Don't let his sweet, avuncular face fool you. Klaus Teuber (which I pronounce in my head with a heavy Austrian accent) invented "Settlers of Catan," quite possibly the most confusing board game ever made. It's also a game with which several friends of mine are completely obsessed, and have tried to push on me with all the enthusiasm of a crack dealer. You'll LOVE it, they said. We PROMISE, they said.
Tonight was the second time in recent memory that Klaus Teuber has tried to slowly murder me with his diabolical invention. Even his name sounds like an evil character from Pinky and the Brain, and the plot of his "game" is no less disquieting.
I really don't understand any of it, but as far as I can tell it's like Monopoly for the British Empire. The goal is to colonize large swaths of land with little wooden pieces representing roads, cities, and "settlements." There are thousands of parts to the game. There's the puzzle that constitutes the "land." There are dice. There are little cardboard circles with numbers AND letters on them. There are cards with rocks, sheep, wheat, and logs that you're supposed to trade for other special cards like the "knight card" and "the longest road card" so you can get "victory points." Then between turns you're allowed to just randomly build shit and it's called the "special building phase" or something. There's a "robber" that hangs out in a desert threatening to fuck shit up and there are strategic trading ports. You win when you get ten victory points I think.
The fluency and zeal with which my friends who play Settlers of Catan play Settlers of Catan boggles the mind.
Each time I've played this game, I've felt like the game played me. Someone has to sit next to me and basically tell me what to do every step of the way. Literally the only thing I know how to do in this game is roll dice, count the dots on the dice, and announce the number I've just rolled. The rest just kind of happens around me, as though I were some mentally incompetent ward of the state, and I start to wonder if this is what it feels like to be senile.
That's the way it is with me and board games though. My second grader is already better at math than me and my preschooler is a much better skier. So it's hardly surprising that I barely understand Uno. The only board games I know how to play are Chutes & Ladders; Candy Land; Hungry, Hungry Hippos; and Operation, and I hate each of them to varrying degrees. Come to think of it, the last two probably don't even count as board games.
Somewhere in the Black Forest, Klaus Teuber is shaking his fist and laughing, knowing that it won't be long before he has the motive, means, and opportunity to make another attempt on my life.