When you're sitting on a meager five victory points, holding 10 sheep that you just can't unload, and watching your friend hit longest road for the Settlers of Catan win, you may wonder where you went wrong in life. While you can't go back and change all of your poor life decisions - like that time you drank the expired milk and spent the next two days in the bathroom - you can learn a few tricks to win your next game of Settlers of Catan.
Settlers of Catan is an award-winning board game created by German game designer Klaus Teuber which involves using resources to build settlements and cities on an island. Naturally, you want your society to be way better than the other ones, and therein lies the competition. You acquire victory points by building roads, armies, towns, and cities, and generally doing things that make a society look cool to its neighbors. All the while, you'll trade resources with said neighbors for mutual benefit.
This list includes some Settlers of Catan strategies that will take your gameplay to the next level. The game has a few specific mechanics that you can take advantage of to gain an edge on the competition. Keep reading below and learn how to win at Settlers of Catan every time. And remember to lord victories over your friends and family like the good sport that you are.
Box People Out
Cutting off your friends from expanding to a new settlement and then watching them cry in despair is one of the most important aspects of Settlers of Catan. There are several techniques to achieve this end. First, you can use roads to wall in your opponents. Second, you can maximize the effectiveness of the "two spaces away" settlement placement rule. Instead of simply placing your own settlements two spaces from each other, you can take up more space by putting them three away while still preventing your opponent from placing a settlement in between your two. Be mindful when you do this, however, so it doesn't backfire and prevent you from building a settlement in a desired location.
What the Heck Are the Dots For?
You may have noticed that the number tokens have dots, ranging from one to five. These dots represent the probability of rolling that number on a given turn (each dot represents the dice combinations out of 36 that can make that number). In other words, more dots are good. You want dots. If you ever aren't sure about which is the better of two spots on the board - based purely on probability of rolls - add up the dots on each tile and go with the intersection that has the higher total number.
Diversify Your Portfolio
This refers more to the number token on the resource than the specific resource being sought. It's better to have one settlement on a six, and one on an eight, than two on the same number. The latter scenario results in collecting resources in bursts, which makes a player more vulnerable to losing half their cards when a seven is rolled.
That said, some diversity in resource type is also beneficial. Being self-sufficient can be the difference between a win and a loss in the late game. Basically, you never want to have all your eggs in one basket.
There Are Two Basic Strategies
The first strategy is to build as many settlements as possible. You focus on the brick and wood resources, and to a lesser extent, sheep. You need a lot of room to expand using this strategy, and you should also try to get longest road. Area control is key, making sure that you can build in new areas while your opponents cannot.
The second strategy is to focus on ore and wheat, and use it to make cities and get development cards. Ore is more important than wheat, as cities require three ore and two wheat to build. The downside to this strategy is that it's vulnerable to the robber, so it makes sense to also go for the largest army bonus if you take this route. Start getting knights early so you can fend off any robbers that seek to ruin your economy. Getting a port also goes well with this strategy.
You can also combine the two strategies, but be careful not to overextend yourself. Additionally, do not try to go for both the largest army and the longest road cards. Pick one, and commit.