Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

by The Beast!

(Boardgame Beast HQ)

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The Vagabond

Settlers of Catan accessory: The VagabondWhen I first read about The Vagabond, I was a bit skeptical. Why would you need a board holder for the most popular modern board game on the planet?

Then, the next time our friends came over to play with us, somebody bumped the ‘island’ and we spent a couple of minutes realigning all the hexagonal tiles. After it had happened once, I decided to make a note of any future incidents. During the 70-minute game of Settlers of Catan, we had about eight moments when the board got disturbed enough to be annoying.

The next day, I felt it was essential to get hold of The Vagabond to see whether it was worth owning. A few days passed before my Vagabond arrived in the mail. It was very well packed and reassuringly solid when I removed it from the box. I found the cover photography was a little cheesy, showing pictures of various age groups using the product — this sort of reminded me of games I played in the 1980s — but it’s best in this case not to judge a product by its cover.

First impressions

This Settlers of Catan accessory is superbly made. The hinges are made from metal, not plastic, which will be a major relief to any parent whose kids have destroyed a plastic-hinged box within days of getting it. The plastic ‘ridges’ are rock solid and have a feeling of permanence about them that most modern plastic games simply lack.

Settlers of Catan accessory: The VagabondInside the ‘suitcase’ design, there are trays which perfectly hold all the different cards you need to play both the base Settlers edition and any of the expansions, plus room for all the rulebooks. The trays are made from the same rigid plastic as the case and seem totally indestructible.

In play

We invited our friends over for another game of Settlers and used the opportunity to test The Vagabond. One thing to note is that it takes up a large space on a shelf, compared to the regular box; however, if you have multiple expansions, the total volume used will be less once you have unboxed them and stored the pieces in The Vagabond. Also because the trays are cleverly designed, you don’t have to store The Vagabond flat; it can stand upright like a briefcase until needed.

First, unclip the very firm snaps and open The Vagabond. Remove the trays and rulebooks and then turn it upside-down on the table, opened flat. This serves as your play field. The hexes look a long way apart because of the way the product is designed, but don’t worry, it works really well in practice.

As soon as you begin to assemble the island, you’ll appreciate how well The Vagabond is designed. The hexes ‘wedge’ perfectly into their hex holders on the product. It takes a tiny effort to remove them, which means that during play, you will not disturb the game at all, even if you violently barge The Vagabond. Even better, the roads (which are fiddly and annoying to reposition in the case of bumping the original game) drop into ready-made slots, to remain there until the game is over.

The settlements and cities sit on top of little blocks at the junction of the roads. Obviously a big bump will disturb them, but it’s a minor inconvenience compared to the problems the original game has.

Settlers of Catan accessory: The VagabondWe didn’t try the game with any expansions, but there is additional room at either side of the basic game board once it’s assembled.

The verdict

What should become an indispensable Settlers of Catan accessory, The Vagabond is brilliantly designed, superbly manufactured and reassuringly expensive. It’s not a cheap product in any sense of the word and dyed-in-the-wool Settlers addicts should definitely invest in this item.

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