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.
Use the Robber as a Weapon
Nothing shuts down an economy like a well placed robber. Listen to your friends curse your name in lamentation as you foil their best laid plans with one swift stroke. The primary targets of the robber should be the player with the most victory points, the highest yielding (enemy) resource, and/or an enemy resource that you are bountiful in. While sometimes it can pay to target a player because you think they are holding a resource card you need, this technique is risky and should be used very sparingly.
The ultimate goal is to make yourself the only business in town. If you are collecting a lot of bricks, for example, it can behoove you to shut down a rival's source of bricks. That makes it so everyone has to trade with you if they want to get their brick fix. Keep in mind, though, that low-yielding resource spaces are less valuable to rob (but sometimes still worth it), and that cities are better to rob than settlements.
When using the monopoly development card, it's good to trade away all of one type of resource before using it - then you can ask for that type of resource and get all your cards back, and more! It's a very effective way to get a bunch of different resources essentially for free. Be prepared for a few upset friends, however.
Besides being a development card in the game, monopolizing resources can be a good way to increase the value of your own goods compared to those of your neighbors. Generally speaking, if everyone else lacks access to a resource you produce, you can get a much better exchange on that resource.