Leafcutter ants of Catan

Leafcutter ants are fascinating tropical creatures that farm fungus gardens, require access to certain resources in order to survive and grow, and are constantly splitting off from the pack to form new colonies with connections to the old. Which, of course, makes them the perfect species to adapt into a version of Settlers of Catan, as entomologist M.L. Henneman has done.

I will trade you 12 sheep for 1 barrel of non-renewable hydrocarbons

What would Settlers of Catan be like if you added oil wells to the already potent resource mix of sheep, wood, ore, brick, and grain? The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds out when reporter Ann Griswold sits in on a game of Catan: Oil Springs.

Oil fields of Catan

If you play Settlers of Catan and/or if you're interested in the hard decisions we have to make about energy, you'll likely be as excited as I am about this new (free!) scenario for the classic board game. Catan: Oil Springs allows you to develop faster by collecting black gold—at the expense of short-term and long-term safety risks. (Via Audubon Society and Jeremy Hsu)