“I know, let’s play Settlers of Catan!” This is the fifth time my sister-in-law has made this suggestion, which is how I know that we WILL play this game. The only question is whether we will play it now or in five minutes.
Not that a game doesn’t sound like a good idea. We just ran a St. Patrick’s Day fun run in the hail, snow, and rain and now are sitting around drinking coffee and trying to think of something to do. Preferably something that doesn’t involve movement.
We refresh our coffees and sit down to play.
First my brother-in-law takes a half an hour to explain the rules. You might think I’m exaggerating about the half an hour, and if you do, that just proves that you’ve never played Settlers of Catan. This game has the most convoluted and complicated set of rules known to man.
“If you roll a 7, that means you have to move the robber.”
“The robber?” Jay and I look at each other. We’re twenty minutes into the instructions, and pretty sure that Joe is just making it up as he goes.
“You can put the robber on any of the numbered circles,” he goes on. “And another thing about rolling a 7, if you have more than 8 cards, you have to give back half of them.”
“But you also get the robber?” Jay asks.
I’m ashamed to say that twenty minutes in, we don’t know any more than we did when the instructions began. Either my brother-in-law is a really bad explainer, or Jay and I need to work on our listening skills. Or this game is ridiculously complicated.
“Let’s just play,” my sister-in-law says impatiently. She’s competitive and already smelling victory. “They’ll pick it up as they go.”
Sort of how you can just pick up an Asian language or Advanced Physics.
But I don’t say these thoughts aloud. Truth be told, I just want the instructions to end… they’re making my head hurt.
Two hours later I’m hoarding a pile of Development cards and bartering with the best of them.
“I’ll give you a sheep,” I tell Jay, “If you’ll give me THREE bricks.”
I’m holding The Longest Road Card. That’s two Victory Points! I’d build a development if only I could get me some wheat.
Fortunately I can trade in three of my sheeps for a brick. “You need four to trade,” says Carol. She’s forgotten that I have the 3:1 boat thing.
I lose the first round, but just barely, and find that I am firmly hooked.
We should really have a dinner party, I think — We have some friends who would surely love to learn to play Settlers of Catan.