First of all – World’s Best Game (if you are playing the Cities & Knights version anyway)! In this game you are attempting to build settlements, cities, roads, city walls, knights and metropolises all based upon five resources: wood, brick, sheep, wheat and ore, and three commodities: paper, wool and coin (which are manufactured by cities on the three corresponding resources). The winner is the first one to 13 points, and there are a myriad of ways in which you can accomplish that end. My favorite win came with me being built only on wheat!
Not only do you receive a resource/commodity when your spaces produce them, but you can also trade with the other players for both resources and commodities. This is where the game truly becomes interesting. Most people want to get as good as they are getting in the trades, but some people refuse to trade unless they come out on the better end of the deal. The most enjoyable trades are when two people who both require getting the better of the deal are trying to come to an agreement. It’s like porcupines mating.
“You get what you pay for” seems a natural corollary to this entire process, and the only way that trade occurs is that different people put different values on the same resources/commodities. One person desperately needs sheep and the other person desperately needs wheat – they both get the better end of the deal.
You get what you pay for, but you also lose what you spend. This is true also of monetary trades – you get what you pay for, but you lose the purchasing capacity that you spent. You can only spend a dollar once. It is difficult to give up something that you made/earned/produced when it is a tangible object. Money is more vicarious, but no less significant.
In Settlers, generally the person who trades for greater earning capacity as opposed to one-time point benefits is the one who wins. The same is true in life: Spending to increase your earning capacity (education, training, land, plants, livestock, stocks, etc.) is the way to invest in the future, spending for one-time use benefits (eating out, going to the movies, a new car [when the old one is still serviceable and reliable], etc.) is the way to lose in life. There are of course caveats – going out on a date with someone could lead to a life-long marriage partner, going to the movies could be an investment in a relationship and a new car could have better gas mileage that makes sense of the purchase, etc.
Whatever your trades – don’t trade away your future.
“He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.” (Proverbs 21:17 NIV)