Whether you’re a rank newbie, looking for advice, or a grizzled veteran, interested in my cardinal rule for playing Settlers, here is my advice to you… always make sure you have grain.
One of my friends tweeted a picture of her game of Settlers of Catan and I immediately spotted an issue with her position… she had a decent selection of numbers, but no grain at all.
It is almost inevitable that, during the initial setup phase, some players will be forced to choose a resource not to be adjacent to (or to have on a 2 or something). So, which resource should be sacrificed?
Let’s take a moment to look at the five resources and how you can live without them.
Lumber – Annoying to live without in the early stages, as you can’t easily build roads or settlements, but you can get development cards, which can easily cover the shortfall through Road Building, Year of Plenty, Monopoly… even the Soldiers give you the possiblity of stealing lumber.
Brick – The same as lumber really. Perhaps slightly more annoying, as brick is often a little rarer, so people are less willing to trade (but that makes stealing it or declaring a Monopoly that much sweeter).
Sheep – Without sheep, you can’t build settlements and you can’t get development cards to help you out. However, you can still build cities, to give you more resources to trade for sheep and you can build your road network while you’re waiting. Sheep are also one of the resources people are most willing to trade, as there are often points when sheep can’t be used for much (because people can only build roads or cities).
Ore – It’s frustrating to be without ore in the late stages of the game, but at the start you have all the resources you need to build roads and settlements, so hopefully you can get to some ore (or failing that, a 2:1 port in something you have plenty of).
Grain – Now we get to grain, without which you can only build roads; no cities to boost your resources, no settlements to expland your options, no development cards to cover your weak spots. Plus, because everyone else needs grain as much as you, it’s one of the least traded resources, in my experience.
So there is my advice to you, my number one rule to avoid losing the game before it starts… start on grain and save yourself a headache.
Of course, if you disagree, please leave a comments.