Like many of my geek brethren I have a serious love for board games. Back in the day when I lived in a dumpy house with my university cronies and eventual bandmates we played board games almost every night. At its core board gaming is cheap and fun, and if you pick the right games it also leads to lots of shouting at each other – something that has a lot of entertainment value on its own.
Two of our favourite games were Acquire and Cosmic Encounter. These two games are considered to be forerunners of the “German Board Game” genre, with lots of player interaction, minimum amounts of luck, and boards and pieces that are fun to play with and manipulate. These basic concepts are the ideas that allowed the Germans to revolutionize board gaming and go beyond the typical North American “roll the dice and go around the track” gestalt and get into some seriously fun shit.
Which, in a very roundabout and overly biographical way brings us to Catan (otherwise known as The Settlers Of Catan) for the iPhone. It is an insanely good realization of the game, with an excellent tutorial, easy-to-parse attractive graphics, and a really really good interface. This game is an absolute must have if you are a fan of Catan, a fan of German-style games, a fan of board games in general, or just want to have fun. The only limitation on the thing is that it is strictly one player against either 2 or 3 computer opponents – but since the whole point here is that it gives you a chance to play when you can’t round up some meatspace opponents for actual tactile play, that is probably a restriction that most people can deal with.
The game is on the high side of the iTunes Store price range at $4.99 – but at less than the price of a big-ass latte, that is pretty damn good value. And you will be playing with this for a lot longer that it would take to slurp back some venti choco lactose-free mocha caramel double no-whip thingie down at Staryucks.
If you have never seen the way the typical game of this genre plays and want to know what you are in for before spending your five measly bucks, the publishers of the Catan games have a semi-hokey but fun web site that gives tutorials in all of their games (the same tutorial that comes in the Catan iPhone game, actually, so if you go through it on the web you can skip right into the play when you do buy the game).
So yeah, buy this. You won’t be sorry.