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Longer than Settlers, which is bad. It also suffers from all of Settlers' extant problems--most damningly, the fact that the game engine is driven by random dice rolls. It seems inevitable that one of the resources (they're all indispensable) will become critically scarce, thus stalling the game.
This game isn't going to change anyones mind about Settlers. But I am a fan, and this is a very fun variant. Instead of "points", this turns Settlers somewhat sideways and turns it into a race to deliver cargo. To do so, you must send pioneers out, establish towns, build rail and trains and deliver cargo to opponent's towns. I found the game was very entertaining, and despite what others have said, I did not feel that the game was too slow or overstayed its welcome. I would happily play again. I added this to my collection recently through a good trade. Now the question is if I can get anyone to play it...
GAMEPLAY Players are… pioneers? railroad tycoons? Anyway, America is a new country and manifest destiny is in full swing. Settlers of America is a race game where the goal is to deliver your goods (the number varies depending on player count) before your opponent. Just like in vanilla Catan, players roll dice and collect resources from the hexes that match the dice roll. Of course, building options are a little different. In this game, expansion is done through settlers, while delivery of goods is done via trains. Players can also build rail, move their settlers, move their trains, buy resources, and buy development cards. THOUGHTS At one time, I loved Catan but that turned sour a long time ago and now I don’t want to ever play it again. While SoA, suffers from the same problem as SoC—namely, that rolling dice and hoping you get the resources you need is simply a terrible mechanic—I’d rather play SoA any day of the week over SoC. This is mainly due to the simple but fabulous settlement-goods seesaw mechanic that SoA introduces. Each player has a certain number of settlements that have the potential to produce a good (i.e., cube). However, those goods aren’t unlocked until a player is able to build their settlement. Now the kicker: once the good is unlocked, it can only be delivered to an opponent’s settlement. So, I’ve got to put out settlements to unlock goods, but every time I put out a settlement, I’m giving my opponents a location where they can get one step closer to winning the game. This saves the game from the mediocrity regular Catan suffers from. PROS -Nice looking board and card art. -Components are wooden and of a good quality. -The settlement-goods mechanic is both simple and compelling. This is really what props up an otherwise boring game. -The addition of coins allows players to somewhat mitigate unfavorable rolls. -“Extraordinary building phase” not only is a cool name but allows players to mitigate chances of getting shafted by the outlaw. -Rail network adds to the player interaction. CONS -Rolling for resources still blows. Might be fixed by using a deck of cards or a rolling app that is set to less random. -SoA as it is set out in the rules can lead to an overly long game. A simple fix is to reduce the number of goods that need to be delivered and even consider starting with a settler on the board. -Although the settlement-goods mechanic saves the game, you may not be able to take as much advantage out of it as you like as the cities where you can place your settlements are more limited than in SoC.