Settlers of Catan Strategy notes

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Scott M

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Jan 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/9/99
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Some of you may remember this from over a year ago. I meant to keep it
up, but I have been too busy of course. Any new comments? I would love
to add some stuff in on Stadt and Ritter, Cheops, and Alexander. If
anyone has changed their mind from their previous comments, let me know.

*Settlers of Catan Strategy Notes* -- Scott MacPherson
<scot...@earthlink.net>

(11/24/97 Version)

Thanks for the help of rec.games.board. This is a revision of an
earlier post that was quite helpfully added to and ripped apart, making
it all around a much better strategy guide. People's comments are
acknowledged (hopefully all of them). If you have any
comments/corrections, please email me. I might want to revise it again
someday.

THE PRODUCTION VALUE OF HEXES

Before you place settlements, figure out how much the intersection is
worth. First, a refresher on the number distribution of 2d6. Below is
the number of times (out of 36) that a particular number shows up:

Number on die / chance number comes up out of 36

2 : 1
3: 2
4: 3
5: 4
6: 5
7: 6
8: 5
9: 4
10: 3
11: 2
12: 1

So if you have a settlement on a 3/5/10 intersection, the chance that it
will produce something that turn will be 2+4+3, or 9 out of 36 (1 in
4). Using this info, any intersection can be ranked on just production
value from 0 (the edge of a desert on the water) to 15 (three hexes
having an 8 or a 6). Note that a 15 is not supposed to happen. I have
only seen one game where a 14 occurred (due to an unusual combination of
two deserts in a 5 player game), and the player who took that
intersection won handily.

All things being equal (which isn't the case, of course, as the type of
resources is important), the intersection with the highest total number
is best, as it will get you more resources.

GROWTH

How fast you grow is exponential, not linear! In a linear growth mode,
you would continue to get the same amount of resources each turn. In
Settler's, "investing" production to build more production centers
(settlements and cities) leads to an exponential growth rate. It's how
compound interest works, and why if you invest a little early on in the
game you can get a huge advantage later. Even a small numerical
advantage in production the beginning can result in an inordinately
large production later on. (Note that the rate of exponential growth
decreases as the game progresses, as the "best" intersections are
settled or converted to cities, leaving only the lower-value
intersections remaining for new production centers. Even though the
rate of exponential growth decreases, this growth is still exponential
and should be taken into account.)

I would argue that this is the MOST important concept of the game. It
is a major factor (arguably the most important factor) in the initial
setup, and also determines what your first few turns look like. Simply
put, BUILD PRODUCTION CENTERS in the first few turns, and build them in
areas that are relatively high in production value. You do not want to
be caught behind another player in the exponential growth race. Don't
bother with the longest road, largest army, exploring unknown hexes in
Seefahrers scenarios, etc. Your main goal at the beginning should be to
increase production. (Note that if building production centers cannot
be done in your turn, it may be advantageous to buy cards, build roads
for future use, start exploring, etc., just to keep the robber away from
an ever-increasing hand. However, this should be treated as a fallback
plan.)

For example, consider the player who wants to go to a gold hex island
early in the game, to get the extra victory points (the gold hex gives
you one of any resource in Seefahrers). Say it costs three ships to get
to a gold island in a particular scenario, and then you need to build a
settlement that only borders on that one hex. That is a total card cost
of ten. Let's see, say the gold hex produces on a 10, that is one every
12 turns (3 out of 36). That means you will get back your investment in
120 turns. Not a good idea early in the game. The moral is keep your
eye on production the first few turns.

STRATEGIES

There are a number of strategies in Settlers. Your choice of strategies
will influence your initial setup and overall game play.

*The Ore/Grain Strategy.* The most popular strategy. This is an
initial placement to get ore and grain early, to produce cities fast.
Focus more on ore than grain, as you will need three ores to build a
city, compared to two grains. In this strategy you will probably be
focused on getting the largest army later on. Lots of players mess this
up by not focusing enough on settlements. It is really easy to find
yourself with four cities and zero settlements at the endgame, and not
being able to get another two settlements because you are boxed in
(although this is not bad at all if you can get the largest army or two
victory point cards in a 10-point game). It is a good idea to box other
in who are using this strategy. It can be a good strategy for
Seefahrers, as it is harder to get boxed in (simply build to an
island). Getting an ore or grain port is great for this strategy, as
after you build four cities you won't have a need for these resources as
much, and it can make the endgame a lot easier. This is especially true
in a game that requires more than 10 victory points, as you still have a
way to go after building the maximum four cities.

This strategy is often so powerful because the first cities you produce
will probably be on your initial settlements, which should have high
production values. Other people going for settlements right off will
probably be left with lower production-value intersections. (Chuck
Messenger <c...@servtech.com>)

At the end you will be the constant target of the robber, as ore and
grain become valuable to the other players. You need to have been saving
knights so that you can get the robber off your production units. Also,
since you have cities, your production spaces will naturally look like
better places for the others to put the robber. (Trevor Hyde
<5pu6...@mu.edu>)


*The Wood/Brick Strategy.* This is a strategy to build settlements and
roads fast. This means you will probably be focusing on getting the
longest road. A wood/brick port is very useful in this strategy, as
finding a way to get ore/grain will be important to build cities for the
middle to end game. This is not as good with lots of people on a small
board, as you need room to grow. This works better with scenarios such
as Grosse Catan in Seefahrers.

For this strategy, it is very important that you build new settlements
around grain and ore hexes, or you will have a very difficult time
trying to build cities later on in the game (which are crucial for a
win).

With your increased road building capability, you should build your
roads to cut off other player's expansion. This can help in denying
Ore/Grain players from acquiring enough building sites they need to win
the game. (Greg Aleknevicus <gr...@pacificcoast.net>)

*The Straight Numerical Advantage Strategy*, not trying to any one
resource in particular. This strategy really tries to maximize
production. You may need to trade a lot, because you may end up with a
strange mix. This works better in games with more people (more people
to trade with). A 3:1 port is probably essential, if you have a varied
mix of resources.

*The Monopoly Strategy.* This is a strategy to gain control of a
particular resource. This works better with fewer people, as there is
less trading going on (and people are more likely to come to you). You
will need a port of the monopolized resource to trade off your excess
(and to restrict supply). This doesn't work too well later on in the
game, as everyone has ports, or is willing to trade four resources to
get what they need. As the sole strategy, it can really backfire if
your monopoly doesn't work, or if the other player's strategy doesn't
need your resource (for example, trying to monopolize brick when
everyone else is trying to build cities). It works best combined with
another strategy, and with less experienced players. Be prepared to
have the robber stay on one of your initial hexes.

One variant to the monopoly strategy is the "Sheep-O-Matic" strategy. A
friend of mine sometimes likes to go after wool hexes. At the beginning
of the game, the Wood-Brick players and Ore-Grain players (the two most
popular strategies) will only be trying for them if they are
convenient. Since both strategies need wool, he can often trade
somewhat easily. He goes for a wool port (the Sheep-O-Matic) to get
cards he can't trade for. While I have never see him win with this
strategy, he doesn't do too badly. I haven't seen him try this yet in
Seefahrers, where it just might work (everyone needs wool for sails).

*The Card Builder Strategy.* This strategy is similar to the Ore/Grain
Strategy, as it involves getting Ore/Grain hexes and building two cities
fast. Then, cranking out development cards. This player will get an
inordinate number of Knight cards, allowing them to keep the robber off
their hexes and get other resources by stealing from other players.
Often, victory point cards will come up. At some point in the game, try
for a third settlement or city. The largest army is practically
guaranteed. (Chuck Messenger <c...@servtech.com>). Note that this
strategy may not work very well in higher victory point games, or those
Seefahrer scenarios where extra victory points are awarded for getting
to islands.

*The Balance Strategy.* This strategy strives for a balance in all
resources. Settlements can be built relatively quickly, and the player
is less likely to be boxed in. Also, this strategy leads people to
become more self-sufficient, and less likely to require trading. (Chuck
Messenger <c...@servtech.com>) A 3:1 port could be very useful here.

INITIAL SETUP

The initial setup should take into account a number of factors. Note
that a lot of the information below is also applicable whenever a new
settlement is built.

1. Production Value. The production value of the intersection you will
place your first settlements on is, IMHO, the most important factor to
consider. You need to be on the exponential growth curve early. The
other factors below should be considered only after figuring out how
much they will decrease your overall production value, and if it is
worth it. Before going to that lower value Ore/Wheat intersection, make
sure it is really worth that drop in production.

2. Strategy you will use. Of course, a straight production value is
less useful (maybe a _lot_ less useful) if you are not getting the
combination of resources you need.

3. What other players will be doing. If you place first and you put
your first settlement on that great 8 Ore hex, don't depend on that 6
Wheat hex being available when you place your second settlement. When
going first, your strategy might have to be more flexible as everyone
will be placing all the rest of their settlements before you. In this
case, you may not be able to figure out your strategy until you actually
place your second settlement. (Isaac Kuo <k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>
corrected me on this one)

4. You will probably need a port to win the game, or a lotta luck.
Some strategies are better served with a 3:1 port, while others by a
specific resource port. Make sure you know how you will get them.
Don't stress too much over ports early on, they are more important in
the endgame. But don't get blocked from reaching one, either.

A popular strategy is to go for a port on the first turn, which means
you are on an intersection with only two hexes at most. It had better
be worth it, because it is going to have to offset the increased
production of someone who placed two inland settlements, with a higher
total production value. Sometimes ports are just screaming to have a
settlement placed on them at the initial setup (for example, an
intersection with an ore port on an 8 ore hex). Expect the robber to
show up at hexes like these.

If a particular resource looks like it's going to be extremely rare, it
may be worthwhile to start off with a port, especially if you're the
last player and can coordinate a good combination of spots. (Isaac Kuo
<k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>)

5. Expansion capability. Make sure you are not cut off from future
ports, or from being able to expand or other resources you might need.
(Isaac Kuo <k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>)

6. The distribution of numbers is important. For a straight numerical
advantage, placing a settlement between two hexes with a 5 is exactly
the same as placing between a 4 and a 6. However, the distribution will
be different. A smaller selection of numbers mean that you will get a
lot of resources clumped together, and a larger selection of numbers
means that you will get resources spread out more. Both have their
advantages and disadvantages.

The same number on two resources that are commonly used together (for
example, wood and clay) can be very useful, as they can immediately be
used and less port trading will be required (Isaac Kuo)
<k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>).

However, having a lot of production centers on the same numbers means
that some turns you will get a lot of resources, and it is more likely
you will be stuck with over seven cards when a seven is rolled (or over
10 cards in a 5-6 player game, if you use that rule).

A settlement with an intersection with one good number (8 or 6) and two
bad numbers will be practically useless when the robber is placed on the
good number. (Isaac Kuo <k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>)

7. Placement of settlements around a hex. One decision is where to
place a second settlement on a hex. If you place two settlements at
opposite vertices, the hex is blocked off from any future settlements.
The advantage to this is that the hex can be less of a target to the
robber, who might be going for hexes with three settlements around them
to get a bigger bang for the buck. In addition, you restrict that
resource to other players (this can be a substantial advantage on a rare
resource, or a resource that everyone needs for their particular
strategy). The disadvantage is that you decrease your own expansion
potential. You should figure out which one is applicable to your
strategy. For example, if you are going for an Ore/Grain strategy, you
probably won't be the one to get that third position on the hex, if your
neighbor is a Wood/Clay player and can pump out a settlement faster, and
so you should probably just block it off. However, if there won't even
be a race to the third spot, you might want to save it for yourself.

If there are two different players already on a hex, consider jumping in
too. It is hard for the robber to stay on a hex with three players who
want to get him off of it. And fewer players will place a robber there
in the first place.

8. Try not to place both settlements around a single good producing
spot. Besides probably reducing expansion capability, this makes that
spot a prime target for the robber. (Isaac Kuo <k...@mouse.csc.lsu.edu>)

9. Examine the board to see which commodity will be the hardest to get,
and consider putting one of your settlements on the best tile for that
commodity. A supply of a rare commodity may be more important than an
extra 2/36 chance of a sheep. (AllenDoum <alle...@aol.com>)

EARLY GAME

1. You need either the largest army, longest road, or a lotta luck to
win. Figure out early in the game what you are going to shoot for.

Note that the longest road and largest army are worth more if the other
players aren't trying for them. The more roads/knights that you have to
buy, the worse the investment. (AllenDoum <alle...@aol.com>)

This means it might actually be preferable to go for the one that you
normally would not, if there is going to be a lot of competition (for
example, longest road when you are playing an Ore/Grain strategy).

2. Numbers coming up early in the game are much more important than
later in the game, due to the exponential growth rate. This means that
the robber is also more important early in the game. If the robber
lands on someone early in the game, its effect can be far worse than
later.

DEVELOPMENT CARDS

1. Victory points are great when you get them, but are not to be
counted on at the endgame. There are seven victory point cards in a
36-card deck in the original Mayfair version, which means you are
drawing an average of five (at a cost of 15 production cards!) to get a
point, and ten (30 cards!) to get two. It is much easier to get two
points with far less than 30 production cards the old-fashioned way --
build something. It gets worse with the Kosmos version (five victory
point cards), diluting the mix even further.

2. Don't use knights too early. Save them if you can to keep the
robber off of your hexes (play BEFORE you roll the dice in this case).
However, don't get caught with too many development cards, as you can
only play one per turn. This is especially important if going for the
largest army -- get those knights out before the endgame. (there is an
exception to every rule!)

3. Watch out buying too many development cards early. If you draw a
victory point card (or two) at the beginning, it can really hurt your
future development chances, as they don't produce. However, the rest of
the cards CAN produce for you (at least indirectly). (Aaron D. Fuegi
<aar...@bu.edu>).

4. Save that Road Building card to the end if you can, if you are going
for the longest road. It can be a great surprise when you play it on
the last turn. It is also great to use at the beginning, to save the 4
resource cards and pump up that exponential growth rate a bit.

5. If you can't build anything, consider buying a card if you can. You
will lower your card count and keep the robber away. Also, it is a
great way to "store" resources for use later.

6. It is hard to get the robber off of you without Knights. Remember,
a seven comes up only once every six turns. Odds are that means that at
least one production of a hex with the robber on it will not occur
without a Knight card.

TRADING

People seem pretty split on trading. It seems that some will only trade
kicking and screaming, as they see big problems with helping other
players. Others don't seem to mind, as long as they make sure to look
out for number one. I have always tried to trade as much as I can in
the early game, primarily out of one big fear -- if I don't trade with
Player X, Player X is going to trade with Player Y. In this case,
Player X and Player Y will have a better distribution of resource cards
(and hence will build more) than me. This is especially bad if X or Y
is an adjacent and direct competitor with me for future resources. If
you don't trade with X, someone else will. This leads me to take the
position that trading is necessary, and instead to focus on the question
of how to make the trade as advantageous to you (and as disadvantageous
to others) as possible, as long as it is going to happen anyway.

The benefits from trading are not always equally distributed. I would
take the position that they seldom are. So how does one make sure they
are distributed more in your favor then the other person?

1) Try to trade as close to your turn as possible, and preferably on
your turn. Why? If you trade on your turn, you are probably going for
something you need at that moment. For example, you need one more grain
to make your city. Trading on your turn means you KNOW where this card
is going -- to your city. However, the other person who is trading a
grain to you, for a wool say, does not know they are actually going to
use that wool on their turn. They might be trying for a settlement, and
when their turn comes around do not have a clay. Or maybe the robber
stole a card. Or a monopoly card was played. Or they wound up
producing a wool themselves on that 12 they didn't think they would
roll. In any case, when their turn comes around, they may or may not be
using that wool for something. You, on the other hand, KNOW you will be
using that grain. If they don't use that wool, that trade was a bust
for them, and you were the one who got the greater benefit from that
trade.

The farther from your turn you make a trade, the greater the chance that
something will happen that will make that card you got worthless, or of
losing the card entirely. And that means the other person probably got
more benefit out of that trade than you.

If the person the who plays the turn ahead of you is trying to make a
trade with you, try to wait until your turn instead, if you can. They
will have to wait another turn to produce what they wanted. Of course,
if they really want to they will trade 4 to 1 or through a port, and
then you are stuck...

To stop a trade, you can always promise the player who turn it ISN'T
that you will trade with them when their turn comes around, by arguing
how they will benefit from this and how the player whose turn it is will
be hurt, by the reasoning above.

2) Conversely, try to trade with others who are farther away from their
turn, if all things are equal (seldom is this the case, of course). Of
course, you don't have much of a choice if it is not your turn, as you
have to trade with the person whose turn it is.

3) Trade with people who are losing, or are no threat to you. This is
a no-brainer.

4) Trade early on as much as possible. You don't want to fall behind
on that exponential growth race. I recently played a game in which
early on another player made a four-to-one trade with the bank, rather
than trade one-to-one with me. I thought she was nuts, but then I was a
little biased. However, in order for me not to have the benefit, she
fell on the sword herself. I made a two-to-one port trade to get that
resource instead, and was therefore two cards ahead of her. The real
winners were the other two players. Losing this many production cards
this early on did not help her growth rate at all, and I wound up
winning in a very close battle that she might have won instead.

5) Remember, you can always trade for stuff besides cards, though it
isn't binding. How much is it worth to someone for you to build a road
and block off a potential port of their immediate competitor? This is
useful when you REALLY need a card or cards and have no cards to trade
that the other person wants. And you can always trade wood and brick in
unequal trades to the person whose turn it is, to stop someone from
getting the longest road (or whatever) when you can't build there
yourself.

These comments are probably a lot less useful for those of you who play
with the German 5-6 player build rules (anyone can build on any turn).
However, I have never played them. I would be interested in knowing how
they affect the game, however.

OTHER NOTES

1. Put yourself in the other players shoes. Figure out their strategy,
so you don't trade them something they need, and so you can beat them to
a particular spot on the board you both might need. Don't let other
people become self-sustainable! Once they don't have to trade, you are
probably finished. Also, get into the habit of counting their victory
points every turn, and figuring out how the player will probably go for
what they need to win. This may seem obvious, but most people do not do
it.

2. Watch out where you put the robber. You might need that resource,
or suddenly create a shortage. Consider putting it on a resource you
already have a supply for, and don't have to trade for. And of course,
on someone who is ahead, or someone who has a resource you need. If you
put it on a hex with fewer number of people, it will stay there longer.

Finally, consider putting it on a hex so that you are left as the sole
or major producer of a commodity. (Greg Aleknevicus)
<gr...@pacificcoast.net>)

3. Don't be a target. This means hiding points to near the end if
possible (do you really want the longest road with five segments, and
being ahead in points that early on?). Or wait to put out that last
knight if you can.

4. If going for the longest road, don't make too many "side trips" with
your roads. You only have 15. Remember, if you are the first person to
get a road 15 in length, it cannot be taken away from you. This is much
less important in Seefahrers, when the longest road could theoretically
be 30 long.

Remember if an opponent builds a settlement in the middle of your road
network, your routes are split in two for purposes of determining
longest trade route. (Matt Gardner <matthew...@sdrc.com>)

5. This pirate's most important function is to restrict ship building
around its hex. You can completely block off an island in this way.
Your main goal should be to stop others from getting victory points on
the islands, not to get the most number of cards that you can. The
cards are gravy.

6. If you know you are not going for longest road, then building
settlements off triangle forks saves you having to build two roads for
each settlement, and instead allows to you build three roads (instead of
four) to get to two settlements. (The Maus <*mor...@is2.nyu.edu>)

Joseph McSweeney

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Jan 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/9/99
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WOW!!!! I have not read the complete document but from what I had scanned
this is very impressive. NICE JOB SCOTT!!!!!


Scott M wrote in message <369807D2...@earthlink.net>...

tedd...@earthlink.net

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Jan 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/10/99
to Scott M
All I have to say is.....incredible!
Wow. please send me your Stadt and Ritter analysis.

Scott, I would really be interested in your thoughts and rating of the
base game and all the expansions that are out.


Scott M wrote:


Scott M

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Jan 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/10/99
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Unfortunately, I have not played Stadt and Ritter enough. I don't even
have the 5-6 player expansion set for it, which has been a big limiting
factor, since whenever the chance to play it comes up there are over four
of us. Same with Cheops; I have never even played it, although the map
has been sitting on my shelf forever. I was hoping other people had some
advice *hint hint* : )

Mike Edwards

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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I'll echo others - nice job with the notes!

--
Mike Edwards - Shoreline, Washington
Views expressed are my own.

Scott M

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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As far as “ranking” the game and the expansion sets, I can only tell you
my personal opinions, which probably conflict with others on this board.
When I can, I usually play with my second edition Mayfair set, Kosmos 5-6
player expansion, and rarely Kosmos Seafarers and its 5-6 player
expansion. The development cards from first and second edition Mayfair
include all the cards from Kosmos basic and 5-6 player expansion, and they
are in English, which is a big plus (I don’t know what the card mix is in
the later editions). I like to play 5-6 players, as the major strength of
the game is in the interaction between players.

I heard somewhere that the original game Klaus T. designed included
everything: the Basic set, Seafarers, and Stadt and Ritter. If that is
true, whoever edited the game for Kosmos is really good at their job,
because all the best parts got put into the Basic set. The basic set is
truly multi-player: everyone can participate at all times, not just on
their turn. In addition, the complexity of the game is in the board
itself, not in a ton of various rules or game elements. I am a big fan of
simple and elegant games with few rules but lots of strategy (an example
of the antithesis of this philosophy is Squad Leader and all the expansion
sets). The varied board makes every game a little bit different.

I like Seafarers for its varied and unusual maps, and I like the pirate a
lot. However, when I play Seafarers I don’t usually go to the islands
that much (except at the end), or build too many ships if I can, as the
more I put into the Seafahers portion of the game the less I win.
Whenever new people play Seafarers they always build ships early on and do
all that sea stuff. They forget that islands don’t produce all that well,
and sea hexes don’t produce at all. Think about it: building across the
sea is the same as building into a gigantic desert. You shouldn’t need an
artificial incentive like added victory points for going to islands to
make players go there.

I don’t really like Stadt and Ritter that much. First, it lasts too long,
and I like short games. Second, the variation in this expansion is in the
complexity of the rules, and not in the elegance of the game (this may
also be why it lasts so long). I wasn’t even going to buy this expansion,
but then I heard that one particular idea in the game was similar to an
idea in a prototype game of my own. (Sorry I am being vague here, but I
don’t want to give away this idea just yet.) I bought the game to see how
Klaus approached it, but I was disappointed as it was extremely complex,
completely unlike the elegant solutions he developed for the original
game.

When I try to design a game, I start with an idea, and figure out how to
implement it. The first few iterations usually wind up very complex, but
with more effort I can figure out how to do it simpler but with keeping
the same idea. I can easily come up with a dozen ways to implement a
single idea, but with the play elements becoming simpler after every
iteration. If I do it right the complexity in strategy and variation in
play still remains, but with simple and elegant rules. I know I have done
something right if the final solution seems so simple as to be obvious,
but a lot of work goes into it to get it to that stage. A lot of the
ideas in the Basic set seem simple enough to be obvious, but you can bet
Klaus spent a lot of time to get there.

Klaus came up with very good ideas for Stadt and Ritter, but it is almost
like it was the first draft instead of the final. You don’t usually see
this process in action unless you try to design your own games or play
test stuff, or happen to see it commerically. Maybe the only commercial
example I know about is Elfenroads, where the later version of Elfenlands
became much more simple and elegant but the core ideas remained, and many
people say the result was a much better game. Maybe Alan Moon can
enlighten us on his process here, and give us his opinions on Stadt and
Ritter too ; )

I love the idea of the “arms race” in Cheops, and I can’t wait to play it
to see how it works. In Cheops, you donate resources for the pyramid.
Not only is there a carrot (the “favor”) if you donate the most, there is
also a stick (the “curse”) if you donate the least. What a great idea!
And it is based on feedback from all the other players. It seems there is
no “one way” to approach it, it depends on the complex interaction between
the players. It is a very good idea, implemented simply and elegantly,
but you could spend days figuring out the ramifications behind it.


Mike Edwards

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
to
In article <369AC3CD...@earthlink.net>, Scott M
<scot...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> As far as “ranking” the game and the expansion sets, I can only tell you
> my personal opinions, which probably conflict with others on this board.

Not at all. I'll agree that the basic Settlers is the most elegant. I'm
probably more well disposed to the idea of playing the Stadt & Ritter
expansion that you seem to be, but I think there's nothing wrong with your
basic premise.

Sven Baumer

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
to
Scott M <scot...@earthlink.net> writes:

[snipped a lot of stuff I *completely* agree with]


> I heard somewhere that the original game Klaus T. designed included
> everything: the Basic set, Seafarers, and Stadt and Ritter. If that is
> true, whoever edited the game for Kosmos is really good at their job,
> because all the best parts got put into the Basic set.

I understand that Klaus Teuber originally had a game of exploring
and settling on islands in mind. He himself split them into the
two games now known has Entdecker (the exploration), and Siedler
von Catan (obviously the settling). I'm not sure about Seefahrer,
but S&R definitely wasn't part of the original game, as wasn't
Lowenherz (which is marketed as "the third part of the Teuber
trilogy" in Germany).


Sven.
--
Smart Ass (noun):
Someone who can sit on a scoop of ice cream and tell you what flavor it is.

Scott M

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
to
No bites? Sigh. I was hoping for some criticism. A lot of my views have
changed. For example, I now think that monopolies bite. The next version
of my notes will contain something like this:

*The Monopoly Strategy.* This is a strategy to gain control of a particular

resource, usually ore or brick as they have the fewest number of hexes in
the basic game. It seldom works. If it works at all, it works with fewer


people, as there is less trading going on (and people are more likely to

come to you). If you try this, you will need a port of the monopolized
resource to trade off your excess (and to restrict supply). If they last
past the midgame, monopolies will fall apart later on in the game, as
everyone has ports. If this isn’t bad enough, it can really backfire if the


other player's strategy doesn't need your resource (for example, trying to
monopolize brick when everyone else is trying to build cities).

You might think, well, if this strategy falls apart near the end, then maybe
it could be used as a strategy for the beginning of the game. You are
wrong. Besides not being able to undo your monopoly (What are you going to
do? Get rid of a settlement and let someone else into that hex?), the major
problem with this strategy is that the robber almost always sits on the
monopolized hex. And as you are the only person on that particular hex, the
robber will stay there until YOU get it off, unlike shared hexes. Also
unlike shared hexes, every player EXCEPT YOU considers that hex to be fair
robber bait, especially since they want a chance to grab that monopolized
resource from your hand. This is much worse at the beginning of the game,
as you will quickly fall behind the exponential growth race.

If someone in your group has the nerve (or stupidity) to try a monopoly, it
will become apparent very soon, probably in the initial setup. You can use
this to your advantage by remembering that ports have just become more
valuable real estate.

If anyone has a story of a successful monopoly and how it was done, please
email me.

Joshua Buergel

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
to
Sven Baumer wrote:
>
> I understand that Klaus Teuber originally had a game of exploring
> and settling on islands in mind. He himself split them into the
> two games now known has Entdecker (the exploration), and Siedler
> von Catan (obviously the settling). I'm not sure about Seefahrer,
> but S&R definitely wasn't part of the original game, as wasn't
> Lowenherz (which is marketed as "the third part of the Teuber
> trilogy" in Germany).

It was my understanding that Seefahrer was part of the original game.

But that's not why I'm posting. Instead, I'm wondering if anybody has
tried womping together Entdecker and Die Siedler/Seefahrer into one big
ol' massive game? It's something my group would probably cheerfully
tackle, since we love cooking up house rules, but I'm curious if anybody
else has tried? And how did it go?

--
Joshua Buergel
Software Development, BlueWater Systems Inc.
(425) 771-3610

Mik*_ Schn*der

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
to
In article <369BC9FC...@earthlink.net>, Scott M
<scot...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> If anyone has a story of a successful monopoly and how it was done, please
> email me.


The best way to make monopoly work for you is to allow someone else on
the hex, but make sure *you* get two sides of it (as the other player will
work to keep the Robber away, but collect only half as much as you). If
the hex is the only good ore, you will need to buy Knight cards early to
keep the Robber away while you bulk up (you might consider buying two
right away, instead of your first city). You should always have more
Knights than you think you need -- you *cannot* win as an Ore monopolist
without also buying a ton of Knight cards.

The other way to play monopoly is by restricting access to, or having
majority access to, several hexes of a commodity for which you have the
port. The others can't keep the Robber on all of them (and will probably
place it on your "prime" hex, forcing you to use the port trading in
junk). Sheep and Wheat monopolies are most typical of this kind, because
they are not the commodities that people "key" on during initial
placement.

The *key* to successfully employing the Monopoly strategy is to *not*
trade if you have total control. Drag out the game. Let them prostrate
themselves with three-card offers -- turn them down if you are ahead.
*Force* them to trade 4-to-1.No-trading works best with Brick or Ore
monopolies; you must keep the Robber on your opponant's most productive
hexes, or a somewhat less productive "superflous" one for which he has a
port of their own -- you don't want them trading in sets.

But I've seen all kinds of monopolies work.

My favorite actually involves letting the other players ring in the
best hex, while I take the other two less marginal ones in my placements
(and wall them off). Then I keep the Robber on the good hex throughout the
game. This works best with Ore or Brick, and the desert "inconvenient"
such that other players don't place on otherwise decent hexes, with you
being the "swing" player. They fight over the prime turf, leaving you room
to expand.

Replace stuff before @ with mike1. === Democracy: the expression of the
innate need of most humans to have an Alpha leader tell them what to do.
They like the idea of creating one via an "election". It's a vicarious,
Frankenstein-esque dependancy enablement syndrome. -- Bill Kasper =====
===================================================================

Scott M

unread,
Jan 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/13/99
to mi...@winternet.com
Great stuff!

> The best way to make monopoly work for you is to allow someone else on
> the hex, but make sure *you* get two sides of it (as the other player will
> work to keep the Robber away, but collect only half as much as you).

Well, my definition of a monopoly runs with the dictionary as "exclusive
control". I would call this more like a cartel.

> The other way to play monopoly is by restricting access to, or having
> majority access to, several hexes of a commodity for which you have the
> port. The others can't keep the Robber on all of them (and will probably
> place it on your "prime" hex, forcing you to use the port trading in
> junk). Sheep and Wheat monopolies are most typical of this kind, because
> they are not the commodities that people "key" on during initial
> placement.

This is very similar to the "sheep-O-matic" strategy I described in the notes,
and is also a cartel.

> But I've seen all kinds of monopolies work.
>
> My favorite actually involves letting the other players ring in the
> best hex, while I take the other two less marginal ones in my placements
> (and wall them off). Then I keep the Robber on the good hex throughout the
> game. This works best with Ore or Brick, and the desert "inconvenient"
> such that other players don't place on otherwise decent hexes, with you
> being the "swing" player. They fight over the prime turf, leaving you room
> to expand.
>

This really does meet my definition of a monopoly, and seems like a great idea!
I have used this on occasion, but it is more of an accident rather than a
strategy I tried for.

I am working on a new version of guide, and will be sure to put in a "cartel"
variant of the monopoly strategy, as well as this great version of making a
monopoly work!

Mik*_ Schn*der

unread,
Jan 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/13/99
to
>Great stuff!
>
>> The best way to make monopoly work for you is to allow someone else on
>> the hex, but make sure *you* get two sides of it (as the other player will
>> work to keep the Robber away, but collect only half as much as you).
>
>Well, my definition of a monopoly runs with the dictionary as "exclusive
>control". I would call this more like a cartel.


Well, it's actually very difficult to get a total monopoly. Even with
Ore on 2/12/8, *somebody* usually will take even an Ore/Desert/Sea
interesection just to get it. Your chance at a monopoly is more likely
with all three hexes being lousy, with you going first and taking the
marginally best one (typically a 10 or 4). The others will Robber the hex
to bring you to their level (using trade-ins), and if your other hexes are
not as productive, you will probably lose.

>> The other way to play monopoly is by restricting access to, or having
>> majority access to, several hexes of a commodity for which you have the
>> port. The others can't keep the Robber on all of them (and will probably
>> place it on your "prime" hex, forcing you to use the port trading in
>> junk). Sheep and Wheat monopolies are most typical of this kind, because
>> they are not the commodities that people "key" on during initial
>> placement.
>
>This is very similar to the "sheep-O-matic" strategy I described in the notes,
>and is also a cartel.
>
>> But I've seen all kinds of monopolies work.
>>
>> My favorite actually involves letting the other players ring in the
>> best hex, while I take the other two less marginal ones in my placements
>> (and wall them off). Then I keep the Robber on the good hex throughout the
>> game. This works best with Ore or Brick, and the desert "inconvenient"
>> such that other players don't place on otherwise decent hexes, with you
>> being the "swing" player. They fight over the prime turf, leaving you room
>> to expand.
>>
>
>This really does meet my definition of a monopoly, and seems like a great idea!
>I have used this on occasion, but it is more of an accident rather than a
>strategy I tried for.
>
>I am working on a new version of guide, and will be sure to put in a "cartel"
>variant of the monopoly strategy, as well as this great version of making a
>monopoly work!

Replace stuff before @ with mike1. === Democracy: the expression of the

you...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
Jan 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/24/99
to
Have been lurking for a while, but seem to be getting mixed messages.

My wife and I are very interested in board games, and have quite a collection.
We play the Settlers card game and really enjoy it. I want to buy the board
game as a present for her. Is it a two player game or is there a variant out
there somewhere to make it into one ? The box says 3 - 4 players. Mayfairs
webpage says 2-4. Which should I believe,

thanks for your help in this matter

Ian

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

Mike

unread,
Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
In article <78g256$9pl$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, you...@my-dejanews.com wrote:

> Have been lurking for a while, but seem to be getting mixed messages.
>
> My wife and I are very interested in board games, and have quite a collection.
> We play the Settlers card game and really enjoy it. I want to buy the board
> game as a present for her. Is it a two player game or is there a variant out
> there somewhere to make it into one ? The box says 3 - 4 players. Mayfairs
> webpage says 2-4. Which should I believe,
>
> thanks for your help in this matter

Here's two different ways:


1. Play to 15 points, starting with three settlements.
First player places one, the 2nd two, the first two, the 2nd his last.


3. Each player uses two colors. No trades between your colors.
Play until one color reaches 10 points and wins.

Reply to mike1@@winternet.com. ============================

idee...@earthlink.net

unread,
Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
Interesting that you played the Settlers card game BEFORE you played the
original Settlers of Catan. I don't think I've heard that from anyone else.

The original Settlers really is only for 3-4. Trading amongst the players
is such an essential part of the game that to play with only 2 really takes
a lot of the flavor out of the game. It can still be done, but I think
you'll prefer to play the card game when you have just 2.


David Pritchard

unread,
Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
you...@my-dejanews.com wrote:
>
> My wife and I are very interested in board games, and have quite a collection.
> We play the Settlers card game and really enjoy it. I want to buy the board
> game as a present for her. Is it a two player game or is there a variant out
> there somewhere to make it into one ? The box says 3 - 4 players. Mayfairs
> webpage says 2-4. Which should I believe,
>

My wife and I play Die Siedler (Kosmos Edition, of course) in all its
expansion (not at the same time, yet). On the whole we find it "works"
for 2 (taking 3 player options if appropriate), but is different to the
many player game (less trading, etc). Occasionally it can get a bit
one-sided, but is usually over soon after. We looked at the "Intimate
Settlers" variant (Somewhere on the WWW, I don't remember where), but
it was SO similar to Seefahrer that we never bothered.

--
Dr David J. Pritchard http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~djp/
Electronics and Computer Science tel +44 1703 592722
University of Southampton fax +44 1703 593903
Southampton SO17 1BJ

pp...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
In article <notavalid-250...@ppp-66-84.dialup.winternet.com>,

nota...@eddress.org (Mike) wrote:
> In article <78g256$9pl$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, you...@my-dejanews.com wrote:
>
> > Have been lurking for a while, but seem to be getting mixed messages.
> >
> > My wife and I are very interested in board games, and have quite a
collection.
> > We play the Settlers card game and really enjoy it. I want to buy the board
> > game as a present for her. Is it a two player game or is there a variant
out
> > there somewhere to make it into one ? The box says 3 - 4 players. Mayfairs
> > webpage says 2-4. Which should I believe,
> >
> > thanks for your help in this matter
>
> Here's two different ways:
>
> 1. Play to 15 points, starting with three settlements.
> First player places one, the 2nd two, the first two, the 2nd his last.
>
> 3. Each player uses two colors. No trades between your colors.
> Play until one color reaches 10 points and wins.
>
> Reply to mike1@@winternet.com. ============================
>
I too play with my wife with your solution 3. It is real fun (I think its even
better than the card game) what is interesting is that since trading between
your 2 colors is forbidden you must trade with your opponent otherwise
you never get enough ressources to build something!

Note that this game option can also be applied to the Seefharer extension

ppol

Richard Heli

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Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to

you...@my-dejanews.com wrote:

> Have been lurking for a while, but seem to be getting mixed messages.
>
> My wife and I are very interested in board games, and have quite a collection.
> We play the Settlers card game and really enjoy it. I want to buy the board
> game as a present for her. Is it a two player game or is there a variant out
> there somewhere to make it into one ?

There's an interesting 2-player variant at

http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/brewerytap/1/IntSett.html


Tom Alaerts

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Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
Not really an answer to your question but the abstract boardgame GIPF is a
very, very nice 2 player game. There's some info on www.gipf.com Everybody
loves it
you...@my-dejanews.com wrote in message
<78g256$9pl$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...

David B Eggleston

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Jan 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/25/99
to
idee...@earthlink.net wrote:

> The original Settlers really is only for 3-4. Trading amongst the players
> is such an essential part of the game that to play with only 2 really takes
> a lot of the flavor out of the game. It can still be done, but I think
> you'll prefer to play the card game when you have just 2.

Completely agree. In the card game, the players initially generate
resources
(altho not the most desirable ones!) at the same rate. In the board
game, this
is usually not the case, and trading is intended to offset this.
Without the
trading element, it's quite a predictable growth game, with few
interesting
decisions (altho Seafarers helps this considerably with two players).

And, unlike most other Family Strategy games, I do not enjoy playing two
colors
each. Conflict-of-interest inhibits trading, and maintaining two hands
of cards
makes it a bit difficult to maintain the "vision" for each of your
colors.

One fellow's opinion,

- d

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