Most of you already know this about me: I’m a total board game nerd, and I’m not talking Monopoly. For most people who enter this realm, and it’s both huge and glorious, they do so through Settlers of Catan, the groundbreaking 1995 game by German designer Klaus Teuber that pretty much kick-started a board game golden generation all on its own. Settlers is a masterpiece of a game that introduces non-gamers to the world of European board games. It’s fun, easy to learn, offers both strategy and randomness, and a whole lot of replay value.
While I’ve mostly moved on from Catan, it’s still wildly popular all over the world, and I’ve played a crap-ton of Catan in my lifetime, enough that I consider myself more or less an expert on the game. And it’s not just people like me: Tottenham’s Belgian contingent loves this game too (though now that Chadli’s gone I wonder who Jan, Toby and Mousa get to play with them now. Suggestions in the comments.)
So let’s have some fun on a Monday after a disappointing scoreless draw and rank the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of Settlers of Catan resources, ranked.
Five stars: Wheat
You need wheat to build settlements. You need wheat to upgrade to cities. You need wheat to buy development cards. In short, you need wheat, and you’re pretty much screwed in Catan from mid-game on if you don’t have it. That’s why I always try to park one of my two opening settlements either on or close nearby a wheat tile. Because it sucks knowing that there are tons of different paths to win but none of them are available if you don’t have any clear means of getting wheat apart from trade. The relationship between wheat and ore (see below) is symbiotic, but wheat has more fingers in more combinations so I give it the edge here, barely.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as good as wheat in Settlers of Catan, and that’s sad. You could say this match separated the wheat from the chaff. (Try the veal.)
Four stars: Ore
Catan is played in phases, and as the game progresses certain resource types become more important and others tend to fall away. You can get away with not having much ore at the beginning stages of the game, but you’re never going to build cities (and hence, consistently win) unless you have either a solid source of ore handy or the means of trading for ore via a port. Ore is also, along with brick, one of the resources that only has three tiles (as opposed to four) on the game board, so it is more scarce.
Jan Vertonghen: Jan is the second best defender on Tottenham’s team when Toby Alderweireld is healthy, but he has stepped up significantly in Toby’s absence. Jan put in an a very good defensive shift against Bournemouth and was able to mostly keep Callum Wilson and Jack Wilshere in his pocket.
Kyle Walker: One of the bright spots on Tottenham’s side. He looked enterprising going forward and again was solid transitioning back to defense when needed. Didn’t set up a lot of attacking chances, but that’s not all on him.
Christian Eriksen: Had a personally frustrating day against Bournemouth, but that’s not for lack of effort. People on Twitter will continue to bag on him because he’s not scoring goals every match. Those people are wrong.
Three stars: Brick
Picking between brick and wood here is tough, but I lean towards brick because of its relative scarcity compared to wood, which has an extra tile on the board. Plus, access to brick can give you a big head start at the beginning of the game, and the scarcity of it means that it tends to be in demand by other players, making it easy to rip off your other players in trade.
Dele Alli: Alli was one of the Spurs players who was the most likely to break through and score, which makes his substitution all the more weird. Maybe he was gassed? I thought he looked good, if not exceptional.
Danny Rose: Spent much of the match in a one-on-one battle with Bournemouth’s King, and ended up with dumb yellow for his troubles. He wasn’t bad, but he didn’t look like he’s back up to his pre-injury form.
Erik Lamela: Another victim of the Twitter #wellactually-he’s-bad-brigade, but I thought he was mostly fine. He clipped the bar with a shot and was looking for openings, but also probably should’ve been sent off with two dumb yellows, so let’s call it a wash.
Mousa Dembele: Moose was surprisingly ineffective in a higher midfield role but came in and stabilized the midfield in the second half when asked to drop into the pivot. He showed glimpses of his old pre-Battle of the Bridge self, but it still looks like there’s a little rust to shake off yet. He needs more games.
Victor Wanyama: Firstly, Wanyama was great on balance as a destroyer and deserves credit for his role in helping to keep the clean sheet. But wow, his passing was at times pretty bad, especially in the first half when he was tasked with being the guy to transition the ball from defense to attack. Better in the second half with Moose beside him.
Eric Dier: He’s not Toby, but who is? Dier had a couple of nervous moments on defense, but otherwise had a decent day on balance. I’d rather see him in the midfield, though. #FreeKevin
Hugo Lloris: Stopped the Devil from coming to
Georgia Bournemouth when Charlie Daniels put one on target from point blank range, but otherwise didn’t have a whole lot to do. He was good. No complaints.
Two stars: Wood
Wood is useful, not only because it’s plentiful, but because what Settlers game is complete without a good debauched wood joke ("I got yer wood for trade right down here.") A handy wood-brick combination can also be useful late game if you’re trying to snatch a sneaky Longest Road victory right at the death. But its plentiful nature has two blades: how many times late game have you languished, stuck with a hand full of wood (*coughphrasing*)?
Son Heung-Min: I’ve already written about how Pochettino didn’t help Son much in this match by making him the focus of attack when he wasn’t suited for the match. But Sonny also didn’t do much when he did have opportunities to attack, and that’s as much on him as it is on Poche. A match to forget.
Victor Janssen: Vincent should’ve started, but let’s not mince words: when he came in he was not good. I’m starting to worry just a little bit about his mental state, because he looks super frustrated out there.
Moussa Sissoko: We don’t give one-star ratings (that’s the bit, folks) but if there was a player that came the closest, it’s Sissoko. Awful on the ball, unsuited for the match, wasteful, and should’ve been sent off. Now thanks to his cold-cocking of Harry Arter he’ll probably have three matches to think about what he’s done, which hopefully will give GK N’Koudou the chance he needs to assert himself.
One star: Sheep
Sheep are the worst. Sure, if you’re going for Largest Army you need sheep, and I know people who will go for the development card victory if they end up near a good sheep tile and a sheep port, but it’s risky, and in my experience nobody... EVER... wants a sheep in trade. All resources have some value in Catan. But sheep are dumb ruminants and I hate them.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as the sheep resource in Settlers of Catan.