Monday, June 30, 2014

A Brief, Personal History of Settlers of Catan

My first exposure to a game that now ranks in my top two games* of all time came on a visit to South Bend circa 2010.  I say "exposure" as I can't properly say I played.  I arrived late.  The game was already in play among these friends of the North countries who journeyed from Milwaukee and Chicago for a Catan-meet-up.  An extremely modified version of Settlers of Catan, involving an absolutely giant board, anchored the room.

I became John Paul's teammate, leaving all decisions regarding play to someone much better versed in the game.  Someone who actually knew things like the rules.  And the goal.

But, as usual, I was no less invested in clenching the win.

College friends!

(We didn't.)

Fast forward to the fall of 2012.  My new husband and I had just moved to Oklahoma City, where we quickly became friends with a young family who love Catan.  It took me one game, played in their charming but small garage apartment while their baby slept ten feet away, to get hooked.

The game, like all the best games, takes skill, strategy, and luck.  It takes skill to pick the correct territories, to negotiate beneficial trades, to know when and where to build and when to save resources, and to know when to go for the longest road or largest army.  All of these skills are intertwined with strategy: planning for the future.

Luck keeps the game interesting.

And, sometimes more importantly coughbackgammontournamentscough keeps the peace when one person seems to win more than all the others.

Settlers topped my Christmas list.  My very kind and generous mother-in-law thought the game was along the lines of Dungeons and Dragons and bought it for me anyway.

By the end of the week, she had bought it for herself, too.

Klaus Teuber is now a household name.  In our household, anyway.

My greatest achievement in Catan and other geniuses of Hans came a few weeks ago.  Since January, Catan equalled embarrassment for me; never did I just lose.  I never even got going.

But all that changed when my brother-and-sister-in-law came into town for a Thunder game.  They arrived early, in time to play with the baby, eat cupcakes, drink beer, and, most importantly, to play Catan.

Victory was mine.

That same evening, my original instructors came for curry and Catan.

Again, victory.

The following day, nap time found us at my brother and sister-in-law's house for our inaugural game of Settlers of America.  I remain the only victor of this brilliant creation of Hans Kluber, board game genius.

Settling America, honeymoon style.
Well, its the West.
The one thing I learned in that game: westward expansion is advantageous
I mean, we were manifestly destined to settle the continent, right?

*Maybe three.  Why don't we play Spades anymore??

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