Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: Settlers of America

Made by Mayfair Games, makers of the Settlers of Catan series of games, Settlers of America takes the core gameplay elements of Settlers of Catan and uses them to let players play through the western expansion of the United States of America.  Players start by placing starting cities in the Eastern United States and proceed to build new settlers to expand out westward.  In order to win, players must build trains and rails to drop off their supply goods manufactured from their cities to other player's cities.  The first player to drop off all their supply goods wins the game.

Each turn plays like the original Settlers of Catan game, dice are rolled, resources are picked up based on who has cities built next to the rolled number, and resource trading and building commence.  Some of the major differences are city placement, resource depletion, and the reliance on other players doing well to win.

Instead of building new settlements at the end of your road, new cities are built by first building a Settler, paying Wheat to move him across the board to an open settlement location, and turning the Settler into a city once he arrives. These cities do not need to be connected to anything and can be on the opposite end of America if you want.

Most resource numbers are painted on to the game board, but some are on numbered tokens.  As players expand westward, these token numbers will move from the east side of the board to the west side, thus forcing players to travel west.

In order to drop off your supply goods, there must be an opponent's city without any supply goods already placed upon it.  This means that in order to win, the other players have to also have cities built.  This prevents the problem frequent in Settlers of Catan of being unable to build and unable to win the game.  No one is ever knocked out of the competition in this game.

Another nice fix from previous versions of Settlers is that you will never have a turn where you get no resource.  In this version, they introduced gold.  On any turn you don't receive a resource card, you get one gold.  Two gold lets you buy one of any other resource.  Gold is also used to allow your trains to travel on  other player's tracks.

The average game length seems to be about 3 hours and the game is for 3-4 players.  I really enjoy this game, but it certainly is time consuming, so it's rare I actually get to play it.


  1. 3 hours? Geez, that's worse than Agricola.

    But thanks for the review. I hadn't heard of this game.

    1. One of the best parts of going to PAX last year was trying new board games like this and Axe Cop Munchkin. This year I'm determined to try out the Discworld game from Mayfair Games that I was trying to play last year and ended up playing this instead.

      I think it needs to be easier to try board games without buying them. A bad board game can be a very expensive mistake.

    2. Agreed. Wil Wheaton has started a series of YouTube videos called TableTop, possibly for this purpose. I only saw the first one, but it totally made me want this game Small World.