Settling America – Stop 2 – Chicago

January 23, 2011

This post is part of the “Settling America” series. For more posts in this category, click here.

From the cockpit of the Sasquatch, Northern Indiana was soul-destroying. In Chicago, blasted by colder-than-northern-Ohio air, we were soon warmed by burritos, a regional beer selection, and two games of Catan in a friend’s apartment. I’ll be honest, we did not give Chicago a fair shake on this trip. We only spent a night there on our race to the desert. That said, Sam and I have visited Chi-town before and we are familiar with its greatness.

We played two games of Settlers of Catan at my friend Tom’s apartment. Tom was on a different mental plane, but he picked up the game fast and came to enjoy it despite losing twice.

Game 1 Recap

Sam’s Take:I’ll be as brief as I can be. Gloating is unnecessary. A champion is a person who acts like a winner when they win and when they lose. Thankfully for me, I win more often than I lose. My competitors for the title of Grand Chancellor of Catan attempted to alter my view of the world in which we were attempting to settle, but my mind was not to be taken away from it’s ultimate goal. With a quick run to hills of ore and wheat, I was able to upgrade my settlements to cities quickly. The longest road followed as I made sure, that like any good player, I was consistently active in my creation of roads and settlements and collection of development cards (from this point forward simply called DC’s). Tom showed a valiant effort for his first time, and was able to quickly pick up on the duplicitous nature of his “friend” Phil. Phil is a good man with a rotten core when it comes to Catan. He would gladly trade his own mother for an extra sheep and wheat. Good prevailed and a new Catan enthusiast was cultivated. I did my part and celebrated accordingly.

Phil’s Take: Horse manure. Sam’s recollection of this game is poor. I don’t remember a “quick run to hills of ore and wheat.” I do remember a series of underhanded trades that took advantage of Tom’s naivety. This is no fault of Tom’s – he is new to the game. Sam baited Tom with small amounts of brick, a resource that was becoming increasingly valueless as the game progressed. “Tom, listen, with this brick you are halfway to building a road. How good does that sound?” What Sam failed to mention was that Tom was building a road to nowhere and roads in themselves provide 0 victory points. Some of the trades were so asinine that I am starting to think Sam was passing actual legal tender to Tom under the table. This game was a sham.

Game 2 Recap

Phil’s Take: The second game reflected a return to normalcy. I won by securing the longest road and largest army. Tom was no longer naive about the game’s objectives, and Sam was unable to exploit him. Nonetheless, Sam continued to pursue his trades of deception in an attempt to duplicate the results of the first game. His efforts were pathetic and Tom (who also lost the match) and I both felt sorry for him after the game. In the morning Sam drove recklessly and cursed several times at Nuvia (our gps system) – symptoms of the humiliation he suffered the night before.

Sam’s Take: I’m a bit hungover after this game. Not from the copious beers that Phil and Tom kept feeding me in order to deter my quest for back to back domination of the fertile hills of Catan, but from the fact that I was so easily led astray of my usual game plan. Complacency is the only way to make sense of my defeat in this match. Part of me wanted to see Tom get a win just to put a smile on his face, a face long beleaguered by the backstabbing ways of his co-Ohioan, Phil. My mind was a bit focused on the road and on the couch that awaited me that evening. I’m happy Phil won because it would only make the road trip that much more difficult if I was subjected to his poor temperament after yet another defeat. Strategy is always on my mind. While it may sometimes lead to the loss of a competent leader for the people of Catan it allows for that leader to rejuvenate his soul prior to his inevitable return to power. A happy leader is a strong leader.

Lives Changed:

Tom’s for sure. Everyone introduced to Catan experiences an awakening typified by euphoric fainting spells. Upon receiving his first wheat harvest, Tom fell forward and nearly destroyed his coffee table.

I would say we changed our own lives as well. Things have been tense between me and Sam since our first game of Catan. I have been highly critical of Sam’s driving and the poor gas mileage of the Sasquatch. He has been increasingly annoyed by my persistent illness (I have self-diagnosed myself with bronchitis and mono). While passing through Northern Indiana, Sam nearly drove the car off the road when a loogie I spit out the window reentered the car, covering the interior and later drying on the passenger seatbelt.

You’d think splitting two games of Catan with a win each would send us on the path to reconciliation. Instead, it has only caused the divide to grow deeper. I fear for the future of our friendship. Dark days lie ahead.

Photo credit: midiman

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