I’m a little bit into board games and the game I most often get to play is the basic version of The settlers of Catan, because it’s a game that many people find very entertaining, plus it’s very easy to learn how to play it.

Developing a strategy that will let you win most of the time is something else however. The five of us are going to play tonight and I thought I’d look for some strategy tips online. The very best I have found is this video: http://youtu.be/BOv0PaRPa9E

The nice man in the video discusses four strategies:

-going for the longest route

This means focussing on getting wood and brick, usually leads to building villages (settlements), but not cities. Usually you won’t be able to buy a lot of action cards either. This means you should be able to get up to 7 points easily, but probably it will be tough to get up to a winning ten. Personally I don’t like this strategy any more. It’s the strategy I had when I first started playing. Perhaps I’ll add something to this strategy to make me like it, because it’s a nice, basic strategy, it just needs some spicing up.

-focussing on getting the largest army

I tried this one yesterday and it didn’t work. It makes you look bad to the other players, they gang up against you. Also, it’s very hard to expand and build new settlements. The resources you draw from attacking someone are not enough to help you expand. Since you don’t expand very fast with this strategy the effects of being attacked are worse. Also, you’ll be attacked more often because you provoke the other players into doing so. I won’t try this strategy any more, though it’s a seductive one.

-focussing on getting a harbor that leds you trade a specific resource 2:1 and making sure you get a steady supply of that one resource

Sounds like a good strategy, but I would combine it with an other strategy. I would suggest using this strategy or tactic as the basis of some other strategy. This could work well with going for the longest route. At first you use the harbour for roads and settlements, but then later on you trade for iron ore to build cities.

-monopolizing grain (or wheat)

I haven’t come up with this strategy myself and am eager to try it. Wheat is needed in every transaction except for building roads, so it’s very essential, (more so than bricks or wood). If you make sure you get all the wheat and deny it as much as possible to other players there’s a good chance they will get stuck, unless they have a harbour or target you and steal your wheat.

A fifth ‘strategy’:

Analyze it all you want, but in the end luck is a big factor in this game. The way the dice go decides a lot. So, it would seem a good strategy to just make sure you have your settlements on all the good numbers, especially 5, 6, 8 and 9, but preferably on all numbers from 3 to 11 as soon as possible, regardless of the resource. What drives this game is getting a lot of resources, I often have the impression it doesn’t matter so much what you are getting, as long as you are getting a lot and can improvize the best ways to use your resources moment to moment. If you monopolize a resource and/or acquire a harbor and get lots of resources flowing in, you almost always win. The four strategies above aren’t very flexible, and in order to win this game you often have to be very flexible.

Some general remarks before signing off:

-sheep don’t seem to be very important, certainly if you are not looking to buy action cards, so don’t care too much about sheep, the other resources are more valuable
-don’t annoy other players, they’ll usually retaliate, stay out of fights
-keep a low profile, don’t play victory points early on, let them think you’re not winning
-a supply of unused action cards can deter players from taking an agressive action against you
-if you are trying to trade with someone almost point out the advantages to them
-be nice and point out to people they are forgetting to harvest a resource they are entitled to, which often happens. This will usually make them like you and favor you in trades or when playing the robber.
-if someone needs a resource don’t go for 1: 1 trading, demand at least two resources for your 1 resource. Again: go for volume, not specific resources. I usually say something like: you can have my 1 brick for two (or three) resources, doesn’t which as long as you give me two (or three)
-force your memory to keep track of what resources other people have
-only play the monopoly card if you are absolutely sure you will get a huge amount of resources (unless in the rare case that you only need one resource card to win the game of course)