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Subject: Tips for Beginners (Catan For Dummies) rss

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Kevin Bourrillion
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Hi,

Here are tips I give to first-time players to help them play more competitively from the get-go.

For your first placement, try to find the spot that has the greatest number of wood and brick 'pips'. You need a lot of wood and brick to bootstrap your principality, and whatever else you need you can usually trade wood and brick for. Whatever else you get from this placement matters less (but ought to be *something*, not desert or open water).

To a lesser extent, you also want to determine which is the resource type that will be the most rare in this game (fewest total pips on the board), and you want to try to get in on that.

For your second placement, geographic location matters much more. Try not to get caught with a whole section of the island closed off to you. In general you should prefer to go far from your first settlement, not near. Next look for any resource type that you could be in danger of getting choked off from completely, and try to place your settlement where you can get access to this resource before the choking-off happens. Similarly you want to make sure you have some access to the ocean. You may also use your second placement to try to constrict your opponents' expansion plans. All other things being equal, you should just try to maximize your total pip count. Don't worry too much about having all five resource types accounted for in your initial two placements; you will be expanding soon. Also don't worry too much about which free cards you're going to get; they'll be gone soon.

Have goals. Always know what the next thing you want to build is. If that next thing is a road, know why you want to build that road -- to block a player from getting into your territory? So you can build a settlement at the end of it? If the latter, make sure you won't get beaten to that settlement spot, or you'll have wasted your road. In general, road wasteage is a bad thing; only occasionally will you get lucky enough to convert your wasteage into a longest-road victory.

For the most part it doesn't matter whether your settlements and cities are evenly distributed among hexes of all numbers or whether you have a disproportionate number of them on "9" hexes. The main problem with the latter is that you are more vulnerable to the robber.

Before you trade, ask yourself what they're going to use your resources for. Will they use it to hurt you? Build on the port you desperately needed, steal your longest road, block you in? If so, ask yourself if you really have any realistic hope of getting that port or longest road or freeing yourself from your current prison anyway. If not, go ahead and trade anyway. If another opponent is also offering to trade with your nemesis, go ahead and trade anyway if you can. There are no points deducted for sleeping with the enemy.

A 3:1 harbor is generally nice to have, but probably not worth going out of your way for in general.

If you are in danger of getting cut off from any one resource type completely, you must pursue a harbor strategy. This means both securing a 2:1 harbor and developing very high production of that resource type. Failing that a 3:1 harbor will have to do.

If a particular resource type is on the board great abundance (say, two 6s and an 8 are all on grain hexes), getting to the appropriate 2:1 harbor for that resource type becomes much more valuable.. even if you don't personally have an abundance of access to that resource yourself. (The player(s) who do will probably be trying to trade it to you.)

If you are weak on a particular resource type, and have no hope of getting more settlements on that type of terrain, you should prioritize upgrading those settlements you do have into cities. Of course, if the resource type you're weak in is ore or grain that puts you in a bit of a bind! See then the previous paragraph. This is somewhat less of a problem if there is another player strong in this resource but weak in a resource that you yourself are strong in.

File under duh: Avoid robbering the guy who's holding the development cards in his hand. Avoid playing a soldier when you're not the one currently robbered.

Try to remember who's been collecting the resources you want lately, so you know who to robber.

Don't get in a race with someone for the longest road or largest army unless you are pretty sure you can win it (or you are pretty sure that winning it is your only hope).

And finally:

Get the Catan Event Cards! This add-on makes resource production much less volatile, so it's more likely for the winner to be the player who truly played the most shrewdly. Which gives you better feedback on whether your own strategic choices are working or not.
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Ian Sergeant
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I agree with most of your points, but the first one about playing around wood and brick I don't really agree with. I almost always play my settlements around wheat and ore so I can upgrade them quickly and start producing large quantities of resources. Then, if I do need brick or wood, I have plenty to trade for them. This has worked well for me in almost all my games.
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Matthew M
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IanthePez wrote:
I agree with most of your points, but the first one about playing around wood and brick I don't really agree with. I almost always play my settlements around wheat and ore so I can upgrade them quickly and start producing large quantities of resources. Then, if I do need brick or wood, I have plenty to trade for them. This has worked well for me in almost all my games.


The ore/wheat strategy works well but is slow to start. It finishes very strong though and doesn't require much board space, however it is susceptible to the robber as you won't have many different hexes producing for you. You'll get your points through 3 cities, Largest Army, and some combination of extra point cards and additional settlements.

The brick/wood strategy is a very fast start as it espands quickly and aims to choke off other players. The brick/wood strategy player needs to find one of the related 2:1 ports by the time they've built their fifth settlement, but if they do they won't need to trade with the wheat/ore player. He'll get his points with 5 settlements, Longest Road, and some combination of extra point cards and cities.

Both work well and neither will always win - much depends on the lay of the board, the actions of your opponents, and of course the favor of the dice.

-MMM
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Quote:
For the most part it doesn't matter whether your settlements and cities are evenly distributed among hexes of all numbers or whether you have a disproportionate number of them on "9" hexes. The main problem with the latter is that you are more vulnerable to the robber.


having too many tiles of the same #s leaves u more vulnerable to 7-rolls and having to discard cards since u're less likely to have the chance to play the cards bef your tunr comes around again.

If you can share a city with an opponent's city on the same tile, he'll be less inclined to block there, esp if he needs that rsrc type that it does him more harm than to u.

Quote:
In general you should prefer to go far from your first settlement, not near.


when placing init setts close to each other, take into account if you're gonna expand form both ends. NOw u can connect both sides for a better shot at getting and keeping longest road

Quote:
File under duh: Avoid robbering the guy who's holding the development cards in his hand. Avoid playing a soldier when you're not the one currently robbered.


Sometimes I find it beneficial to block someone with dev cards who's in the lead. If it's a situation where he seems to have soldiers but is overlooking them for LA, then no, let him learn from that mistake. Else, forcing him to play his solider cards means he won't have them again later on when he gets robbed again, but also shows his true colors to anyone who's unaware of LA, or even vets who glossed over it in the thick of gaming.

Quote:
Don't get in a race with someone for the longest road or largest army unless you are pretty sure you can win it (or you are pretty sure that winning it is your only hope).


alternatviley, u can lure him into thinking yuou're going for LR, only to trick him into wasting rsrc towards LR which would'v been his anyways and whose rsrc could've been deployed elsewhere.

Quote:
If you are weak on a particular resource type, and have no hope of getting more settlements on that type of terrain, you should prioritize upgrading those settlements you do have into cities. Of course, if the resource type you're weak in is ore or grain that puts you in a bit of a bind! See then the previous paragraph. This is somewhat less of a problem if there is another player strong in this resource but weak in a resource that you yourself are strong in.


alternatively, build more sett and cities around tiles which rsrc type u reap alot of, and have a 3:1 port. MUCH better having a very good chance of getting at least 3 cards of same rsrc type in a single round of turns than waiting up to 4 round of turns just to 4:1 bank trade it for what u want, all the while riskingpa 7roll

Octavian wrote:
The ore/wheat strategy works well but is slow to start. It finishes very strong though and doesn't require much board space, however it is susceptible to the robber as you won't have many different hexes producing for you. You'll get your points through 3 cities, Largest Army, and some combination of extra point cards and additional settlements.

-MMM


someone playing the ore/wh strat would usually also get sheep so they can keep the dev cards coming in. Soldiers are likely since they are majority (tho not a large majority) of the deck, so the robber won't stay there for long
 
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