Interview Series 4: US National Champion Bo Peng

Interview Series 4: US National Champion Bo Peng

My interview with Bo Peng is the fourth in a series of interviews on the Colonist Blog. Bo was the 2021 Catan US national champion, and recently competed in the Catan world championships. He is universally acknowledged to be one of the most highly skilled Catan competitors in the world. I had the opportunity to speak with him on an assortment of topics, from his Catan strategy advice to his life outside Catan.

I hope you are enjoying these interviews, and if you have anyone you'd like to see interviewed in the future, please contact me at [email protected].  

Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions you follow when competing?

I like to research my opponents before playing in an important game, and finding opportunities to exploit their strengths, weaknesses, or habits.

Do you think you possess any skills that predispose you to be good at Catan? If so, what are they?

I am very analytical and strategic. I have created spreadsheet models to calculate the probabilities of sevening out based on your active tiles, and hand count when ending your turn.

What is the first thing you check when picking a placement in a game of Catan?

Existence of a 6/5/9 Ore/Wheat/Sheep spot, which is the equivalent of pocket aces in poker. If that doesn’t exist, then check for a spot which would guarantee a safe 2nd settlement pick.

What is a strategy you use that is unique to your playstyle?

My patented strategy is called the “69,3” where you place settlements that have numbers with 6 & 9, but only have 3 unique resources.

What is the best move you’ve ever made and what about it stands out to you?

In a New York tournament final, a player gave me a 2 for 1 trade on my turn. To their dismay, I used that trade to pull a victory point card, played a knight, built a settlement, and then went from 4 visible points to winning the game. They did the trade because they didn’t realize I could win, and it guaranteed their win, if I passed the dice.

How much of the game do you think is decided just from placements?

About 50%.

What is the most common mistake you see players making?

Building 5 settlements, taking the longest road early game, and then losing with 7 points.

What is your favorite resource and why?

Wheat, it’s the most flexible resource, you need it for settlements, cities, and development cards.

What is your favorite Colonist custom map and why?

I enjoy base random, as it’s refreshing to not see the 11 tile in the middle. It also requires more thinking for placements.

Do you enjoy Catan expansions? Which is your favorite

I prefer playing the base game, though I have recently gotten into 1v1, which is fun and fast paced. I also like Seafarers because the layouts and new rules are interesting. Fun fact: I was a finalist in the $1000 Colonist Seafarers tournament from a while back.

How does your mastery of Catan impact your life outside of the game?

It has led to job opportunities, friendships, and thinking big picture. Consequently, my “non-Catan” friends no longer play Catan with me.

What is a non-board game related fun fact about yourself?

In my peak, I could squat 3 plates and deadlift 4 plates for 5 reps each.

Why do you play Catan and not another board game?

Because I’m the best at Catan!

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview with Bo Peng! If there are any questions you would like to see answered by future interviewers, please email me at [email protected]. Thank you for your support!