In this installment of Behind the Hexes , we visit the Bosporus to get in touch with sarpinsarp. He’s known as the Ben Wallace of Catan with his unusual play style and defensive strengths.
Real Name: Sarper Uslupehlivan
Catan player since: about 15 years ago
Most notable achievements
With achievements like this it’s easy to see why sarpinsarp is the person of the hour. Winning the Settlers League solidified his place as one of the best Base Catan online players at the moment. Let us try to ask for his secrets and see if he lets anything good slip.
Why did you choose the name sarpinsarp? What is the story behind that?
It’s a lame story actually : ) When I was 11, I had a best friend whose name was Alp. His parents got him a computer and an internet connection. We started doing what the cool kids do and started working on getting him a hotmail address. We tried his name but it was already taken. He had a horrendous surname we didn’t want to use, and we couldn’t think of adding some numbers.
At some point, not sure how but the idea of “alpinalp” felt funny due to obvious reasons, so that’s what we went for. After that, we thought we should get one for me- and why wouldn’t it be “sarpinsarp”? I don’t know why but after a point it started to feel like me. I pretty much use this username anywhere possible since then.
How did you get started playing Catan?
In college I had 2 close friends with whom I played board games often. We had a cafe which had 100+ board games and 100+ beer brands with nothing else to offer. Of course, it was our favorite place. At least once a week we went there, chose a beer we never tried before and a game we never played before, and spent the day there.
One day, it was Catan and quickly it became our go-to game. Some of those weeks, we just went there to play Catan instead of exploring new games and brought some other friends in the meantime. I guess we played like a year or two before we graduated and started falling apart. I kept playing with others for some time but it didn’t last much. Then I took a 10 year break.
About 3 years ago, I came back online when I was looking for something to do with my spare time in the early Covid days.
Where did you hear about KoC, and why did you join?
In the early Covid days, I spent a lot of time alone and ran out of things to do. One evening, I dived into YouTube to watch random board games. I saw a video of Treeck (which was a Catan game on Catan Universe) and enjoyed it a lot.
I remembered how much I liked playing. Then I texted my old Catan buddies who are living in different cities now and convinced them to have some evening sessions on colonist.io. It filled a void for all of us.
After a point, the time we got together wasn’t enough for me. I started looking for other players to play with. I went right back to Treeck’s channel and found a video called “How Does King of Catan Work & How To Join It” and I jumped right in. I think it was pretty early days of KoC when I joined, because I remember most of the time it was hard to find players for a 4p game.
Who is your favorite KoC player?
Probably Vrej and Ebox. I like how they look at the dynamics of the game and trades. I especially like how calm they are. They enjoy the game in a competitive manner, their style is pretty versatile, and they always focus on how to maximize their chances.
Who is the player you are most scared of in KoC?
Definitely cool_kp. He is good at tracking and very creative when it comes to trade offers. He sees more opportunities than most. He knows when to steal trade opportunities from others before it’s their turn. For example, he can give someone a 4-for-2 trade for a plow in return for the promise of a future city, and it is mostly not a meme but a good move.
This just makes the game so unpredictable for me. I feel like I don’t have the slightest control of what’s going on at the table. That makes me reactive, and it doesn’t help my chances much. Even though I perform worse against him, he is still one of the most fun to play against for me.
Is there a fun fact about yourself which you would like to share with the community?
Even though I spent a lot of time playing the base game and competing in tournaments and getting to finals from time to time, I had my first ever tournament win in a KoC 1:1 tournament which I have never played before. : )
If you could share one piece of advice with Catan novices, what would it be?
Do not make things personal. Don’t block someone because they did a trade that hurts you, and don’t rob someone because they robbed you. Try focusing on what is best for your game. It will make you better and will make the game more fun.
Sometimes it is very hard. I personally have fallen into this trap multiple times, but believe me it doesn’t help.
How do you feel about winning the TSL?
I feel happy and pretty lucky. I liked how I played in general, but it wasn’t enough. Additionally, a lot of things went in my favor, especially in the semis and finals. I received a very nice handmade trophy by aika, and it took a nice place in my library to remind me of this nice experience. Reading some people rooting for me, the winner’s interviews with Shin, DJ and Vamos made it all more delicious.
Besides, I am pretty hyped about the Settlers Invitational as well. I hope I won’t go winless.
You have been active for a long time in online Catan. Do you sometimes need time off or do you find it relaxing to stay so active?
I think it’s relaxing as long as the opponents aren’t toxic and the time I spend doesn’t hurt me in other aspects of life. Until a year ago, I was pretty active both in gameplay and in discussions and I loved it.
At some point, I changed my job and Covid was less of a deal, so I started having less time to play. I stopped playing KoC season games, but I kept watching important games and played in PL & some other tournaments. I even took a season off of PL to play in the TSL, because I felt it was gonna be stressful to handle scheduling 2 games every week.
Right now, I think I’m on a sweet spot. I play like 1 or 2 times a week, enjoy watching some games and twitch videos, and I find it relaxing.
How do you feel about table talk? What is your table talk strategy and why?
I love table talk as long as it’s not toxic. By toxic, I mean not listening to people and talking over them a lot, not being able to have a structured discussion, taking too long turns even though you don’t need to, getting mad at people and never letting it go, etc. When you take these out, I absolutely love an active table with creative offers, counteroffers, discussions, and of course banter! : )
My table talk strategy is not to talk if I have nothing to add to the subject, and also to be as direct as possible when I talk (but not rude). I try not to talk about winning chances unless I have a valid argument to back it up.
I also try to talk others out of the same win condition as mine, sometimes even offer them good trades so they are better with another win condition. I can’t say I am always good at executing this strategy, but mostly it is what I try to do.
Do you count the resource cards from opponents during a game? How often do you have the exact information about someone’s hand?
This is one of my weak spots. I don’t track much unless it’s early or late game. I try to track enough to have a general idea about opponents’ hands. When I need more accurate information, I try to gain that info by asking questions or discussing trades. This sometimes puts me at a disadvantage to steal trades before someone else’s turn
Do you play board games besides Catan?
Nothing this competitive. I sometimes play Dixit, Resistance, Taboo, and Codenames with friends. But with those games, I enjoy the chat & drinks a lot more than the competitive side of the game.
What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have some goals which you want to achieve?
I don’t really have specific goals, I like how it is right now. If there is a big, competitive tournament and I have a chance to compete, I will try to adjust my agenda and I will do my best to win. Enjoying the competitiveness will always be the main goal.
Thanks to sarpinsarp for taking so much time with us. If you want to play against him, keep an eye out in the King of Catan discord in case he pops in for a game. Even if sarpinsarp isn’t around, there are great matches to be had there. You might even find some of the other players we’ve profiled on the blog!