Settlers of Catan and the Sheep Strategy
I’d like to bring to light an insight that was presented to me while on a trip in Seattle. We were all hanging out at an outdoor bar in a circle of friends of friends and the conversation waves took us to the land of Catan. For those who don’t know, Settlers of Catan is a strategic board game – similar to Risk – that involves trading and settlement building to accumulate points to win. There are five resources to work with – wood, sheep, brick, rock, and wheat – and acquiring different combinations of these resources allows you to pay the bank to build roads/settlements/cities/other developments. The goal is to gain resources and make valuable trades to grow your tiny civilization. For example, it takes a wood and a brick to build a road – a wood, sheep, brick, and wheat to build a settlement – and 3 rocks and 2 wheats to build a city, etc. Now, naturally there are many strategies to achieve success in your Catan civilization. But to boil things down a bit, a proven method to achieve victory is by bringing in a diverse set of resources and staying well rounded and diplomatic in your approach to building.
So I’m at this bar and we get to talking about the logistics of Catan. One of these friends of friends, Pat, came out with his unique strategy for victory which he dubbed ‘the sheep strategy.’ The sheep strategy involves trying to collect all of the game’s sheep before the end of the game, and if that is achieved, Pat wins the game. Boom.
What Pat did here was modify the written intentions of the game to jive with his own definition of success. It’s a beautiful idea. And the real beauty lies in the fact that this principle can be applied to any scenario. Imagine you’re playing a round of golf and it’s all gone south for you – you’re scoring horrendously and not having a good time doing it. Apply the sheep strategy. On the next tee box, simply try to destroy the little ball with all of your might and watch it soar from the clubface in whatever direction it may go. If the ball soars – in any direction – you’ve achieved success. Smile into the sweet breeze.
It’s all relative. What one person defines as success does not equate to success to other people. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. We have this ability to find treasures in our self-created glooms. To morph the conventional rules of the games we play – life – to fit the molds of our personal ideas and dreams. And we can do this together on the same playing field.
Live unbound my friends. Create your own vision of success and bend the rules around you to redefine the shape of your world.