Settlers of Catan for XBox Live

If you’ve got an XBOX 360 this is probably a post for you.

Bad Company 2 – I haven’t tried onslaught mode. Jon says it’s good but with the AI being lackluster at times it’s tough to pay $10 for it when it’s just Gears of War 2’s squad camp mode. The new maps (which are really old maps shoved into a new mode) are terrible. OK it’s sort of cool to have new vehicles but if you put them on a crap map the entire experinece is soured. The rebalanced weapons patch means that the shotguns are grossly overpowered since a lot of guns now do a lot less damage. Since the shotgun shoots 8 “bullets” and only one bullet to the head kills a player, shotgun sniping goes back to being a valid tactic.

UNO on XBOX Live – Dropping you into a game sort of sucks since a lot of players who know they’re going to lose simply drop out. The pauses while someone drops in or out are stupidly long. People tend to put the controller down. People with a headset tend to talk about being high, a ghost in the room unseen by others named “mom”, or AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER. Strategy is almost nonexistent. I’ve lost a few simply because someone feels some overwhelming need to play a draw 2 on you which means you can’t possibly play your draw 2 on the guy who called uno. The AI is marginal at best even set to hard and will not fill in more than half the seats. I swear to god the desk isn’t random.

Catan on XBOX Live – My wife hates economy games while I love them. If you’ve played Ticket To Ride, that’s Catan Lite. It’s well worth leaning to play. Catan reminds me of monopoly without the four and a half hour long time commitment. (What would fix monopoly would be having a quarter of the properties on the board). I know you can play Catan online for free. Frankly they should make economy games required playing in school because no-one seems to know how money works anymore. Anyway, Catan is worth the $10 because the online players tend not to suck on the whole, but the AI also can give you a real run for the money. The “roundhouse strategy” (build a ring of settlements around the middle tile) gets far too much play online and I’ve seen people drop out simply because they didn’t get a complete ring. Note that you can use this strategy to effect a monopoly on resources, but a lot of people don’t use or want to use the counter strategy of buying the soldiers to move the robber. On the other hand if you get the center ring, no-one else can get that middle tile. If you don’t ring it out, other people can lock down their part of the board. Strategy aside, the AI is damn good and they give you a stats tracker at the end of the game showing the dice rolls and everything else. It’s enough to make sure you feel like you got a fair shake on the deck and dice.