The Settlers of Zarahelma Review
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Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes

The Settlers of Zarahemla is a variation of the award-winning game The Settlers of Catan, but I think it's a little better than its predecessor—because Zarahelma’s art is much better than Catan’s. Though the game mechanics are pretty much the same—with some slight variations—Zarahelma’s art is incredibly detailed and very beautiful.

You’re settling in the new and wondrous land of Zarahemla, and it's up to you to build your civilization faster than the other settlers. Zarahelma is a turn-based game, where you gather resources on each turn, depending on the roll of the die. You can randomly gather wood, brick, water, wheat, and stone each turn to build up your settlements, roads, armies, and temples.

You get points for special cards and for each settlement that you have. If your settlement turns into a city, you get two points. Based on how fast you build up, you can also gather special points for the largest army, the longest road, and the most temple stones in the temple. When you reach 12 points overall, you win.

The Settlers of Zarahelma seems easy at first, but several strategies quickly come into play. You can use the strategy of the development cards—where you spend all of your resources for the cards that may give you free building turns, warriors for your army, or leaders that can't be taken away and equal one point.

My brother seems to favor the road strategy, which is to build out as far and wide as possible and take all the juicy board spaces. This way he gets all the resources toward the end and really builds up fast in the last ten minutes of the game. This is a pretty successful strategy, as he’s won this game more often than anyone I've played with.

My personal strategy is to turn my settlements into cities as quickly as possible—since each city is worth two points.

Whichever way you decide to play, the result will be the same…you’ll be addicted. You'll find yourself playing games back-to-back, since there are so many different ways to conquer.

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