Good news for fans of the board game Settlers of Catan: There's an app for that. Specifically, the new iPhone game Kolonists offers decidedly Settlers-like gameplay.
In other words, it's a strategy game of empire-building for 3 to 4 players. (If you've never heard of Settlers, check out the Wired story, Monopoly Killer: Perfect German board game redefines genre.)
Like Settlers, Kolonists unfolds on an island, which here fills in for Roman Empire-era Rome. Your goal is to rise to power by developing and capturing territories, which involves resource-gathering, trading, bribery, and some inevitable plundering.
Unlike Settlers, Kolonists plays without dice. That reduces the "chance" aspects of the gameplay while increasing the strategic elements--and makes the game go quite a bit faster.
Settlers die-hards may object to that change, but it's a safe bet that if you like the board game, you'll like Kolonists. And if you're new to both, you'll find the latter thoroughly engaging. After the initial learning curve, it's easy to play and endlessly entertaining. Love the grandiose soundtrack, too.
Unfortunately, version 1.0 has a few significant issues, most notably the lack of a save-game feature: If you exit for any reason, you can't resume.
Making matters worse, Kolonists is fairly crash-prone. Imagine the aggravation of investing, say, 20 minutes in a game when poof, it unceremoniously quits on you--and you can't even return to where you left off.
According to the developer, Kolonists 1.1 is already under review in the App Store, bringing with it an auto-save feature, crash fixes, faster AI, and various new gameplay options.
It can't get here soon enough. With those tweaks and fixes, Kolonists will undoubtedly rank as one of the best strategy games ever to appear on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Grab it now, while it's still at the "introductory" price of $1.99.