We all like to think that we are beyond the basic instincts of humanity. Despite having such a brutal and unforgiving history as both a country and a species, us in 21st century America are above it all! We’ve changed, we’ve developed, who could look at what we’ve accomplished and compare us to the ancestors who pillaged and conquered. I am here to tell you that that is all a lie. One encounter with Settlers of Catan will plunge you back into the life of an early, bright-eyed little colonialist. Once you set your eyes on a fresh, unconquered board of Catan, there is absolutely no internal instinct to preserve or protect. All you need is to get your crummy hands in there to do what humans do best, build ugly roads and settlements all over it. And even better, it offers the opportunity for NO GUILT pillaging! You can single handedly ruin your treasured college friendships with absolutely zero repercussions. No downsides except for the extreme rage that follows the destruction of your civilization!
For those of you who did not have the experience of being destroyed in board games from the ripe age of 8, Settlers of Catan is a game in which you try to become the most powerful settlement by expanding your empire and collecting resources. There’s trading, there’s theft, all the hallmarks of a good nation state society! You can even choose what path your society is going to follow to win the game out of some all-too familiar choices, extreme militarization or globalization. Or in Catan’s terms, largest army or longest road. Follow in the path of world leaders across human history and cut off entire societies so that you can win the biggest dick award and rule the school (the school being a bunch of hexagons arranged together into a board game). You could choose these options, but in this Water Tower issue only, I want to share the one faultless strategy to winning a game of Catan. The largest flock.
People tend to believe that sheep are the least important resource in the game. When you compare them to wood, stone, brick, hay, all these reliable and steadfast collectables, a bunch of sheep seem weak, expendable. But there is a vital misunderstanding here. If you tap the Catan box four times and say, “Can I trade one sheep for four wood and brick,” a secret compartment will actually open in the top of the box to reveal the coveted hidden rule of ‘largest and most bountiful flock.’ As this holy rule states, if you are able to collect enough healthy flock, upwards of 20 beautiful, thriving sheep, then you will be rewarded the honor of ‘largest flock,’ an instant and resounding victory. This holy rule transcends all others. It is one thing to be a ruthless, Genghis Khan-esque military leader and conqueror, but what people underestimate is the merit of being a good shepherd. You must be able to look into the innocent eyes of your flock at the end of the day and be able to tell them that you are a good flock parent. This is what the meaning of Catan really is. Expansion should only ever be for the sake of the flock, nothing more nothing less.