Thursday, April 20, 2006

Move the Butt Plug and Give Me Some Sheep! Settlers of Catan!!!

There's this board game that nobody in the United States really knows about. Well, I guess some people know, because our friends Mike and Lisa in Menlo Park introduced us to it. They never actually sat down with us and taught us to play (we are friends by phone nowadays since we moved to Los Angeles), but they talked about it so much that it prompted me to go out and buy a copy and teach myself.

Ever try to teach yourself a complicated board game you've never played before? And then try to teach your friends after you've read the instructions just once? These are my college guy friends so all of the mocking quotes to follow start with "Dude". Repeat while simulating smirking, whiney voice: "Dude! I love how you make up the rules throughout the game to help yourself." "Dude! Are you just 'remembering' a new rule now to help yourself win?!" "Dude! You dragged us all to Vegas just to hole up in this room and play a frickin' board game?! F**k you!". OK that last one was slightly deserved- we all learned to play when I brought the game to Vegas. What a bunch of f****n' nerds. Me not included. Please kindly forgive the sloppy language- I am in college roommate mode as I write this. OK I will clean up the language a bit: Please ignore the previous use of the word f****n' and replace with f*****g.

All Hail Herr Teuber
Settlers of Catan was invented by a German named Klaus. Klaus Teuber. Klaus is a great, great man. I have never met Klaus, but whenever I think of a middle aged German man I immediately picture the new CEO of Daimler-Chrysler, Deiter Zetsche. Gotta love the mustache. Klaus I am sure looks a lot like his countryman Deiter. Except sexier. And he wants you to touch his monkey. OK I shall stop now because Klaus and Deiter suddenly find me tedious *yaawwwnnnn*. And besides, now is the time ven zey daunce. (If you are not getting the joke go watch some SNL reruns with Mike Myers.)

Gimme Some Sheep, B****H!
Catan is a game that takes place on an island. You collect resources: brick, wood, wheat, wool, and ore. Some people from the Midwest have been known to call wheat "corn". And virtually everyone for some inexplicable reason calls wool "sheep", as in "Montana: Where men are men, and sheep are scared." (courtesy Jason A) You spend the resources to build roads, settlements and cities to accumulate points. First player to accumulate ten points wins. So in some ways it's a bit of a cross between Monopoly and Risk.

But Catan is way more fun than either Monopoly or Risk. The game moves in two dimensions, the board is made up of many small tiles that randomly change position with each new game, and trading resources with your competitors is a constantly occurring activity that is important to winning. Most games have very close finishes, and usually nobody is so far behind that they feel like they've already lost halfway through.

Get the Butt Plug Off My Wood (and get your mind out of the gutter!)
The best part of Catan is a little piece called the Robber. Wherever the Robber goes, drought follows. So if the Robber is on a part of the board that you have built on, you don't get those resources even if somebody rolls that number.

Since most of my Catan buddies are doctors, the Robber's unique shape reminds them of something they often see at work. You'll have to guess what they call it, but I'll give you a hint: It starts with a B, ends with a G, and in the middle is "UTT-PLU". We started calling the Robber the Butt Plug in Vegas. The name, unfortunately for poor Klaus, has stuck (now ees zee time ven he really daunces). Now everyone calls it the Butt Plug. Even our wives like Pat, Nina, and Nicole, who would never ever curse except at crazy LA drivers, fondly refer to the Robber as the Butt Plug. Funny (or maybe not) how a German dude who invents a piece whose purpose is to "plug" a resource shapes it like a butt plug. Next time I see Klaus I will ask his monkey whether it was intentional.

Stop Blocking My Roads, A******S
Catan is a very involved game. Resources -critical for building and gaining points- are scarce. Good positions on the board are scarce. On more than one occassion has somebody become extremely aggravated, getting angry at another player. Even Pat gets angry sometimes when people block her building efforts. To better demonstrate, let me recount a recent evening of Catan at our house.

Pre-Game Warm Up
It started off innocently enough. First we enjoyed a pre-game dinner at Sanamluang Cafe in North Hollywood. With Jon. He's crazy. I don't need to tell you that though. You can see from the picture.

We had some spicy beef salad which looked better than it tasted. I figured the Butt Plug experience to come later that evening would be that much more entertaining with somethin' a little spicy in our bowels.

First Game Goes to Jack! All Hail the Lord of Catan!
I win the first game. Whenever Jon plays, he also simultaneously plays Yahoo! Hearts and tracks the Yankee game on the laptop. And he still whips my ass every time. This is the first time I've ever won with Jon at the table. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. But still not as crazy as Jon. I don't remember why he is making that face in the picture. Maybe he is jizzing because Jeter got on base.

Just When You Think I'm Stupid, You Find Out I'm Even More Stupid Than You Thought
I, by the way, am the world's losingest Catan player. I don't think I win even 10% of the games I play (it's a 3-6 person game. do the math to see how pathetically far below the mean I am in game-telligence). So I'm stupid partly because I can't win a game to save my life. But more so because I keep on playing even though I never win. Like a f*****g dummy.

Second Game: Jon Wins, Pat Gets Pissed
After the first game, it's like 10pm on a weeknight. Jon's on call. But he makes us play a second game anyway because he, in his words, wants "V for Vendetta". He kicks our asses and wins the second game. It only takes him about 20 minutes.

That's not where the drama was though. During the second game, I beat Pat to a very key position on the board. She got pissed. And decided to no longer trade resources with me for the rest of the game. She doesn't cuss like me, Jon or any of my guy friends, but you can see steam rushing out of her ears. From the look on her face I'm sure the expletives rushing through her mind would melt my ears off, so I am glad she doesn't spew forth. And after seeing that I posted a picture of her being pissed on the Internet, she will get even more pissed at me (see the above paragraph on how I'm stupider than stupid).

Third Game: All Hail Pat, the New Lady of Catan!
So now it's almost 11pm. On a weeknight. (Yes, we are wusses and go to sleep early like all old fogies). Pat is pissed after losing both games. She definitely wants to kick our asses. So she makes us play a third game. Now this time, Jon seems to be winning. So I go after him to be sure he doesn't win so quickly. As we're duking it out, Pat surreptitiously collects her resources and beats us both to 10 points. Look who's smiling now!

tags :: : :


Blogger Doctor C. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Doctor C. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

I read about this game a few years ago when it was named "Game of the Year." Before buying it, I borrowed it from a friend and tried to play it with my wife. Within a half hour, the game was tossed on the floor. She found it "overly complicated" and we went back to Trivial Pursuit.

8:00 PM  
Blogger jackt said...

Neil: Yes, the first time is a bit hard, especially if you're not playing with people who are familiar with it. But once you learn the rules (it only takes 1-2 full games to be well versed in the rules), it's a really great game. Since the board is randomly assembled every time, every game is completely different from the last. And there are several different strategies you can employ to win. Also, because trading with your competitors is so essential to winning, it adds a very interesting coopetition element to it. You should definitely try it again, but with 3-4 people instead of two if possible.

8:19 PM  
Blogger rick james said...

i've had the trying to teach others a board game experience... its a very trying time... ever heard of "Kremlin"?
its an old Avalon Hill bookshelf game about Russian Politics, KGB, and controlling... try teaching that to a bunch of drunks, not very fun... but the game is by far the most entertaining board game i've ever played... you can sometimes pick it up on ebay for cheap cause most people have no clue what the hell it is and/or they're to stupid to figure out how to play...

i'll have to check out Catan someday.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Ahh...Brings back Vegas memories... We will play again the next time I'm in LA. Have you checked out Catan Online? I hear there are some real butt-plugger there. Love your blog site Jack! :)

9:03 PM  
Blogger jackt said...

DCCF: Hahaha that's really funny you tried to teach your friends when they were drunk? Actually I suppose that's not so peculiar- the truly pathetic thing is all of us in Vegas were sober! =)

Andy: You were one of the people in Vegas!!! Hope to see you back here soon!

9:51 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home