Settlers Of Catan (1995) by Klaus Teuber can be a difficult game to win consistently.
There are so many different ways to win, that it’s difficult to decide what to do on your turn. But there ARE ways to improve your strategy for Catan.
The best strategy for Catan is to:
Starting Roads & Settlements Strategy
Where you place your initial two settlements and roads is important, because it determines the resources you receive for the rest of the game.
The pips on the counters tell you which numbers are most likely to be rolled, from ‘6’ and ‘8’ to ‘2’ and ‘12’.
The most likely dice roll is ‘7’, which moves the robber.
Central to a winning Settlers Of Catan strategy is:
So if two settlements give you wood, sheep, wheat, ore and brick and are each on numbers 5, 6 and 9 then you have a great pair of placements.
The roads out of your initial settlements should point to where you want to build next.
If you want to win Longest Road, the roads out of your initial settlements should face toward each other.
Key Catan Strategy - Establish The Most Common Resource Production
Change what you build, from game to game, based on which resources are most common.
e.g. If ‘6’ and ‘8’ hexes both produce ore and wheat resources, build cities.
Or, if ‘6’ and ‘8’ hexes produce resources of wood and brick, build roads.
Harbour Port Strategy To Increase Trading Opportunities
Consider building a harbour straight away to provide more trading opportunities.
If a harbour port allows trading sheep at 2:1 and your main settlement is on two (or even three!) sheep hexes, other resource types are not needed, since the harbour can be used to trade for necessary resources.
For the best chance of winning Catan, understand the board layout in advance.
Understand which resources have the greatest probability of being produced, even before the game begins.
Start by obtaining a plentiful supply of as many different resources as possible.
Strategy For Initial Placement In Settlers Of Catan
Watch this video by DyLighted for an in depth discussion of the thought processes behind initial placement in Catan.
Trading Commodities Strategy
Accept a slightly less favourable trade, occasionally, if it means that your strongest opponent doesn’t benefit.
e.g. Would you rather:
If your main opponent also benefits from your trading, then your net gain is zero.
Bank And Ports Strategy
If a port allows you to trade any resource at 3:1, consider trading using the port instead of trading with another player.
Trading with a port is expensive but it ensures that no opponents benefit.
Trading with ports works well if you have access to a large amount of one specific resource.
Trade with the bank at 4:1 is expensive, but may be necessary to prevent an opponent from winning.
A port that allows trading a resource at 2:1 ratio should always be used.
Trading at 2:1 is a good investment because it provides a good exchange rate on your resources as well as reducing resources for other players.
Good Catan Strategy Means Listening To Other Players
Listen to everything that is going on at the table.
When people are talking about trades, they are telling you the cards they are playing with!
It may well tell you what they are thinking of building, and what they are hoarding.
Some players accumulate cards to spend resources on expensive cities or settlements.
But, each time the robber lands on one of your resource hexes, if you are over the hand limit, you lose cards. Always spend resources and build consistently, if you can.
However, if you roll a 7 to activate the Robber, place the Robber in hexes which affect the player in the lead, to help the rest of the playing group, the most.
Development Cards Strategy
The development deck contains Knights and Victory Points.
Knights allow building towards winning the Largest Army card, and they can also fend off the robber and take a resource from another player.
Victory Points are less frequent in the card deck, but can mean you win or lose the game.
Other development cards are Monopoly and Year Of Plenty.
Longest Road Or Largest Army Strategy Tips
Gaining the Longest Road or the Largest Army scores 2 victory points, and it also gives you an advantage over the player from whom you took it.
If you have 5 points and the holder of Longest Road has 9 and is in the lead - if you take it from them you will both have 7 points, so their lead over you has gone from 4 points to nothing.
Catan starts with 2 points on the board, and players need another 8 to win, so gaining the Longest Road or Largest Army can improve chances of winning substantially.
Cities multiply the resources returned from a hex.
A city produces two resources when its hex is rolled. If there is more than one city on a hex then it produces multiples of that resource.
Cities also generate one point when built.
Be aware of other players building cities to take advantage of the victory points they generate.
Since settlements cannot be built next to each other, a player can deliberately block certain spaces on the board by building roads into the path of opponents settlements.
Dice Roll Strategy
While 6, 7, and 8 are the most likely dice roll results, in some games, dice rolls are more random.
When dice rolls do not benefit you, have confidence that results will return to average.
If dice rolls are not beneficial for you, you may be unable to do much on your turn...in which case you should trade with other players as much as possible.
Settlers Of Catan - 4th vs 5th Edition
The essence of Catan strategy is in the box art change between Settlers of Catan 4th .v. 5th edition.
In the 5th edition, the words "trade", "build," "settle," are seen for the first time, making the objectives of Catan clear to new players.
The Settlers Of Catan Expansion Packs
Expansion Packs like Seafarers (1997) or Cities & Knights (1998) increase the variety and replayability of Catan strategy you can use in one game, as expansions change key rules and interactions in the game.
Using The Settlers Of Catan Expansion Packs, rules of the base game change.
Resources are produced in different amounts, therefore strategies for winning change too.
Catan Strategy Recap
In Catan there are multiple ways to grab victory points. No single strategy will guarantee you win the game.
This strategy video by Legendary Tactics mentions many of the things I have talked about here, and is definitely worth watching to increase your chances of winning.
Plan from the beginning of the game, trade well, attack leading players, avoid the robber, and always adjust to dice rolls by trading with other players.
These guidelines will maximise your chances of winning Settlers of Catan: