The news and information headquarters for The Settlers of Catan.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Qualifiers from Galway and California

Jacques Kieft from Galway, Ireland, and Patrick Chan from Palo Alto, California, U.S.A., have qualified for the 2006 Catan World Championships.

Jacques triumphed at the second Irish qualifying tournament to claim his position in the World Champs, and will be looking to repeat his success from 2002, when he went on to become the world champion.

Patrick picked up the first American position at the World Champs by winning the Origins tournament held last weekend in Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

John & Adam Wilson: The Scottish Qualifiers

John Wilson and Adam Wilson have topped the leaderboard at the Scottish tournament at DiceCon in Glasgow, held on July 26, and have snared the two Scottish seats at the 2005 Catan World Championships.

Further World Champs qualifiers should also be announced soon after a big weekend of feed-in tournaments for the 2005 Catan World Championships.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Strategy from Wikipedia

A new strategy article has been posted to the Strategy section. Sourced from Wikipedia, this article examines some of the core strategies for The Settlers of Catan.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Shane Cassels: The First Irish Qualifier

Congratulations go to Shane Cassels, the first Irishman to qualify for the 2005 Catan World Championships. Shane became the 15th qualifier overall for the World Champs by winning the first Irish qualifying tournament, which was held in Dublin on the 11th and 12th of June.

The other Irish qualifier should also be determined in the very near future, with a second qualifying showdown to also be held in Dublin this weekend.

For more information on the 2005 Catan World Championships, check out the Tournaments section.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

3 new club listings

The first three clubs have been listed in the Clubs section:
  • Wellington Settlers of Catan Club (New Zealand)
  • Games Club of Maryland (USA)
  • Columbia University Games Club (USA)
If any of these clubs are in your local area, drop them a line and go have a game!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Catan is coming to the Nokia N-Gage

Legendary games developer Capcom are set to release a version of The Settlers of Catan for the Nokia N-Gage in August 2005.

Simply titled 'Catan', the game has been refitted with Japanese artwork from Susumu Matsushita and a range of new gameplay modes. In addition to the standard Multiplayer mode that lets you test your skills against other N-Gage players, Catan includes Tournament, Single Player and Quest modes. 10 unique AI characters are even available to provide a range of challenges and playing styles.

The game was demonstrated at the E3 electronic gaming conference earlier this year and received a positive review from the team at Gamespot.

This news has also been added to the Playing Catan Electronic Style section.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Catan Tournament at the MSO in Manchester

A Settlers of Catan tournament is due to be held as part of the 9th Mind Sport Olympiad (MSO), which takes place from August 19 to 29, 2005, in Manchester, England.

Normally, the MSO is host to a range of more traditional games such as Chess and Go. However, this year the format has been expanded to include games like The Settlers of Catan, in a separate event called MSOCON. The other games included in MSOCON are Acquire, Age of Steam, Carcassonne, Lost Cities and Puerto Rico.

More information on the MSO can be found on the MSO website.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


A review of Sea3D has been added to the Playing Catan Electronic Style section. Sea3D is an impressive piece of network gaming software for The Settlers of Catan, and boasts a strong community base.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The first Strategy article!

The first Strategy article, Trevor Dewey's Questions you might ask after you've played a bit, has been posted to the Strategy section.

Updates to Playing Catan and Links sections

The Playing Catan section of Catan HQ has been expanded to cover Catan expansion packs and the Java Settlers of Catan online game. While these updates are only brief, more detail is on its way.

Some new links have also been added to the Links section.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Catan World Championships 2005

The annual Catan World Championships at being held at the SPIEL 2005 international games fair in Essen, Germany, on October 15 and 16. 14 players have already qualified for positions, including last year's champion, Francesco Ferrari of Italy, and runner-up Claus Sorensen of Denmark.

More information can be found here on the Spielezentrum Herne website.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Catan Online preview extended

MSN Games have extended the preview period for Catan Online, the latest and greatest online version of The Settlers of Catan. The preview was previously slated to finish on June 6, but has been extended indefinitely, presumably until the supporter base reaches critical levels.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Welcome to Catan HQ

Welcome to Catan HQ. We hope that with your help, Catan HQ will become the definitive online headquarters for The Settlers of Catan. This site is still under construction, but Catan HQ will one day bring you:
  • Catan News
  • Strategy Pages
  • General Catan Information
  • International Player Rankings
  • Catan Links
  • And anything else the Catan community desires...

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Catan HQ > Playing Catan > Tournaments

Essen, Germany: Catan World Championships 2005

The annual Catan World Championships are being held at the SPIEL 2005 international games fair in Essen, Germany, on October 15 and 16.

More information can be found on the Spielezentrum Herne website.

Manchester, England: Catan Tournament at the MSO

A Settlers of Catan tournament is due to be held as part of the 9th Mind Sport Olympiad (MSO), which takes place from August 19 to 29, 2005, in Manchester, England.

Normally, the MSO is host to a range of more traditional games such as Chess and Go. However, this year the format has been expanded to include games like The Settlers of Catan, in a separate event called MSOCON. The other games included in MSOCON are Acquire, Age of Steam, Carcassonne, Lost Cities and Puerto Rico.

More information on the MSO can be found at the MSO website.

Last updated on July 4, 2005.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Strategic Considerations from Wikipedia

Catan HQ > Strategy > Strategic Considerations from Wikipedia.

This strategy article comes from the Settlers of Catan, Strategic Considerations page in Wikipedia, and, as such, is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It provides solid, fundamental pointers to strong Catan play.

Strategic Considerations from Wikipedia

There are no gospel truths in Settlers of Catan strategy, as the game is designed to test the limits of a player's decision-making adaptability. However, a good player generally has a good memory, an understanding of basic probability, a cool head, and good rapport with the other players. The following section addresses fairly axiomatic strategic considerations.

Initial placement

The foundation for winning every game is laid during the initial placement phase. Common considerations include wanting a nice combination starting resources, seeing nice expansion spots within striking distance, or long-term planning to take the Largest Army or Longest Road. Some advanced players place with macro strategies in mind, such as those listed under the Victory points breakdown bullet point. Since the layout and properties of the board are different from game to game, and every player has personal priorities when choosing a position, this subject is open for debate. The fastest way to learn how to place properly is to do placement exercises with a mentor.

Building order

Every resource gain has a relative cost. In other words, when a player gains resources from a roll, more often than not one or more of his opponents gains resources as well. Thus it is advantageous to have a production advantage over others on probable numbers and useful resources. Players should make decisions on building order with this in mind. For instance, a city upgrade tends to increase production more than the purchase of a new settlement. Likewise, building a principality increases production while taking the Longest Route does not.

Sometimes more than one player starts the game within striking distance of a good expansion spot. A player should be aware of such situations, and if the spot is a priority (for instance if the player will be trapped with no where else to go without it), then the player must work towards building that settlement before anything else.

Once a player has decided on what to build next, a change of plan is usually suboptimal from an efficiency point of view, particularly if several turns have already been devoted towards realizing the original plan.

Resource movement

Pay attention during all players' turns. A sharp trader should know the approximate value of each resource to each player at each turn, and use this information profitably. The production and trading of resources is public, but resource cards are held face down, which means that an alert player with a perfect memory can know exactly what everyone has in hand, whereas the inattentive player will often be wondering (or asking out loud), "Does anyone have grain?". The one exception is the stealing of a card when the robber is moved; only the thief and the victim know the value of the card exchanged. The market value of a resource changes with any imbalance of supply and demand, but more importantly its value inflates when it enables a key purchase. When offered a trade on another player's turn, consider what the rolling player will build and proceed with caution. Knowledge of the resources in everyone's hands is also essential when holding a Monopoly development card. When played, this card allows you to take all of a particular resource from the hands of all players. Thus, it is of greatest value when your opponents are each holding several of a particular resource. Many players have made the embarrassing mistake of monopolizing a resource only to find that no one had any in their hands.

Don't play with fire in the endgame. Absolutely refuse to trade with someone who may be in striking distance of victory. Unwittingly providing the resource necessary for the final victory point is... a blunder of a magnitude that is difficult to put into words.

Robber control

Don't waste robber control when you've got it. At a table of advanced players, one cannot afford to miscalculate who the strongest player is, at any given point in the game. Since all resource production has a relative cost, a quiet lead that goes unaddressed can snowball until the leading player has a firm grip on robber control (i.e. free reign) for the remainder of the game. Prioritize winning the game over getting the emotional satisfaction of robbing revenge.

When a player is close to being able to build something, he may need to rob the opponent who possesses the resource that he needs. Generally speaking, a leading player can better afford to choose robber placement by this criteria.

Victory points breakdown

How many ways can one make change for a ten, with settlements, cities, roads, armies, and victory points?

  • 4 cities and 2 settlements? Yes, but a game rarely lasts long enough for this to be a viable strategy. Think again.
  • 4 cities and the Longest Road? Yes, a timber/grain/ore/brick strategy, getting warmer.
  • 3 cities, the Largest Army, and 2 victory point cards? Yes, a grain/ore/wool strategy. A few advanced players get kind of stuck in this mode.
  • 3 cities, 1 settlement, the Largest Army, and a victory point card? Yes, usually the product of a grain/ore/wool strategy supplemented with a decent supply of either timber or brick.
  • 3 cities, 2 settlements, and either the Longest Road or Largest Army? Yes, this outcome might result after a player gains an early production advantage, by building cities before others could.
  • 2 cities, 4 settlements, and either the Longest Road or Largest Army? Yes, a likely result of the most straightforward of strategies, involving all the resource types, though slightly dependent on how fast a player can build his first city.
  • 1 city, 5 settlements, the Longest Road, and a victory point card? Yes, a player owning 7 intersections had better have the Longest Road (dependent on good roading form). This strategy is luck-dependent if a player finds himself stuck at 9 points with no settlements, left hoping that a victory point card will materialize. However, a player who has acquired the victory point card at some point earlier in the game may safely pursue this outcome.
  • 5 settlements, the Longest Road, the Largest Army, and a victory point card? Yes, sacrificing cities for development cards, risky, but feasible.
Extrapolate to the other boards. Bear in mind that some (but not all) of the sea games permit a new two-point play, building a settlement on a secondary island. On the Great Crossing maps in particular, the rules governing trade routes enable a player to make a huge, multi-point play to end the game very abruptly.

Last updated on July 3, 2005.

Questions you might ask after you've played a bit.

Catan HQ > Strategy > Questions you might ask after you've played a bit.

Credit goes to Trevor Dewey for these sometimes aggressive and always amusing strategy tips. They come from his website, which sadly hasn't been updated since 1997. Catan HQ has made a few minor changes to bring this article up to date.

Questions you might ask after you've played a bit.

Wow man, Catan Rocks! But like I.. I..

It's okay. Take a breath. You've bought Catan, looked at the components (Wow! I didn't know an orange could be that...ugly. Eeeh.) For the hell of it you went to your gaming club or invited some friends over and suddenly you look at the clock its 3:00 am you just played your seventh game in almost as many hours (well not including the gastronomic interphase). And you know you are about to go to sleep dreaming of little black figures locking down your brick production...

There is only one question in your mind. Why is it such an awesome game?

Catan rocks for the following reasons:

  • It's Quick! Four good players can play a game in a smidge over an hour. You can play 5 games of Catan in the time it takes to play one game of Titan.
  • It's Dirty! I can't recall a game where there are so many ways and means to screw your so-called friends. From the initial placement of cities (You really didn't think you were going to be all alone on that 6 brick did you?), to moving the robber (Red and White are on the 6 brick lock em down Scotty!), to trading (You really want to build that road? I'll give you my wood for three brick. Don't bother asking anyone else. I've got the only wood in the game and you don't have a 3:1 port), to building (You really didn't think I'd let you get out?).
  • It's Hard! Catan is not an easy game to win. Because of its ever-changing board the optimal strategy changes for each game. There are however some general strategic guidelines.
  • It's Easy! The rules are reasonably clear. Most players can learn it in a sitting. Whether they can master it, is another question.

I keep rolling good dice but I still lose. Why?

You keep losing because you can't win Catan with lucky dice rolls. You've just discovered one more appeal of Catan: Luck has almost nothing to do with Catan. In the end the odds even out. In a four player game by the midgame all available settlements slots have been taken. You can not produce without someone else also gaining via your "lucky" rolls. This is a little less true in the three player variant--yet one more reason to avoid three player games.

Maybe so but what about the (guy/girl/thing) that rolled three twos to win the game

Someone won a game just because he/she/it rolled three twos allowing her/his/its forest/hill/mountain/farmland/pasture to produce three times in a row? Come again? Was he/she/it at seven victory points and you all just gave him/her/it a victory point for rolling the two? Either the player was well placed to take advantage of this fortuitous rolling (possible in 2nd place before this statistical blip occurred) or you all failed to realize the effects of this production on his/her/its output and so did not respond properly: failed to trade embargo, play a soldier to steal his cards, etc.


Look, if you depend upon dice to win then you should stop playing Catan and go play Risk.

So give me some strategies

Hey didn't I just tell you to go play Risk? No. No. I'm just trying to change the subject now. OK, I will give you some strategies but not the optimal strategy, because frankly an optimal strategy doesn't exist. Caveat: all strategies are for four player games only. You play a three-player at your own risk.

The Laws of Catan: Strategy and Other Good Advice.

  • Control a port. You can't win, you can't place and you can't show without a port. Ideally a 2:1 but grab a 3:1 if you must.
  • Corollaries to the above: Decide before you place your towns, which 2:1 port you are going to try to get. Place your first town on or near (2 roads lengths) that port. Don't cry if another player places his town on the port. You had your chance.
  • Penultimate Corollary to the above: Place roads to hinder access to ports. It doesn't matter whether you can use them or not. What does matter is that you are denying them to your opponents.
  • Decide before the midgame whether you are going to go for longest road or biggest army. You can't win a four player game without them unless your opponents are playing extremely poorly.
  • Becker's Law: You'll always have too much sheep, except for when you actually need them.
  • The sheep, lumber, and wheat ports are better than the brick and ore ports. There are more sheep, lumber and wheat lands and you generally have better things to do with your brick and ore in the early and midgame than trade it out 2:1.
  • Grab a Six and an Eight (no matter what they are) when you can, but be prepared for the robber to park there. Remember: the odds even out.
  • Jeremy's Observation: There are no bad development cards.
  • Corollary to Jeremy's Observation: Buy a development card when you can.
  • Brick is the rarest and most important resource in the beginning, but it is becomes almost worthless after the midgame.
  • Ore is just as rare and always important.
  • Currently, the most popular strategy in the group I play with is to place settlements on commodities: ore, sheep, wheat. Using Tech cards and city upgrades to quickly reach 10 VPs. This is an extremely powerful strategy.
  • Timber is more common than brick and worth just as little in the endgame.
  • Wheat gets no respect. While it is more common than ore it is at least as valuable.
  • Enough has already been said about sheep.
  • Corollary to the above: Upgrade to a city as quick as you can. An early 2 times bonus is invaluable. A great combination is to be on an ore/wheat intersection with access to the ore port.
  • Corollary to the Corollary: If you ever let someone have a city on an ore/wheat intersection with access to the ore port before the midgame commences you all deserve to lose. And that guy or girl deserves to walk all over you.
  • Bob's Golden Rule: Greed is good.
  • You should almost always play your Soldier cards before you roll for production.
  • Never give into blackmail. Force your opponent to play his Soldier card to get the resource card you refuse to trade.
  • Production monopolies are over-rated and difficult to come by.
  • Corollaries to the above: If you see someone grab a great spot with his first town say between a 9 wheat, 5 wheat, 10 wheat, do the right thing and grab the wheat port. It may not help you but it certainly screws him.
  • Your first two towns are critical. But don't sweat their placement. Any optimal arrangement of towns is sure to get screwed up by your opponents.
  • Your first two roads are as critical as your first two towns. Do not place them in the wrong direction.
  • The Fourth Player Rocks Law: Starting fourth is best. Unless you are purposely screwed by your opponents your placement while not optimal will be better than any of the others.
  • The Stuff the Fourth Player Law: Starting anything but fourth sucks. Don't let the fourth player walk all over you with his or her placements. It is worth a sucky placement of your second towns to hinder the fourth player.
  • Corollary to the above: The first player should place his first town to optimize production. He should place his second town where it screws the most people. Regardless of production value.
  • Nothing slows a player down like a trade embargo.
  • Corollary to the above: Never trade with anyone at seven or more VPs.
  • Restatement of the above Corollary: Never trade with anyone unless it is to your advantage.
  • Short form of the above Restatement: Don't help other players.
  • If everybody else is placing towns by that six brick, place as far away as possible. Hopefully by a timber, even a mediocre or poor one. It is always much better to be by yourself with room to grow than in the middle of a mess near optimal production hexes. This seems obvious, but is hardly ever done.
  • When you can, place settlements opposite opponents on frontiers. Place orthogonally in your own territory.
  • The Better to have Loved and Lost Law: It is almost never a good idea to trade multiple items for one item just to reduce your hand below seven. All you are doing is helping another player; probably to your disadvantage.
  • Restatement of the above: Better four bricks discarded to the pile than a road in your face.
  • The Prime Directive (Craig's Law): it is always an optimal play to screw the other players.

Last updated on July 4, 2005.


Catan HQ > Strategy

Ah, Catan - an hour to learn, a lifetime to master. So cliched, but luckily for Catan fans, so true. Hopefully the words of wisdom in this section can help you on your quest for that elusive Catan mastery.

Strategy Articles:

Last updated by Catan HQ on July 3, 2005.