The Settlers of Catan: The Unfortunate Tournament
A couple of months ago I heard of a local Catan tournament and, of course, I registered for the event. I didn’t want to be by myself among the other participants, so I asked two friends to join me. I had personally introduced them to the game just weeks before, so they saw it as the perfect opportunity to practice playing against other people. The same was also true for me, though, because my only experience with Catan was through the ─now long gone─ playcatan site and some phone conversations with another friend of mine, a Catan veteran. She didn’t feel like joining as well, and I have since realized how wise she truly is.
In my defense, all the signs that this was going to be a nightmarish experience were pointing to the opposite direction; on the phone we had been told to arrive early so that someone would explain to us how to play (puh-lease); when the waiters started setting the boards on the tables, we were very excited to see they were using the beginners’ map from the rule book (we got this, WE GOT THIS); when I finally sat at my table, one opponent said he had only played Catan the year before (I already feel sorry for you, mortal).
My problems started when we actually began playing. I was fourth and already terrified of the woman across from me. Even though her words sounded normal and unthreatening, her whole countenance was that of a predator ready to attack. The deck of resources was next to her, so when our land produced a resource she had to give us the corresponding cards. While doing that, her hands were shaking with anticipation. And not the good kind. She was boiling inside to hurry through the boring part of determining who the real threat was and get to the good part: the winning. I know I may seem like a wimpy little girl, but the thing is that I was afraid to even say anything for fear of unleashing the beast inside her. I simply cowered in my seat, waiting for everything to be over. I just wanted to go home and crawl under a blanket. Did I mention it was early September?
Long story short, the lady beat us and she moved on to the semi-finals where she won again and she competed against three other poor saps in the finals and ─guess what─ she won. I don’t know exactly how that last game unraveled, but it took over an hour to end. I was playing a different board game at the time, but my gaze kept returning to the finalists’ table. About five to six other gamers had gathered around to watch the match. If smoking had been allowed in the store, I’m sure white clouds would have hovered above their heads. Had the table been green and the lights a little dimmer, I would have believed you if you told me we were at a casino and those four people were actually gambling everything they had. Do you know what she won? Maybe a fancy car? Or a cruise in the Aegean Sea? Perhaps it was a new Smart TV?
No, none of that. She got a 40-euro gift card.
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