Games that are bored.

Specifically, Settlers of Catan — the real, hard-to-clean-up variety, not the XBLA one — which I just finished playing a few hours of with my girlfriend and my friend Sean (who’s in town for the weekend). Good god that game is great. I’ve been a huge board game fan for the entirety of my conscious life, and one day I’ll probably write a whole post dedicated to my competitive Scrabble background (for those who didn’t know how truly geeky I am). I grew up on family-style games like Monopoly and Boggle, lost hundreds of hours making my own dungeons in HeroQuest (which I found a $4 near-mint copy of at a yard sale in Berkeley last year), and thoroughly enjoyed the one and only game of D&D I’ve participated in (which was about a three-month campaign, at least in my memory).

And then Carcasonne came out on XBLA, and Catan, and Ticket to Ride, all of which are fantastic. At the same time, Shoe introduced me to quite a few more over the course of some excellent Nerd Game sessions, like Caylus, Shadows Over Camelot, and Puerto Rico. If you have the means to play them (these are adult games for adults budgets) and a dedicated group (harder than it sounds), it’s some of the most fun you can have with friends.

It’s weird, but now that I think about it, several goals of my adult life revolve around board games: being able to afford a huge, awesome closet full of them, having a good living room setup to play them in, and having close friends (geographically and otherwise) that regularly want to nerd out with me. I’m certainly on track, and moving to San Francisco has hugely helped the nerd friend quotient, but I will be hugely disappointed if these things don’t coalesce. Anyhow, not sure where I’m going with this — it’s 3:30 A.M. and my gaming partners are asleep — I mostly just wanted to say how much Catan rules, and recommend it if you’re remotely interested.

P.S. Also Blokus, which we played a bunch of.

Published in: on February 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm  Comments (21)  

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  1. Settlers of Catan is indeed great. We played our first copy so much we wore it out. We recently bought our second set. Also try El Grande, it’s a pretty fun game. Maybe easier for new players to get into than Settlers.

  2. I LOVE Settlers (you know, in “real life,” I’ve never played the XBLA version).

    That is all.

  3. Have you had a chance to play the Zombies board game? I think I remember Anthony talking about it on one of the podcasts.

  4. Omg, Hero Quest! I don’t know what made me think of that game the other day but I was wishing I could remember the name of it. I remember playing that all the time as a kid. Though I barely understood it, it was still great to have my brothers attempt to guide me through a game of it. I’m so glad you mentioned it. Now all I have to do is get the game and then find people that would actually play it with me.

    I used to play a bunch of games as a kid but I haven’t touched a board game for some time now. Now that you say something though, a good game of Monopoly sounds great right about now….

  5. Settlers of Catan is fun, but the expansion Cities and Knights of Catan makes it totally awesome. Puerto Rico is really good as well, and if you like that I would recommend Agricola, which I think is even better.

  6. Settlers is fantastic and as previously posted, Cities and Knights does make the game that much better! Funny you should mention the “goals” around board gaming as I have those too! Mine is in a reverse state though in that I have the closet full but was just recently moved out to the Bay area for my job thus leaving my regular gaming group back in Michigan and it tears at the heart to look at all those games in my closet with no one to play them with yet 🙂 My son is almost 3 and I have him playing Go Away Monsters and Goodnight Moon but its still going to be awhile before classics like Warrior Knights or War of the Ring. Looking for a great selection of board games check out Fantasy Flight Games and for all board game reviews and the like, is a great site!

  7. I was just looking at my closet full of games and thought I would mention a few great 2 player games in case you dont have that “group” around and its just you and a buddy: Mr. Jack (which I bet you would LOVE), Twilight Struggle (excellent card based game based on events from the Cold War), San Juan (card based 2 player Puerto Rico) and they even have a card based Settlers with a ton of add-on packs which help change things up. War of the Ring is an epic 2 player game especially is you are a Lord of the Rings fan:)

    Other great group games are Goa, Agricola, Last Night on Earth (think L4D board game) with a Touch of Evil as a great expansion! For production value, Fantasy Flight Games are great and some say pricey but they make games that last so I love the value!

    Just trying to help you build your shopping list for how to spend your money from the new job!! Congrats on that as well!

  8. If you liked Hero Quest, Descent: Journeys in the Dark. is a pretty fantastic recent take on that type of game. It’s got a lot more interesting abilities on both the heroes and dungeon master’s sides, and modular boards + several expansions keep it fresh for a long time.

  9. I second the Last Night on Earth and Mr. Jack recommendations. I have both and love them very much. A couple of others that you might want to consider are Dominion (new card game based around building decks to obtain the most points, kind of hard to explain), Killer Bunnies (another card game that is completely ridiculous and in the end completely comes down to chance), and, if you can find it Betrayal at the House on the Hill. The last one is kind of a survival horror game, where one person eventually betrays the others and tries to kill them all.

  10. Catan is a game I haven’t been able to get into, but my wife to be and me love to play carcassonne (board and xbla). A few games have turned ugly (we can’t talk about the towers expansion) but we have great fun with it.

    I have a closet that is filling up with games, big and small, and hope to someday work on my own. Risk 2210 is the one we played the most back in college and since then we’ve bought over 20 games like Puerto Rico, Vegas Showdown, Hollywood Blockbuster, Ninja Burger, Doom, Shadows over Camelot, just to name a few.

  11. My crew refuses to try Carcassonne, despite adoring Catan. They also refuse to play board games on XBLA, but don’t want to do board games at their house.

    Still, I should be grateful I have a crew to play the games at all. For some reason, most people think board games are kids’ stuff. Lame.

  12. Did i ever tell you that my buddy pirate james and his friend made a prototype game called Magicopoly that was essentially a board/card version of Culdcept? It was pretty great, they had 4 elements and 4 themed decks- Ninjas (relied on items and magic), Pirates (relied on weapons and thievery), Cthulhu (relied on idols and transformations), and Steampunk (relied on support abilities and armor). It was pretty fun, except the Steampunk deck was incredibly overpowered.

  13. Stefan Fatsis’s book Word Freak is a freaking amazing book about competitive Scrabble players – definitely worth checking it out if you haven’t read it already.

  14. I have indeed, I own several copies 🙂

    What’s extra-cool is that I’ve played in the same room as a few of those guys (though never against them, as I would be destroyed).

  15. Thought process:

    When picking up book for the first time: “I like Scrabble, and I’m decent at it. Maybe I could play competitively.”

    Approximately three pages in: “Holy. Shit. This is significantly more insane than I ever could have imagined.”

    And that’s how Stefan Fatsis killed my dreams.

    Seriously, though, it can’t all be that intense – obviously if you’re going to write a book about it, you’re going to focus on the quirkier aspects of the players…

  16. I’ve got a big closet of them, but not a big living room. We’ll make good on our plans to play some weekend soon, Nick. I’ll lug a few games up to “the city” if you find a place for us to play.

    Ever played TALISMAN? You might like BATTLELORE too (though it’s generally only 2 players). We’ve had a lot of fun with RACE FOR THE GALAXY in the past couple months during lunchtime gaming sessions at work.

  17. Blokus is where its at,
    I’m slowly getting my extended family and friends into it…
    Already got them addicted to Settlers of Catan,
    our family Reunions are all about these kinds of games…
    I didn’t realize it was so “geeky” to play board games…
    I’m apart of a family of nerds…

    now I know.

  18. I recommend checking out Munchkin. It’s a fast paced card game that parodies D&D.

  19. The first time I played Settlers of Catan was in a park with two people I had never met. All three of us met up specifically to play some board games and maybe get a regular gaming group going. Didn’t work out that way, but I sure had a blast playing it, and perk up at the possibility of it happening.

    Also, if you’re looking for a working car on the cheap, you might want to check out the police auctions. I’m in Daly City, and I went to the one near 101 and Cesar Chavez. For 600 bucks (500 + Fee, iirc), I got a car that gets me to and from work and college and has been doing so relatively problem free for the last year and a half.

    Hope all goes well. Good luck!

  20. Sounds like fun but I have no friends..

  21. Blokus freaking rules. So simple, so deep, so fun. Just the way a great game should be. I’ve introduced a ton of my friends to that one.

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