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How to Win at Catan Days 2017

How to Win at Catan Days 2017

The Catan Days tournament is coming up quickly. All things Catan will be featured along with weekend long open play and a huge Catan library.  But there are also the tournaments. Despite the presence of dice and a bit of luck in the game, winning Catan is largely about skill. The tournament is sure to feature some great moves by the players. And if you want to up your own game, here are a few tips to crush your friends and become the First Citizen of Catan.

Trade Often

CatanThis is one that can sometimes seem counter-intuitive to new players. Why trade, after all, if you’re giving your opponent something he wants? Well, there are two reasons for that. First, you’re getting something you want in return. And second, every trade you make actually enhances your position.

Let’s say I make a trade with the player to my left. We’re both better off. So I may not get much of a relative advantage as against him. But the player to my right didn’t trade at all. So in relation to him, I’m much better off. The more trades you can be a part of, the more advantages you’ll accumulate as against the non-trading opponents. Staying involved, knowing what the other players want, and keeping abreast of the market is critical to success.

Of course, you don’t want to just give your sheep away. You need to be getting a benefit. And if someone is only one victory point away from winning, you may want to hold back on trading with that person. But typically, the best tactic is to strongly negotiate and swap cards. Otherwise, you’re just hoping the dice are lucky and land on precisely what you need. They won’t. Trust me. Catan dice are evil.

Spread Your Numbers

numbersThis one comes down to placement. There’s some good placement strategies where you try to spread out and produce everything or where you try to corner a particular market – especially ore or brick. But even more important than that is to get a wide-ish range of numbers.

It can be tempting to focus on just the 8’s and 6’s. After all, they have the highest likelihood of being rolled. So place on them and you’ll get huge numbers of goods, right? The trouble is that this leads to a feast or famine situation. If an 8 gets rolled, you might collect three or four goods. But if a 9 is rolled, you get nothing. And if your hand fills up unpredictably, the fates will roll the robber and make you discard. Guaranteed.

Instead, you should give consideration toward placing on a lot of different numbers. Don’t have too many 9s. Instead, make it so that every roll is likely to get you some kind of resource. And that means you have something to trade. Or it may give you the third or fourth good you need to swap at the bank. Producing something is always preferable to producing nothing. So try not to omit too many production numbers when you’re placing your settlements and cities.

Beware the Monopoly

robberThe Monopoly card makes sharing information so very dangerous. In older editions of the game, you would call out a resource and everyone had to give you all of that type. Newer editions have nerfed it a little, but it is still a powerful force.

When someone is sitting on a development card, you want to be careful about the information you share. If they say, “Who has Wheat?” maybe don’t pipe up to say, “I have all the Wheat in the world!” That’s especially true if you aren’t willing to trade it because you’re saving it for your own project. Just remain silent or deny having the Wheat. That way, your opponent may think he won’t get much for his Monopoly card and save it. If he plays it anyway, of course, you still have to turn over the goods.

And the reverse is true when you hold the Monopoly card. Get your opponents to talk about what they have. And always take a look at what goods they produce and recall what numbers have been rolled recently. That should give you some idea of what they are holding even if they deny having what you want.

What strategies do you use in Catan?  Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Catan Studio, Wikimedia Commons / flickodelius, and

Featured Image Credit: Catan Studio

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