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.
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.
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.