Recently I read a series of posts panning the Catan HD (the iPad app of the famous board game). I enjoy it. It has the ability to play single player again AI opponents or play against friends using what they call “Hot-Seat-Multiplayer” mode (more on that later). In my first few games I was totally clobbered by the AI. Though I own it, I haven’t had the opportunity to play the board game much, and then against the same set of competitors. One tends to get into a rut. It took me a few games to start thinking differently and trying out different strategies.
As I mentioned, you can play with friends. The “Hot-Seat-Multiplayer” mode mentioned above basically entails passing the iPad around to whomever’s turn it is. This tends to slow play down significantly for a couple of reasons. First, you can’t look at the board during another player’s turn, nor do you see what your opponents are doing as they do it. You must wait till you get the tablet back on your turn, then refamiliarize yourself with the lay of the land and take note of all the changes. All of this inhibits strategizing and causes game delay. The second way it slows game play down is in trading. You can’t just call out, “Hey anyone wanna trade a wood for ore?” You plug your trade in, and then it is passed to each player who is able to make such a trade for them to either accept, reject or counter. Then you have to confirm, or re-counter…. it can become a long, drawn out process. So, if you have the board game, and are in a place where you can set it up and play it, I recommend using the physical version.
Where the game shines, I think, is during travel and other occasions when setting up a board just isn’t practical. In the fall my family is planning on traveling to the West Coast to see family. Having several of our favorite games available on my iPad will help make that 36 hour trip a bit more pleasant. I also found Catan HD easier to use when teaching one of my children to play than the physical version was. There are several reasons for that which could make their own post.
One feature I wish was included, and I hope will be added to a future update is online multi-player. I have friends and family all over the world who play Catan, but I’ve never been able to play with them. It would be nice to connect with them through a shared past-time.