Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Settlers of Catan antimilitarism

This weekend, I was introduced to the absorbing German board game Settlers of Catan. Now, reading this recent Wired article, I understand better why my strategy of building the "largest army" brought such poor outcomes:
German-style games, on the other hand, avoid direct conflict. Violence in particular is taboo in Germany's gaming culture, a holdover from decades of post-World War II soul-searching. In fact, when Parker Brothers tried to introduce Risk there in 1982, the government threatened to ban it on the grounds that it might encourage imperialist and militaristic impulses in the nation's youth. (The German rules for Risk were hastily rewritten so players could "liberate" their opponents' territories, and censors let it slide.)
Anyway, trading frequently in the game -- wood for bricks, wool for ore, etc. -- is an advantage, and such barter is a necessity since there's no money. I wonder if there are any German board games that draw upon the 1920s experience and depict hyperinflation.

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