Like pretty much every geek that I know, I love Settlers of Catan. It’s seated firmly in my top 10 games ever and it gets more play time at our house than any other tabletop game. However, there is one aspect of the game design that always irritates me, and that’s the trouble in keeping the hex tiles aligned.
There are a number of solutions, but none seem quite so elegant, or as official as the The Official Settlers of Catan Gaming Board. Yes, that’s officially licensed by Mayfair Publishing, which means they get a portion of each sale and can continue to making great games for us to spend more money on. (This is a good thing, believe me.)
Spawned as a Kickstarter campaign last fall, this project set the goal at a meager $25,000 — essentially, enough to make a mold, shoot some tests, and boot-strap a small company. In the end they collected over $350,000 from 5,300 backers. I know you’ve all heard this story before. Kickstarter goes crazy, project gets over-funded, then totally fails to make timelines.
As expected, they did eventually run into a few small problems. First was the time it takes to get a mold from first shots in May to production. The second was a problem with the logo in the mold and the decision to fix the mold and not resort to a vinyl decal. Third was color and paint compromises, but all of these were handled openly and with as much backer input as possible.
Still, despite the problems, they only slipped the deadlines by a month, delivering the 3-4 player boards in July and the 5-6 player expansion early August. I received my board today and it is just short of awesome. I’ve included a close-up of a tile with roads and settlements below. Hopefully I can get the game crew together soon for a night of Settlers.
Check out the project updates for more pictures, and a great example of how to keep your backers informed.