How To Win Settlers Of Catan Seafarers

The Catan: Seafarers expansion opens up the world of Catan, expanding the base game with a wide variety of new options.

It also presents an approach to Catan that is based on scenarios rather than a standard board layout, which introduces new ways of gaining extra victory points and makes every play different.



How to win a game of seafarers settlers of catan

Plan your game from the very start – gather information, trade aggressively. Pick strong positions at the start, keep your hand size small, trade with weaker players and keep your options open to seize any advantage possible.

How do you win catan seafarers every time?

Any game of Catan with the Seafarers expansion will include a considerable amount of luck, most obviously from the dice rolls in each player’s turn.

Although there is a great amount of skill involved in playing the game, which can tip the odds of victory in a strong player’s favour, the luck factor means that it is impossible to win a game of Seafarers every time.

Focus on where skill makes a difference

It is possible to win more than your fair share of Seafarers games by adopting an approach which minimises the effects of the random elements of the game.

Taking care to focus on the areas of the game where skill comes into play will enable a strong player to overcome the short-term disadvantages of a shortage of resources or the appearance of the robber or pirate and allow them to emerge from bad luck with a strong chance of victory.

Place yourself in the best position from the start

In any play of Catan, whether of the base game or with the Seafarers expansion, the decision that will have the greatest effect on your chances of success is where to build settlements at the start of the game.

Each player gets to build a first settlement on one of the land tiles on the main island, together with a road or ship, and then they are allowed to build a second settlement and a new ship or road, again on the main island, but this time in reverse player order.

Assess the benefits of coastal placements

This means that the player who has the pick of the map at the start of the game will place their second settlement last, while the player who places their first settlement last gets to place their second one immediately afterwards.

You should also assess the benefits of building on the coast, as the advantages of owning a harbour or being able to head out directly to sea might outweigh the loss of resources in certain scenarios.



Make your initial settlements work together

Whether you are able to place each settlement one after the other or not, it is critical to make them work together, and to ensure that they give you a good chance of reaping the resources that you need.

Because the initial settlements are so important in getting a player’s resource engine running they need to be linked to an overall strategy for the game.

Work out what each scenario rewards

Strategy in Seafarers should always be linked to the requirements of the specific scenario being played.

Certain scenarios reward exploration across sea hexes while others can give special victory points for conquest or trading, discovering the pirate island, or exploring the smaller islands on the board.

Other scenarios place an emphasis on sea routes by heading out for new shores or discovering a forgotten tribe.

There is even a scenario which is based on building a Wonder of Catan, and in this and any of the other scenarios you need to plan your route through the game from the moment you begin to think about your starting positions.

Each land hex is valuable for the resources it produces, while each sea hex allows you to strike out for new territory, but their relative values change according to the scenario.

Plan your first settlements according to the scenario you are playing

Decide before placing your first settlement which resources are going to be the most useful for gaining victory points in the scenario you are playing and try to build on those hexes, especially if the number tokens promise to be productive.

The number tokens could also point to a winning strategy, a particularly productive ore hex pointing toward a city building route, for example.


catanseafarers midgame

Go for Development Cards for possible extra points

Development cards are a great way of gaining extra benefits, whether as one-off abilities or as a means of working towards achievement cards.

Something like the Road Building card can be saved until it is needed and then used to strike out towards a new position, blocking other players if necessary.

Knights serve a double purpose

Each Knight card can be useful for getting rid of the robber, but it can also help towards gaining points for the Largest Army.

There are also extra victory points in the development deck, and while there are not many of these, they can make a real difference to the way a game plays out.

Cities are always useful

Improving a settlement to become a city is always a useful tactic in Seafarers and base Catan, because doing so not only gains a victory point but also confers an advantage for the rest of the game.

While the extra victory point gained by building a city is always helpful, it is the city’s ability to gain double the number of resources from the hex on which it is built that makes this such a powerful option.

Each player only has four cities, so they need to be placed carefully, but having all four of them on the board means that resources will be plentiful, as well as representing eight points.

Weigh up the benefits of special victory points

Different scenarios will introduce new ways to earn victory points, and all of these opportunities should be weighed up for the benefits that they offer.

It is always useful to have an overall strategy for each game, but gathering up spare victory points here and there will usually make the difference between victory and defeat.

For example, if a scenario offers a special victory point for settling on a new island then this should be considered as long as the expense of that point in terms of resources and time is not too high.

catanseafarersboxart rear

Gain the Longest Trade Route or Largest Army if you can

The Longest Road card from the original Catan game does not exist in the Seafarers expansion – instead this card has been replaced with the Longest Trade Route.

A trade route is similar to the longest road, but consists of any linked series of roads and ships, although they can only join to each other via a settlement built on the coast.

Stealing an achievement can be worth a four point swing

Both the Longest Trade Route and the Largest Army card are worth two points, which is a significant proportion of the number needed to win a game.

Even though either of the achievement cards is worth two points, taking it from another player, especially somebody who is in the lead, represents a four point swing in your favour.

Open shipping routes are always useful

It is important also to remember that the rules state that any ship which is unattached at one end – usually the last ship on a route – has the flexibility to move to another hex on your turn, which means that you can be imaginative with where you build a trade route.

Taking a redundant ship and adding it to nearby ships can open up a shipping route.

Effectively, moving the open end of a shipping route is like adding a brand new ship to another position.

Always stay ahead of the robber or pirate

There is nothing a player can do to avoid either the robber or the pirate when a 7 is rolled, but losing half your cards when this happens is a disaster.

It may be tempting to try to store up cards in order to go on a building spree, but the impact of the robber in Catan means that a player should always be building or spending as they go along.

Trade and build to keep your hand size small

In a game with four players keeping a small hand size can be difficult to do and will require some imaginative trading, but at the very least you should try to spend as much as you can on your own turn.

Sometimes this means that you may have to build ships instead of roads, or buy a development card instead of upgrading a settlement to a city, but this is still better than losing half of your cards.

Trade to your benefit

It seems an obvious point, but a player should always trade to their advantage in any game of Catan.

Whether you are following a strategy that builds one settlement after another before turning them into cities or adding ships to sea hexes in order to explore new islands, every trade should be designed to bring you closer to that goal.


Trade with the weakest player

If at all possible, trading should be done with the weakest player at the table as they pose less of a threat than players who are closer to winning.

Giving a resource card to a player four points behind you is much less dangerous than helping somebody who is level with you or ahead on victory points.

Use the information at the table

Even when you are not trading you should be listening to all the information at the table.

Not only do trade negotiations tell you what somebody has – they also tell you what they need.

Work out what your opponents are doing

If you know what resources a player needs you might be able to guess what their next moves may be, which can allow you to block their plans.

For example, a player who is trading for wheat and ore is probably looking to develop their settlements and turn them into cities, while other combinations could suggest ship building.



Before the start:

  • Minimise the luck and maximise the skill
  • Place yourself in the best position from the start
  • Find out what the scenario rewards
  • Place your initial settlements so that they kick start your strategy
  • Make sure that your initial settlements work together

During the game:

  • Development Cards should always be part of your strategy
  • Cities are strong options for maximising the resources you earn
  • Stealing achievement cards can represent a four point swing in your favour
  • Always be aware of open shipping routes

When trading:

  • Spend and trade aggressively to keep your hand size too small for the robber or pirate to attack
  • Listen to all the conversation at the table to work out what your opponents need and what their strategies might be
  • Trade with the weakest player, if possible

Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.
Image credit, license, No changes made.

About the author

James Declan discovered board gaming via a one hour sesh trying to escape Forbidden Island with his daughter and has never looked back.