**** Warning ****
This report is very long. It covers six games of Settlers and includes a whole bunch of commentary as well. I decided to make this session report into a kind of strategy article as well. Throughout I will discuss various strategies and the decisions made by the players – some are good and some are bad. I am not trying to criticise anyone’s play or put them down – I point out my mistakes as well – but provide an in-depth analysis of several Settlers games, partly for the record and partly to illustrate just how much tactical and strategic thinking goes into a competitive game.
I might be worth clicking on the pictures to open them in another browser. You will find that much of the discussion is almost incomprehensible without having the pictures alongside.
I hope you enjoy this report and get some new insights into the game!
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The second Australian Championships for Settlers of Catan was held at the Australian Games Expo (that’s with the ‘s’ at the end of ‘games’ and not at the start of “expo”), held in Albury over the June long weekend. The Monday holiday is in honour of the Queen’s Birthday. Most Australians want Australia to be a republic but they are still happy to take the holiday for HRH’s birthday.
Anyway, I competed in the inaugural Australian Championships last year and was lucky enough to finish second, behind Simon Plummer, who went on to finish (I think) 14th at the World Championships in Germany, which was a fine effort. I have written a report of that tournament here on BGG.
This year, first prize was again a plane ticket to Worlds and second prize was a Catan “big box” wooden storage holder thingy. Third and fourth would win copies of the games signed by Klaus. The format was the same as last year – four rounds (determined according to a ‘swiss’ system in which you play against people with similar records to you), where the top 16 progress to the semi-finals and the winners of those four games play in the grand final. Also like last year, Settlers games were played between rounds of the Carcassonne Australian Championships.
There were about 75 players in the Settlers tournament, which was more than last year. That number meant that two wins in the four rounds would not necessarily make you through to the semi-finals. Last year, all players with two wins got through, and even one player with one win got through. This year, two wins would be needed plus reasonable scores in the other two games.
Because the Expo had expanded from last year, the room for the tournaments was smaller, so we were squashed in a bit. However, there was still plenty of room and I did not feel claustrophobic at all.
I was glad to see some familiar faces returning from last year. There was Simon Plummer (last year’s Champion), David Hawkins (another finalist from last year), Sam Northe (last year’s top seed after the four rounds), Melissa Rogerson, Scott Berry and Duncan Gibson. In addition, there were many new players, including two of my former work colleagues who had made the trip. I had introduced Mark and Ian (and others) to Settlers back in 2000 while we were all working at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We played many, many games at lunchtimes there before all moving on to different jobs. Mark had flown from Perth in Western Australia – about 3000 km – and Ian had driven from Melbourne. I drove to Albury the night before with Jeanette and Josh (11).
Round 1 – Saturday 10:30am
The draw for the first round of the tournament is determined randomly, and I got very lucky, having two children on my table, Henry and Nick, both local boys aged around 10. Henry was one of three brothers in the tournament – they had been featured in the local newspaper the day before. The third player was Lachlan, a young guy who (I think) was local as well.
Having had so much trouble remembering my games last years, I decided to take a few photos of each game, to jog my memory later. I also took photos of the people I played against.
The board layout was unexceptional, with each resource on some good numbers and no bad ‘clumpings’ of resources, meaning there were a few good spots and no obvious advantage for the first player. The desert was in the middle ring of hexes. Henry (white) went first, and took a wheat-wood-sheep hex on 5-11-6, which allowed me (red) to take a ore-wheat-wood hex on 8-10-4, the best spot in my view. Lachlan (yellow) took an ore(10)-sheep(6)-brick(9) hex and Nick (blue) ore(10)-sheep(8)-wheat(3) followed by wheat(8)-wood(9)-bricks(2), despite the fact the same combo was right next door but with a 3 on the bricks.
Lachlan took a wood(9)-wood(11)-wheat(3) spot, which was ok but also not the best choice. I took an ore(11)-wheat(5)-wood(4) spot – which Lachlan should have taken – leaving me with no brick or sheep, although there was a sheep(5) hex nearby, and no 3,6 or 9. Henry’s second settlement was placed on a odd brick(9)-sheep(12)-woodport spot, when a wheat(6)-brick(3)-3 for 1 port would have been better.
The starting setup can be seen here:
The game started slowly, with a few 10s rolled, allowing Nick to build a city. Henry and Lachlan both used their first two road builds to join their two settlements together, which is a common move for newer players but almost always the wrong choice. Longest Road is the most difficult of the bonus points to hold on to, and your initial roads should almost always be placed in order to build new settlements. Henry was probably always planning to do this given his placement of his second settlement (and Lachlan may have had the same plan), but it left him nowhere good to build to later. Lachlan should have either built roads to the wood(4)-wood(11)-desert spot, or even gone for the coast, to the wheat(6)-brick(3) spot or the sheep(5)-brick(2) spot, since his biggest problem was going to be being blocked in.
I managed to build a road and settlement to the sheep(5) spot, knowing now that I would be able to control largest army and hopefully pick up a point card or two as well.
Brick was in short supply most of the game, which meant not many roads. Nick held our for a brick for the whole game, losing cards to a 7 many times, and then built it in a strange place. He built only one more road for the game.
Henry built to the wood(11)-wood(4)-desert spot, which I also had my eye on but was stymied by lack of bricks, while Lachlan built to the ore(10) coast spot with a 3for1 point.
By this time I had cities on my two start settlements and had a good resource income, resulting in development cards and control of the robber, plus a point card. I also built to the wheat port and got some useful 2 for 1 trades.
Lachlan citied his two start settlements as well, as I traded ore for brick. The game ended when I played a third soldier card for largest army but that turn I could have taken longest road as well.
The end game position can be seen here:
The biggest thing in my favour was that I had a huge section of the board to myself. The others were more cramped in together. The two boys were quite generous with their robber placement, often placing it where it would hurt no one. The rolls in this game featured five 12s and zero 2s but otherwise the rolls were evenly spread.
Apparently there was one player there who recorded each roll during her games – she did it last year too. After she does this a million times she might realise that there are no patterns in the dice rolls and that 6 and 8 come up the same amount of times, and just because there has been eight 6s and one 8 does not mean anything about the future chances of rolling a 6 or 8.
Round 2 – Saturday 12:10pm
The swiss format meant that my Round 2 game was all people who had won in Round 1. This included Jane, who announced that she lived in an ‘underwater house’ in Newcastle, referring to the floods which had happened the day before, where water was almost roof-high in places. I was stunned she was even here playing Settlers at all! Perhaps she was only renting …
I was first player, which meant I was meant to hand out the resources. However, James, the fourth player was keen to do it, so I let him because I am truly terrible at it. I think in theory it should be good to hand out the resources, because you are more aware of who is getting what, but it does not work for me.
The board was a bit mixed. The desert was on the edge, but ore was on 5, 3 and 11 and brick on 10, 4 and 2. There was an obvious spot of wheat(8)-ore(5)-wood(10) which I (blue) took. The second player was a quiet guy whose name I can’t remember, but he looked a bit like Kevin Spacey so I’ll call him Kevin. He was white, and took the other obvious spot, which was on the same wheat(8) hex as I took, with ore(3) and brick(4).
Jane (red) took a wood(9)-wood(5)-brick(10) spot, which is not a great combo, but the numbers were strong – sometimes shear quantity of resources can be as valuable as a good range and sometimes it is better to have a good range of numbers rather than a good range of resources. In fact, if you can cover the numbers 4-5-6-8-9-10 with your start settlements then it may not matter much what the resources are at all. A huge error is to try to cover all five resources only to discover that you have two 6s, two 9s and two 3s. That way, you could win the odd game very well – if your numbers come up – but you will lose a lot more.
Anyway, James may have had this in mind when he took a good spot, wheat(6)-wheat(3)-sheep(9) and then wheat(3)-sheep(8)-wood(4). This gave good wheat, with the wheat port close by, but it also left Jane with a great spot: wheat(11)-ore(3)-sheep(6). Notice that had James taken this he would have had two 6s and two 3s, which is not good, so I think he made a good decision to not go there, but he also had a point next to that one – a sheep(6)-wheat(11)-wood(5) spot, which was about as good as the spot he chose but hampered Jane more. In the end, but he was unlucky to go fourth because there were slim pickings. Still, if he could get the wheat port early it might go ok for him.
The starting setup can be seen here:
Maybe here would be a good place to discuss port strategies in general. In general, they are overdone. Port strategies form a good side option for trades once you are established, but should not be built in favour of normal settlement expansion into empty spots.
While James’ port strategy is fine for this game, the key question is where he should have built his first road: to the wheat port, or to another spot, like the wood(4)-wood(5)-desert spot which was two roads away and outside of the initial range of the other players? I think he should have taken the second option, adding a 5 to his numbers – giving him 3-4-5-6-8-9 – a solid base. By taking the port first, James limited his numbers and later expansion options.
In addition, your first road builds should not be to points which are not in contention. James’ wheat port point was never going to be challenged, so he could have made his first road build towards the wood-wood-desert point, knowing that if someone challenged for it he could have gone towards the sheep point on the coast, and then around to the brick(8) point, a resource he did not get.
In the end, you have to continually ask yourself where your 10 points are going to come from. You don’t get points from having a port.
OK, back to the game. Even after James took his second spot he put the road in the wrong direction. Road placement is tricky and 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. James chose to place his road towards the wheat(11)-wood(4)-sheep(9) spot near the middle of the board. In fact, there were three good points next to each other around the centre wheat(11) hex. The problem was that James should have expected one of them to be taken by one of the other three players, making his road useless. If you are getting lots of wood and brick you can be a bit more aggressive in going for contested spots but James has wood(4) and no brick, so he was going to lose those contests. He should have placed his road along the wood(4)-sheep(8) edge.
Jane duly took the wheat(11)-ore(3)-sheep(6) spot. Kevin made a big error in not taking the wheat(11)-wood(4)-sheep(9) spot, preferring instead to keep his settlements close to each other on a sheep(6)-ore(11)-sheep(12) spot. I am not sure what his reasoning was – probably he was planning on longest road, since his second road placement was towards his first settlement with no possible spots nearby to build a settlement. He should have realised that he would struggle for longest road with no wood hex around his start settlements and with Jane having very strong access to wood and as good access to brick.
I took a spot with sheep(9)-wood(10)-brick(2). In retrospect this was pretty stupid. Going first, I wanted a road in my starting hand so I could build towards the wheat(11)-wood(4)-sheep(9) spot which Kevin should have taken. No one else was close enough to challenge for it, but I should have simply taken it as my second spot and built back towards the spot I actually took. In the end it did not matter, as I built a settlement there quickly anyway.
Jane was a good player – I played her here and in the semi-final and she made the best of her positions and had a good feel for where the contentious spots on the board were. Kevin’s only hope was to build across to a wood(9) hex, but Jane quickly built to the same spot, and picking up a 3 for 1 port as well. That was the end of Kevin’s game there. Jane could have built to the wood(5)-wood(4)-desert hex, which would have been ok as well.
Looking at a photo of the game several turns in, I see Jane and Kevin with cities. I think there were several 3s rolled early, which game them both ore. I had also citied my first settlement, and built to the coast around the ore(5) point and a 3 for 1 point. I am not sure if I should have built to the wood(5)-wood(4)-desert point. If I had built towards the point I think Jane would have beaten me to it, since she produced more road material. In the end she took it but probably could have done so at any time.
At this point Kevin led with two cities and longest road (5 lengths), with me on 5 points (one city and three settlements), Jane on four and James on three. I had also bought two cards, of which one was a point.
I then built to the coast, and the wheat(6)-brick(2) point. James was in a position to challenge there but he simply was not getting the resources to do it. He focussed instead on upgrading his key wheat production point (6 and 3 on wheat) to a city, which he did eventually with a lot of trading. Jane grabbed the brick port, when I think she should have gone for the wood(5)-wood(4)-desert spot. She had a city and a settlement on the brick(10) hex so that was good, but either me or James could have run to that point and denied her some production.
Not that it mattered, since she got the spot not long after and joined up the roads for a 10-length road. Miraculously, Kevin had built 11 roads, with the help of a road building card and some trading, but he still had only the two cities from his start settlements. Jane and Kevin were thus engaged in a road war, which was fine by me as long as Kevin was ahead!
Meanwhile, I built another city, thanks to a Monopoly card, and bought another card which was another point, leaving me on 9.
Jane went to 7 and would have no doubt wrested longest road off Kevin at some point to go to 9, but I got lucky with another card being a point! So the game ended with me (10) from Jane (8 because she also had a point card!), Kevin (6) and James (5). Perhaps Kevin or James had a point card as well. Jane could easily have won the game had Kevin not single-mindedly chased a road strategy he had no chance of winning.
The end game position can be seen here:
This left me as one of 5 people with 2 wins. In between this game ending and the next one starting Mark taught us his new prototype game called “TV Tycoon”, which we played and all agreed it was a winner. Mark has designed a few games now and both of those I have played have been very solid. I understand he is trying to find a publisher.
Round 3 – Saturday 3:40pm
This game was without doubt the tensest I played during this tournament, and probably the highest standard. We were the top table. One player was Sam Northe, who I think has strong claims to be the best player in Australia. He was the top seed after the four rounds last year and had also won both his games this year. He narrowly missed the Grand Final last year, beaten in the semi final by Simon Plummer, the eventual winner. We had not played against each other before, but I had played his wife, Belinda, twice last year, including in the Grand Final.
The other players I had not seen before. They were Rob, a burly straight talking guy sporting an impressive moustache, and Jeff, a quiet and bespectacled who eyed us cautiously. Jeff (red) was the first player and banker, with me (yellow) second, Rob (blue) third and Sam (white) fourth.
The starting settlements can be seen here:
The board had the desert in the inside ring and most resources were on a range of numbers, except for ore, which was on a 3, 11 and 10, so it looked like it would be a long game – and it was. The other factor was that three of the wheat hexes (6, 4 and 2) were next to each other, with the fourth, a 9, on the coast, so wheat was also a possible risk.
Jeff took the most ‘solid’ spot – a wheat(9)-brick(10)-sheep(5). This was fine, but I am not so convinced about his decision on the road placement – see what you think. This left me with a difficult choice, and I agonized for a while over it – sorry guys! With the wheat(9) taken, and the wheat clump likely to be taken by one of the other players, there was a good chance that if I did not get wheat on my first settlement then I might not get it at all. On the other hand, the other resources were well represented, so there was a good chance that there would still be decent options for them remaining for my second settlement. So I took the wheat(6)-wheat(4)-sheep(3) spot, which I felt was the best option for a solid start. Looking back at the board now I am still in two minds if this was the best choice, or if I should have taken the best spot which included the ore(10) hex – with sheep(5) and brick(9).
Rob rightly took this spot and then Sam took an intriguing combo of the brick(6)-wood(11)-wood(4) and ore(10)-ore(3)-sheep(8), which left him with no access to wheat and a slim chance of ever getting access – the nearest wheat spots were at least three roads and other players were closer. However, Sam did have the best road production points, so he gave himself a chance. My guess is that Sam realised that he was in a pickle and figured longest road would be a good bet here, which was good thinking. In fact, Sam’s playing of the longest road strategy was exactly right in this game, in contrast to the players in other games I saw.
Rob’s second settlement was on the coast, on a wood(8)-brick(10) spot, which was interesting – he therefore had no wheat and his number coverage was low – 5,8,9,10 – which is very risky. He did start with a road in hand, but going third that is also risky, since a 7 could be rolled in the first two turns.
I was quite happy with my options for the second settlement. The middle of the board was still available – should I take the ore(11)-ore(3)-brick(9) spot or the ore(11)-brick(6)-sheep(5) spot? The first spot had two ore, which was attractive, but left me with two 3s, so I went for the second spot, which also gave better access to the coast and a 3 for 1 port.
Jeff made a strange choice for his second settlement – on the coast with sheep(8)-wood(4) and a 3 for 1 port – when the ore(11)-ore(3)-brick(9) spot looked much better for him. I guess he was hoping to generate ore via 3 for 1 trades on his sheep production, and have some wood production as well, but four dots on ore seems to me to be a lot better. The alternative would have left him without a 6 or 8, but his dot total would have been eight in either case. In fact, I was so sure that Jeff would take that spot that I had placed my second road in the opposite direction! Jeff’s choice of road direction was also questionable as Rob (blue) had strong motivation to build to the wood port on the ore(10) hex, given his wood(8) production.
OK, on to the game. In the early rounds I seemed to roll only 7s, which was not great, since it was unclear who the biggest threat would be – I actually placed the robber on each of the other players over three rounds, so I guess I made three enemies instead of one! Jeff began building to the wood port on the ore(10) hex. I built a road to the sheep(3)-wood(8) hex, in order to cover the 8 number and the wood resource, given I had neither. That seemed obvious at the time, but I am not so sure now, since that point was not being contested and I wonder if I would not have done better to go straight for the coast and the wheat(9)-wood(12) and 3 for 1 port spot.
Rob built to another point on his wood(8) hex, which also had a 3 for 1 port. I assume in order to up his wood production to eventually use with the wood port. However, once Jeff had begun building to the wood port spot, Rob had a real problem. I had built one road to his wood(8) hex, and could have continued building to the coast, potentially blocking his chance to build on the spot he wanted. On the other side of the board, Jeff was obviously going for his other desired spot. Should have concentrated on contesting that one as well, even if it meant delaying his first settlement build? I think so, but it’s a 50-50 decision. My gut feeling is that once Rob had built one road towards each of those points, both Jeff and I would have abandoned our more aggressive plans and gone conservative, not wishing to waste resources on options which would likely lose. In fact, I had no aim other than securing the closest point on the wood(8) hex, but Rob was not to know that.
Sam, with the weakest start position, built to the closest spot, a wood(11)-wood(12) spot on the coast. He could have gone for the ore(3)-ore(11)-brick(9) spot, but it would have required three roads, competing with both Rob and me. Sam also no doubt realised that his chances were best served by getting access to wheat, and this was the only way there. However, given the spot he built to was so bad, he could have bypassed it entirely and gone straight around the coast to the wheat hex, before either Jeff or I got there.
I built towards the much discussed ore(3)-ore(11)-brick(9) spot, since no one else seemed to want it! Jeff actually built his settlement on the wood point, before Rob could even build road in that direction. I had been doing well on the rolls – with a few 6s and not many 8s early on – which also helped Sam but not Rob or Jeff.
As the game progressed, Sam continued his long trek to the wheat(9) hex, purchasing a few cards along the way, and I built a settlement on the ore(3)-ore(11)-brick(9) spot, which put me in a very solid position. Jeff and Rob’s decisions were more interesting. Jeff could have built around the desert to the wheat(4)-ore(11) spot, but instead built around his wheat(9) hex to up his production there. Had he gone for the other option then I may have blocked him off, but I was focussing on the ore(3)-ore(11)-brick(9) spot and Jeff would have had his roads down already and I probably would not have competed for it. Rob built around his sheep(5) hex, which only gave him more production there, since he already had a 3 for 1 port. Once he had lost the ore(10) wood port spot to Jeff he would have been better served to go for the wheat(4)-wheat(2)-brick(9) spot now rather than later.
At this point my numbers dried up and helped out the others rather than me, with several 10s and 8s rolled. However, I had bought a card, which was Road Building – very useful in this context with some spots still in contention.
Rob was getting huge production now and quickly built two roads and a settlement to the wheat(4)-wheat(2)-brick(9) spot, so his earlier decision to go for the sheep(5) spot did not hurt him. In addition, Rob now could threaten longest road and the two best spots remaining on the board – the coastal wheat(6)-wheat(2)-sheep port spot and the wheat(4)-ore(11)-desert spot. I saw these possibilities, but also saw Sam edging towards the wheat hex, which I thought was a real danger, since his ore access was already the best.
I had a road in my hand, plus the Road Building card – should I place three roads down to stop Sam or Rob? In the end, I decided that I could not be guaranteed to stop Sam, since I needed three roads plus a settlement, which relied on good dice rolls on the next round, but I could be sure to stop Rob, since my roads would block him off from the two key spots completely. Rob said nothing at the time but afterward said that he felt it was the end of his chances at that point and he was probably right, since he had no access to ore and had already built five settlements. In addition, although Rob’s road production was good, he had limited places for them and would likely be unable to hold longest road, which no one had claimed so far, although Sam, Rob and Jeff had 4-length roads.
Sam had three face-down cards, which were worrying. He played one – Year Of Plenty – to get his crucial settlement on the wheat(9) hex. At this point the game changed and things moved very quickly and with great tension. Sam could build two roads to take longest road – at 7 lengths – which gave him a potential total of eight points with the rest of us on four or five. He played another soldier to add to one he already had – and bought another card – leaving him close to largest army as well.
Rob, knowing he would struggle to get cities or cards, began building a road around the ‘North’ coast, even though he had no more settlements to build, but he probably saw the Sam threat like I had.
Sam played a third solider, for largest army, and bought another card. As it turned out, both his face-down cards were points, so longest road would win the game for him. However, Rob had built roads remarkably quickly – he always seemed to have heaps of cards – and now had seven along the edge, meaning Sam had to build three roads to win. He had a turn to do it but was one card short, he explained later.
Meanwhile, Jeff built a settlement at another of the Sheep(8) spots, on the coast, going to 5 points but probably out of the running. I felt that I was still the most likely winner, provided Sam could not get the roads down.
My resource production had slowed to a near stop, but I managed to cobble two roads together and join my roads up and add another on, giving me an 11-length road, just before Sam went to 8 roads to beat Rob’s road. Sam said that his game was over and that his only chance was to take longest road at that moment – and I am sure he believed it and I did too. I also built a settlement on the sheep port to go to seven points. Sam was on eight points (assuming correctly that both of his face-down cards were points) but it was unclear where he would get two more points.
Jeff built the first city of the game, and put it on the ore(10)-only spot, which I guess made some sense, since ore was required to win, but it surely his starting spot was better – a city on an 11-dot spot must be better than a 3-dot spot, regardless of the resources? However, Jeff quickly got more ore, from his ore(10) hex and built another city on his start spot. The 10s rolled also helped Rob to a city. I rolled a seven, moving the robber back to the ore(10) hex, but everyone was moving it back to my ore(11) hex, and I missed ore production several times.
I built a settlement on my remaining vacant spot – the wheat(4)-ore(11)-desert spot, taking me to eight and finally got some ore – 3s and 11s were rare or the robber sat there – to upgrade to a city, taking me to nine points. As with Sam, it was unclear where I would get the tenth point – all 5 settlements were on the board, and ore was rare. Sam built a fifth settlement, taking him to nine points.
In the end, it came down to Sam drawing a point card, and he won – with no cities and no longest road! He had five settlements, largest army and three point cards. At the time I had three ore in my hand, needing a 6 or 4 to get the wheat to win. Or so I thought. It turned out that Jeff had a Monopoly card which he would have used to grab my ore so I was not as close as I had thought.
The end game position can be seen here:
Sam won the game simply because he kept his wits about him and never gave up. We discussed this afterwards with Simon Plummer and agreed that a key part of Settlers is simply making the game continue. If you think you are behind, then make sure the game continues for as long as possible – everyone will get to 10 points eventually. Sam had realised early on that building cities would be almost impossible for him, so whenever he got ore he bought development cards, knowing that if he got an early lead in soldiers he would be hard to stop. He had sized up the board quickly and knew what he needed to do to win.
My nine points was welcome, as it guaranteed a place in the semis, barring some horrible score of 3-ish in the last round. It was a draining, tense game and I had a bit of mind-meltdown afterwards.
In the evening Jeanette and I went along to the Hume Inn to join others for some social gaming. After a game of Tamsk, we played Power Grid with my old work colleague Ian, plus David Hawkins and a guy called Warren. It was a good game, on the Italy map, which Jeanette ended up winning by just one electro from David! She had never won before and was very pleased. Most started in the north so I started in the South, which was nice for unhampered expansion but the connection costs were high. Jeanette started in the mid-North which was a nice balance between cheap connections and room to expand out.
Round 4 – Sunday 9:30am
Back to Settlers the next day after a good-ish sleep and some coffee. I was back on the top table, again with Sam, plus two people I had not met before. They were Grant, who was quiet and perhaps a little nervous but had his game face on, and Naomi, more relaxed but still keen to win. This game was more relaxed than the third game yesterday, perhaps because most of us were pretty sure of a place in the finals.
Just before we got started, one of the organisers showed us the summary stats so far from the tournament, revealing that the player going first had won 35 per cent of games, and the player going last another 30 per cent, with third place winning only 16 per cent. I was third in this game!
Actually, I am doubtful that any position actually has an advantage – I would be interested in seeing some stats from a thousand games. Apparently at last year’s tournament third position won most games …
You can see the starting board here:
The desert was in the middle of the board, and I immediately remembered back to my semi-final last year, which also had the desert in the middle. These boards are quite different from normal, simply because the number of spots with three producing hexes is reduced to only 18, instead of 22 when the desert is on the edge. Therefore, the chance of there being only one or two good spots is increased, and in my semi-final last year there was only one good spot, which I got, giving me a big advantage.
This board was not as bad as that, but there was an obvious first spot – an ore(10)-wheat(6)-sheep(5) – which Sam (white) took. The remainder of the board was well mixed, except for ore, which was on a 10, 4 and 2. Naomi (red) took a ore(4)-wheat(3)-brick(6) spot, meaning that the two decent ore spots were gone. I chose the brick(8)-sheep(5)-wheat(3) spot, which had the best numbers but I would have preferred the 5 to be wheat instead of sheep. More important, the spot game me access to the ore(10) spot, provided no one took it.
Grant had a bunch of options, all with pros and cons. He first choice was fine – the wheat(6)-sheep(9)-wheat(12) spot which gave simple access to ore(10) and the wheat port on a double-resource spot. His second choice was debatable. He went for the wood(5)-wood(9)-sheep(5) spot, when perhaps the wheat(8)-wood(11)-sheep(10) would have been better. His choice had an extra dot, which is important, but it would have been nice to guarantee more wheat access assuming he would get the port. Another option may have been the wood(9)-wood(11)-sheep(5) spot which was worse than both the other options but led to an easy build to the wheat(8)-sheep(10) and 3 for 1 port, assuming that no one else took the spot with their starting settlements.
I took the wheat(8)-wood(11)-sheep(10) spot which Grant rejected, leaving me with two 8s, and a 5, 3, 11 and 10, plus an easy step to a wood(9) point, which was the reasoning behind the road placement – grabbing the 9 was more important than grabbing the wood hex – leaving me missing only a 4.
Naomi made a strange choice, placing her second settlement near her first – on the wood(9)-ore(4)-ore(2) spot, leaving her with weak wheat and no sheep. There was an inviting wood(4)-wood(11)-sheep(3) point available, giving access to the wheat(8)-wood(4)-ore port spot on the coast, but she chose not to take it, since it would have meant doubling up on both a 3 and 4. I think it was worth the risk – the wheat(8) spot was very strong. Sam did not hesitate to grab it, leaving him without brick, but with numbers 3,4,5,6,10,11 covered and easy access to a wheat(8) hex.
I felt that Sam and I had the best chance from the starting setup.
The first moves were predictable. Sam went for the wheat(8) and Grant and I took our spots on the ore(10), with Grant also grabbing the wheat port.
One weird thing which happened early on was that both Sam and I bought a card and both were Monopoly, and we used them in almost the same way – straight after a roll of 4 which gave Naomi two ore.
There were a couple of early 10s rolled so Grant, Sam and I built early cities, leaving Sam and Grant with a city on the wheat(8). I think this scared Naomi and me – particularly Grant’s wheat port potential – and the robber stopped his wheat(6) spot for a while. Naomi went to the wood(5) spot but then had few options and started around the coast to my brick(8) point, hoping to grab a spot there and then build to her brick port. Note that Naomi rightly was first building to the extra brick hex before building to the brick port, which no one could challenge for. In doing so, she picked up longest road, which was unlikely to be challenged by anyone other than me because the others had no road production potential.
Sam citied his second start settlement and emerged as the early threat, with a good general set-up except for brick. In fact, all of us except Grant had solid production, which was reflected in the speed of the game. Naomi citied her first settlement and then extended her road further, without actually joining the two sections up. Sam and I also built another two roads and a settlement in the obvious locations – which gave Sam only more production from hexes he already had but gave me access to the ore(4) spot – leaving the score at Naomi (7) ahead of Sam and I (6) and Grant (4).
I think by this time I had bought another card which was a point.
Naomi was headed to the sheep port on the wood(5) hex, a spot which Grant could ill-afford to lose, and he challenged and beat her to it. This slowed Naomi down a bit, which was needed as the rest of us were stymied by the robber sitting on the ore(10) hex.
Naomi joined her road segments, for one 10-length road, and we were concerned by her city and settlement on the ore(4) hex, but her wheat production was poor.
By now I had a city and settlement around the brick(8) hex, and the robber flipped between that hex and the ore(4) hex a bit. A four was rolled while it was on the brick(8) and Naomi citied another settlement, and I bought another card, which also happened to be a point! This left me on eight points, and I figured I could take longest road with a bit of luck.
There was plenty of wood in the game, so I traded an ore for a wood, and managed to get a couple more, so I only needed an 8 to be rolled, which it was, and I built three roads, to join mine up and add another one on the end to take the game.
I am not sure if the others were really expecting this – Naomi’s road looked untouchable and she did not bother to lengthen it for a while, leaving the door open for me. In fact, her last build was a road out to the coast to the brick port, which did not lengthen her road. Looking at the final board, I wonder if Naomi should have gone for the brick port around the coast rather than for the sheep port, which she missed out on. It seems like a better option, since she was getting enough wood, with a city on the 9 and settlement on the 5, and more importantly, the two roads were wasted for the purpose of settlement building and she had to build another road. Possibly I was a bit lucky that Naomi made the wrong choice here
Anyway, Naomi finished on 7, with Grant on 6 and Sam on 7. I think either Grant had a point card as well.
The end game position can be seen here:
This left me on three wins and a 9 from my four rounds – a total of 39 points which made me the top seed for the semi finals. Here are all of the qualifiers for the semi finals (the numbers are rank-wins-total points):
1 3 39 John Clark
2 3 38 Simon Mole
3 3 37 Samuel Northe
4 3 37 Rob Stevenson
5 2 37 Jeff Davies
6 2 36 James Bounsall
7 2 36 Paul Kidd
8 2 35 Jane Hosking
9 2 34 David Hawkins
10 2 34 Naomi Dixon
11 2 34 Grant Davies
12 2 34 Scott Berry
13 2 33 Dug Ridgewell
14 2 33 Rowan Flavelle
15 2 32 Lee Price
16 2 32 Mark Reich
Four more players had two wins and were unlucky to miss out, including Josh Pope, who had two wins and 32 points, but a fractionally lower ‘percentage’ than Lee or Mark, calculated by comparing your scores with those of the other players in the same games.
I was happy that Mark made it, especially since he had travelled so far – I doubt there were many other West Australians there. Ian had only one win but 34 points, which was higher than several qualifiers. Simon Plummer, last year’s champion, was hammered by the robber everywhere he went and finished well down. He should have changed his name and played in a disguise!
Semi Final – Sunday 12:10pm
The semi final draw is meant to give the top seed the ‘easiest’ game, by including players ranked 8, 9 and 16. I was a little dismayed to see I would be playing David Hawkins, who was the strongest player I had seen last year. In addition, my semi had cheerful but wily Jane Hosking, from my second round match, and my friend Mark Reich. Mark and I have probably played hundreds of times.
I was first player and banker, and did a much better job this year than in my semi final last year, which was a virtuoso performance of awful banking. The board layout had the desert on an edge, which generally means a more open game. Wheat was clearly going to be the rare resource, with numbers on 8 (edge), 2 (edge), 3 (edge) and 3. Other resources were ok, with ore on 5, 9 and 11 and brick a little risky on 6, 10 and 10.
The board layout can be seen here:
I (yellow) took far too long to eventually decide on the most obvious spot – the wheat(8)-brick(10)-wood(5) spot. Jane (red) took the ore(9)-ore(5)-sheep(6) spot. David took the ore(5)-sheep(11)-wood(4) spot. Mark chose to ensure his wheat and ore production, by placing his first settlement on wheat(8)-wheat(3)-sheep(4) – with the wheat port nearby – and his second also around the ore(5) spot, with brick(10) and the desert, which was ok since the sheep(8)-wood(4) spot was close and unlikely to be challenged. Mark said afterward that he should have placed his second settlement on the wood(9)-brick(10)-sheep(11) spot, which is arguable, but I still think he made the best choice for expansion possibilities and ore production.
David, needing wheat and bricks, took the obvious spot – a brick(6)-wheat(3)-wood(9). Jane took a spot near the middle with wood(9)-brick(10)-sheep(11), leaving me with a nice surprise of a sheep(6)-ore(11)-wheat(3) spot. I was very happy with my setup, especially given that I had an easy path to the ore(9) hex, leaving me with all resources well covered and numbers 3-5-6-8-9-10-11 covered, once I got the 9 hex.
David and Jane were both stuck with useless roads, from their second settlements. It should be a rare case when your second road is useless, since its usually pretty clear where the last two people will roughly go. David and Jane should have realised that their roads were pointing in a direction which I would most likely take. I guess they would have been kicking themselves if they placed their roads in a different direction to then see me take a different spot from expected, but it seemed pretty clear that the sheep(6)-ore(11)-wheat(3) spot would be taken by someone.
David had the full range of resources, with wheat(3) his weakest, and numbers 3-4-5-6-9-11, and an 8 close by, but with no hope of ever getting a 10. His setup was only marginally worse than mine, given his dud road.
Jane was completely locked out of wheat – a big problem – but even worse was that her numbers were 5-6-9-10-11, with no possible access to 3, 4 or 8, so her production would wax and wane. She had an easy first settlement – to the ore(9)-brick(10)-wood port spot – but her options after that were not good.
Mark had good resource coverage, but his numbers were even worse than Jane’s – 3,4,5,8,10 – with no chance of ever getting a 6, 9 or 11.
The game started with me starting to the ore(9) spot, Jane building to her ore(9)-brick(10)-wood port spot, and David and Mark both to different points on the sheep(8) hex.
Jane then did something wily but risky – she built past her obvious spot on the coast, around the ore(9) hex, setting up a possible settlement build at a point opposite her other settlement there, which would stop me from building on that hex. I had got my roads down already, but I had to do a very generous trade with David (I think) in order to get the settlement there on my turn. I think it was worth the risk for Jane – in the end she only wasted a road for the possibility of doing huge damage to my game – and she must have realised that she was in a difficult start position, requiring some risk-taking.
David quickly built his first settlement, giving him all numbers except a 10 – and whenever a 10 was rolled his face fell, as mine did whenever there was a 4 rolled.
Mark also built his first settlement on the sheep(8) hex, which was the right choice, although he must have been tempted to go first to the grab the wheat port, or even head out to the ore(11)-sheep(4)-3 for 1 port spot. All those options were ok, since the wheat port spot could have been challenge by me.
I bought an early card – a soldier – for a bit of robber protection, figuring that the wheat(8) was a likely target, which it was. We had a couple of 4s rolled, which helped Mark and David build roads and their fourth settlements – Mark on the wheat port and David on the sheep(8) hex again at the brick port.
Meanwhile, Jane joined her roads to take longest. While this would not normally be good play, since it did not help her with production, David could have easily killed Jane’s quest for longest road with one road placement – along the edge between the sheep(6) and sheep(11) hexes. David probably should have done this after he built his first settlement, since longest road was always going to be a contest between him and Jane. So, it was already clear where the tensions were in the game – David and I would probably fight it out through a standard set up of settlements and cities, with David trying to get longest road for the win, and me trying for largest army.
Jane and Mark simply had to keep the game going for as long as possible, hoping to get lucky in a blanket finish. For me, everything hinged on Jane hanging onto longest road, so both Mark and I did some generous trades with her. Jane realised that she was not really advancing her own cause and was stuck in the middle, but here was not much else she could do and it would have been frustrating for her.
At this point things dried up for David. There was a 9 and 11 rolled and Jane citied her second settlement, which was her main road production, and I citied my first settlement. The robber bounced back between the wheat(8) hex and the ore(5) hex, which helped everyone but me, but it mostly sat on the wheat(8) hex, and Mark and I were denied a lot of production. I muddled to the wood(5)-3 for 1 port spot, which was useful.
A 3 was rolled and David picked up the wheat required to get his own city, but at this point I was still reasonably confident. David seemed to be unsure what to do, given that Jane had the edge on the road and I had the edge on soldiers. What he did was attack us on both fronts as his production got going again. He bought two cards, and played one soldier, moving the robber back (again) to the wheat(8), and then began an aggressive road building project to around the brick(6) hex.
This was a real worry. At one point David had equalled Jane’s road and Mark and I had to trade again with her to keep her road going. I bought a card, which was Road Building – the least useful card I could have drawn!
Everyone realised David was threatening the win and the robber went on him momentarily, but he played a second soldier and returned the robber to the wheat(8) hex. I bought another card, which was Year Of Plenty! Its always a welcome card, but less so in this situation.
The biggest problem for me was more subtle. With a stupid Road Building card face down, everyone assumed that it was a point card, and so the robber went on me. I should have played it, just to reveal that it was not a point. I played my soldier to take largest army, taking me to eight points, although they all assumed I was on nine.
With David having a lot of production he citied another settlement – on the ore(5) spot – and Jane did the same, taking her to seven points. David quickly followed with two more roads and a settlement, going to eight points, with two soldiers down and being very close to longest road. Meanwhile, I bought another card soon after, which finally was a soldier, which made me feel just a little better.
I took largest army, going to eight points. With the Road Building card I knew that I could get another settlement pretty easily, but knowing that David could win at any time, I bought two more development cards, hoping for a point, or at least a Year Of Plenty or Monopoly to help me get a city for the final point. Both were Soldiers. One Soldier would have been ok, since I was still worried about largest army, but two was very bad.
Now I had three down-turned cards, so everyone figured I had to have a point card.
Jane built three more roads, to make it impossible for David to take longest road, so that was good. She also built her third city to go to eight points, with two settlement spots readily available. David built another settlement, to go to nine points, all on the board.
On my next turn, I used Road Building and built two more roads and a settlement on the ore(11)-sheep(4) spot. Everyone held their breath and waited for me to flip over a point card and declare ten points, but it did not happen.
Next turn, David had two ore, two wheat and two sheep. Knowing that it may be his final chance, he bought two cards, and the second was a point, so he won in dramatic fashion.
Final scores were David (10), me (9), Jane (8) and Mark (7 with two point cards).
The end game position can be seen here:
This game was not as tense as my third round game but it was good fun. Mark was pretty much out of it from about half way through. I don’t think he did anything wrong strategically that I could see, although I obviously could not see all the trading decisions. The same goes for Jane, who seemed to play as good a game as she could in the circumstances.
I was very happy with my final result in the tournament. In my five games I had a total of 48 out of 50 possible points, which is as good as I could have hoped for! Not making the final was a little disappointing, since I was very close, but David was a deserving winner, and made it through to his second final in two years.
The top seeds failed to progress in three of the four semi finals, with only Rob Stevenson going through. Sam Northe was also very close to winning his semi final, finishing on 9 and apparently was the victim of a bad mistake by another player.
Since writing this, Grant (one of my opponents from Game 4) gmailed me with the following details, which clear up the situation a bit more:
"I read in your report you mentioned that Sam missed out on the finals due to a bad mistake by another player, which was me. I don't think that's entirely true though. The situation was quite interesting. Rowan needed to reclaim the LR to get the victory, and his turn was after mine. If he didn't get the LR, Sam probably would have won that round. If Sam didn't win, James would have won that round. I was dead regardless of the situation - stranded on 8 I think. I flipped over my only DC that turn for all to see - a Road Building. I declared it as useless to me. It sat there for a while, and neither James nor Sam suggested I play it and close up Rowan's road. Doing so would have effectively ended Rowan's game. So in truth we all missed what was quite obvious in hindsight, and very obvious to Rowan at the time! Even if I'd seen it, though, I doubt I would have played the card - to hand the game to another player "because I can" seems a bit poor-spirited, because to me it made little difference who won.
Reflecting on it later, I had a thought of what I might have done had I seen the opportunity. I could have offered to play the RB and close up Rowan's road, if James and Sam traded me all cards in their hands - giving me an opportunity perhaps to buy 2 DCs and hope for VPs! It may have made for a more interesting finale at least!"
End Aside note]
Other than David and Rob, the two other finalists were Lee Price and Rowan Flavelle, who had both just scraped into the finals, which goes to show how anything can happen.
I did not watch the final all of the time, but I took periodic pictures so can work out roughly how it went.
The board had the desert in the middle ring of hexes. All resources had some good numbers, with sheep (6, 3, 3 and 12) as the worst, which pointed to a fast game. Ore was on 8, 5 and 9, although the 8 was tucked behind the desert, and wheat on 8, 9, 4 and 4.
You can see the board and initial placements here:
Rob (white), chose first, taking the obvious ore(5)-wheat(9)-wood(10) spot, and David (blue) followed with the ore(9)-wood(5)-brick(10) spot. I am not saw which spot Rowan (yellow) chose first, but both his choices were strange options, since he did not take the obvious ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) or the wheat(8)-brick(10)-sheep(3) spots with either. Instead, he had ore(8), wood(10), brick(6), wheat(4) and wood(2). The key thing for Rowan was that there were three decent ore spots left, so he would get one of them regardless of where Lee went. I think he should have gone for the wheat(8)-brick(10)-sheep(3) spot, figuring Lee would leave him with either a 5 or 9 for ore and some other reasonable numbers.
Lee (red) took the wheat(8)-brick(10)-sheep(3) spot and then ignored the ore entirely, preferring the wheat(4)-wood(11)-sheep(6) spot, with her settlements close together. She therefore had only wheat, sheep and brick, and her number coverage was only fair, with 3,4,6,8 and 10. She also placed her settlements on their sides, which looked weird.
David was in a real bind with his second settlement – there were no good places at all. He really need wheat, and there were three options: straight on the coast, on a wheat(8)-wheat(4)-ore port spot; a wheat(9)-sheep(12)-wood port spot on another coast; wheat(4)-sheep(3)-desert, which he went for, on the basis that it provided easy access to the ore(8) hex. This was good thinking, but I think he may have done better with the first option, or with the ore(5)-brick(11)-sheep(6) spot, and built towards the wheat(9) hex as his first build. This was a very safe option, as Rob’s second settlement would not have blocked him, and David’s road production was the best of everyone.
Rob took this spot, leaving him with all resources covered and numbers 5,6,9,10,11, but no change of 8 or 4.
The gaping hole in the board was the unclaimed ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot, and everyone had placed their roads away from it, assuming that someone else would take it! This left Rowan and David with tough decisions – build straight towards this spot to claim it early – requiring two roads and a settlement – or take the safer option, solidifying their position with a road-settlement towards the coast. This second option was attractive for them both, since it gave Rowan the brick port and David the ore(8) hex. However, neither of these spots were really in contention – and could be returned to later – but the person who got the ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot would have a huge advantage.
Rowan built the first road, revealing his hand by building towards the coast. At this point David should have build towards the ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot and taken it – the fact that he did not ended his game at that moment.
Lee built towards the coast as well, to the wood(11)-wheat(4) spot, when she would have been much better served by building towards the same ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11). She had the added advantage of having a secondary spot – the ore(9)-sheep(3)-brick(11) spot – to take if it looked like she would not make it to the best target.
Rob built towards the sheep(6)-sheep(12)-wood(11) spot, also ignoring the bounty in the middle of the board. It seems like there was some serious nerves at play here and everyone went for the very safe options.
I am not sure what happened after this, because the next photo I have has Lee with a city on her start settlement, which is amazing since she had no ore production and had not bought a development card. Perhaps someone can fill in the details there. Rob had citied both his start settlements, and had a settlement on the wood(10)-3 for 1 spot on the coast. Rowan had a city as well, so there must have been a truckload of ore come into the game around this time.
Meanwhile David had built past the ore(8)-sheep(3) spot to the 3 for 1 port and built a settlement there. This was another strange decision, since he could have built the settlement on the closer spot and then gone for the ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot in the middle. The loss of the 3 for 1 port was no big deal since he had access to another on the other side of the board on the wood(5) hex. His reasoning may have been to prevent Rowan from building on the ore(8) hex, but it also allowed Rowan valuable time for another project.
Having done this, David started towards that fateful ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot, just as Rowan was heading there too, so it was a race – which should never have been if either of them had made that their original target. Both of them built roads to the spot and Rowan got the settlement down, ending David’s hopes there.
However, it looked like neither of them would be figuring in the end, since Rob citied his third settlement and built a settlement plus two cards, to go to at least seven points – three cities, a settlement and up to two additional points.
Lee citied her second start settlement and continued building roads in either direction but did not yet join them up in middle.
Rob played two Soldiers over the next two turns, taking control of the robber and hitting Lee’s brick(8) hex. He bought another card – if it was a Soldier he would win on the next turn. It wasn’t a Soldier or a point – I think it may have been Year Of Plenty, which helped him city another settlement, giving him nine points. It was a odd decision, since buying another card (or two) seemed to be a better guarantee of winning – he had four cities down and a settlement, and would need two roads and a settlement to go to ten. Perhaps he had no sheep.
In addition, Rob had built a road to start filling the gap between his two start spots, so he threatened longest road as well.
Lee had also built third city, leaving her on eight points and only needing two roads for longest, so she most likely would win on her turn. David had five points on the table plus a face down card, but he also had a six length road, which could go only to a maximum of eight lengths. Rob was probably not going to win on his next turn, barring a lucky card draw, but Lee was almost certain to win on her next turn. Everyone’s best option was to help David build two roads in order to force Lee to build three more for the win.
Alternatively, Rowan also had a five-length road which could have gone on a long way, but he was already on seven points, so handing him longest road was too risky. As it happened, David built a city, Rowan did nothing and Lee built her two roads to take the championship.
The end game position can be seen here:
As I did not see every bit of the game it is hard to comment accurately, but I felt that Rob and David both had their chances to win. Had David built to the middle at the start of the game he would have taken that crucial spot and then been in an excellent position to hold longest road, taking Lee out of the running, and well as generate much more production. It is still debatable if he could have beaten Rob to ten points, but he would have been in with a chance.
Rob, on the other hand, seemed to be a bit unsure of what strategy to employ for his ten points – he dabbled with longest road, largest army and the straight ten points on the board – and in the end achieved none of these. My feeling is that he should have pushed for more development cards earlier, perhaps delaying a city build, but ensuring largest army, robber control and perhaps picking up a point card as well. Of all four players, he seemed to have the best chance of winning from the start, despite all of my comments on the ore(9)-wheat(4)-brick(11) spot.
Rowan never seemed to be quite in the running. It seems that there might have been more 8s than 6s rolled, giving Rowan ore but not the crucial bricks he needed for his port.
However, after all of that Lee was a deserving winner. She managed ten points from a difficult starting position, and must have pulled off some canny trades to do it. By coincidence (or maybe not), she is the sister of Dennis Bodman, who won the Carcassonne championship last year. Interestingly, the two Carcassonne finalists this year were brother and sister, so there were lots of family connections.
The thing that struck me during my semi final was that, although I had played five tough games of Settlers over the weekend and was mentally burnt out, I was still not sick of playing the game. The more I play the more I realise that there are still unexplored aspects to the game – it is a genuinely deep game, with many layers of complexity which are sometimes not clear to casual players.
I am still not sure how to best identify a good trade against a so-so trade, which is probably obvious in this report as I discussed many aspects of board control – which is my strength – but nothing on trading (this was also partly because I was writing this while referring to photos which include no info on trading). I still don’t keep a good enough track of who has picked up which cards. These things require more games than I have played – and I must be getting up to 400 by now.
Anyway, the best thing about the tournament was playing tremendously fun games against competitive but friendly players. No one moaned or complained about their numbers not coming up or the robber being placed on them – we all understood that these things are part of the game. I still believe that good strategy can overcome the luck of the dice or the board layout in most cases – I hope some of this has come out in this monster report – and those Settlers nay-sayers simply have not played the game enough.
A final comment on the organisation of the tournament, which was excellent. It was efficiently run with a minimum of fuss. I will be back next year for sure!
- Last edited Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:27 am (Total Number of Edits: 10)
- Posted Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:24 am
May you find the Perfect Shoe! xxx
Mostly offline, but trying.
I didn't see you this year (probably because I tanked in round 1 and never recovered). Maybe next year
I was the person who records the dice rolls - not because I think it will tell me anything about the game at all - but because we have got into the habit of doing it when we play at home with our 8 year old. We're teaching her about expected results (and that they won't happen over one game, but that over several games the picture moves closer to what is expected).
I've found that the interesting side-effect is that everyone wants to know what the numbers were - and that our perception of 'OMG there are so many 9s this game' is not always correct. It does give some perspective to the game and a bit of consolation for those of us that did not have the foresight to place our markers on the 11s and 12s that would come up more than the 5s or 6s ...
yeah, I saw you around but never caught up and am sorry we did not get to play in the Settlers tournament. The guy who told me about your dice roll recording did not know your name and also said that you had done this last year as well - which was wrong since you did not do it in the game we played, if I remember correctly.
Recording numbers for a educational exercise sounds like a good idea.
May you find the Perfect Shoe! xxx
Mostly offline, but trying.
Of course, the other use is when you are holding one of the (very scarce) grain cards and somebody who is about to move the robber says, "now is there any grain in the game?" - and you can point to the stats and say, "oh no, it has only come up twice in the whole game"
Phew - good to read that I didn't make any blatantly silly moves that would make me famous for all the wrong reasons!
I agree with your closing remarks regarding the skill in Settlers - 48 out of 50 points in top seeded tables, and two out of two semi-final appearances is a mightily skillful effort John! Maybe you'll grab that elusive title next year ...
Very interesting report, thanks for putting it up. Although not a hard-core devotee of Settlers, it's always interesting to see the thought process of someone seriously into a game. Maybe I should dig up some of my old tournament reports for Legend of the Five Rings. I wonder what you think of Settlers on X-box live? It's a very convenient way to play a LOT Of games. I've only had it for a few weeks, but I've played almost 70 games, and I can see myself improving greatly.
"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" - Theodosius Dobzhansky
There is grandeur in this view of life, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
[update - BGG admin seems unwilling to post most of the pictures, stating that they are too similar to others alrady here. I have asked them to let the pictures through because they accompany this report, but if they do not I will have to post them offsite. If you would like to see the pics, send me a geekmail including your regular email address and I will send them. If you would like to volunteer to post the 12 pics up on your website then I am very keen to hear from you!]
You can post them to your personal gallery (it's not modded and no geekgold is awarded) and link to them there.
Silly me - thanks Marshall, I have done this now!
Hi John. Nice report.
An ounce more luck and it would have been you in the final and not me. Your buying of dev cards would normally have been more fruitful. I guess I got lucky.
Re the final, yep, I think I agree with you. I did muck up the final, and should have left the 8 ore for later and concentrated on the second wheat spot, but easy for me to decide in hindsight.
Credit to Lee for her placements, I really though my wheat would have been able to come from one of those, but alas not to be.
There's always next year....... hang on! That's what I said last year!
Oh well. What can you do. It was still great fun.
Nice to catch up with you again!
Look forward to toughing it out again next year.
Thanks for a brilliant report. It was very informative. I am running a Settlers of Catan Nationals tournament here in South Africa next week so I am grabbing all the info I can get my grubby little paws on. There is not enough time to get sponsorship from the local powers-that-be to send a player to Essen this year but we are hoping to get enough support to send someone next year.
Were there certificates handed out for the first four places and if so what did they look like? Are there certificates handed out at the world championships? I would like an idea so that I can do the same with our tournament. If there are no certificates at all then I will not bother with them here.