Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

Catan» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Settlers of Catan strategy tips rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mike Nelson
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I compiled this from reading a couple Settlers websites:
http://www.catanworld.com/the_games/settlers_of_catan/settle...
This probably the best strategy guide that I found out there, put together by Scott McPherson. Anyone know if he’s on boardgamegeek?

I also read this strategy guide, which was very useful:
http://www.settlersofcatan.net/settlers_of_catan_strategy.ht...

I also put in some of my own thoughts from playing Catan.

Anyone know of more valuable strategy guides to read out there?

Overall strategies:

Wood/brick (leads to longest road)
Build lots of settlements.
Build your future settlements on grain/ore hexes in order to build cities.
Build roads to cut off other players expansion, very useful in cutting off grain/ore players who might not be able to expand as fast as you can.

Grain/ore (leads to largest army)
Robber is a threat – huge target if you are building cities.
Buy development cards to try to get a knight in case robber is sitting on your city.
Only use the knight if the robber is sitting on 1 of your cities, try to save them for this situation to occur.
Focus more on ore than grain since you need 3 ores and 2 grain to build each city.

Try not to put your city on 1 good number and 2 bad numbers, or else the robber can come and make your city worthless.

The grain/ore strategy is generally my favorite strategy to play all things being equal, because it leads to guaranteed cities at the beginning. As long as you have development cards to protect them from the robber, I think it’s a very good strategy to pursue. You can always either expand towards wood/brick by either using the grain/ore to trade to other players since they will likely need it to build cities – which can result in favorable trades for your grain/ore.

Generally you either need the longest road or largest army to win the game, it’s very hard to win without either of them.

Initial settlement placement
Try to get your initial settlements on a total dot count of 11-13, this generally leads to strong resource production. Always put the first 2 settlements on 3 resource hex possibilities (not at the water where there are only 2 possibilities). You don’t want to constrict your resource growth at the start, you can always expand later to the water to grab a port.

Try to spread out your settlements on as many different numbers as possible so that your resource cards don’t come in huge batches – which may lead to robber losses down the road. This is an extremely key point, by doing this you are able to get resources no matter what number is rolled, which leads to steady and consistent building. I saw this approach work first hand last game, my friend had his settlements spread out among basically every number from 4-9 and he thus got resources seemingly every roll of the dice. And his cards came slowly, instead of in big batches.

Review the board at first and try to put a settlement on the rarest resource that you see (either by sheer number of tiles in the game or that the numbers on the tiles are not good), this will become extremely valuable for trading purposes later. Generally it will result in you getting 2 resource cards for your 1 resource card in trading, which can be really valuable for future building.

Expansion/settlements
Build settlements early, since growth is exponential once you get settlements and cities going. This is the most important strategy point – build settlements and cities first, to generate more production later – exponential growth rate.

Also try to go for settlement spots where your opponents are also going for, if you are sure you can get there first, otherwise don’t go for them because it’s just a waste of resources.

Break the longest road if at all possible with a settlement.

Try to get settlements on 3 different types of resources, though if you can’t, put your settlements on:
Wood/brick - settlements
Grain/ore – cities
Sheep are valuable, but generally it seems like sheep are always in high supply, so I generally don’t try to worry too much about getting sheep. It is nice to have at least 1 hex on a sheep, but I don’t worry too much about them.

Generally wood/brick is really valuable early on in the game for building roads and settlements, but then loses some of its value as the game goes along. This is because a lot of people start to build cities using grain/ore. Sheep generally hold the same value throughout the game (or its value goes slightly down), because they are only used in settlements (mainly done early in the game) and development cards (throughout the game).

Expansion opportunity priorities:
1. Go for the spot with the most dots
2. Increase diversity of resources you produce
3. Try to get to a nearby port

Make sure you are not cut off from future expansion opportunities, use roads to make sure of this, watch where your opponents are building towards.

Don’t place settlements just to try to screw others players, only think about yourself first and foremost. If in the process of getting a solid settlement placement you screw another player in the process, then that is great because you accomplished 2 missions in 1 shot.

In terms of settlements/cities, try to put your settlements/cities on hexes that have other players on them as well so that the hex is shared. This can help with keeping the robber off your hexes, since other players are also involved in the hex too.

The riskiest play in my opinion is to completely monopolize a hex (3 cities on 1 hex), this makes you a huge target for the robber, and you better have knights handy to get the robber off that hex in case the robber lands on that hex. I generally wouldn’t recommend monopolizing hexes, because it results in huge swings in terms of the number of cards in your hand, and the robber threat mentioned above. I did this in my last game, and while it did pay off okay (because another player was clearly in the lead the whole game and thus the robber was always on them), I don’t like to do it unless things just work out that way.

Robber/knight tips
If the robber is on your settlement/city before you roll the dice and you have a knight card, play the knight card before you roll so that if you roll the number that the robber was on before, you will get that resource.

Don’t buy too many development cards early on, it constricts your growth rate of resource production. It is much more worthwhile to build roads/settlements/cities because of the exponential growth rate of production if you get things setup early on. Save the development card buying for later once you get your resource production machine running and actually need some knight cards to keep the robber off your cities.

Make sure that you always have less than 7 cards before someone rolls the dice, even if it hurts your trading chances later, in case a 7 is rolled - I have been hit with the robber probably more than anyone else in my gaming group, I know the pain of having a 7 rolled with more than 7 cards in your hand =)

Buy a development card or something else if necessary to avoid having more than 7 cards in your hand before the dice are rolled.

If a 7 is rolled, put the robber on the rare resource hex
Also target cities if possible
Preferably target the current game leader, put it on his rarest resource hex that has a city on it – or try to hurt as many players as possible with the placement. By hurting as many people as possible with the placement, it also helps for later when a 7 is rolled again, so that 1 player doesn’t just target you with the robber if you singled out them the last time.

Count VP points as the game goes along to see who is in first place, and generally target them with the robber.

Trading
Don’t trade with someone if they are about to win the game (ie 7 or 8 VPs) – only trade with people who are behind you or slightly even with you. During the early to middle part of the game it’s generally fine to trade with anyone.

Try to be a part of every trade possible, as long as it helps you as much as your opponent. Don’t just make a trade simply for the fact that you wanted to make a trade – be sure that it helps you as much or more than your opponent.

Ports
Ports are useful – 2:1 ports can be really useful if you can get another settlement on that resource type with a really good number like 6 or 8.

3:1 ports are also useful, they may actually be more useful than 2:1 ports because there is no risk of the robber affecting your port trading ability by someone putting the robber on the hex that is producing the 2:1 port resource (since with a 3:1 port you can trade any resource, but with a 2:1 port it takes one specific resource). And since ports can only be used on your turn, you may want to try to hold out to trade all your resources using your port, putting you at higher risk for the robber.

Placing a settlement near a port at the beginning of the game (but not directly on the port) can be a good idea, because it can give you access in the future to it.

Though try to avoid placing settlements directly on ports early on, as it really constricts your resource production. It is much better early on to have both of your settlements on 3 resource hex possibilities. Later on in the game once your resource production machine is more established you can build a settlement on a port.

Development cards
% deck of development cards is as follows: (this may vary slightly depending on what deck and edition you are using)
Soldier – 48%
Monopoly – 12%
Road building – 12%
Year of plenty – 12%
Victory point – 16%

So generally unless you are going for largest army or just wanted to buy a development card to avoid having more than 7 cards in your had due to the robber – it is likely a better investment to build roads/settlements/cities since they result in guaranteed VPs, whereas it is more of an unknown with development cards. If you are going with the grain/ore strategy I would recommend investing in at least 1 development card to try to get a knight to help keep the robber off your city if at all possible.

Generally, development cards are only a good investment when:
1. You have more than 7 cards in your hand but have no other options to build anything else
2. If you are trying to win with the grain/ore (city) strategy and need knights to keep the robber off your hexes
3. If a lot of development cards have been bought already (and they were soldiers), so there is a better chance that the remaining cards are non-soldier cards

Monopoly card trick
One sneaky trick involves the monopoly card – trading away all of one resource to the rest of the players in exchange for whatever they have, then using the monopoly card to get it all back. So you then have all the resources that you traded for, in addition to the resource that you just traded to the rest of the players. I pulled it off once, and it did work, but my friends weren’t too happy about it =)
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sebastian
Germany
Hürth
NRW
flag msg tools
Thank you for stopping at this OverText. Your cursor is now being scanned for the purpose of security. Please don't move for 3 seconds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thank you for your cooperation. You may proceed.
mbmbmbmbmb
gopher37 wrote:
Monopoly card trick
One sneaky trick involves the monopoly card – trading away all of one resource to the rest of the players in exchange for whatever they have, then using the monopoly card to get it all back. So you then have all the resources that you traded for, in addition to the resource that you just traded to the rest of the players. I pulled it off once, and it did work, but my friends weren’t too happy about it =)

This can easily lead to a trade embargo for one game and very suspicious trading partners in the following games...
So try to figure out how "hard and dirty" your round plays if you pull this trick!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Troy Davis
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a concise and thoughtful strategy mini-guide. It'll be a permanent addition to my Catan collection of info. Well done and thanks.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Nelson
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
decumanusmaximus wrote:
This is a concise and thoughtful strategy mini-guide. It'll be a permanent addition to my Catan collection of info. Well done and thanks.


Glad that you found it useful! You can mainly thank Scott McPherson, his guide is still the best that I've found on the internet.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Palermo
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Nice write up, I follow something similar to that and the one on here;

[geekurl=http://boardgamenights.com/products/the-settlers-of-catan]Settlers of Catan Strategy[/geekurl]

Thanks for the post!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Doug Bass
United States
Winston-Salem
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice strategy tips, thanks very much.

gopher37 wrote:
The riskiest play in my opinion is to completely monopolize a hex (3 cities on 1 hex), this makes you a huge target for the robber, and you better have knights handy to get the robber off that hex in case the robber lands on that hex. I generally wouldn’t recommend monopolizing hexes, because it results in huge swings in terms of the number of cards in your hand, and the robber threat mentioned above. I did this in my last game, and while it did pay off okay (because another player was clearly in the lead the whole game and thus the robber was always on them), I don’t like to do it unless things just work out that way.

In general, I think you are right. However, in my last game, I had two settlements and a city surrounding a clay hex, which worked out very well for me for a while. The other two clay hexes had 3 and 11 and no one wanted to put the robber on "my" hex since there would be very little clay available. I became the "clay supplier" and got some pretty sweet trades, but not good enough to win the game

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate Schmidt
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
flag msg tools
I'm not positive, but this may be the article referred to
http://boardgamestrategy.blogspot.com/2010/06/complex-strate...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
KK Su
Australia
Melbourne
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeap. I recognise it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. Alex Kevern
United States
Mahopac
New York
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
gopher37 wrote:

Development cards
% deck of development cards is as follows: (this may vary slightly depending on what deck and edition you are using)
Soldier – 48%
Monopoly – 12%
Road building – 12%
Year of plenty – 12%
Victory point – 16%



I disagree with some of what you said as a matter of opinion, but your percentages are objectively wrong. There are only two copies of the non point/soldier cards (ie mono, YOP, Road Builder), so those would be 2/25 or 8%. Victory points are 5/25 or 20%.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles Slacker
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
That is a good set of baseline tips. I think you should reconsider your development card strategy. Mystery is your friend and development cards are mystery. I have found that in almost every game I play that people make good decisions based on the information that they have and poor decisions on matters where information is lacking. There are a lot of tricks one can pull, but the most useful swings are the abilities to grab the largest army or the longest road as well as hold hidden victory points. Even when the cards you are hiding are almost obvious, people respond less decisively to the cards than someone showing 7 or 8 victory points but no cards. The more players the better the cards because you increase the odds of poor decisions in your favor.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ethan Whitton
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
I believe that the best strategy is to monopolize a certain recource and use its port for a 2:1 trade, using obviously the 6's and 8's. I win every time!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Remington Gong
United States
California
flag msg tools
I don't understand why there isn't an emphasis on getting wheat and sheep for the settlement route. Without those it doesn't matter how much wood and brick you have you won't be able to build settlements. Unless of course you are relying on the fact that players will want to trade with you. Which I suppose is probably the case.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marcel van der pol
Netherlands
Leiden
Zuid-Holland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
I don't understand why there isn't an emphasis on getting wheat and sheep for the settlement route. Without those it doesn't matter how much wood and brick you have you won't be able to build settlements. Unless of course you are relying on the fact that players will want to trade with you. Which I suppose is probably the case.


There are 4 wheat hexes as well as 4 sheep hexes in the basic game, so unless they have really POOR numbers there is going to be plenty of it. You only need one of each for a settlement, but brick and wood are much more needed for roads as well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris K
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Okay so my gf is on like a 10 game winning streak. We've played numerous games with numerous different people and she always wins with the same strategy. She simply occupies the highest number ore tile she can find. If there are no good ore tiles she will settle for wheat.

She will deviate slightly from time to time to strengthen her position, but Ive yet to see her deviate from this strategy. She doesnt bother with largest army or longest road. It is a very quick, very direct, very difficult to stop route to building 4 cities asap and then making 2 settlements.

Ive seen games where she was completely paralyzed in the beginning due to lack of brick. In another game I even managed to rally all the other players against her fairly early in the game. But once she has her first 2 roads and third settlement she just flies to the end. In fact Ive never seen her win by less than 2 points, but its usually much more.

In her defense Settlers is her favorite game, and she has years of experience so she prolly employs methods or tactics I dont even see, but its time for her reign to end and I need your help to do that felow gamers.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moose Detective
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
This isn't as bad as other Settlers strategy articles usually are, but there's still one thing I will always disagree with.

Trading 2 for 1, or trading just to buy a development card when you're not already in the process of getting/keeping largest army is not a good idea even if you have 6-8 cards in your hand and cannot do anything else.

If you have 6 wheat in your hand. Just pass the dice. Trading someone else 2 wheat for 1 ore and 1-2 wheat for 1 sheep to buy a card is BAD. you are helping your enemies more than yourself. Trading 3-4 wheat with the bank for a blind resource that could be the wrong resource is bad.

Holding 6-7 wheat and letting the dice go is the right play. Let everyone else take their turn. You will get other resources. If the robber doesn't come up youre in line for a big turn. If the robber does come up and you have to throw out 4-5 wheat, so what? Better to lose them for nothing than to help your opponent, and you will still have everything else that was rolled.

Throwing out half your cards on a 7 is ONLY bad when you have exactly 8 cards and enough to build a city and now you don't. Or when you have 8-9 cards and enough to build something and after throwing out half your opponent steals from you (but thats when you should be playing up robber sympathy to prevent it)

Any other time, throwing out half your cards to a 7 is meaningless.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
H C
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Arcylis wrote:
Okay so my gf is on like a 10 game winning streak. We've played numerous games with numerous different people and she always wins with the same strategy. She simply occupies the highest number ore tile she can find. If there are no good ore tiles she will settle for wheat.

She will deviate slightly from time to time to strengthen her position, but Ive yet to see her deviate from this strategy. She doesnt bother with largest army or longest road. It is a very quick, very direct, very difficult to stop route to building 4 cities asap and then making 2 settlements.

Ive seen games where she was completely paralyzed in the beginning due to lack of brick. In another game I even managed to rally all the other players against her fairly early in the game. But once she has her first 2 roads and third settlement she just flies to the end. In fact Ive never seen her win by less than 2 points, but its usually much more.

In her defense Settlers is her favorite game, and she has years of experience so she prolly employs methods or tactics I dont even see, but its time for her reign to end and I need your help to do that felow gamers.


How does she build the 2 extra settlements beyond her original 2 if she starts mainly focusing on the ore? Ore is great for getting cities but useless for settlements/roads, which are needed for expansion. The only way I can see that working is if she gets a lot of Dev Cards - does she? If so, just stop trading her the sheep/wheat she needs for them OR try to rush ahead with your own Ore/Wheat or Brick/Wood engine.

Also, its not a huge shock for a player to leap ahead after the initial 3-6 settlements/cities are built for them. Once a player has 5 VPs or thereabouts, they are usually generating so many resources that 1 VP a turn is quite possible and maybe even easy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aamir Zakaria
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I tried both links at the top of this post, and they no longer work.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jörg Baumgartner
Germany
Kiel
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Try the wayback engine on archive.org:

https://web.archive.org/web/20070918142238/http://www.catanworld.com/the_games/settlers_of_catan/settlers_of_catan_strategy_and_tactics_guide.html
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Maynard
msg tools
I wonder if the point about not building your starting settlements on the coast still holds when you're playing with Seafarers? It might mean getting to a new continent first (possibly with gold)...

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aven Roy
msg tools
Here are some strategy tips to win at Catan

Numbers and theorical best strategies to win using the less resources
http://www.tierraquebrada.com/en/2014/win-settlers-catan/

Tips and tactics most used to win at Catan
http://www.tierraquebrada.com/en/2015/win-settlers-catan-ii/

Two more articles are coming, talking about U-96 tactic very useful in online game and another one only to talk about the robber.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.