Catan for iPad review
This iOS version of Settlers of Catan, Klaus Teuber’s superb and deservedly idolised tile-based island conquest game, is a graphically faithful rendition of the board game, offering you three choices of tile design to replicate your favoured edition. Perhaps too faithful, in fact; some of the little playing pieces can be fiddly to hit without zooming in.
Going digital brings a number of benefits. It’s a great relief, for example, having the iPad handle those tiresome banking duties and calculate victory points, all of which makes the game far more fast-paced. It can also be fun (and vindicating) to access the statistical tables of dice rolls at the end of the game. “See! The double six really did come up more than the five!”
But we have quibbles. For one thing, the computer players can be swines. If you’re accustomed to politeness in your Catan games – leaving people alone until they’ve built a couple of settlements, for instance, or giving in to the old ‘puppy eyes’ when your wife needs some of your cards – you’ll be shocked by how relentlessly the AI players gang up on you. (On the other hand, playing with another human player and ganging up on them is extremely satisfying.) What makes this even more frustrating, if you’ve bought the Seafarers expansion (adding gold mines, multiple islands and the pirate, as shown above), is that you have to battle through campaign mode to gradually unlock the most exciting maps.
Despite these frustrations, however, the underlying quality of the original board game is such that this remains an enjoyable, long-lasting and deeply addictive experience. And £2.99 is a fairly low entry point to the world of Catan.
This is by no means the perfect port, but it’s still Catan on an iPad, and that’s enough to make it better than a lot of games out there. And while genteel Catanians may be surprised by the level of ruthlessness, others will probably see it as a plus point. Sometimes frustrating, but usually fun.