The Colonists of Natick

Players 2
Length 30 minutes
Equipment Required One standard piecepack
Designer GaryPressler
Version 0.6
Version Date2007-03-22
License GNU FDL 1.2


Two players compete to colonize the newfound Island of Natick. A player earns victory points by expanding their colony: constructing new villages and towns, and employing traders and knights. The first colony to reach 7 victory points (VPs) will dominate the island and the local music scene.

This game is a port of The Settlers of Catan Card Game, and won the GoodPortsmanship contest in March 2007.

Rules (PocketMod) (excellent half-page player aid by Shaun Austin; will fit in your piecepack box)

Reviews & Comments

First Impressions: I managed to convince my girlfriend to play a piecepack game with me tonight. I've never played any of the Settlers games before (so I can't say anything about how does it compare to the original game) and wanted to try this one to get a taste of what I've been missing... The game was very close and in the end it all came down to 1 VP in the last round. I was unable to build for the las VP and my girlfriend had enough resources to get herself a knight. I was also quite unlucky to get two raids rolled in a row just after I decided to risk having 6 unguarded lands... My girlfriend divided the dice leaving me only one, as I didn't want to take the die with the raid... so she got plenty of resources in those last turns. I really have to play the game more to decide what to think of the it. I can say that the game "works" and I mostly liked it. One mechanic I'm not too sure of is the trading. In a two player game I don't really see when you'd want to trade between players. It either benefits both players, or the one that doesn't benefit won't want to do it, and that doesn't give the advantage to any of the players. Maybe it's useful if there're no more resources available in the resource pool... (I have to play some more to see this). I really like the mechanic where one divides the dice and the other chooses a group. It works really well, although some times the best choice is very obvious... The game outcome is also quite dependent on random events (tile draw and dice rolled) but it's too early for me to say if it is too random... I think I still have to get the strategy for building (especially traders and knights). Still, I'll be playing this one again... Here's a picture of our set up: (I've added the game to BGG) -JorgeArroyo

I hope you do play again soon, Jorge. My thoughts and experiences are as follows.

The thing is, with two experienced players trade will probably benefit both players about the same. As everything is open on the table, it's difficult to trick your opponent. In this situation trade can be used to get things moving. Anyway, it's not really a problem of the game, it's just that usually trading between players works better in multiplayer games... And even if you don't trade between players during the whole game, it still works, so it's ok. - JorgeArroyo

With two matched opponents, it's a war of inches and centimeters, that's for sure. -- RonHale-Evans 2007-03-26

Thanks much for the comments and plays. Yes, it's generally a very close finish, much to my delight. I agree that trading is dubious in a two-player game. I included it mostly because the SoC Card Game allows it, even though I have probably traded less than twice during all my plays of that. However, I didn't want to limit players if they discovered a reason to do so. Indeed, I found myself using trades occasionally while playtesting. Usually it was a case in which one player gained an obvious benefit while the other was gambling on an even greater benefit at the mercy of the next roll of the dice.

Thank you also for the honor of my first BGG page, although I am not certain it is entirely deserved, given this was a port. I'll have to check it out. -- GaryPressler 2007-03-26

I played a game with Ron Hale-Evans at Penguicon, then observed about half of a partial game where Ron introduced the game to another couple attending the convention. Not having played the Settlers of Catan Card Game, I felt The Colonists of Natick had a somewhat steep, but still manageable learning curve, and some interesting decisions to make. The player aids that were recently uploaded will help (no more page flipping in the rules). Overall, it's a great game, and I'll gladly play it again. Maybe other players' experiences have been different, but I do have one question concerning the design. How was the threshold level of unguarded resources for the raid event (6) determined? The event was rolled several times in my game with Ron, but it never applied to either of us, so the dividing player couldn't use it as leverage to get greedy with the resources for that turn, which appears to be the main intent of the raid event. And just one knight seemed to make it unlikely to ever apply in a given game, as long as resources were collected and spent efficiently. Reducing that threshold might make it apply more often, but it may also lengthen the game. The game between Ron and me went about 90 minutes, but a lot of the extra time was talking about other things and explaining the game and the piecepack system to passers-by, so you can't take our game time as representative. But even if it was, 90 minutes is supposedly much shorter than a typical session of the Settlers of Catan Card Game. -- ClarkRodeffer (./) (./)

This game is a fun, engaging port of The Settlers of Catan: The Card Game (which I haven't played... reading its rules the port seems to streamline it quite a bit).

In the game two players strive to build a conglomerate of villages, towns and regions, both safe (protected by guards) and with flourishing commerce (via merchants); this progress is measured in points. The scoring is easy to remember: towns yield 2 points, whereas villages, guards and merchants yield 1 point each. Despite having different characters, events and advances the whole setting works surprisingly well using the (abstract) Piecepack: the suit colours are assigned to all the elements in the game in an intuitive way, and after a mere handful of turns there is no need to check the rules at all.

In the beginning of each turn, a player throws all four dice, the opponent divides them into two lots and the active player chooses first. Both players then execute the events on the dice and collect the corresponding resources; finally, the active player has a chance to buy or trade. Yet again, the procedure is simple and smooth, and the procedure to divide the dice and let the opponent choose ensures that the forces stay balanced for most of the game.

This sturdiness and the small amount of characters (3), resources (4), types of land (4) and events (4) suggest a game without much sprawl. Indeed, this is a game in which players need to use every single turn wisely and squeeze as much as possible from their resources. Endings are always tight and draws can happen pretty easily. Nevertheless, the game is short, compact and enjoyable throughout - it does call for a rematch straight after finishing.

-- Antonio Recuenco Muñoz


BGG Page:

CategoryGame CategoryPortedGame