Desparately Seeking Settlers
Miss B game me a bit of paper. It was actually partially used a sheet of stickers, on the back of which were a load of letters and squiggly symbols, some of which were next to boxes. “I made you a code because I didn’t want Mummy to see what it said,” she explained.
I was just about to go out for the evening so I promised to read it the next day and she said she would help me in case I found it tricky.
The next day we sat down to decipher the message, which was actually a perfectly good substitution cipher, even though a few of the symbols looked like the same squiggle. There was a key provided and the boxes were for me to write the deciphered plaintext. A few minutes later (with Miss B helping in the cryptanalysis process) we had the deciphered message:
“TO DADDY ID LIKE TO PLAY THE SETLER GAME”
I am so proud, and on so many levels.
And when such a cool message is delivered in such an awesom way, what could we do? Well, that afternoon we cracked out Settlers of Catan and had our first game with the proper rules. This is quite a bit of extra complexity over the “KinderCatan” rules we had used before, but probably no more tricky than some of the other games we have played. After having fun building the board from the hex tiles, Miss B learnt the game from a bit of advanced briefing and then getting the rest over the first few turns. In play she fixated a bit on getting the longest road rather than building settlements, but it all worked out pretty well for her.
Settlers has never been great with two players, but the additional space available did make for fewer problems in play as we effectively each had half of the board to build on without interference. A potential problem in the game is that it is very easy for old hands to take advantage of younger and less experienced players in trades. Aware of this, we didn’t do much trading and on the times that we did, I always asked “are you sure this will be good for you?” before going ahead — and in many cases Miss B decided to not go ahead.
Overall this went really well and we’re hoping to drag Mummy in for a three player game in the not-too-distant future.
The updated verdict from Miss B (aged 5½): “I really liked building the roads and the settlements.”
The game: Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), 3 to 4 players aged 10+.