If you walked into Barnes & Noble recently, you may have noticed a new section near the music and movies that will soon be home to a large selection of board games. Most of the shelves are still empty, but one game already there is also a big part of the reason why the mega-bookstore chain is dedicating so much valuable floor space to board games.
Settlers of Catan was released in 1995, and while the German game is an old classic for avid board gamers, it’s a fairly new sensation hitting the American mainstream. What people are learning is board games can be fun and challenging for adults, too.
Catan is a game about resources. Your goal is to build roads and settlements on a newly discovered island. You and your opponents are battling to build up the biggest empire on the island.
The board itself is different every time because it is composed of hexagons that you place. Each hex represents one of the game’s five resources: wood, brick, sheep, grain and ore.
Dice rolls on each turn determine which resource is given to which players, and the resources are used to build your roads, settlements and cities.
I don’t have the space to explain all the rules, so just know the game involves a great deal of strategy and thinking. Games can be friendly or cutthroat, depending on the personalities sitting at the table. Space on the board is limited, so things can get heated as players build roads toward valuable portions of the map.
Catan was the game that introduced me to strategy games. Although I have found several games since then that rank higher on my list of favorites, Catan is still a special game I always enjoy playing.
Madden 11 is a great game. It really is. But only after you adjust the settings quite a bit. It’s pretty bad when you take it out of the box.
Many gamers probably don’t know exactly how much their sports games can be adjusted. For several years, most sports games have come with settings called “sliders” that allow a game’s difficulty to be changed in much smaller increments than the three or four basic difficulty settings that most games feature.
In a football game, for example, you might find the difficulty of running the ball to be just right but passing is too difficult. No problem. Just tweak the passing slider.
In the case of Madden this year, it’s terrible out of the box, but if you tweak the sliders just right, it turns into a great game.
Rather than spending hours trying to find the right recipe yourself, I suggest visiting www.operationsports.com. If you find the Madden section of their forums, you will find several threads with suggested slider settings that will walk you through exactly what settings to change.
XBox Live gamer tag of the week: MorirEsVivir (Translation from Latin: to die is to live.)