So first I thought I was the only person who hadn’t yet played Settlers of Catan. Then I mentioned it to the Chungies and they scoffed at the idea of a “hot” boardgame and made fun of my Canadian-ness (comme toujours). But I remember putting together a magazine gift guide at least four years ago, and having the sales geek at Game Trek try and sell me on this crazy new boardgame from Germany. I suppose the moral of the story is that I am neither ahead of or behind the times, but firmly entrenched in them.
Anyway. CK and NW came over for some pad thai, which SJ and I made in the proper stinky style with tamarind and dried shrimp, a ton of fresh and dried chiles and buckets of lime juice. It wasn’t quite as good as at the Chiang Mai night market, but way better than anything I’ve eaten in a Toronto restaurant, and we were pleased that our guests thought so too. If you’re interested in making a good tangy, sour, super spicy pad thai, this recipe is pretty spot on. (If you make a pad thai without tamarind, please don’t speak to me.) We added about a half pound of fresh shrimp, which you can shell and devein and then put into the pan with the tofu, before the garlic and Chinese chives. To drink, we had some Rogue Best Bitter, which was quenching and stood up to the chiles with a nice hoppy bite. Of course, it’s not as good as the Rogue Chipotle, which is only available Stateside. Stupid LCBO.
Then, they busted out the game, which for Chungies and other neophytes I will attempt to briefly explain here. The idea is to build a settlement, using roads and buildings. Rolls of the dice and trades with other players help you accumulate resources, like sheep and wheat. The fun part is that the board changes for every game, so the odds of accumulating different resources changes every time, as well. Also, it’s complex, but not complicated, and there generally isn’t a runaway leader like in Monopoly, which can make things super boring for the players getting smoked. Wired recently called it the best board game of all time. Oh, there are also “natural disasters” and resource crunches by way of a movable Robber piece—which as you can see in the photo, used to be black until someone wised up about that. In attempt to not smear entire ethnicities in their board game, the Catan makers have smartly made the new Robber grey.
Wired also said that it didn’t take as long as other board games, but our session stretched into three hours. There was some bartering and shit talk, some high highs and low lows. And, in the end, I prevailed—as it should be. Boom! Catan is awesome.