At five and a half years of age, Hal is finally getting old enough to play some more interesting games than Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders. One that we have been enjoying of late is Catan Junior.
This is a simplified version of Settlers of Catan. In Catan Junior, everyone is a pirate trying to build pirate’s lairs and place ships between those lairs. There are 5 different types of resources that are used in various combinations to purchase either a lair, a ship, or a Coco card.
Each Coco card allows you to either build a lair or ship, gain some resources, or move the Ghost Captain. The Ghost Captain gains you some resource cards and prevents other people from gaining some as well.
The object of the game is to place all of your pirate’s lairs before your opponents. This objective is routinely lost on our boys. To them, the object is to collect Coco cards. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a benefit to collecting them, but it’s not the objective of the game and focusing on it too much will actually cost you the game.
Their other favorite thing to do is move the Ghost Captain. During a recent game play over dinner while Jane was away at a dance, Daryl hit a stroke of luck and purchased a whole bunch of Coco cards, most of which earned him the opportunity to move the Ghost Captain. Daddy and I both knew he was blowing his opportunity to win but he was delirious with his sense of success.
And Hal was jealous.
Before long, Hal was crying out that he wanted to move the Ghost Captain. “Well, roll a 6 then,” his Daddy suggested, mentioning the other way to earn that right.
He rolled a 1.
And then he cried.
His arms went up into the air. Huge alligator tears spilled out of his eyes and ran down his cheeks. He cried a wordless cry before wailing, “But I wanted to move the GHOST CAPTAIN!!”
My husband and I stifled smiles before helping him optimize his turn. Next it was Daddy’s turn. Did he do it? Yes. Yes, he did.
He rolled a 6.
And the wailing began anew.
“You want to move the Ghost Captain?” asked my husband.
“Then move it,” he replied.
Hal eagerly moved the Ghost Captain, essentially costing his Daddy the game since it was not moved to the best location for Daddy to win. Daddy didn’t mind. He bought a Coco card. Which let him move the Ghost Captain again. He handed over the right to Hal.
When it got back around to Hal, he only needed to place one more pirate’s lair. He had a lot of resources. My husband and I knew the game was all but over as Hal was about to win.
Hal, meanwhile, gripped the die tightly in his hands, squinted his eyes shut, and fervently wished for a 6.
He rolled a 4.
“NO!!!” he cried. We didn’t bother to hide our laughter anymore.
“Look, Hal,” we said. “Look. You only need to build one more lair and you have what you need to do it. Look, you won!”
“But I wanted to move the Ghost Captain!!!”
I’ve never seen anyone so upset at winning a game.