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DAILY MANIFESTO

It's Settled!

Posted on Friday, May 11 @ 16:55:05 Eastern by Joe_Dodson
If you own an Xbox 360, a broadband connection, and enjoy thinking, then you're in for a real treat. Catan recently became available on Xbox Live!, and it's a wonderful change of pace from the normal crop of high-action, low-brow stuff that seems to dominate store shelves.

That probably explains why it's only available online. And rest assured, part Craps, part Sorry! and part Civilization, Catan is entirely worth the bandwidth. The money is a more irksome matter, but that's a Live! issue. See, Catan costs 800 Microsoft points, but you can only buy them in chunks of 1000 and 500. So unless you already have 300 points lying around, this game will cost more than advertized.

Fortunately, it's still worth the price. Catan is a nearly identical adaptation of a German board game called Settlers of Catan. This is a very literal title, as the point of the game is to settle Catan, an island bursting with resources. Whoever creates a big colony first, wins. To this end, you build roads, settlements, cities and armies while trading resources with the other settlers, who you are constantly trying to screw over. If you scratch my back, I'll bite yours.

I know what you're thinking: Roads? Cities? How the hell does all that stuff play out in a board game format? Trust me, in this low key but satisfying game of strategy and chance, it plays out very well. Especially since Catan comes with an extremely straightforward tutorial. It only takes a couple minutes to play through, and in that time you learn all the basics. From there, you can play against the computer, or go online to challenge other would be settlers to ranked and unranked matches. Win enough, and you can be teh 1337 S3ttlez0rs on the Xbox Live! leaderboard.

The only thing you can't do is play the game against friends offline. We understand that some of the inherent strategy would be undermined if you could see the other players' cards. But if there's one thing Catan teaches, it's that you can make things happen if you're resourceful. I guess the developers didn't play enough of their own game.

Then again, they probably just want you to buy the board game, and I don't blame them. After playing Catan, I want to buy it, too.



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