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When I first read about Mayfair the settlers of Catan board game on the Penny Arcade blog, they appeared to like it very much, so I figured I'd try it out one day, and now I finally bought it (along with the Cities and Knights and Seafarer's expansions) and played it with a friend of mine. It appears a bit simple at first (a 20 or so grid board with wooden play pieces) and the rules seem perplexed but once you master it, the game becomes a lot of fun. You've a grid of plots that each have different terrain. That terrain interprets to a resource (i.e. a Forest gives you Wood, a Field gives you Grain, etc.). You place numbered disks on each plot which represent to numbers on a 2d6 roll (2-12, except for 7). When that number comes up, any player with a settlement on the edge of the plot that has the number rolled gets a resource (in the form of cards in a deck). You can then take resources to build more settlements, cities and roads. You can also buy a card from the Development deck which is slanted towards one type of card unfortunately (the Knight) but some of the cards let you do stuff like buy something for less, steal resources from other players and the like. There's this robber concept where a robber sits on a desert plot and, when 7 is rolled, is moved by the player who rolled that 7. The robber cleans out anyone with more than 7 resource cards (you ditch half back to the deck) and then the player who rolled the 7 gets to take a card from a player adjacent to the plot where the robber is now located. Also, resources cannot be drawn from the plot the robber is on. It creates an interesting dynamic in the game and throws a nice curve into game play. The ultimate destination is to get 10 victory points which you get by accepting settlements (1 VP), cities (2 VP), and any bonuses from the Development deck or by having the largest army (most knight cards above 3) or the longest contiguous road on the map. You are able to make the game a bit better (in my opinion) by getting the Catan: Cities & Knights Expansion - New 4th Edition! Expansion which evolves the game play a bit more. Even though the wooden pieces are a little bit of retro, they're still nicely made, the cards are so solid and not flimsy, and the game board is made of solid cardboard which is very good in terms of the contents of the box.
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