Behind the Hexes is back with Premier League veteran EBOX, who finally managed to win the title himself in Season 7. He is known and feared as a great analyst of the game we all love.
IGN: EBOX (formerly Eb03zc)
Real Name: Eric
Catan player since: 2015
Most notable achievements
That is an amazing title collection! He probably won’t mind if I put my name on one of them as he has so many, right? (Just kidding.)
Let’s dive into the interview, where Eric will share the long lists we all expect from him as well as his usual place as a Settler.
Why did you choose the name EBOX ? What is the story behind that?
When I joined King Of Catan, I used the name “Eb03zc“, an old ID . Over time, when people tried to say “Eb03zc”, the name seemed to evolve into “ebocz” or “ebox”. Since EBOX is much easier to say, I decided to change it last year.
How did you get started playing Catan?
I started playing Catan in 2015 when a friend introduced me to the game. I played a few “in real life” tournaments starting in 2018.
Where did you hear about KoC, and why did you join?
Kaytwenty introduced me to KoC after playing against him in the 2020 MSO final. It was great to find a place to play online beyond CU auto matches.
Who is your favorite KoC player?
It’s hard to pick one. Lots of great Catan players and many nice people that I have enjoyed playing with (in no particular order):
Kaytwenty – I’ve played against him online in past CU auto matches, and is one of the highest ranked in CU. In my opinion, he may be the strongest overall player in the non-table talk game, particularly at finding the most efficient and probable path to winning the game.
Kwijebo – A great player and former Canadian champion. Very fundamental and calculated play style. Loves to buy the development card. Trades well.
TrashPanda – Another strong player and current Canadian champion. Tends to play more flexible setups from my experience. A great player as well that I enjoy playing with. We generally trade well, too.
RealCrait – the “Goat” a.k.a. the 9-12 Kid a.k.a #BeLikeCrait. RealCrait brings a unique perspective to the game, setups that I wouldn’t consider and consistently plays well out of them. A true celebrity of Catan (after Klaus of course), having infamously placed on a 9-12 in the 2018 World Final. I always look forward to him challenging my feedback on boards in the Strategy Channel.
Chapha – I would argue that he is the next up and comer to the high-level Catan circuit. Trust me, he is quietly taking notes and studying the game. Over time I have found him to be more challenging to play against, consistently makes the right decision.
Vrej – Vrej is a player that I have tremendous respect for. He has a very passive, subtle style of play. Plays a quiet game, trying to keep attention off him while he methodically carves out his path to 10. Very calculated and consistently makes the best decision for his game. One of my toughest opponents.
Arod –I really enjoy playing Catan with ARod. He’s very calm and collected, certainly compared to other players. He’s never adverse or controversial, which I enjoy, and he is a very strong, calculated player.
Swimmy – A player that has seemingly had my number (aside from beating Swimmy in the Season 7 PL final). Great player. Knows the fundamentals well.
Rayman – Another very strong player. I find he is great at making the mid-game army or road move.
YoungNaijah – an extremely strong player. One of the best to play the game in my opinion. A player who seems to be thinking one step ahead of the rest and who I find quite tough to play against.
Who is the player you are most scared of in KoC?
Anyone on the above list is a candidate, though RealCrait always seems to have my number the most.
Additionally, as I prefer offense over defense, players that play more defensive I tend to find harder to play against (ie, players that try to close the board and are willing to reduce their production/setup to do so, and players that understand value and trade well). A few players come to mind here: steviebuddha, tavaline and badmat21. I find they play more defensively, are very good table talkers, and consistently seem to impede my game when I play them.
Is there a fun fact about yourself which you would like to share with the community?
I enjoy travelling and love the beach. I have travelled across North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia multiple times, and look forward to more travel in the hopefully near future.
What is your favorite resource and why?
Wheat is the most valuable resource due to its versatility. It is the only resource that you can use to buy settlements, cities and development cards.
I am starting to think that ore is the most overrated resource. Most common spot to block and typically draws robber attention if you are pushing development cards and trying to city again and most likely resource to play monopoly on. I’d rather have better numbers with a good port, as this can to make up for an ore deficiency in your setup. Also, I like lower ore numbers, like 10 or 4 ore as it tends to be blocked less than 8 or 6 ore, unless I know I can keep buying development cards to protect that spot.
If you could share one piece of advice with Catan novices, what would it be?
“Flexibility is key; increase your number coverage and resource diversity and get a good port.”
It’s nice to get 6 different numbers on your placements, especially placing on an 8 and a 6 (as 8 and 6 hedges the dice, and covers 10/36 of dice rolls versus 5/36 if you are doubled on 8 or 6 with higher risk of sevening out or monopoly risk due to the feast or famine coordination).
I try to avoid feast or famine setups (ie double 834), certain types of number coordination that aren’t congruent (ie 5 ore and 5 wood) without a good port, as you can be more prone to sevening out or monopoly risk. In some setups, I’m quite fine only placing on four resources (or even three) for stronger production with more efficient port options to avoid being at the mercy of the dice for certain resources.
What are the main differences between an online and an offline tournament in your opinion?
Online Catan has evolved into a faster game than IRL, as the trades I find are more dynamic (ie porting cards to protect from a monopoly or feed another player road by making a 6:1 trade). Also the overall play, from my experience, is higher level with more table co-operation. Further, all the information is provided to you when you play online (ie number of resource cards in a players hand is shared) including their table score, whereas in real life it can be more work/effort to keep track on all of that information that is shared in the online game.
Playing in real life seems to be that everyone plays for themselves versus table co-operation. Further, there is less collusion and table talk in general in real life, meaning you can be aggressive in certain situations (ie timing when you take longest road in an in real life game is different I would say versus a PL game).
Do you have different play styles for different opponents?
To an extent. For more competitive games, pacing is more important in my opinion. You want to be careful when you get ahead, or when you city, as the table will co-ordinate and come after you accordingly. Usually in these games, you want to appear in second but hopefully the player in “first” is getting the attention and may have a tougher path to 10. In these games types, I typically go for the fixed points (cities and settlements) and let the win condition (largest army, longest road) come to me based on the dice rolls and development cards pulled, as the table will continuously try to feed the longest road or largest army win conditions to the weaker player to prolong the game.
In other types of games, random games in real life or CU auto matches, I try to focus on
There is less table talk and coordination so you can be more aggressive in taking longest road before you get to 10 points, for example.
You have been part of a Catan podcast. How did that come about and can we expect new episodes?
Shinuslaw expressed interest about a year ago in starting the KoC podcast to discuss strategy, community, new trends and topics in Catan. I enjoyed doing the podcast. I’d be happy to participate further with him or anyone else concerning podcasts, commentating games, other Catan media, etc.
You just won the Premier League (PL), how do you feel about it and what is your next goal?
It’s a great feeling since PL is arguably the toughest competition and highest level of online catan. Many great players. Lots of high-level game play and strategy. I continue to learn and find new tactics and strategies from playing in PL.
The easy answer would be that I hope to win the PL again. Even making the finals again would be a blessing.
Thanks to EBOX for giving us such a great interview (and some players to watch). Keep your eye out for him in the Discord if you’d like to test your skills!