Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bored? GO BOARD

German-style games fun in original form, on the Xbox or iPhone

  • Print

Board games are all the rage these days, but it's not Monopoly or Risk, those classic childhood games, that are causing the excitement. These days, you will find young and old alike gathered around the new German-style board games. These tabletop games, also called Euro-style, feature economic or historical themes, maximum player interaction and gameplay that relies on strategy rather than luck.

 

Here's a look at three popular German-style games in their board, Xbox and iOS incarnations.

First, Settlers of Catan. You've probably heard of this game even if you haven't played it -- it was first published in 1995 and is massively popular. The concept? A group of settlers have discovered a new island full of resources. The players must compete to gather these resources so they can build towns, roads and cities. The board is different in each game as tiles are laid out in random order.

Catan, as most players call it, is very competitive -- players can quickly block each other's roads and steal each other's resources. But there is also a co-operative element; players can trade resources and also gang up on the leading player. In many ways, Catan is a near-perfect board game. You can play it for hours and hours -- in basic form or with the many expansion packs that are available to modify the gameplay. Catan is easy to learn, difficult to master and rarely boring.

The Xbox version of Catan is also quite excellent. The animation is engaging and the cheesy music is addictive. If you play in single-player mode, the computer opponents can be challenging. The Xbox version also offers online multiplayer mode but not local multiplayer. Unfortunately, the only expansion packs available for the Xbox version are art skins, not game expansion. But, if you're like me and enjoy perfecting your strategy in the basic game, then you will definitely enjoy this arcade version.

The iOS version of Catan offers flashy animation and computer opponents with personality. But you should probably turn off the Opponent Comments or you will have to suffer through silly dialogue such as, "Work is sacred and it is on this patch of blessed earth that my settlement will stand!" The size and shape of the tiled board makes Catan better suited for the iPad than the iPhone because zooming in and out each turn can be annoying. But the biggest problem with iOS Catan is that it does not offer local WiFi or online multiplayer, only pass and play. The expansion packs available are Seafarers and Cities & Knights, both $4.99.

 

In the Ticket to Ride board game, players race to complete train routes on a map of North American cities -- including Winnipeg! The game strategy can be complex as you choose between the ambition of completing multiple routes or actively blocking your opponent's plans. This board game is fun but can take a long time to complete.

If you want a faster-paced game, the Xbox version offers smart computer opponents and amusing sound effects. You can play single-player or multiplayer through Xbox Live, but not local multiplayer. You can also add the Europe map (600 MS points/$8.70) or U.S.A. 1910 map (400 MS points/$5.80) expansions.

But my favourite version of Ticket to Ride is the pocket iPhone version. The iOS game offers lots of options, including single-player, local multiplayer through WiFi or Bluetooth, online multiplayer or pass and play. This is the perfect impromptu pocket game to play with your friends in a café or park. I play this game often and would love to give it a five-out-of-five score. But the multiplayer mode can be glitchy and occasionally crashes. Expansion packs include the Europe map ($4.99) and U.S.A. 1910 (99 cents).

 

Carcassonne is a tile-based game where players compete to build a medieval landscape with features such as monasteries, walled cities and farms. It may be the most challenging of these three games, requiring prolonged attention and memory skills as you keep track of the growing and complex board. Carcassonne is probably not the best choice for your first German-style board game, but it's great for when you find that Catan or Ticket to Ride no longer hold your interest.

The greatest benefit of playing Carcassonne on the Xbox is that the tedious and confusing task of adding up farm points at the end of the game is fully automated. You can play single player, local multiplayer or online multiplayer. The expansion packs available are King and Baron (300 MS points/$4.35) and Rivers II (300 MS points/$4.35).

Carcassonne iOS offers an unique Solitaire version of the game that is quite enjoyable. You can also play the standard game in single player, pass and play or Internet multiplayer. The price for this app is quite high ($9.99) but it does offer a very informative and charming tutorial that would be helpful to those who have never played the game. The expansion packs available are River (99 cents) and Inn & Cathedrals ($1.99), with more on the way from the developers.

Some hipster purists object to the idea of playing German-style board games in electronic form. They argue that console or app versions lose the tactile experience of the board and pieces, as well as the social aspect of getting together to play. But electronic versions can be just as social and interactive, if they offer a strong multiplayer option. And, electronic versions offer the benefit of automatic scoring, reducing an element of tedium in games that can last for hours.

Still, nothing beats a night of board games around a table with friends. If you have not tried these games -- beware! They can be very addictive.

Settlers of Catan

 

System: board game

Price: $49.95

Score: 5 out of 5

 

System: Xbox 360

Price: 800 MS points ($11.60)

Score: 4 out of 5

 

System: iOS

Price: $4.99

Score: 3 out of 5

 

Ticket to Ride

 

System: board game

Price: $53.95

Score: 4 out of 5

 

System: Xbox 360

Price: 800 MS points ($11.60)

Score: 4 out of 5

 

System: iOS

Price: $1.99

Score: 4 out of 5

 

Carcassonne

 

System: board game

Price: $39.95

Score: 4 out of 5

 

System: Xbox 360

Price: 800 MS points ($11.60)

Score: 5 out of 5

 

System: iOS

Price: $9.99

Score: 3 out of 5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2012 C14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Exclusive architectural tour of CMHR with Antoine Predock

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Bright sunflowers lift their heads toward the south east skies in a  large sunflower field on Hwy 206 and #1 Thursday Standup photo. July 31,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos

About Danishka Esterhazy

Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google