Thank you, Klaus Teuber

The Settlers of Catan opened a new era of game play for my family. This completely addictive game hit the market in 1995. My family discovered it in the early 2000s. It is a strategy board game, but it does involve dice, so the luck of the roll is a factor. Part of the genius of the game is that you are involved not only during your turn but in everyone’s turn. Placement of initial settlements at the beginning of the game is strategic. That’s where probability comes in as you make placements on numbers 2-12 and receive resource cards when your numbers roll.

Klaus Teuber is the dental technician, turned brilliant game creator, who gave the world Catan. Thank you, Klaus, for teaching us to build roads, make settlements, and upgrade them to cities, all in the name of becoming the Lord of Catan (winner, the person who first acquires ten points). You have given us hours and hours of fun and frustration, but mostly fun.

On April 1, Klaus Teuber passed away at the age of 70. This post is dedicated to him.

When Catan first came out, it was hard to find. I remember ordering it from a game store. Since that time, Amazon has taken over the shopping world, and Catan is even available at Target.

I’m not saying I was ever fanatical about the game – I’ll leave that to my kids. I will tell you that we played so much we wore out the cards more than once. One year for my birthday, my kids gave me a special edition of the game, which I dubbed the precious. We have all the expansions and different editions, but the original is my favorite.

The Precious

I could never have imagined that I wouldn’t take every opportunity where three to six gamers were gathered to play this game, but something strange has happened in the last five years. We hardly ever play Catan anymore. Could it be that we simply played it too much? Did we wear out the fun?

Years earlier, our son, Scott, told us we killed it for him when we took it on a family vacation. Evidently playing 20 games over a long weekend is too much for some people. Scott and his next older brother Joe oversee introducing new games to our family. I’m not sure this is a position that they sought after, but they have their fingers on the pulse of whatever is new in the boardgame world.

Three or four years ago, Joe introduced us to Azul. Azul is a 3–4-person, abstract strategy board game. When I read those words from their website, I find it hard to believe how much I love this game. I had no idea it would become the new Catan for us. We have all but the first of the four versions of Azul. My favorites are Stained Glass of Sintra and Summer Pavilion. The latest edition, Queen’s Garden, has more twists in it and requires a lot more thought than Bob and I typically like to put into a board game. We only play it when the kids come to visit. That’s how we show them love.

If our entire family gathers, we have ten adults and eight grandchildren, most of whom are teenagers, so games for groups have become more important. Even though I hate sushi (yes, my feelings are that strong), I love Sushi Go Party. It’s a pick and pass card game and is great for anyone eight and up. Two to eight players can play, and it has relatively short rounds; plus it’s easy to learn.

Codenames is a go-to if we want to get everyone involved. Although it says it’s for 2-8+ players, I would never play with less than six. It’s for ages 14 and up, but our younger grandchildren (8 and 11) can hold their own because you divide into two teams. A round takes about 15 minutes. We usually play several rounds to give more people a chance to be spymasters, aka clue-givers, who try to get their teammates to figure the secret identities of 25 agents. That’s what the box says, but it’s really about guessing the word on the picture of the agent from the clues given by the spymasters without guessing the one word that is the kill word, which makes your team automatically lose the round. It’s fun and fast and involves a lot of discussion by those on the teams receiving the clues.

More recently, Scott introduced us to Cards Christians Like. As the box states, “It’s a party game but with convictions.” Four or more players ages eight and up is recommended, but we’ve played easily with ten or twelve. It takes about 45 minutes to play. Be prepared to laugh a lot. You can find it at It reminds me of Apples to Apples.

We were at our daughter’s house for Easter, and we needed a good six-player game. We pulled out Catan. It was like sitting by a cozy fire reading a good book. It has staying power – as long as you don’t play 20 times in a short period.

I’ll leave you with this picture from our 2021 Family Vacation. All 18 of us were together and this is what our gaming corner looked like. I think Joe and Scott were responsible for bringing most of these. We learned a few new games and played our favorites, too. Good times.

Touché, Olympics

The sounds of the Olympics have been background music in our house since the opening ceremony. The chant, “Go, USA,” is heard every night. We love our athletes. We also love learning about the athletes, some of whom have overcome so much to compete. Being a certified non-athlete, I don’t truly understand what goes on in a person’s brain that has them putting it all on the line for a personal best or a medal. I mean, I’m very competitive, but I’ve never pushed through playing Scrabble while nursing a splinter in my eye or a broken finger or even a mild headache.

I also have never had a personal coach invest time and energy in my pursuit of excellence at pinochle or our latest board game craze, Azul Summer Pavilion. If I did have a coach and by some miracle I actually won a competition on any level, I hope he would go crazy with enthusiasm like Dean Boxall did when Ariarne Titmus won the women’s 400m freestyle, dethroning USA star and one of my personal favorites of this Olympics, Katie Ledecky. Even though he nearly scared this unfortunately placed young woman out of her mind with his near psychotic celebration, I have to say, this is one of my very favorite Olympic moments, which is something that this young woman and I likely do not have in common. My hat is off to her – I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my composure like she did. She deserves a medal.

Have you noticed that these sports are really a slice of summer life, albeit on a different scale? A lot of these same events take place in our own yards or communities. Of course, we never had cameras broadcasting pick-up basketball games in the driveway, badminton or volleyball in the backyard, bike riding, swimming and diving in the pool, boxing matches among our kids, a canoe ride down the Wekiva River, or the church softball league, but I do have some treasured photos of all of these activities. I even practiced archery in my backyard as a kid.

Just another boxing match between a couple of my kids many years ago.

My granddaughter rides horses, my grandsons play football. There are several golfers in the family. My sister practiced gymnastics in our living room constantly when we were kids. Bob wrestled in high school. My daughter-in-law went to college on a volleyball scholarship. Another daughter-in-law is an excellent tennis player. Table tennis – bring it on.

All of these sports make up our life in some fashion. They all make sense to me. Except for fencing. Even Taekwondo, Judo, and Karate have their place for fitness and self-defense. They could come in handy. Shooting – I get that. But fencing simply doesn’t play into everyday life. For instance, someone approaches you when you make the poor choice of walking alone in a dark alley. A judo chop or karate throw would deter them. But where am I going to hide my sword? Can I get that through TSA when traveling? Are there retractable ones available? Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi!

I see tennis courts all over the place, but where can I go to have a bout of fencing? I don’t think I could retally stab somebody. I’d more likely pull a hammy in the process and leave myself even more vulnerable. I don’t want to be touched, that’s for sure; but I would love to say, “foiled again,” while holding a sword. With my athletic prowess, I think I should stick with Wii Sports Resort. I’d say the only part of me that could be injured there would be my pride, but in a recent bowling game with my six-year-old grandson, I think I pulled a muscle. (Please don’t tell him.)

Youngest grandson sticks the landing in the toddler climbing event.