I have been slow updating the sight for two main reasons. Catan on Xbox Live and Lord of the Rings Online (yeah I know, I said during beta I wouldn't play the released version -- sue me). Both games have been taking up most of my free time. Add a few multiplayer sessions of Rainbow Six Vegas and I have no time to blog. I'll have a full review of Catan and LOTRO soon, but until then here are some of my thoughts on Catan after playing several games against the computer AI.
Catan allows for multiple ways to play either versus Xbox Live opponents or against the computer AI. If you choose to play against the AI you will be pitted against famous historical figures who have different strategies. Some are expansionists, and some like to go for resource monopolies. Like the board game, you need to have 3 or 4 players. One nit picky thing I noticed is that you can't seem to choose your color. The human player is always white. That was a bit irksome, but I got over it. The game comes with two skins for representing the board. The first is the one we are all used to from playing the board game and the second is called "Living Catan" it is a 3D representation of the hexes. The later skin made it a bit difficult for me to recognize resources although it looked really nice.
Games take quite a bit less time than I am used to from playing the board game. The computer handles all resources and game pieces which I find to be convenient. The AI opponents make their decisions quickly and logically. A nice touch is that the AI will get "mad" at you if you do bad things to it like putting the robber on one of their hexes. If this happens they will likely not trade with you. This is a nice touch and brings back some fond memories of old Catan sessions with friends. So far the games I have played have been competitive and exciting, although the boards have had some really crappy resource layouts. I managed to almost win one game with a monopoly on wheat, but lost ten to nine to "Sun Tsu".
The game is very customizable and allows for many popular house rules. Sessions last an acceptable thirty minutes or so and the AI is logical and competitive. I have yet to make a foray into the Xbox Live portion of the game, but I have heard good things. So far, I am happy with the game and I look forward to playing some of my friends online instead of around a kitchen table. I wonder what their excuse will be when I thrash them now?? I will have a full review up after I have played all portions of the game. Hopefully it will do well enough that we will get the popular Cities and Knights expansion.