Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Settler Benefaction

or
Every Day I'm Settlin'
or
#TeamBurntCroutons and the Bowling Ball Gift

Yes, I couldn't decide which title to use. Anyway, I've played a previous version or two of Settlers, somewhere along the way. I got into the freemium browser/Facebook version, Settlers Online, for a while and that was good fun while it still felt like a game and not a part-time job (as most of those tend to after a while, whether it's Mafia Wars, Avengers AssembleFarmville or whatever).


The graphic style of Settlers Online is matched by the big-boy counterpart of Settlers 7, so I immediately liked the way it looked. Getting it on my Mac has been a different story, though, as it's not available for Mac through Steam. This is where Parallels comes in, praying to the video driver gods that Parallels recognises my 5 year old iMac video card and is able to run fancy games with it. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. With this game, despite allocating over a gig of video memory to it, it decides I have less than 256MB of video memory available, so promptly turns everything off and runs slowly. I really need a gaming rig PC again, but that's beside the point.

Settlers 7 (the Paths to a Kingdom Gold edition) itself has been gifted to me in a classic Simpsons example of Homer giving Marge a bowling ball as a gift for her birthday. With 'Homer' inscribed on it and the finger holes cut to match Homer's banana hands, the idea is to entertain the giver at least as much as the receiver. Never one to turn down a free lunch by looking the proverbial gift horse in the confused metaphor, I gratefully accepted a new game to my Steam collection. What's more fun than games? Free games? Free games with friends! Thanks Jon!

One quick run through the first basic mission of the tutorial/campaign and I was straight in for a Baptism of Fire to have my unknowing backside handed to me.

The complexity of the game is more of an issue, but only if you're brazen enough to leap straight into a multiplayer game without first taking on the single player campaign...

- Settlers 7 ReviewStrategy Informer
So that's the way I tried it, with many moments of my first 2 hour 31 minute game consisting of frustratingly hovering my mouse over various building add-ons, trying to figure out what the hell was going on and why I'd ever need to build a Weaver as an attachment to a Residence and when should I do it (in order to make bolts of cloth, then to make garments with those, to give traders something nice to wear so they can go and trade, as it turns out).

Though I was playing 2v2 with three great friends in the same room - my girlfriend and her housemates - there seemed to be little point even to my involvement in this first game. My team won, but I was in a long distant fourth place with not a single victory point to my name. 3rd in trade, above the person who didn't trade; 3rd in military, above the person who didn't build an army and stone cold last in both victory points (a big fat zero) and research.

I absolutely hate playing games where I don't know how to play correctly (the first ten times of playing Agricola, please stand up). It's not that Settlers 7 is particularly difficult, but when thrown into a full-on game with three people who know what they're doing and you're basing your guesses on an hour or so of playing previous versions and stabs in the dark about what may or may not be a logical decision in the game... it's not easy. Or indeed a great deal of fun. Winning isn't everything, but I like to know at least what you have to do in order to win. What I did know, though, was that I was playing an excellent game.

My second game, after a DS9 break, was much more fun, despite losing in 2 hours 21 minutes. The existence of some Victory Points that I wasn't even aware of in Game 1 meant I now had a target. Not quite a strategy, but at least a target, so I went off to deliver and bribe my way through to some points while we house ruled to not attack each other's home base to knock the other players out of the game. This kept the score respectable, at least, but armed with the extra knowledge of what did what, whole new levels of complication came into it.

I'd played all of one and a half levels of the campaign beforehand, still firmly in the tutorial stage with a good 85% of the buildings and upgrades not even unlocked to play, never mind explained. Now, with over 12 hours of it behind me (8 of those in a single day, no less), I'm hooked on it thanks to (hashtag) Team Burnt Croutons and the bowling ball gift.

I liked the LMFAO reference, but in the end plumped for the Big Bang Theory-ness of The Settler Benefaction. Which did you prefer? Oh, and don't forget: Settlers. Yay!

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