This Board Game Ruined My Writing

So I may as well write about it

At first I was just offered the game on vacations, like an occasional line of coke, which was fine. Then my wife discovered the online version which, like crack, speeds up the whole process. So now we just spend evenings side by side on the bed, vaping and playing Settlers Of Catan.

It’s a bit of a problem.

Catan, if you’re unfamiliar, is a strategy game involving territory, resources, and competition. I have a special jones for accumulation games like this, having even gotten lost in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. There’s something about statistical accumulation that I find deeply addictive. There’s a magic to making a number increase, especially if there are complexities involved. I start moving levers and testing things and trying to get better and better.

Before this was Medium, for me. I would refresh the stats constantly, even while putting my kids to sleep or waiting for an elevator. That was my accumulation game, and one that spit out real money at the end. But it depended a bit on real activity, and reality is slow.

The thing about a game is that it can move at the speed of desire. Fate is decided in a roll and roads and cities are built by hand. With a board game the only limit is how fast you can think and move your hands. Once the game becomes digital, even this limit is removed. This is essentially freebasing a board game, the high hits your brain much faster.

There’s no more counting cards or pieces, that just happens. It’s just the game play and those little dopamine hits when something goes your way, and the complexity that makes you feel in control. And Catan is complicated AF. I’ve played a lot of Risk but that’s essentially like War compared to Poker.

With Risk you take territory and just run numbers of armies into each other until someone dies. With Catan it’s much more sophisticated. You take territories and those territories produce resources that you can trade. Hence you get a range of currencies that mix and match to buy protection, or opportunities, or roads and cities. And this all stacks into a complicated score, playing against people who are also your trade partners.

It’s fascinating and I marvel at the former dental technician who created and sold over 22 million copies of the thing. Everything interacts and effects everything else so much that it amazes me that someone invented this. You could almost think of it like Go but with trade — the human aspect that opens up infinite possibilities.

It’s really interesting but I also really really need to stop. I love Catan, but it’s killing my writing. My God I want to play right now.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication. Patreon: patreon.com/indication

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