Tuesday 23rd March - Settlers of Catan, Great Wall of China
In The Great Wall, players represent factions in ancient China, attempting to extend their influence and control. However, there is always the great fear of the northern Huns, who are intent on invading Chinese provinces, plundering, pillaging and looting the countryside as they penetrate ever deeper into the country. Thus, players are charged with the task of erecting the Great Wall, increasing the border fortifications to help prevent these violent incursions.
In addition to the normal two settlements and roads that players construct at the beginning of the game, each player also has a border settlement, located along the edge of China and barbarian territory. Each of the warlords (the players!) is charged with securing that section of the border by erecting fortifications. Players must dedicate resources in order to build each section, the type and amount of resource varying with each subsequent upgrade. Failure to construct adequate fortifications will likely result in a barbarian invasion, costing the inattentive warlord to lose victory points. Thus, it is in the best interests of the players to devote resources in the construction of the Great Wall.
So the initial placement of the settlements are even more crucial as I was to find out. The actual space on the board for expansion and building is pretty limited, especially with 6 players. Steve’s border settlement was on the extreme left of the board in the photo, and he opted to build another settlement rather than to reinforce his section of the wall. This proved to be costly as a very weird run of dices rolls incited the huns to break through a total of 4 times during the game. This incurs minus VPs and the wall being reduced as well.
Well one of the settlements that Steve had built initially had cut my options considerably and during the game I never got to build any other settlements than the 3 that I built at the start. I managed to build 3 road sections to the only other viable position and Natalie promptly zoomed and built before I had a chance. Ah, well. .... So this version has a few twists and turns, the development cards become more valuable as you can use the soldier card to move the pirate, remove hun tokens or move hun tokens around before they overrun the wall. Actually the pile of development cards was depleted before the game finished. At around 2 and half hours Natalie managed to get the final upgrade to take her to 10 points. At one stage it looked like that the huns were going to breach the wall the 7 times needed to end the game and nobody is the winner!