Photo: Flickr user ginnerobot, used under Creative Commons license
Some people like to play a wide variety of games. Others like to focus on one game and play it as much as possible. The more you play, the better you get, and this weekend, 44 "Settlers of Catan" players will be traveling from around the world to prove they've put in their gaming hours.
The small Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will play host to the 2012 Catan World Championships, where all scores will be settled and a new reigning "Catan" champion will be crowned. Each of the 44 contestants from 29 total countries have earned their spots by winning regional qualifier tournaments over the past two years, so only the best of the best will have seats at this weekend's event.
Blue Bell will see visitors from some very far away places, as competitors will be representing a wide range of countries, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and of course, the USA.
The event is invite-only, so don't get in your car just yet. Instead, Mayfair Games will be using their channel on livestream.com to provide a video feed of the entire tournament. In-between matches, Mayfair's feed will feature introductions and interviews with "Catan" players as well as appearances by Mayfair Game's sheep-themed mascots Bob & Angus.
Of course, what sort of "Catan" event is complete without live folk music and historic farming scenery? Mayfair Games has signed on The Fiddlers of Catan, billed as a "world class folk act" that will get everyone in the mood to trade brick, wheat, wood, ore, and sheep. That is, if anyone actually trades in high-level "Catan". The tournament setting will be Normandy Farm, an 18th century farm recognized in the national register of historic places. What I really want to know, though, is whether The Settler From Catan will be making an appearance.
All of the hoopla aside, the focus of the Catan World Championships is the game itself, and this weekend's "Catan" matches will be the highest stakes since the game was used to help broker tech startup deals in Silicon Valley.