SPIR608 Political Simulations and Gaming/2011/Week 8

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Friday 4th March

  • Week 8 Discussion of Martin Wallace, London; and Klaus Teuber, The Settlers of Catan.
Questions
Game
10
Settlers of Catan:
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Game
10
:London
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Martin Wallace
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Is the design of the game's mechanics (board, pieces, cards, etc.) fit for purpose?

Yes, but the board was a bit flimsy.

Sweet! London is really a card game, the board is there only for show.

Is the game enjoyable and sociable to play?

The Settlers of Catan was one of the best games so far. It was easy to learn. You have to trade which makes it sociable.

The game was a bit boring, and difficult to learn. There were two different victory point systems. The players need to identify which were single effect cards and which were permanent. The game mechanics could be confusing and then boring. It became easier to understand as you played it, but the game didn't have very much interaction.

What techniques does the game use to model its chosen subject?

The game is about founding a city state. You can use the Robber to hinder other people from winning. The Settlers of Catan models the necessity of trade. You play for yourself, but you have to cooperate with the other players. The game teaches resource management and when to build or buy cards and Hand Management.

London is realistic because everything has consequences, there is no easy ride. The player has to deal with debts and poverty when you develop.

How does the game combine abstraction and realism in its workings?

The game is quite abstract, but it does replicate trade relations accurately.

The game gives quite a realistic view of London's history. It seems accurate in that the more you gain the more you loose. The cost of land in the game reflected regional variations within London.

How accurately does the game simulate the decision-making processes faced by the real-life protagonists of its chosen subject?

The Settlers of Catan reflects different environments in which players could settle. This is more a game for the sake of playing rather than learning something about the real world.

London was quite good at recreating the problems of balancing useful buildings which reduced poverty or building tourist sites like Buckingham House which gain you points but did little else. There was the problem that some cards representing vital elements of a city like the water supply did not get played during the game. During the game, it is difficult to know sometimes whether you are winning or not.

What political lessons can people learn by playing the game?

This game gave some people the opportunity for revenge for losing in previous weeks' games! You can only compete in this game by co-operating with the other players. The Settlers of Catan teaches you to build alliances.

Every move in London has a consequence. Get rich or die trying! Your personal psychology effects how you play the game. The player learns that it is important to keep poverty under control. It is tempting to build prestigious buildings, but this is not necessarily the best way to play.

How would you improve the structure and mechanics of the game?

The Settlers of Catan is an almost perfect game, but it definitely needs a better board. The island is too small and the hexes don't fit together very well. The 5-6 player version does have a larger island. The game benefits from having an umpire or banker to help manage the cards. The opportunity to acquire cards with secret victory points is a good idea.

The big flaw in the game is that you can only use the cards once. The other players should be able to pick up cards from the discard pile. The designer of London wasn't sure whether he was creating a card game or a board game.


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