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Seafarers of Catan 3D

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Jason Fugate

GAME DEVELOPER:Freeware

GAME PUBLISHER:Freeware

Copyright 2004, Jason Fugate

Seafarers of Catan 3D (“Sea3D” in short) is a superb multiplayer-only PC version of one of the world’s best tabletop strategy games of the same name. If you are a strategy fan and have never played Catan games before, read my reviews of Settlers of Catan and The First Colonists elsewhere on this site first – hopefully those will convince you to try the game ;)

This version uses OpenGL to display the Catan board and game pieces in 3D, adding beautiful texture-mapping to make them look even more authentic. The game includes maps for the basic game, as well as every map from the “Seafarers” add-on (hence the name). It also boasts a wide variety of special rules, such as 5-6 player expansions and unique fanmade variants such as Jungles and Volcanoes. Like the board game itself, your goal is to gain 10 Victory Points (VPs) to win the game. You earn VPs by building settlements and cities, connect them together with roads, and using special cards. There are also special requirements, such as “make the longest continuous road” that add variety to the game and keep it from becoming a simple race to amass cities.

Although die-hard gamers may turn up their noses in disdain at 3D “bells and whistles,” in Sea3D they actually help make the game more attractive to newcomers, as well as make the game easier to play. You can use the right mouse button to spin the board around, and if your mouse has a wheel in the middle, you can easily zoom in and out. Thanks to OpenGL, even the smallest token on the board is clear and readable. It is very easy to place pieces and move them, especially when the game includes illustrated lines and zones to show you where you can place tokens.

Another facet that attests to Sea3D being a ‘labor of love’ is the sound effects, which add a lot of atmosphere. You will hear the sound of die rolls on the wooden board, and even the robber’s maniacal cackle as he prepares to attack. The only gripe I have is the lack of on-line help or manual – even the “on-line help” pages at the author’s website only explain unique features of the program, not the actual rules to the game (so I decided to compile both the software-specific help and Catan/Seafarers rules into a nice PDF manual which you can download below :) ) Too bad the game has no computer AI to speak of, but the multiplayer implementation is solid: I especially like the “S3D Connector,” a built-in game finding software that allows you to connect to games being played around the world. Any player can host a game, post it to the Connector, and have others from around the world join in immediately. This makes finding Internet games to participate in extremely easy. The game’s official site has an active list of ladder matches and a chat room, so you can always find opponents on-line. In addition to LAN and Internet, you can also play the game with real-life friends using hotseat mode. With superb graphics, gameplay, and a very faithful – and extensive – coverage of the original rules, Sea3D is a must-play for fans of the board game, or abstract empire/conquest games in general. Two thumbs up!



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