Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Will Satire Become Reality?

Posted by sodaklady on May 6, 2007

About a year ago (July 2006), I wrote a satiric article for Gone Gaming showing how the X-Play team of Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb would review a board game–The Settlers of Catan, to be precise.   Now that Catan is out on the X-Box Live Arcade, it could actually happen.  Is it prescience or just an example of truth is stranger than fiction?

Personally, I think this is a silly, if not totally stupid, choice of games to put on a video game console.  The majority of hard-core video gamers want to slash and shoot in first-person shooters or build up their characters in an rpg; I just can’t see them sitting down for a slow-paced, thinking-required type of game.  Time will tell, I guess, and in the end, maybe we board game geeks will be pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, it gives me an excuse to republish the original article. 🙂

X-Play Reviews a Board Game

 (For those who don’t know about X-Play on G4 TV, they review video games and most likely do not spend their money on card board unless it temporarily encloses something electronic.)

 –Announcer’s voice:  And now, 2 people who think macaroni and cheese is finger food, here’s Adam Sizzler and Morgan Wedd.

 A:  Hello and welcome to X-Play.  Today we’re doing something a little different.  The powers that be…

 M:  That’s the high muckety-mucks who pay us and have threatened to trade us to a local morning show in South Dakota if we don’t do this review…

 A:  Yeah, them.  They’ve  asked us to review a board game. Now for you youngsters with calluses on your thumbs, and eyes that fear the light of day, a board game is an ancient form of entertainment where people gather around a table full of cardboard, paper, and wood, metal or plastic in direct competition with each other to reconfigure these items in some way which results in earning points or money.  My guess is that you should have at least one these board game things around in case the electricity goes out and you forgot to buy extra batteries for your handheld game.

 M:  Right, batteries.  I knew there was something I was supposed to buy before I go home tonight.

 A:  The game we’re reviewing is Settlers of Catan and since it’s a multi-player game, we tied a couple of interns to chairs and sat down to try it out.  When you open the box you find some wooden pieces that look like sticks and houses, a deck of cards,  a pair of dice and a bunch of cardboard hexagons in several colors which represent different types of land that produce different commodities.  There’s also a rule book which you have to READ!  That’s right, there’s no in-game tutorial to show you how it works.

 M:  That’s when it’s nice to have interns to force to do your work while you go out to lunch in a nice restaurant.

 A:  You’d think with all our technology, they could include a DVD showing how to play the game so people aren’t forced to wade through pages of rules.  Anyway, when we came back from lunch, the interns had set up the game and figured out how to play.

 The idea of the game is that you’re a poor but hard-working settler trying to expand your colony by gathering the necessary commodities to build settlements and roads or to upgrade your settlements to cities with electricity for TVs, computers and game consoles.  You can also buy cards with special abilities.

 So on your turn you roll the dice, collect commodities if you’ve got more luck that a bad guy in a Clint Eastwood movie, and then you can trade your commodities with other players, the native inhabitants (who are shrewd negotiators) or take it to a port to trade overseas.  Finally, you can build if you’ve managed to accumulate the necessary goods.

 M:   You don’t get to shoot anything or blow anything up, which I think is a big drawback.  I thought it would be more fun if you could bomb someone’s road when you roll a 7!

 A:  That would be fun, Morgan, but a roll of 7 sends the Robber to steal commodities like a Robin Hood who has a disturbing attraction to sheep.  Turns keep going around the table until someone gets 10 points.  Points are earned for each settlement and city, the longest road and the most knights (which are cards you can buy).  It wasn’t too bad, actually, if you like just sitting around using your brain and talking to people.  Morgan, did you know interns have names?!

 M:  Someone told me that once but I didn’t believe them.

 A:  To sum up, I wouldn’t mind having this around for when my parents come to visit but for myself, I’d rather play Ratchet and Clank Go On Vacation.  I give it 3 sheered sheep out of 5.

 Does anyone know where I can buy a portable generator?

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5 Responses to “Will Satire Become Reality?”

  1. Greg said

    There’s actually a lot of overlap in gamers, at least in my experience. I used to be a hardcore video gamer. I still can walk the walk, but I don’t put in enough hours to qualify. I’m turning into a hardcore boardgamer, though, if eagerly playing Die Macher, Twilight Struggle and Crusader Rex are any indication. Most of my friends straddle both worlds as well.

    I believe part of Microsoft’s strategy for Xbox Live Arcade is to attract other members of the household to play games. The games there range from Settlers, to casual games like Bejewelled, to light indie titles and retro-arcade classics. Imagine being able to play a five player game of Puerto Rico from the comfort of your couch with voice chat and a triple-a presentation at the drop of a hat.

    Last Friday Penny Arcade, a video game centered news site and webcomic, featured Settlers of Catan for XLA. The writer for the site is both big on video games and boardgames too. It was also reviewed positively in at least one other gaming site, Eurogamer.net, by someone who obviously straddle both styles of gaming.

    Be sure not to pigeonhole hardcore gamers as fps and rpg only players. There are many real-time and turn-based strategy games available that are essentailly board games where the computer does all the math and rules management for you. Civilization (now at Civilization IV) was inspired by the Civilization boardgame and one of the most revered series of strategy games.

    Believe me, in Civ IV you want the computer to speed things along, a seven player AI game can take a day if you decide to take the military route to victory. There is so much depth and so many interesting deciions you won’t notice the day slip away until you begin ot see upgrade icons flashing at the edges of your vision…

    Anyway, I think I’ve written enough for a comment from a random lurker… :^)

  2. sodaklady said

    Thanks for coming out of the shadows, Greg. 🙂

    You’ve given me a lot of information that I didn’t know because I don’t own an XBox; I’m a Sony gal. I can how Catan would fit in nicely in the Penny Arcade and I hope it does well–maybe even convert a few, eh? I definitely feel there should be room in our lives for both type of play time; it just depends on who you’re with (or not with) and what mood you’re in.

  3. tpancoast said

    It just happened. The X-Play that is on right now just reviewed Catan. They gave it a 4 out of 5. They didn’t have a single bad thing to say, and most of the snark was directed at the big game companies.

  4. sodaklady said

    Thanks, Tom. I missed it but I’ll watch for the re-runs. It’s nice to hear they gave it a 4–they’re pretty hard to please.

  5. chebby said

    X-play has reviewed the board game Candyland before.

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