Billabong Boardgamers - 11th January, 2000
Present: Doug, Donna, Julian C., David, Julian W., Alan
STERNENFAHRER VON CATAN
David walked in tonight carrying some more goodies he had snagged at Essen. One was 2F's game on interesting dietary habits, and the other was the amazing Sternenfahrer von Catan, aka Settlers in Space.
This game probably knocks off Giganten in the great bits award. Huge honking rocket ships that serve as nothing more than a record keeping device, lavish amounts of plastic rocket ships, bases, trade colonies, clip on modifications, etc all serve to compliment the large game board. Add to that a couple of beautifully illustrated card decks and you have one very attractive game.
Alan, Donna, David and Julian C. took the seats, while Julian W. and Doug listened in on the rules. It appears to be very much based on the basic Settlers system of dice rolls for production, with rapid expansion to found more production centres the key to success.
There are no roads in space (of course), so expansion here is via colony ships to found new production centres, or trade ships which are used to meet Alien peoples and cash in on their expertise (the good old 2:1 ports, plus some nice ideas for extra powers).
Expansion across the board eventually bumps into planet systems with face down production numbers. The player carrying a colony can check the numbers out and drop a colony down if they like what they see. It may be an ice planet, or space pirates, which means they have to be "conquered" via weapon or freight modifications to your ship.
Fifteen points wins the game, and they can be amassed via the good old settlements and cities (colonies and spaceports here), taking Alien race tokens (establishing a majority of trade centres with them), acquiring fame tokens via encountering events in space (these mainly seemed to invoke careless drivers ending up too close to the sun and sending out distress signals!).
So what happened? I didn't play but watched the entire game and saw this is pretty much basic Settlers dressed up - but my compliments to the tailor. In the early part of the game Donna seemed to benefit greatly from some very favourable event encounters which granted her extra ships. Donna and David appeared to jump out early for extra colonies and I believe Donna claimed the first Alien token for 2 points.
Then everything seemed to bunch up on the victory point track, and it was difficult to tell who was doing well where. Alan seemed to think he was being hard done by, via the event outcomes which seemed to continually cost him production cards. David appeared to lock down a solid production base and always had a fistful of cards. Donna was tooling up her mother ship with lots of guns and thrusters for rapid expansion and a bit of pirate bashing.
The game became a 2 horse race in the final 30 minutes, with David having a strong second to last turn to end up on 14 points. Donna on 13 points managed to claim a weapons card from the Aliens and get to a pirate planet. A quick war and a colony later, Donna was on 15 points and the game was over and the feast of Space Oreos had begun.
Playing time for game and rules was three hours.
Alan, Julian W., Julian C., Doug, David
Alan came back from the dead, having 2 junkie cards to turn up the 10 and a 5 to take the 30 points on round 1. He pulled a stunt like that on round 2 to be out in the lead. However, David was closing as he had achieved scoring bonuses while Alan hadn't. It was how far David in round three....