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How To Win Settlers Of Catan In Style: The Ulitmate Stratergy Guide From the University of Catan

Updated on May 28, 2018

Catan: Concept and Scoring

Catan is a trading board game created by German board game desiger Klaus Teube. It's a three to four player game in which players must settle the newly discovered island of Catan. Players must trade recoucres (wood, sheep, brick, stone and wheat) in order to build settlements, cities and roads.

The winner is the first player who gets to 10 points. Players cannot be elimiated so you always have a chance to win. The 10 points can be made up of any of the below methods of scoring but note that the set does not contain enough settlement pieces to allow you to win by building 10 settlements (not that there would be enough room on the board).

I recommend exclaiming the word 'catan' upon realising 10 points and winning the game. The game is scored as follows:

  • Road = 0 points
  • Settlement = 1 point
  • City = 2 points
  • 'longest Road' = 2 points*
  • 'Largest Army' = 2 points*
  • Development cards = 1 points (Such as the University of Catan)

*There can only be one of these awarded. In the event your army/road is no longer the longest or largest you loose the points

Settlers of Catan box
Settlers of Catan box

General Tips

Catan is a delighfuly simple game with endless replayability. There are serveral ways or stratergies to win Catan but before we get there here are some tips on how to do well in general.

1) Place your settlements well: The numbers on each tile indicates the probability of the resource occuring. A number '12' will only yield that particular resource when a '12' or two sixes are rolled. As there is only one way to roll a '12' with two dice the chances of it coming up are low.

2) Shop around: If you need one resource, say brick, you should attempt to trade another resource with your fellow players. Don't be afraid to attempt to get a better deal by asking other players. For example player B might offer you one brick in exchange for two wood, but player C may be prepared to trade one for one.

3) Keep track of the number of cards you have: If a seven is rolled on the dice, any player who has seven or more cards must discard half of them. So it is wise to ensure you never have more than seven cards in your hand if you can help it. Note seven is statistically the most commonly rolled number using two dice so expect to see it fairly often.

4) Use the robber effectively: If only player is clearly winning, you can deploy the robber onto one of this titles to reduce the number of resoucres he recieves. If two players control all of the sheep for instance, placing the robber on the other players sheep supply will result in you being the only one producing sheep. A nice but temporary advantage.

5) Buy development cards: There are not enough settlement game pieces to win by buying them exclusively. A great way to boost your point score is through development cards. This can boost your score through victory points (e.g. the University of Catan) or solider cards which contribute to the largest army card.


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Stratergy 1: 'Resource Baroning'

Approach aim: To control the majority of one type of resource

Advantages: You control a large part of that resources trading and can therefore charge high prices for it.

Difficulty:
Easy

This stratergy isn't to start playing another board game but to gain control of most of one or two types of resource. Depending on how the board is laid out, you may decide to play your first settlement on tiles that only yield wheat and your second on the wheat port tile. This allows you to instantly trade at the 2:1 ratio while everyone else will be using the standard 4:1.

If used correctly then you will have control over one resources. It is probably best to start with trying to control one resource at first. When you have mastered this you can charge high prices for your resource, so you could ask other players to trade three sheep for one wheat, and while they may not be too pleased about it this is still cheaper than the convetional port trade.

Things to consider:

  • Other players may decide to use port trades rather than trade with you. 
  • You wont be recieving much of the other resources so be prepared to trade
  • Try to get on the special port for your chosen recourse
  • Use the 2:1 port trade ratio as oftern as you can
  • Be careful not to have more than seven cards
  • Upgrade to cities as soon as possible

The Catan board
The Catan board

Stratergy 2: 'The Krunk' or Longest Road Approach

Approach aim: To control the game board with the longest run

Advantages: You control a large portion of the board, cutting off other players from accessing other resources and ports

Difficulty:
Medium/Hard (as other players may retaliate!)

This stratergy is all about controlling the game board. If you can get to the key untapped rescources or ports first you will have an advantage while preventing other players from using them if you place your roads thoughfully. Not only will you have control of the map but you will also be awarded two points for having the longest road!

Things to consider:

  • Make sure you have plenty of wood and brick
  • You should aim to build roads around or to other resources as soon as you can
  • The wood or brick port could be very useful
  • Be aware other players can also built roads and cut you off
  • Ensure you plan your road building carefully
  • The 'road building' development card can be useful

Stratergy 3: 'The Daz' or Largest Army Approach

Approach aim: To control the game board with careful use of 'the robber'

Advantages: You control where the robber mostly goes, stopping other players recieving certain resources while you get to steal theirs

Difficulty:
Medium

This stratergy is also all about controlling the game board.What's the best way to make sure someone doesn't steal your resources? Steal theirs first! If you control the robber you can pillage other players stockpiles and deprive them of key resources and better still gain two victory points at the same time. You will need to buy plenty of development cards in the hope of recieving solider cards which allow robber movement.

Things to consider:

  • Make sure you have the right resources to buy development cards (sheep, wheat, stone)
  • Not all development cards you buy will help your stratergy
  • Remember rolling a seven also moves the robber
  • Other players may feel less than happy if you keep stealing their stuff so prepare for retaliation
  • If the robber is moved onto one of your tiles move as ASAP
  • Use the robber on city squares as this stops other players recieing two resources a time

Additional Notes

There are of course many other stratergies and ways to win other than the ones listed. For exmaple you can also try a more balanced appraoch or focus on the purchase of development cards. I have found the three mentioned above to be both the most fun and successful.

I have added a few 'house' rules to add to game enjoyment you might also like to do so.

  • Upon getting 10 victory points one must shout 'Catan'
  • You can play red with only three players
  • All settlements and cities must be named (the funnier the better!)
  • The University of Catan must be revealed upon purchase
  • The robber must be used aggressively

Thanks for reading and to all of my fellow Catan players for many great games over the years!

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