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Settlers of Catan 2010 SoCal Pre-Qualifier

Interview with winner,
David Zevin

After decades at the table, Dave Zevin won the Settlers of Catan Worldwide Championship pre-qualifiying round at Gamex 2010. We sat with Dave for a while to hear about his experience.

Second Interview

Interview conducted by Neil Figuracion

Strategicon: Dave, how long have you been gaming?

David Zevin: I've been gaming since I was three or four. I was playing the games that we [Eurogamers] don't really like as much any more, like Monopoly. I was kicking people's butts at Monopoly when I was like five or six, I would say.

S: How did you get introduced to Settlers of Catan?

DZ: Settlers, I was introduced to by a friend of mine in High School, pretty close to when it came to the United States, I think. I liked it then and I continue to like it today.

S: Have you played a lot of Settlers?

DZ: I have played a ton of Settlers. I would have to think that I have played more Settlers on an actual board than almost anybody that I can think of. Almost every day in college, me and my roommate would play two player Settlers, even though the box says 3-4. We would also play with our suite-mate a lot. One of them was Pre-Med and one of them was a Bio-Chemical Engineer. They both almost flunked out, because of Settlers, I think.

S: [laughter]

DZ: We would play just way too much. Like once, twice a day for that entire year. In college alone, I played 3 to 400 games.

S: What brought you to Strategicon?

DZ: I couldn't find enough gamers out here [in Los Angeles] that I knew. So I went online to look and found the SoCal Gamers. I found out through them that there was this game convention and I said "yeah, sure that sounds like something I'd like to do." It's just a very chill atmosphere and you can get in the games that you want to get in and you can win prizes. It's cool. I love it!

S: What inspired you to get involved in the World Championship competition?

DZ: I was kind of on the fence about it actually. I knew this would be a huge commitment. I know that I'm a pretty strong Settlers player. I won the Mega Settlers [tournament] a couple cons earlier. I was happy I did it, but it took up a good portion of my con and I knew this was going to take up even more. I wanted to do it. I wanted to see if I could make it to Indianapolis. See if I could represent the U.S. in Germany. I think that that would be awesome.

S: When you got to the pre-qualifier event last weekend, what was your experience like there?

DZ: It was positive. There were some good players. I was fortunate enough to have the best winning percentage there. The first game I lost. I won five straight after that. [joking] even I lose Settlers occasionally. Five out of six isn't bad.

S: [laughter] So what was it like playing with a group of Settlers players for hours.

DZ: It was kind of daunting by the sixth game in two days. You're kinda seeing sheep in your sleep. It was a good experience. I look forward to doing it again in Indianapolis.

S: You take it to the final table at Gamex. What was that final game experience like?

DZ: It was pretty easy actually. The semi-final was the scary one for me. There were a couple of instances... I kinda had to come out of nowhere to win that one. I had to use every trick of Settlers in my book to win that one. I wasn't getting the rolls. A lot of it comes down to initial placement and I got hosed. I was able to get some lucky cards at the right time and make some good moves and I won. The final game, I was ahead the whole game. People were teaming up against me the whole game and it really didn't matter beccause my placement was better and I was getting some lucky rolls. I started ahead and finished with a pretty healthy margin of victory.

S: So what does it feel like to represent your home convention?

DZ: I'm gonna do my best! It feels good. I'm gonna hopefully represent SoCal and hopefully take down these Midwesterners and Easterners. Show 'em what we're made of.

S: What do you have to say to your potential opponents?

DZ: I'm coming. You watch out!

S: [laughter] Thank you very much, Dave!

DZ: Thank you!

Second Interview with
David Zevin

Local gaming hero David Zevin won the Settlers of Catan pre-qualifying event at Gamex in May. Since flying to Indianapolis to compete in the qualifying round of the Settlers of Catan Worldwide Championship at GenCon, he comes home a champion. He won the GenCon event and will be heading to Burg Wildenstein in Germany to represent the United States in the final rounds! David met with Neil Figuracion at Game Empire in Pasadena to share his experiences.

Strategicon: So here we are again, David. Things have gone your way it looks like.

David Zevin: (Chuckles) A little bit. A little bit.

S: Since you left the Settlers event at Gamex, you went on to win GenCon. That was just last weekend. What was your experience like getting there?

DZ: It was a little weird. Actually I was doing some volunteer work for the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and there was this big tournament of the Maccabi games - Jewish junior olympics and a friend of mine needed a tennis coach. So I kinda volunteered to do that. So I was in Omaha, Nebraska for five days leading up to GenCon and I missed the first day. I flew directly from Omaha to Indianapolis and I was kind of exhausted. I got like 5-6 hours of sleep for like five nights leading up to GenCon. So it had been a wild week.

S: So you got to GenCon. What was your first impression? This was your first trip, right?

DZ: First trip to GenCon, yeah. I was a little overwhelmed when I first got there. Just 'cause it was much bigger than I had thought it was... It was like Comic Con, basically - tons of people dressed up. It was just this room full of vendors and everything. I wasn't expecting quite that. I was expecting things to be more like our Strategicon, where there's a lot of gaming going, but not a lot of other things.

S: What do you think GenCon is focused on?

DZ: I'll say it's focused on making money. Every tournament you enter costs a ticket, which will cost you about two bucks or more. The whole room is just full of people selling you stuff. Mayfair games has a giant booth there and Rio Grande Games and all these other [companies] have all these giant displays there. They'll demo games, but they're doing it in the hope that they'll sell it to you. Everything there is set up to make you spend a lot of money. It's kind of tough to get off cheap at GenCon.

S: How different is that from the Strategicon conventions?

DZ: Well, one thing I like a lot better with Strategicon is that to enter a tournament is free. And then at GenCon, when you win a tournament you actually get nothing but a ribbon for the most part, unless it's a big event which costs a lot more money to enter.

S: So what do you think the Strategicon conventions are doing right?

DZ: It's just a lot friendlier atmosphere. It's kind of a very laid back atmosphere where you can just jump into a game. You can even play a game you've never heard of before in a tournament and win your first time out.

S: What was it like competing in the Catan events at GenCon?

DZ: Well, it was a little intense. I found out when we got there that everything was going to come down to two games, single elimination games. One thing I liked about the pre-qualifier was that we would play four games and then take the winning percentage. So even if you didn't win... if you scored well they would actually take that into account.

S: How would you describe the players that you met?

DZ: You know, there were some good players, like you would find anywhere. My last couple of rounds at [Gamex] were much harder. A little luck went my way [at GenCon] but I won pretty handily. No one had more than six points in my first game and seven points in the second. I was a good three to four points ahead of anyone. In Catan that's a good, wide margin. I was never really worried, but I was in a couple of games at Gamex.

S: What was the experience like - winning at GenCon?

DZ: It was cool! It was a little overwhelming knowing that I was gonna go to Germany as one of two Americans representing the U.S. I think there are going to be a pool of 40-50 people in Germany. Yeah, we're gonna do our best.

S: You are one of the two American players going to Burg Wildenstein in Germany. What do you imagine?

DZ: I think it's going to be a lot of fun! We're staying in a castle. We're gonna do some fun stuff around there I would assume. I think it's about a three hour train ride to the nearest airport. It's in the middle of nowhere in this castle playing Settlers of Catan. It's gonna be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

S: ...with forty or fifty people from...

DZ: With forty or fifty people from other countries. Trading is gonna be interesting. Gonna have to brush up on my romance languages.

S: [laughter]

DZ: We'll see how things go. I'll learn "sheep" in a lot of different languages. That should be useful.

S: Do you have any messages to send to your potential competitors around the world?

DZ: I'm just gonna send the same message I sent in our last interview: Watch out! I'm coming to Germany. It's gonna be trouble for you guys.

S: Thanks very much and congratulations!

DZ: Well, thank you!