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Teaching them Catan

Over Christmas break, I taught Jack and James how to play Settlers of Catan.

After the babies were in bed, I set up the board and let them choose their colors. The first night we played, it was Catan in the simplest form.  No development cards, no longest road, and no robber until we'd gone around a few times and gotten the hang of it. Trading I let come naturally, when James didn't have the right cards for his settlement and I suggested that he ask Jack if he had one. We only played to five points. It was awesome.

I first played Settlers of Catan in college, with Gunnar and our friends and roommates, and with John and his friends. It became an obsession, and almost every night me and my roommate would set up the board while the guys cleaned up dinner, and then afterwards we would all play these epic long games with two games worth of land tiles, creative setups like "gold island" or "four islands," and lots of fun and sometimes even some arguments.

James, in his usual fashion, picked it up really quick. By our third game, he was telling me what resources he got on  each dice roll, he was using the 2 for one and the 3 for one ports, he was counting up his points and comparing them to other people's. Jack, in his usual fashion, was having fun but never once noticed if his numbers were rolled, he focused more on building things than getting points, and if he was winning, it was totally a coincidence. He plays Catan just like his dad.

Over the years our friend group had some epic Catan related meltdowns. Once, during a game using the expansion "Cities and Knights" John slighted me so badly that I threatened to murder his Citadel's princess. (There are no princesses in Catan.) Other times, Tom has physically thrown pieces across the room in frustration. Diana has sworn off the game specifically because of John's cutthroat strategies.

 Of course, my boys being 5 and 7 meant that I had to say "pass the dice" and "it's not your turn!" about 599 times, and they dropped pieces on the floor pretty much every third turn, and the cards themselves are so grimy and yellowed on the edges that it's kinda gross, but honestly, getting to play my favorite game with my kids was just pure magic, and so worth it. I can't wait to play more games with them, and I can't wait to play Catan with Rosemary and Miles in a few years too.