominion

Dominion, from Rio Grande Games, is a game about building a kingdom. Your start out small using your resources to build a bigger kingdom. This in turns allows you to buy more Estates, duchies, and provinces for yourself. Amazingly, this is all done with cards... Many, many, many, cards. (500 cards in total.) There are four Types of cards:
  • Treasure Cards: The money cards to buy things, Ranging from 1 to 3 coins.
  • Victory Cards: Give you victory points to win the game, again ranging form 1 (estates) to 3 (Provinces).
  • Kingdom Cards: Cards that help your kingdom get money and victory points faster.
  • Curse Cards: Subtract Victory points.
The game "board" are the stacks of cards. The Treasure and Victory cards and 10 of  25 Kingdom cards chosen randomly. The player's turn has 3 parts Action, Buying and End. Action cards are played first these are Kingdom cards, and allow the player to do things like: "add 2 more gold to you pile this turn" or "play another action card". Buying is when you can buy new cards to add to your deck, finally the End phase is when you discard any cards you played this turn to your discard pile and draw 5 new cards. This continues until the one of the of the Victory card piles or 3 of the Kingdom card piles is empty. Victory points are then added up to see who the winner is.  
    The game is quick to pick up, most understand the basics of a turn after 1 round of play. The real gaming is the strategy on how you create your kingdom. One method is of course to collect Victory cards, another method is to use the garden card to gain a small amount of victory points, over the course of the entire game. The smoothness of the mechanics make the gameplay go by quickly.

    By the time this review has gone up there have been many expansions for the game. Each one adds more cards into the mix and more ways to win. While Dominion is not the most complex game is still a gamers game. Those who don't play things beyond Monopoly may be overwhelmed by the options of the cards. Dominion may be still worth trying with the family if there is time to play it, but be prepared to explain many of the cards.