You managed to build a gigantic realm of cities, villages and streets within the most resourceful area of Catan. Your trading route reaches the horizon and the economic developments go sky high. And now that the largest army joined your imperium, opponents don’t stand a chance against you. Victory is yours.
Doesn’t your Settlers of Catan strategy always work out like this?
But you dream of the triumphant experience in front of your jealous friends and family?
Then check out the 12 tips in this blog and form your own Settlers of Catan strategy. And who knows, you might be the next victorious Catan player!
Before we begin…
Before I help you to answer the question “How do I win Settlers of Catan?” I want to mention that the tips in this blog are applicable to both the wooden and plastic versions of the game that are out there.
Also, this blog originally was written in Dutch. Due to its popularity, I translated it into English. Aiming for helping Catan players world wide. The images however, remain from the Dutch (or European) version of the blog.
I want to thank Leon for proofreading this blog and giving feedback for the finishing touch!
Tip 1 – Use the intersection that statistically offers most resources!
One of the most important Settlers of Catan tips advices you on your first action of the game: placing the first settlements.
I can imagine it’s tempting to build your settlements near the hexes with numbers 6 and 8 on it.
But think again! You should only build on an intersection when this place will offer you the most resources, statistically. What I mean by that? I’ll explain below.
Look at this table:
You can see that when using two dice, number 7 can be rolled in 6 different ways. 6+1, 5+2, 4+3, 3+4, 2+5 and 1+6. Numbers 2 and 12 on the other hand have the least possible combinations (only 1 for each). This is because you can use all of the sides on both dices to throw a 7, but you can only use 1 side to throw a 2.
Now let me get to the point with an example. Look at the options to build below:
- Option 1: You can build a settlement next to the numbers 3, 6 and 10.
- Option 2: You can build a settlement next to the numbers 4, 5 and 9.
Where should you build?
- Option 1 offers 2 + 5 + 3 = 10 ways to get resources.
- Option 2 offers 3 + 4 + 4 = 11 ways to get resources.
This means that statistically, option #2 will give you more resources during the game. By using this tip within your Settlers of Catan strategy, you can maximise your chances from the very beginning!
Tip 2 – Consider the right place for your first streets
This is another tip you can use at the beginning of the game. After placing a settlement, you may place a street. But in what direction will you go?
Many players will go toward a fertile area, with many resources and the right numbers on the hexes.
But players, who may place another settlement and street after you, are probably aiming for that spot as well. This can make your street rather pointless… so consider heading towards an area less popular, but with more expansion possibilities.
Tip 3 – Prevent òr use only 2 settlements on a hex
When 2 settlements on the same hexagon are each others opposites, you can no longer add another settlement. This is because you need a minimum of 2 steps (or roads) between 2 settlements. I mention this as a Settlers of Catan tip because of the following.
On the one hand you can get your fingers burned. Look at the image below. As his first choice, the red player built a settlement above the 8 and below the 6. A couple of turns later, he realises there is an un-even number of steps between the 2 settlements. Because of this, he can never enjoy the benefits from the 8 with more than 2 settlements.
On the other hand, you can use it to screw over someone else. Even though you want to make friends during the game, it’s a Settlers of Catan tactic I would definately recommend to use when necessary. Look at the example below.
Since the red player built below the 8, the blue player can no longer add any settlement there. The only use his streets offer are now for the longest trading routes.
Tip 4 – Remember the resources your opponents have
Knowing what resources your opponents have (and which they haven’t!), offers you 2 advantages.
First of all, if you want to trade you can aim for the right person and respond to his or her needs. “I got what you need, and you got what I need.” Not many players will decline your offer.
Secondly, you can use this information to decide what hexagon you’re going to move the Robber to. Namely, a hexagon with a settlement of the player you know has the resources you want. By moving the robber, you can grab a card from him!
Tip 5 – Just spend your resources
The moment someone rolls 7 with the dice, players with more than 7 cards need to discard half of the resources they own. Quite a shame. And that’s why I recommend to use as many resources as you can. Consider exchanging 4 resources at the bank for 1 of your choice. Or dó buy that development card. Or just go ahead and build that little street.
Tip 6 – Make love, not war.
No matter how you look at it, if other players hate you, it’s pretty difficult to win the Settlers of Catan. Your opponents may work together to fight against you. And if a single person doesn’t like you, he or she will probably not trade with you.
So make sure the other players like you. Trade with them once in a while, even if it just benefits them. They will be more willing to help you out in a moment of need. But don’t help too much ;).
Tip 7 – Don’t forget the harbors
Without a settlement at a harbor, you may exchange 4 cards with the same resource at the bank and choose 1 of your choice in return. But 4 is quite a lot. That’s why you should never forget the harbors. By building a settlement there, you get the possibility to exchange 3 or even 2 cards with the same resource.
This may sound like a no-brainer, I know. But in my experience, the winner has one or more harbors within his/her imperium most of the time!
Tip 8 – Keep some fallback options
When building a settlement in the middle of the board, you’ll probably get closed in by other players building around you. And if bad luck strikes you and you got nowhere else to go, a game of Catan can take forever to end… So try to build a little on the outer area of Catan. This way, you’ll always have fallback options when needed.
And did you end up in the middle of the board when the game begins? Then get out of there quickly. No matter the strategy you have. Build and spread. No development carts. Just build. Otherwise no other Settlers of Catan tip can help you!
Tip 9 – Know this about the resources
Two important tips for Settlers of Catan are about resources. These are the following:
- Eventually, you’ll need every kind of resource: wood, clay, wheat, rock and wool. Don’t focus on a few, but on each and everyone of them.
- If you want to expand in the beginning of the game, you will need wood and clay. Without those, no new streets, no new settlements. Remember that when placing your first 2 settlements!
Tip 10 – Always pay attention to your opponents
What will they do? Do you need to block one of them? Do they want to take your spot? Is someone going for the Largest Army of Longest Trading Route? Each of these questions is crucial during a game of Catan. Yes, you can pay attention only to yourself. But you opponents will definately use that to out-smart you.
Tip 11 – Always collect some Development Cards
No matter the Settlers of Catan strategy you pursue, it’s pretty much impossible to win without development cards. Use them for a Victory Point, a Monopoly or a Knight. These cards offer advantages that will turn into the victory points you need. By the way, play your development cards on time, because you can only play one per round!
The picture I took is from the Dutch game. So translated from left to right: 1 Victory Point, Monopoly, Knight.
Tip 12 – Block the right resources!
The robber is the ideal (and only) tool to put the production of resources on hold. But pay attention when you use it.
You can obviously choose to block a number that is thrown a lot. In the games of Catan I play, this happens most of the time. But since the player will probably already have enough of that resource (because the number is thrown a lot, right?), consider blocking the unexpected.
For example. A player gets rock when 8 is thrown and grain when 4 is thrown. You probably want to block 8. But as I said before, the player will probably have a lot of rock already. So why not block grain? With this Settlers of Catan tactic, based on a bit of luck on your end, you can make the game a littler harder for your opponents. The unexpected way.
Now it’s your turn!
I hope I gave you some useful tips with this blog and hope you can answer the question “How to win Settlers of Catan?”. But I’m pretty sure some tips won’t always work. You have to test what works for you. By combining tips and use trial and error, I’m also sure you’ll create the perfect Settlers of Catan strategy for you!
Do you have a specific strategy, tactic or some tips you want to share? Please share them in the comments! Any questions are welcome as well!