When I discover a new game, I like to savour and enjoy it. I let myself get carried away by the emotions of the game and I share hours of entertainment with my friends or with my family, but there comes a time when you ask yourself: How can I improve my game? How can I win against my opponents?
If this is your situation, you’ve come to the right place. In following posts I’ll teach you different strategies to win at Catan, whatever the scenario you have to face. However, there is one thing nobody can fight against and all the casinos know it, luck. All the strategies and recommendations that I will give you succumb against a series of dice rolls of 7 twelves in a row. Against luck the only thing you can do is look for four-leaf clovers, find good luck horseshoes or drink a luck potion, and even then success is not guaranteed.
Now that the warning has been given, let’s start with the basics, the numbers. Catan, like any other dice game, is based for the most part in probabilities, that thing teachers tried to teach us in mathematics class. But don’t run away in fright, it is simple; if you place your villages and cities in the numbers that are most likely to appear you will gather more resources. That’s the theory at least; I have played games where the 8, one of the numbers with most probabilities, only appeared once. That ruins everything, so to get started let’s focus on an ideal case.
- You can build wherever you want without anybody blocking your progress.
- The numbers with more probability are those who appear more.
- The thief never occupies one of your resources’ spaces.
- Every time you take a development card, you get the one you wanted.
- The Earth is a sphere with a radius R and the acceleration of gravity is equal to 10m/s2.
In real life you’ll have to start from the best theoretical strategy and adapt it to the changes that the situation requires, and for that you’ll need to know the data of the following tables.
Warning: If you have never played Settlers of Catan before, make sure that you have read the post How to play Settlers of Catan before you begin; there, you will find detailed information about this board game that will keep you hooked for hours and hours.
Dice roll probabilities or How to choose where to place our villages and cities.
At first glance it seems that the lords of Catan want to play the thieves. The number most likely to appear when throwing the two dice is the 7, so don’t be shocked if in the middle of the game your wheat land stops producing or if you have to get rid of half of your resources. It will happen.
The next thing you have to keep in mind is to manage to place your villages and cities in combinations of 6-8-9 or 6-8-5, theoretically they are the best; and I would even say, that regardless of the resource that you could gather. But the matter of the resources and the strategies to achieve them will be dealt with in the next post.
And… don’t even think about placing a city or a village in the 1, it will NEVER appear. (Anyway, I think that the last time I looked it up it didn’t exist, so you can sleep peacefully)
Building costs or what the mortgage of your cities is going to cost
Remember: With 3 knights you will be awarded the Largest Army card which grants you 2 victory points and with 5 continuous roads you will be awarded the Longest Road card which also grants you 2 victory points.
Now that the data are posted, let’s analyse them…
How to achieve victory with fewer resources
If you play for 4 cities, the cheapest thing is to add the Longest Road card or 2 victory points (4C+LR or 4C+2VP=38)
If you play for 3 cities, the cheapest thing is to add the Longest Road card and 2 victory points (3C+LR+2VP=31)
If you play for 2 cities, the cheapest thing is to add the Longest Road card and 4 victory points (2C+LR +4VP=28)
If you play for 1 city, the cheapest thing is to add 3 villages, 3 victory points and the Largest Army card (3V+3VP+LA =28)
If you play without cities, the cheapest thing is to achieve the Longest Road card, 5 victory points and 3 villages (LR+5VP+3V=25)
In short: The cheapest thing is to achieve the Longest Road card, 5 victory points and 3 villages. It will only cost you 5 ore, 6 wheat, 4 brick, 4 timber and 6 wool.
Is it possible to achieve it in real life? I doubt it.
How to achieve victory in real life or which one is the winning strategy
As I have said before, if we played in an ideal world, we should opt for the victory that cost the fewer resources; however, it doesn’t work like that because luck works against us.
In the deck of development cards there are only 5 victory points out of a total of 25 cards, so getting a single victory point card is quite difficult but getting all 5 of them without anyone else taking one or without us taking one that isn’t a victory point is truly unlikely. I wish you good luck if you want to try it.
Then, have I wasted your time with all those cost tables? The answer is a resounding “NO”. Now let’s see the combinations that can lead us to victory in the real world. We will do this by analysing real games’ data.
Now we can finally plan a real strategy to achieve the highest probability of victory.
- We rule out any combination that needs more than 2 victory points.
- We rule out combinations with 4 and with 0 cities.
- We rule out the combinations with 0 villages.
- We include the Longest Road.
- We include 2 cities.
- We include 4 villages.
- We include 1 victory point.
These are the options with the higher possibilities:
- 2 Cities + Longest Road + 4 Villages (2C+LR+4V=38).
- 1 City + Largest Army + Longest Road + 4 Villages (1C+LA+LR+4V=35).
- 2 Cities + Largest Army + Longest Road + 1 victory point + 1 village (2C+LA+LR+1VP+1V=32).
Which one should you choose? That will depend on the board’s layout. Remember that you have to try to achieve the combination of spaces 6-8-9. If this combination or the closest one produces wheat and ore, go for the cities. If you gather timber and bricks go for the villages.
To finish this first article about the strategies to win at Catan (I’m nearly finished so don’t fall asleep yet), I’ll only add that a game lasts in average between 13 and 17 rounds. If at this stage you don’t have 9 points start getting worried.
Have you ever tried one of my recommendations? How did it work for you? Leave us your comments
In the next post, How to win at Catan (II), I’ll tell you all about the different strategies to achieve resources efficiently: play for ports, trade, how to use the monopoly card, when to change the strategy… and much more information.
And remember, if you only want to have fun place your villages and throw the dice, but if you really want to win, follow us!!!