Boy, talk about being late to the party.
I first became aware of Settlers of Catan not long after it first came to American shores in the mid 1990s, but somehow I contrived to miss out on the initial wave of popularity. I think I was still too focused on wargames at the time. It wasn't really until I came across Boradgame Geek and then the Meetup groups that I realized how much wider the adult gaming interest was.
In any case, I took advantage of a rare Thursday night off to join a local Meetup gamer group. Like most Meetup gamers, the majority of this group are very casual gamers with little exposure to even the eurogames (let alone something like a wargame. One fellow mentioned how he had played a wargame once -- it was Risk).
Still, the Meetup hostess had promised a Settlers game would be available and I wanted to finally play it. And there's something to be said for not being dropped into a group of experienced Settlers players for your first game. I was familiar with the rules, having studied my own copy, but there are subtle points to the game you're not likely to discover without playing a little.
We had one fellow who had played the game a few times, as had the hostess. I had read the rules and the other three players were newbies. One was the Risk player, one fellow had played a few euros it appears and the last gentleman wasn't used to playing anything other than traditional Ameritrash games like Monopoly.
It was an interesting game, and I felt pretty good about where I ended up, in third place with 7 VPs. The Risk guy actually won it going away, scoring 10 while the experienced fellow was second with 8. The other three players were far behind, with Hostess at 4 (she had the Longest Road), and the two new fellows with 3 each.
I suspect the game may work better with four players than with the 6 players we had using the 5-6 player expansion. Even with the bigger map the board seemed a little too crowded and there was a little too much down time. I think the 4-player version may be better on both counts.
Our game was also a bit on the long side, which is probably attributable to the number of new players we had.
I'm looking forward to trying it again.