#250 The Settlers

Posted: 21st April 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

419th played so far

Settlers_boxscan_amigaGenre: Strategy
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1993
Developer: Blue Byte Software
Publisher: Blue Byte Software

Yay, The Settlers! I spent way too much time on the second game in the series (as did several people I know) and had an absolute blast with it, the game being one of those that had some great memories associated with it. Because of this, I recently replayed it and soon got back into it, the charm still being there, as well as the difficulties keeping the logistics going that came with it.

I dabbled a bit with the first game, having owned it for some time, but never got too far in, in part because it felt a bit imprenetable (which we’ll go into in a moment). It’s the only one that ended up on the list, which is an understandable choice, although perhaps not the best in the series.

Our Thoughts

This is a tricky one to talk about, as it seems informed so much more by what I already knew. The Settlers, by default, relies on a number of visual and gameplay convention that it makes far less clear than its sequel, lacking labels for a number of options and a couple of toggles that would make them more accessible. At the same time, having played the second game, I recognise enough of the buildings and other details that I can quite easily transfer that knowledge – this building does that thing, this is where you can build that, and this is how you’d attack. Anyone playing without that would need to refer to the manual more often (which is only on disc in our version), making life more complicated.

Leaving that aside for a moment, the game itself is more interesting. A strategy game focused on economy and logistics, you’ll spend a lot of your time getting buildings in the right place and getting the shortest roads build between them. That last part is important – all goods are carried over roads, with one helper on a section of road carrying it from flag to flag. In busy parts of the maps, this means that piles of things build up on both sides as your guy can’t keep up, requiring diversionary routes to make sure goods get there.

It might be my brain, but I find this utterly fascinating. Working through the analytics, getting these big networks with people carrying around goods all the time, makes me feel like building road networks in a Civilization game. It’s utterly fascinating, especially to see how it extends to all other parts of the game. You want to build your lumber mill closer to your lumberjack, to make sure tree trunks can be turned into planks. That should be close to storage so they can be sent there, and be fed to the rest of the area for everything that they’re building, as well as to be used in a tool maker, which needs iron, produced in a smelter from ore.

It all links together into an interesting logistics system, military sitting mostly at the top (with some branches for some other utilities). Combat is simple – soldiers fighting one on one, summoned from nearby forts and guardhouses, trying to take out the enemy’s guardhouses (which defined territory ownership) – but effective enough in getting your progress sorted. Although your eventual goal is – usually – to take out the enemy far enough that you have control, it’s just not often your focus.

Final Thoughts

The Settlers is a charming strategy game, one of the few to focus this heavily on the economy and logistics without being a complete simulation. It’s a neat experience, different from most other games, that unfortunately didn’t stay around a lot in even later versions of the game (not after the second in fact). It more makes me want to go back to something like Transport Tycoon, with a similar focus on supply lines, or the organisational skills required for SimCity. In the mean time, this merges them perfectly.

  1. […] of village building and economy handling is one that appeals to me, as previously discussed for The Settlers, it scratches this vaguely simulationist […]