JCCC2: in which Settlers of Catan is played on a boat

The boat rocked as gently as a giant boat can rock when it's pushing 19 knots. A fresh breeze made small white caps in the sea. The sun — the Nerd's natural enemy — was directly above us in a cloudless sky.

I sat with Anne on the aft pool deck of the Westerdam, my feet floating in the water.

"It's amazing how just putting my feet in the water cools me down," I said. "I wish my heat sinks in Mechwarrior had worked this well."

She gave me a familiar look that indicated I'd traded English for a foreign language without warning.

"It's an old game I used to play all the time. Forget it"

She gave me a familiar look that indicated she'd already forgotten it.

Seamonkey Matt walked past us on the deck. A few days earlier, he'd asked me if I was interested in playing Settlers of Catan1 with him before the cruise was over. I told him that I was, but I didn't want to be inside when it was beautiful outside, and I didn't know if I'd have time. It turned out that, at this moment, I had time, and we were already outside where it was beautiful.

"Hey, Matt!" I called out, "want to have that game of Settlers now?"

"Yeah," he said. "I'll go grab it from the game room."

Aside: One of the greatest things about this cruise was the 24 hour game room, stocked with a library of games brought by Sea Monkeys that rivaled or exceeded the libraries I've seen at some conventions dedicated to gaming. I'm sure pictures of this game room will be published soon, and when you see it you will understand why I loved going in there so much. It was like Sea Monkey Headquarters, and there were always people playing games down there, having a fantastic time.

At one point, some Snorks2 attempted to invade the room, so a sign had to be set up announcing that it was a "Private Function." This sign was immediately anagrammed into several different phrases, my favorite ones involving Pirates.

A few minutes later, Matt returned with Settlers in hand. We found a table that was protected from the sun, and began looking for group. I quickly found my son, Ryan, and asked him to play with us.

"I've never played Settlers," he said.

"Yes you have. We played this all the time when you were little. You'll remember as soon as you see the board."

As we began to put the board together he said, "Oh, I remember this. Wood for sheep!" 

"Yep, that's the one."

We had three players and wanted a fourth. I looked up from the table and saw that my friend Stepto — formerly known as The Banhammer of Xbox Live — was passing by.

"Stepto! Want to play Settlers with us?"

"Sure!" He said.

We finished setting up the board, placed our initial settlements, and began the game. Like all Settlers games, the first few rounds involved many fruitless efforts to acquire wood and brick, but eventually we settled into a pretty good game. Stepto and Ryan began competing for the longest road, and Sea Monkey Matt and I began a minigame involving screwing each other relentlessly with the Robber.

After about 40 minutes of play, we were all separated by two points, with Sea Monkey Matt in the lead. Stepto had run his road into a circle, and Ryan was ruthlessly chipping away, one segment at a time, until he achieved and kept the longest road.

It was Ryan's turn, and he rolled a seven, which allowed him to move the robber. Stepto and Matt had cities on one of the elevens, which I think made Ore. Ryan wanted to screw Stepto and steal from Matt, so it was a logical place to move the Robber. Ryan moved the Robber, stole a resource from Matt, and then traded that resource back to Matt for whatever it was that he actually wanted.

"I'm proud of your evil, my son," I may have said, in a Darth Vader voice.3 

The dice were passed to me, and I rolled an eleven. I should point out that not a lot of elevens had been rolled, because it is only rolled 5.56% of the time.4

"Oh, come on!" Matt said.

"Seriously?!" Stepto said.

"It sucks to be you guys," I said. "I have Sheep for Ore… anyone want to trade me Sheep for Ore?" I took an Evil Wheaton Pause™. "Oh, I'm sorry, it turns out nobody has Ore but me right now, so I guess I'll just trade it to the box for Wheat."

"It's ironic that I don't have any Wheat at all," Ryan said, "Considering our name and all."

I smiled. Ryan doesn't know it, but when he calls me his father, or makes any reference to being proud of his name — he changed his name to Wheaton when I adopted him — I get something in both of my eyes, probably from my heart growing three sizes and pushing leaky emotion fluid out of them.

I passed the dice to Stepto. "It is your turn, sir," I said with a flourish for some reason.

Stepto rolled an eleven.

Before any of us could say or do anything, Sea Monkey Matt held his hands up to the heavens, looked across the table at Ryan, and shouted, "WHEEEEAAAAAATTTTOOONNN!!!!"

A very small group of Sea Monkeys had gathered around us, and were watching us play. They all laughed. Ryan laughed. I laughed. Stepto laughed.

I said, "that was awesome. I hear that reference all the time, but that's the first time I've heard it in reference to a different Wheaton than me, and in context, no less."

I high-fived Ryan. "The world needs more Evil Wheaton," I said.

"I'm working on it," Ryan said.

The game ended shortly after that. I got stuck at nine points, and Matt finally got his tenth point one round before I could catch him.

I was glad that he won the game. Matt didn't know it, but by making that reference, in an entirely appropriate context, to my son who took my name, was the highlight of the entire game for me. It was easily one of my top five awesome moments on the whole cruise, and maybe even number one.


1. The Settlers of Catan is a fantastic German-style boardgame, and it is our generation's Monopoly. If you haven't played it, I can't recommend it enough. In addition to the traditional tabletop version of the game, it's on iPad, iPhone, Android, Xbox Live, and PSN.

2. Our code name for the angry, entitled, complaining octogenarians who meandered all over the boat.

3. This didn't really happen, but wouldn't it have been awesome if it had? Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, Writers.

4. Pushes glasses up.

55 thoughts on “JCCC2: in which Settlers of Catan is played on a boat”

  1. Wonderful article. I cried.
    Just enough about the game to make it real and enough about what was going on in your head to make it important and interesting.
    “German style”??
    Invented by a German
    Made in Germany
    By Germans
    I think simply “German” would be more accurate, don’t you?
    (I came to it late. Picked up my copy in Munich airport. In Germany. In German.)
    I have now typed “German” so many times that I’m struggling to believe that it’s a real word, so I’ll stop now.
    Marvellous post.

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