

As we all know, there are 18 resource tiles in Catan, distributed so:
Wood  4 Wheat  4 Sheep  4 Ore  3 Brick  3
So, normally Ore and Brick are the relative rarities. However, sometimes the layout makes some other resource much rarer. An experienced player can quickly eyeball this  "Aha, the wood tiles are 3,4, 11 and 12. Wood will be rare! Better grab that 4Wood quickly!" But it's possible to be more rigorous about this by counting pips.
There are 58 pips in the game (count 'em), with each representing a 1/36 chance of rolling that number on any given roll. So, the number 4 has 3 pips, so it has a 3/36 or 1/12 chance of coming up with each roll.
Well then, consider this distribution of numbers (from an actual game):
Wood  5, 9, 10, 12 Wheat  4, 6, 6, 8 Sheep  3, 3, 8, 11 Ore  4, 9, 10 Brick  2, 5, 11
Let's convert those numbers into pips:
Wood  4 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 12 Wheat  3 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 18 Sheep  2 + 2 + 5 + 2 = 11 Ore  3 + 4 + 3 = 10 Brick  1 + 4 + 2 = 7
This board is drowning in wheat  wheat will come up almost every third roll. That tells us that (for instance) grabbing the wheat port early might be a good investment. But this game is a bit poor in sheep, and absolutely starving for brick.
Consider this: the average number of pips/tile is 58/18 or 3.22. So, in a normal game, the three "common" resources (Wood, Grain, Sheep) should have about 4 x 3.22 or 1213 pips each, while the two "rare" resources (Brick, Ore) should have 3 x 3.22 or 910 pips each. Double that range to 1114 for common and 811 for rare. If a resource falls outside of that range, it's either unusually common, or unusually rare, and you should adjust your strategy accordingly.
Again, this is just formalizing something that experienced players already do  but hey, counting pips only takes a moment, and sometimes you want to know just *how* rare or common something is.
Doug M.



Additional wrinkle: in that game, I was able to get a number of good trades off sheep. Yes, really. Apparently people saw there was an 8Sheep tile and dismissed sheep. Because when are sheep ever in demand? So I built there, and then nobody else put a settlement on the 8Sheep until quite late in the game. Since the other sheep tiles were 3, 3 and 11, for most of the game I was the goto guy for "that one sheep you really need to build your settlement". And I was able to charge accordingly.
Doug M.



Anyway: the minimum and maximum possible number of pips is 415 for rare resources, and 620 for common ones. For rare resources, less than 6 / more than 13 pips would be extremely unusual, and 67 or 1213 are odd enough to be noteworthy. For the common resources, the maximum and minimum number of pips is 6 and 20; less than 9 or more than 17 would be quite strange.
Doug M.



I was wondering what you meant when counting pips... Now I realize there are pips printed under the numbers in the Mayfair edition pictures. That's not the case for most nonUS versions of the game, a majority of them being based on the Kosmos edition, which doesn't have them (It has bigger/smaller numbers instead).
Since your flag is german, though, I'm wondering... Is there a Kosmos version with pips that I'm not aware of ?



A great bit of formalism. I always navigated this by "feel"  after enough plays you kinda have a gut feeling based on numbers



vormuir wrote: Anyway: the minimum and maximum possible number of pips is 415 for rare resources, and 620 for common ones. For rare resources, less than 6 / more than 13 pips would be extremely unusual, and 67 or 1213 are odd enough to be noteworthy. For the common resources, the maximum and minimum number of pips is 6 and 20; less than 9 or more than 17 would be quite strange.
Doug M.
Played the slowest game of catan I've ever played the other day. 5 pips for brick.
two 2s and a 1.
And the 2s were on the coast.
Was wheat rich.


