Yesterday, after three fortnights at sea, we made landfall in Catan. Here we will make our new lives. Upon stepping off the boat we fell to our knees and thanked God for providing us safe passage to this glorious land.
Catan is a lush, beautiful landscape teeming with natural resources. Well, maybe not teeming. It has five natural resources. There are sweeping forests, towering mountains, fields of wheat, and fields of sheep. Also, fields of big piles of bricks. Where did the bricks come from? Catan is a land of mystery.
We have picked a spot to make our settlement. Unfortunately, some of the good spots were already taken by other groups of settlers. I suggested joining with them in order to increase all of our chances of survival, but that idea was swiftly struck down by our leader, Captain Revis.
“We came to Catan to be free. We will be beholden to no other man,” the captain said, rallying our spirits as only he can. “We will build our own settlement, and it will be the best settlement in all of Catan.” Everyone cheered.
The spot we chose is bordered on two sides by forest and on the third by one of those huge brick piles. The landscape here shifts abruptly. One moment you are walking through dense foliage and then, suddenly: bricks. It takes some getting used to.
A note on the sheep: it appears that they are the only animal in all of Catan. Strange. I cannot help but slightly mistrust this place.
Our location does not allow us access to any wheat or sheep, and as a result, we are very hungry. Weeks ago I tried to raise this issue but Captain Revis quickly changed the subject.
“Food can come later,” he shouted. “First, we build a road. We will have the longest road in all of Catan!”
This proclamation spurred everyone into a frenzy. Now, the whole settlement speaks of nothing but the road, which remains the only thing we have worked on since we came here. No one has houses. We all sleep on the road. I am not sure how much longer I can go on like this.
I have been trying to talk some sense into my fellow settlers, the gist of my argument being: it’s not too late to move the settlement closer to a wheat field. As a result, everyone now refers to me as “Wheat Boy.” They chant these words at me as they see me approaching, which I believe undermines the degree to which I am taken seriously.
Wonderful news! Captain Revis has decided that we should build another settlement and this one is right next to two wheat fields. Finally, we’ll be able to have some real food.
Well, I spoke too soon. Turns out we’re not allowed to eat the wheat. We have to save it for potential trading. Captain Revis has gotten everyone all excited about the possibility of trading wheat for ore. Curse him and his stupid lantern jaw, lustrous beard, and commanding speaking voice. I should have shoved him overboard when I had the chance.
For reasons that are entirely unclear to me, we have begun construction on an institute of higher learning called the “University of Catan.” This despite the fact that we have no institutes of lower learning and the mud-covered, illiterate, starving children of the settlement run rampant up and down the road, pelting us with stones as we work. The entire rationale behind the University, as far as I can tell, is: “no one else has one.”
This is only the latest in a long line of catastrophic decisions. Most recently, we began building a second road and then, upon learning that it would have to intersect with another settlement’s road, abandoned the project entirely. Everyone seems to think it’s impossible for two roads to cross.
Also, it’s weird that we keep treating the bricks like something that must be harvested intermittently. They’re bricks. It’s not like they’re going anywhere.
I have decided to decamp for another settlement. My great hope is to find a like-minded group who are content to live simply off the land, who do not measure everything they do against the accomplishments of other settlements, and who do not have to subsist on a paste made from ground bricks and mud. I believe such people are out there, somewhere.
After days of wandering, I arrived at another settlement, where I was welcomed warmly. The settlement is rich in sheep, I was informed. My spirits soared.
Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived, as I was then informed that the sheep are not to be touched. The settlers are trying to collect enough sheep to build a city. A city made out of sheep, I guess.
I have had enough. I am leaving Catan entirely. There is something about this place that brings out the competitiveness in people and makes them behave irrationally. Besides, I’ve heard tell of a new land. A land made entirely out of candy. A Candyland. And apparently, everything is a whole lot simpler there.