The Jaded Gamer

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The State Of Play

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
Lincolnshire
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
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"She said the same thing about waffles."
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Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while
Noting that my last three blog posts are entitled "Humble Pie", "Admitting Defeat" and "A Cautionary tale", I think it's time to stop putting myself down and call this one something more neutral.

As promised, if last night's post can be considered a "before" picture, here is the "after" one, being the state of my collection today (minus the ones on the trade/sell pile).

As you can see, there's been a lot of changes...

From gallery of ALGO


So my plan from here is to talk about virtually every game I've ever owned. I'm not going to slap the word "review" on those posts, because it'll be a completely subjective recollection of my experiences with each game, rather than a judgement on its merits or qualities from anything other than a personal history perspective.

So I thought I'd start, since it's easier this way, with a game that ISN'T in that picture because I have lent it to some friends of mine (still trying to convert the average person, after all this time)

Retrospective 1: Catan

Board Game: Catan


Back in what must be 2005/2006, I bought my family a game to play at Christmas because I wasn't there with them - I was with my new wife at her family's place instead. That game was Carcassonne, which I chose because it was well reviewed on Amazon yet still quite cheap, comparatively.

On my subsequent visit to their place at New Years, I asked if they had enjoyed it. To my surprise they had enjoyed it. Greatly.

Being much more a computer gamer, I hadn't considered it as anything other than a fun diversion after dinner (when we used to play Monopoly, but more on those horrors at a later date), but hearing how much fun they had had with it, my mum offered to talk me through it.

I had an absolute blast. There were no dice! I felt involved! Nobody was kicked out of the game halfway through. It was a Christmas gaming revolution.

So it was because of the new, intriguing experience that I found myself diverting to Hamleys (possibly the most expensive choice in England) during our shopping in the sales and having a chat to one of the staff there. They didn't have Carcassonne, he said, but why not try this one instead - and brought out Settlers of Catan. I bought it there and then and my journey into modern gaming (with the occasional Sid Sackson throwback) began.

At the time, the regular visitors to my house numbered three so I also invested, after a couple of times having to leave my wife out of the game (as the least interested party), in the 5-6 player expansion - which then became our most used expansion ever. I don't think we used the alternative rule where everyone can build after each trading phase more than once so I'm not sure I can talk about this expansion accuratley in terms of its impact.

All I know is that while many people have decided it's past its prime, Settlers is still a game I enjoy playing whenever I do. That's setting aside the fact that like so many games I have owned, I am regularly destroyed at it.

The fact that it is still the gateway game I use with total boardgaming novices is a testament to its satisfying nature. I've seen all manner of people become trading monsters within an hour of their first being explained the rules. It seems the instinct to wheel and deal comes more naturally in Settlers than in Monopoly, for some reason.

It's obviously better for playing reasonably fast, since the nature of random outcomes can make the odd game or so a bit unfair, but I reckon there's few better intro games - I generally prefer TTR or Carcassonne but the former turns off those prejudiced against train geekery (I know, I know) and the latter has its legendary farm scoring rules to explain - which I can tell you from bitter experience ALWAYS confuse the non gamer. I'm pretty sure they confused me, and I wasn't requiring convincing!

Anyhoo - i still own this and it still gets played. I lent it to friends in an attempt to get them enjoying it, but look forward to getting it back some day and sucking at it some more.

Not all clich├ęs are undeserving of their ubiquity.
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