Settlers of Catan brought strategy gaming back into popularity. Before Settlers game out, the same games had been played for years. This game is so fun. I like to call it the Harry Potter of board games. Have you ever noticed how after the success of Harry Potter, a lot more great young adult fantasy books started popping up everywhere? The same works in the Board Game world. This game was so popular, that it made board games main stream again.
The strategy is pretty complex because it really depends on how the board is set up, your turn placement, who you are playing with, and how other people choose to play. This is one of the great things about the game, but makes it more difficult to write a succinct strategy. Instead, I’ll give some good guidelines on how I try to play.
- Get Stone and Wheat in your first placement
- Build Cities quickly
- Trade often
- Play the robber evenly
- Hide your lead until the end
- End the game quickly
Stone, Wheat, and Cities
Obviously, it is best to have your settlements on the highest rolling spaces. Don’t disregard that plan, but if possible, play on Stone and Wheat. The purpose of this is to build Cities as fast as possible. It really puts you at an advantage to have Cities right from the start. It takes the least amount of resources to give you the most payout quickly.
After the Cities are up, it also allows you to pull development cards to plan for Step 5 and 6.
This game is all about trading. If you have the constrained resource, be willing to trade it with anyone, but make sure that they give you at least two, and maybe 3 for it. Be generous by saying things like. “I’ll give it to you for wood (the one you want) and any other resource. That gives them the choice, but still nets you more cards.
The only time to be stingy with trading is when someone has an obvious lead. At that point, under no circumstances are you to trade with them. They, or you, are on their own at that point.
It may also be nice if you get a 2 for 1 port. You can convince people to give you 2 of that one, plus a free card to get something back for them.
Play the robber evenly
People have this innate reaction if they feel that they have been slighted. If you consistently place the robber on the same person, they end up having a knee jerk reaction to play it back on you. Sometimes they won’t even trade with you!
To get around this, play the robber on the spot that covers the most people, or bounce it around each time. Say something like, “I played it on A last time, so I’ll put it here this time.”
As long as it is fair, retribution can be minimized.
Hide your lead
If you are too far ahead, you become “that guy” and no one trades with you any longer. They also start stealing your cards with the robber. To avoid this, stay just ahead of people. the development cards really help with this.
Often you’ll pull the Soldier cards. Use these to get yourself out of a bad robber situation, and save one or two to sneak and get the largest army points.
Other times you’ll get the extra roads card. Use this towards the end to steal the longest road.
Sometimes you will even pull the free victory point cards. Great day! Hold these to the end to cross the 10 point finish line.
When you have 6 visible points, now is the time to plot how you are going to win, by getting the longest road, army, or laying your victory point cards. Everyone will look around confused, as you complete your path to victory
What other strategies have worked well for you?
Also, since it is Friday…