NEWINGTON — The Tabletop Gaming Center at 741 New Britain Road hosted a national championship qualifying tournament for the internationally recognized board game Settlers of Catan on Saturday and brought together competitors from across the state.
Twenty-four participants battled it out for points over a few rounds, moving with different opponents at the end of matches and had their scores tallied via an app. The qualified winner would be guaranteed a spot at the 2022 Catan USA National Championship Tournament in Columbus, Ohio and those who win the USA Tournament would be guaranteed a spot to compete at the 2022 Catan World Championship in Malta .
Catania’s first World Championship was held in 2002 in Essen, Germany.
Sometimes simply called “Settlers” or “Catan”, the game has been printed in 40 languages with over 32 million copies and was first published in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlag in 1995. Since then it has received several editing updates. and expansions. The game setup usually takes 15 minutes or less and the game can sometimes last a few hours. The base game allows three or four players to play on a hexagonal layout. Players build settlements and roads on the game board, recognized as the Isle of Catan, collect and trade resources, and outwit their opponents through superior tactics and infrastructure development. The spaces on the board are randomized for the start of each game. Dice rolls often determine the type and amount of resources players can collect.
Old Lyme resident and tournament competitor John Stearns said he started playing Settlers in December last year online and was “hooked” about it. He saw a notice for the contest and came to play in his first live board game tournament.
“Unlike chess, every (starting) state of the board is different and there is a lot of initial strategy to follow and there is a steep skill curve where you can improve as you are able to follow and predict making decisions and how they affect each other down the line,” he said. “The only downside is that there’s still a lot of luck in the game.
Stearns said he liked the game because it had a good mix of skill and luck.
Chris Ceron, David Canales, Stephanie Chung and Mario Balducci visited the tournament as friends from Queens, New York.
“We play every week and we think we’re good, so we went online and found (the tournament),” Balducci said.
“Every week we have a permanent priority reservation,” Chung said of the group’s playing times. “We love Catan and they should put us on the box.”
Ceron said he first introduced Chung to the game before the pandemic and they played several times a week.
” I do not know what it is. Maybe it’s the numbers and the odds and the placement,” Ceron said of why he enjoyed the game. “We expanded (in game expansions). When we met Mario and David a few months ago, we realized that they were also playing Catan and our friendship was built on that.
Canales said it was nice to play with friends and he liked every game to be different.
“I guess we usually attack the player who wins,” Balducci said of his game tactics, given that the nature of the game allows for trades and potential allied actions, albeit brief.
Asked about the store’s many and varied gaming events, table game center owner Haldan Pflueger-Smith said the store’s goal is to be there for members of its community.
“It’s all of our communities, whether it’s people who want to play board games or card games. We want to be a welcoming place for people of all genders, ethnicities, races and everything,” he said. “Especially in today’s world, we want to be that place where people can come, relax, be, and just have fun.”
At press time, tournament results were not yet available.