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    FAQ/Strategy Guide by CaspianX2

    Version: 1.02 | Updated: 06/01/07 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Catan Strategy Guide
    Some helpful pointers so you can build, develop and trade your way to success
    in the XBLA version of the popular board game
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           Strategy Guide v1.02
           Submitted on 6/01/07
           By CaspianX2 (AKA Jake McNeill)
           Digital Entertainment News (http://www.dignews.com)
    1. Introduction
    2. Controls
    3. Basic Gameplay Rules
    4. Getting Started
    5. Placing Your Settlements Part I: General Strategy
          5A. Revenue Dots
          5B. Location
          5C. Type of Resource
    6. Placing Your Starting Settlements Part II: Order-Specific Strategy
          6A. Going First
          6B. Going Last
          6C. Going Second or Third
    7. Early Game Strategy
    8. Development Cards
          8A. Soldier Cards
          8B. Monopoly Cards
          8C. Year of Plenty Cards
          8D. Road Building Cards
          8E. Victory Point Cards (and "soft" victory point totals)
    9. Trading
          9A. Easy AI Opponents
          9B. Moderate and Hard AI Opponents
          9C. Human Opponents
    10. FAQ
    11. Thanks and Credits
    12. Legal Information
    1. Introduction
    Before we even get started here, I want to be sure to clarify a few things.
    First and foremost, I never played the board game Settlers of Catan, and my
    first experience with the game is on Xbox Live Arcade. Also, I lay no claim to
    being some super-expert at the game - I’d like to think I’m pretty good, but
    there are certainly folks out there that are better than me. Still, these
    suggestions and observations of mine should serve to help those who are just
    starting out, or trying to improve their game.
    Because this has been a popular board game for some time, you will probably be
    able to find strategy guides for it all over the internet. However, this guide
    is a bit different in that it is specifically meant for the Xbox Live Arcade
    version of the game, and not only includes advice on strategy, but how to play
    the game effectively on the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, as well.
    As such, it deserves mention that some of the advice on offer here isn’t
    directly about how to play the game, but how to interact with others while
    playing it. It might seem silly for an article like this to give pointers on
    courtesy and etiquette, but Catan is a game of diplomacy, and many players on
    Xbox Live don’t seem to realize that for a game like this, the way you act
    around other players will have a great impact on how well you can play. In
    this guide, I’ll also be sure to address ways to improve your interactions
    with not only human opponents, but AI opponents as well, as they have their
    own quirks to watch for and make use of.
    If you have any suggestions for changes or improvements to this article, I
    would love to hear them, and I ask that you post them on the Xbox section of
    the message boards of my game website, Digital Entertainment News
    (http://www.dignews.com). By the same token, if you have comments, questions
    or complaints, please direct them to the boards as well.
    Right, so here we go!
    2. Controls
    A - Select or confirm an option
    B - Cancel an option
    X - Play soldier (before your turn), end your turn (on main menu), skip to your
    turn (on other players’ turns), select a specific player to trade with (on
    trade menu)
    Y - Switch between trade screen and port trade screen, reject offer (in trade
    Left Analog Stick - make selections
    Right Analog Stick - zoom in and out and rotate the board. Press in stick and
    hold to change the position of the board
    D-Pad - Mostly the same as left analog stick
    Start - Enter/Exit pause menu
    Back - See control layout
    Left Trigger - Hold to see a list of build prices and scoring (you should
    memorize these)
    Right Trigger - Hold to check players’ point score, road length, number of
    cards and number of Soldier Cards played
    Left Bumper - Hold to check resources in play, see how many revenue dots each
    player has, how many development cards (and more specifically, soldiers) are
    left in the deck, and how many roads, settlements and cities you can still
    build before you run out of peices
    Right Bumper - Hold to use emote menu
    Right Bumper + D-Pad - cycle through the pages of the emote menu
    Right Bumper + left analog stick - change recipient of emote
    Right Bumper + A, B, X or Y - Use the corresponding emote
    Left Trigger + Right Trigger - Show tally of revenue dots for all open
    locations on the board / show available revenue for every tile on the board
    (when using the robber)
    Left Bumper + Right Bumper - Show available resources, as well as some other,
    less important stats
    Left Trigger + Left Bumper - See a game log (for those that find that sort of
    thing useful)
    Right Trigger + Right Bumper - Show dice roll statistics
    3. Basic Gameplay Rules
    The board is set up with hexagonal tiles arranged randomly (in a 3x3x3x3x3x3
    hexagon-shaped arrangement), with four wool tiles, four wheat tiles, four wood
    tiles, three brick tiles, three ore tiles, and one blank "desert" tile with no
    value where the robber begins play. Then, the numbers 2-6 and 8-12 are assigned
    to the tiles. When this is done, players begin choosing the starting locations
    for their first two settlements on corners of the tiles (this is done
    automatically in a game with "easy setup").
    The first player chooses a spot to place their settlement, and then branching
    out from that settlement, they choose a spot to place a road. Then the second
    player does this, and then the third, and then the fourth (in a four player
    game). Settlements cannot be placed closer together than two spaces apart.
    When this is done, payers repeat the process a second time in the opposite
    order, with the last player choosing first and the first player choosing last.
    Each player gets one resource for each tile surrounding their second
    settlement to start with.
    Every turn, the dice are rolled (or a dice card is drawn if playing with dice
    cards). If the number rolled is not a seven, all tiles matching the number
    rolled produce resources for players who have a settlement or city on that
    tile’s edge - one resource for every settlement and two for every city. If a
    seven is rolled, all players with eight cards or more must discard half of
    their cards. Then, the player who rolled the seven moves the robber to any
    tile on the map and steals one resource card at random from one player with a
    settlement on the edge of that tile. Until the robber is moved again, this
    tile no longer produces resources.
    On a player’s turn, they may at any time attempt to trade their resource cards
    with other players, make any number of port trades, buy things with their
    resources, play a development card (one per turn) or declare the end of their
    Players can buy road pieces at a cost of one brick card and one wood card, a
    settlement for one brick, one wood, one wheat and one wool, a development card
    for one wool, one wheat and one ore, or they can upgrade a settlement to a
    city for two wheat and three ore.
    Road pieces are placed along the edges of tiles, and can only be placed next
    to your own road pieces, settlements and cities. Settlements are placed at the
    corners of tiles, and must be at least two spaces (road lengths) away from any
    other settlements. Cities can only be placed in a spot where you already have
    a settlement. Also, players can only have 15 road pieces, 5 settlements and
    4 cities at any given time.
    When buying a development card, players randomly draw from a deck that
    includes Soldier cards, Monopoly cards, Year of Plenty cards, Road Building
    cards and Victory Point cards. Soldier cards allow players to move the robber
    and steal from a player with a settlement bordering the tile it is moved to,
    Monopoly cards let a player steal all of one type of resource from every
    player, Year of Plenty cards let a player get two resource cards of their
    choice, Road Building cards let a player build two lengths of road at no cost,
    and Victory Point cards cannot be used but give a player a point that brings
    them closer to winning the game. Players may only use development cards on
    their own turn, they may only use one development card per turn, and they may
    not use development cards on the same turn they were purchased.
    In a trading session, players may trade any number of their resource cards for
    any number of resource cards another player has. Any player may offer an
    exchange, but only the player whose turn it is may make trades. A player may
    make any number of these trades in a turn.
    You may also opt to make a port trade, discarding four of any one type of
    resource card in exchange for another resource card of your choice. If you
    have built a settlement or city on one of the border of "?" ports located on
    the edge of the board, you may discard three of any one type of resource card
    in exchange for another resource card of your choice. If you have a settlement
    or city on one of the resource ports located on the edge of the board, you may
    trade two of that specific resource for any one resource of your choice.
    The Longest Road bonus is awarded to the player who has a road that is at
    least five lengths long from one end to another, and is longer than any other
    player’s road from one end to another. Another player may take this bonus if
    they build a road that is one length longer than this road.
    The Biggest Army bonus is awarded to the player who has played the most
    Soldier cards (at least three). Another player may take this bonus if they
    play one more Soldier card than the one who currently has the bonus.
    The game is over when one player wins by earning ten victory points. Players
    earn points for settlements (one point each), cities (two points each),
    Victory Point cards (one point each), and also for being awarded the Longest
    Road bonus (two points) and Biggest Army bonus (two points).
    4. Getting Started
    If you’re just now learning how to play the game, I highly recommend you make
    use of the tutorials and instructional guides present within the game. Also,
    play a few sample games against the computer before you challenge live
    opponents (who may be a bit less patient with you). In fact, I recommend that
    before you challenge live opponents you win a few games against computer
    opponents set to Moderate difficulty first (easy computer opponents are
    pushovers, and hard computer opponents are unrealistically stingy in their
    I also suggest you get used to single-player games with standard ranked play
    rules before you dive into ranked play - 4-player games with normal dice,
    normal robber, normal board setup and so on. You might even want to play with
    the red/green colorblind scheme just so you’ll be familiar and comfortable
    with everything before you take on serious, live players. Excessive? Perhaps,
    but it couldn’t hurt.
    5. Placing Your Starting Settlements Part I: General Strategy
    Where you place your first settlements is extremely important, and poor
    placement can lose you the game before you even begin. It’s not always easy to
    avoid these pratfalls, either - the random turn order and random maps make the
    game’s opening somewhat unpredictable, and adding the human element of what
    the other players choose to do can make it sometimes impossible to predict. 
    Generally, when placing your first settlements, it helps to follow a few
    guidelines. The following are the criteria you should follow to determine
    placement, in the order of importance:
    --- 5A: Revenue Dots ---
    The number of revenue dots around a placement is more important than anything
    else, because regardless of what resources you’ll be getting, it will be of
    utmost importance that you get them as frequently as possible (and as you
    should probably know if you read through the game’s instructions, the revenue
    dots indicate how often a location will receive resources). Revenue dots can
    be determined by counting the "dots" on the land surrounding the location the
    settlement will be placed, however, the easiest way to do this is by holding
    down the left and right triggers, which at any given time will show you the
    value of every spot on the board.
    The highest number of revenue dots any location can have is 13 (anything
    greater would require two tiles with five dots to border each other, and the
    game prevents this from happening, most likely for balance reasons). As such,
    a location with a value of 13 is a must-have location that should be pounced
    on without hesitation. 12 is also extremely good, 11 is great, 10 is average,
    and anything less should be avoided when placing your first two settlements,
    unless there are no better alternatives.
    Unless there are multiple reasons to pick another spot, you should always go
    for a location with the highest possible revenue dots, and even IF there are
    multiple reasons, you should never pick a spot with a value of 9 or less
    unless there are no better alternatives. If the total of the revenue dots of
    your two opening settlement locations isn’t at least around 20 or so, you can
    expect to have constrained resources.
    No, I don’t have any statistical analysis to back up these numbers. These just
    seem to be about right for a good setup.
    --- 5B: Location ---
    Unless there’s some great opportunity you just can’t pass up (or you just
    don’t have a better option), never place one of your opening two settlements
    on the outer rim of the board. Not only because locations on the outer rim
    NEVER have revenue dots greater than 9, but also because you’re pretty much
    restricting your options for expansion - generally, from any given spot on the
    board you can expand in one of three directions, but because spots on the rim
    are so resource-poor, your only reasonable direction to go when you start
    there is inward. This is too restrictive, and usually isn’t worth it even if
    you get a port out of the deal.
    It’s also usually a good idea to stay away from the very center of the board,
    both because it’s harder to work your way to the ports, and because other
    players’ settlements are more likely to lock you in. The exception here is if
    you’re placing your second settlement and it happens to be a stone’s throw
    away from the first one (again, thinking about that Longest Road bonus).
    So what do you look for? Well, a spot that’s one or two spaces inland from a
    port is nice because it gives you a solid chance at getting the port without
    restricting your ability to expand. Also look for spots that are amongst other
    good spots to build to (although you should be careful when you do this - if
    they’re TOO good, other players are likely to put their opening settlements
    As for your second settlement, naturally you want to build relatively close to
    your first one if you can (again, strengthening your chance to get Longest
    Road). Even better, if there’s a way you can place it so your two settlements
    block off a reasonably-sized chunk of land, you’ll not only be giving yourself
    an opportunity, but denying the other players that opportunity as well.
    Finally, you can look for spots that mess up other players - such as a
    location between their two settlements, or between their settlement and a
    port. Keep in mind that doing this is a good way to ruin your ability to be
    diplomatic with said player, so if you do it this location should be
    worthwhile even if it didn’t block off an opponent.
    --- 5C: Type of Resource ---
    If you’re looking at multiple spots with relatively close revenue dots in
    locations that offer similarly lucrative opportunities, pay attention to the
    type of resource they produce. Each resource has its advantages and
    disadvantages, and here’s an idea of what they are:
    Wood: Wood is extremely important early on in the game, and becomes less
    important later. The board will have four wood tiles, meaning it will
    generally be a fairly abundant resource, although players will often fight
    tooth and nail for it early on.
    Brick: Like wood, brick is extremely important early on, and becomes less
    important later. However, unlike wood, brick has only three tiles on the
    board, generally making it scarcer (and thus, more valuable). Early in the
    game, this is frequently the most-desired resource.
    Wool: Wool is moderately important throughout the entire game. You’ll always
    be able to use it for something - either a settlement or a development card.
    However, unlike every other resource in the game, you will never need it in
    any great quantity unless you’re using it for port trades. Wool has four tiles
    on the board, and the fact that players never need a lot of it means it’s
    almost always very abundant.
    Wheat: Wheat is the most versatile resource in the game, and the only one
    necessary for three of the four things you can build (as opposed to just two,
    like everything else). It is very important throughout the entire game,
    although the fact that it has four tiles on the board mediates its value
    Ore: Ore is relatively unimportant early on in the game, but becomes extremely
    important later. The fact that settlements require three ore, and that ore
    only has three tiles on the board means that later in the game, players will
    often be in a race to get ore.
    If I had to venture an opinion, I would generally recommend valuing the
    resources (at least at the beginning of the game) in the order Brick, Wheat,
    Wood, Wool, and Ore, although this is highly subjective, and it depends a lot
    on how rare the resources are. Count the number of dots each resource has
    across the whole board - this can be quickly checked by holding the left and
    right bumper and looking at the tallies in the upper-left corner of the
    screen. Any resource with a total number of 9 or fewer revenue dots is going
    to be somewhat rare, but also important is disparate values.
    What I mean by this is that if, hypothetically, brick had three tiles each
    with 3 revenue dots spread across the board, it would be somewhat uncommon,
    but if it was a 5 and two 2s, it would be a bit more uneven, especially if
    these tiles were near the edge of the board, where one or two players could
    partition them away from the other players. This uneven distribution has the
    effect of making this resource even more rare - and more valuable for those
    who have it in greater abundance.
    It is also worth mention that it’s usually best to make sure your two
    settlements have access to a healthy variety of resources. While you can
    always port trade away excessive numbers of a single resource, this is very
    inefficient (even if you have access to the matching port), and it’s better to
    ensure that you won’t have to do it too often (although there is an upside -
    other players won’t be getting anything when you port trade). Most of the time
    players have to port trade to get their ore, and sometimes a player may do it
    for the appropriate resource they need at the moment. That’s understandable,
    but if you’re constantly lacking three or more resources because your choice
    of placement gives you little or no access to these resources, then your
    choice of placement is probably hurting you.
    6. Placing Your Starting Settlements Part II: Order-Specific Strategy
    Your choices will not only depend on the board and your opponents, but also
    when in the turn order you’re going. The first person to place settlements
    will have a completely different approach than the last person, as will the
    people in between. Here’s my advice for each slot in the turn order:
    --- 6A. Going First ---
    Going first is probably the most precarious situation to be in - even though
    you’re getting first dibs on the board with your first settlement, your second
    settlement will be the last one to get placed, and will almost undoubtedly be
    the most poorly-placed in the game opening. This causes a few major problems
    right off the bat - because your opening resources depend on the placement of
    your second settlement, it’s likely your opening hand won’t be what you want.
    In addition, the fact that six settlements are being placed between your first
    and second settlements means that even if your second settlement is in a decent
    spot, it will most likely be cut off from the first, not only making it less
    likely you’ll be able to secure the Longest Road bonus, but also weakening
    your ability to inhibit other players’ expansion with your own.
    Because you have no clue what other players will do with their settlement
    placement, your best option with the placement of your first settlement is to
    stick with what’s safe. First and foremost, if there is a spot with a revenue
    dots of 13 or 12, pounce on it. This is one of the few perks of being first,
    so you’d sure as hell better take it. Conversely, if there are no places on
    the board with more than 11 revenue dots, you can expect to have a tough time
    early into the game.
    If there are multiple spaces with an equal number of the highest amount of
    revenue dots, you’re usually best off picking the one with the highest amount
    of Brick, Wheat and Wood - you’ll need all three of these more than anything
    else early on in the game, and you may not have the freedom to pick a spot
    that has them with your second choice.
    If your spot is relatively close to a port, build your road in the direction
    of the port, because odds are good that other players will be taking the spots
    in the other directions (because, after all, your placement should put you in
    one of the best areas of the board, being right in the middle of the
    highest-value tiles), and this is your best way of assuring you’ll build your
    next settlement as soon as possible. Otherwise, try to place your road in the
    direction where the revenue dots are evenly distributed (an area with multiple
    locations that have 6-8 dots is ideal), which makes it a good place to build
    that isn’t so lucrative that the other players will swoop in and take it.
    With your second placement, you’ll be at the mercy of the other players. On
    the last one or two turns before you choose your second settlement, size up
    the board and look for two or three locations with the highest point values,
    so you’re ready to make your second placement when it comes back to you. If
    the other players left multiple locations with comparable point values, try to
    pick one that’s either close to your first settlement, or near a port that
    meshes with the resources you have available. Again, build your road either
    towards the other settlement you want to build, or towards the port.
    --- 6B. Going Last ---
    Good news, bad news, good news. The good news is, your second pick will be the
    best second placement of the game. The bad news is that your first pick will
    never be the better than everyone else’s (unless one of them picks poorly).
    However, the good news is that your first pick may still very likely be on par
    with most of the other settlements already chosen.
    Going last means that both of your settlement choices will be made in tandem,
    one after the other. As such, you’ll generally have a good opportunity to set
    yourself up for Longest Road, and you’ll also be able to actually have a hand
    in choosing what resources you start out with.
    Because these choices will be made together, you have to look at the board a
    bit differently - rather than just trying to determine the single best spot on
    the board, you should look for three or four of the best spots on the board
    (because of this, it helps if you start looking while the one or two players
    before you are placing their settlements). Determine not what the best single
    spot is, but the best combination of two. So, for example, if spot A is a
    little better than B and C, but spot B puts you close to spot C where you
    have a good opportunity to go for Longest Road, you might actually want to go
    B and C instead of, say, A and B.
    If your two choices are within two or even three spaces of each other, don’t
    bother building your roads in between them - other players are unlikely to
    risk running between them only to get blocked off for their troubles, and you
    should make use of these roads to give yourself more of an opportunity to
    expand outwards early on. Whether or not you build your road to your port,
    however, depends on whether you think you’ll be fighting someone else to get
    it, and just how important it is to you early in the game. For example, if you
    expect a healthy supply of wheat, have little or no access to brick and you’re
    near a wheat port, you’ll want to build towards the wheat port so you can
    improve your early brick supply.
    When you have decided your two settlement spots, you need to determine the
    order you’ll place them. Remember - the second settlement you place determines
    what resources will be in your opening hand. Brick and wood are the most
    important here, however, if your only initial access to brick, wood, wheat or
    wool is via tiles with a low combined revenue dots, you may want to make your
    settlement near these low-yield resources your second one, because you have
    no idea when you’ll ever get more again. Conversely, if one of your location
    choices happens to be amongst wool, wheat and ore, you may want to make that
    one your second simply so you can buy a development card right off the bat.
    --- 6C. Going Second or Third ---
    The best strategy for players who don’t pick first and don’t pick last isn’t
    as straightforward, as players going second or third have a mesh of the
    problems and benefits of those faced by players going first and those going
    last. Going second or third means that both your first and second choices will
    be pretty good, but before, after and in between them you’ll need to worry
    about the choices other players make. My best recommendation is to combine my
    general strategy with your own best judgment.
    When making your first selection, it’s best to choose a prime location (like
    the player going first) above all else, but keep in mind how many turns it
    will be before your second selection (four if you’re going second, two if
    you’re going third), and keep an eye out for other opportunities. Basically,
    make your first choice so that you have the possibility to make a second
    selection that compliments it well, but make sure it’s strong enough that you
    won’t be screwed if someone else takes that second spot you’re eyeing.
    Oh, and on that note, it’s important that players going second or third look
    at the board without moving the cursor around to spots you’re considering when
    you pick your first settlement. This tends to be a habit players fall into,
    and while it doesn’t matter much to players going first and last, when players
    in the middle do this, they are projecting their thoughts to other players,
    who may very well see the position and decide you had the right idea, taking
    that spot for themselves. While they may very well take the spot you want
    anyways, there’s no reason you should help them to see it.
    7. Early Game Strategy
    Once all the game-opening settlements are placed, you need to decide some of
    the basics of what your strategy will be. First and foremost, get a feel for
    the kind of resources you’ll be getting. If you’re fortunate, you’ve got a
    healthy amount of brick and/or wood to work with, in which case you’ll want to
    spread outward as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you may be in a better
    position to buy development cards and possibly upgrade to cities.
    Also at this point, you should decide if you even want to bother trying to get
    Longest Road. I know a lot of players view it as an important goal, but you
    have to weigh how realistic it is - if you don’t have good access to both wood
    and brick, if another player has severely cut off your ability to expand, or
    if another player has placed a settlement between your two, you may want to
    shelve your long-term road-building ambition in favor of short-term resource
    gathering. If things change later, you may always be able to go back to it,
    but it’s a waste of time for players to focus their efforts on collecting
    brick and wood for extensive roads if it’s unlikely they’ll be able to beat a
    player who’s simply in a better position to do it.
    Regardless, at this point in the game, 80% of the time your goal should be
    working a road towards an intersection close to one of your settlements
    (within two spaces, and preferably within one space of a road you’ve already
    laid down) that has the highest number of revenue dots. 15% of the time (if
    you’re not close to any particularly great intersections and/or you have a
    resource with a high revenue dots that matches a nearby port) you’ll want to
    work a road towards a port. 5% of the time (if your settlement selections are
    low on lumber and brick but high on wheat and ore) you’ll want to work towards
    buying development cards and upgrading to cities.
    If you and another player are both close to the same spot, you should watch
    his actions to decide how to proceed - if he’s focusing on another part of the
    board, you may want to hold on to your resources and risk a roll of seven so
    you don’t alarm him by building your road towards the prime spot. On the other
    hand, if you know he’s interested, you may want to hold off on committing a
    road to that spot anyways until you know you can beat him to it - otherwise
    you’re wasting your road unless you can split it off towards a "plan B" that
    you’d find satisfactory.
    Often this happens when two players are vying for the same port. In these
    situations, if you can’t be sure whether you’ll win that race, you may want to
    refrain from branching towards the port in contention until you’re sure you
    can secure it, and you can always make use of your road in the opposite
    direction, towards another port.
    8. Development Cards
    Here are some helpful things to keep in mind when using development cards:
    --- 8A. Soldier Cards ---
    Generally, you don’t want to use soldiers unless someone has placed the robber
    on your property - it’s a waste of a card you may need later to get the robber
    off your back. If someone already sicced the robber on you, be sure to use the
    soldier before your turn, when it gives you the option to roll or use a
    soldier card. If you’re wondering why it’s important that you use it before
    and not during your turn, the reason is because, on the off-chance you roll
    the number the robber is blocking, you will have kept yourself from getting
    its resource.
    As for using the Soldier Cards for the "Biggest Army" bonus, it shouldn’t even
    enter your mind until you’ve already gotten two of them. Any deliberate effort
    to try to buy development cards specifically for this purpose is just as
    likely to get you some other card, and it’s a goal that’s only worth pursuing
    if you’re already close to achieving it (or if you’re absolutely desperate to
    get your last two points and don’t have any better way to do it).
    --- 8B. Monopoly Cards ---
    Unless you get the chance to snag a large amount of resources you will use
    (rather than trade or port trade), you probably shouldn’t play the Monopoly
    Mard early in the game. Players won’t have much to steal, and if you just port
    trade the stuff away, you won’t get as much for your troubles as you would
    later, when you have a good port to trade them at. Once you get a port, then
    you should watch resource totals to see when they get high in number - I’d say
    at least six, especially if you’re port trading most of them. If you see any
    resource jump to ten or more, you should probably pounce on it. Because you
    won’t get an opportunity like that very often. Remember, you can see how many
    of each resource is in play at any time by holding down the left bumper -
    extremely useful when you have a Monopoly Card you’re thinking of using.
    Also, before you use a Monopoly Card, try to trade away all resources of the
    type you’re going to steal - even if it means offering two or three in
    exchange for one of something else. You’ll just be getting them all right back
    anyways. A few words of caution, though - don’t offer more than three for one,
    or people will probably guess what you’re doing. Also, because this kind of
    pre-monopoly trading is kinda’ rubbing salt in the wound, be aware that you’ll
    probably piss off the other players by doing this.
    --- 8C. Year of Plenty Cards ---
    If you get a Year of Plenty card, be sure not to use it until the resources
    you get with it can be used to attain what you want this turn. For example, if
    you want to block off another player from a path two spaces away and get there
    first, but you have no wood and lumber, you’d better wait until you have at
    least two wood, two lumber, or one of each. Not only will you have more
    flexibility in filling your need, but you won’t have overcommitted yourself
    and wasted a card only to be blocked off the following turn (or worse, have
    the resources stolen from you).
    Also, don’t buy resources you’re likely to get anyways unless you absolutely
    need them right now, and for heaven’s sake, don’t waste a year of plenty just
    so you can buy another Development Card unless you’re desperately trying to
    get one last Victory Point Card or Soldier Card.
    --- 8D. Road Building Cards ---
    I honestly can’t think of much advice to give regarding the Road Building Card
    that you couldn’t figure out on your own. Don’t use it when trying to beat out
    another player to claim a road or settlement location until you can actually
    do it - nothing sucks more than using a road building card only to have
    someone beat you out to the spot you were building to before you could finish.
    Remember, the robber can steal brick and wood from your hand, but no one can
    ever steal Development Cards, so there’s absolutely no rush to use them until
    the opportune moment.
    --- 8E. Victory Point Cards (and "soft" victory point totals) ---
    These cards seem fairly straightforward, but their existence changes the
    game’s strategy considerably. First of all, anyone holding onto a Development
    Card for any lengthy period of time can probably be assumed to be holding onto
    a Victory Pont Card. However, regardless of how long a player has held a
    development card, any of them could potentially be Victory Point Cards. As
    such, it’s probably wise for you to simply assume the worst when looking at
    victory point totals (hold down right trigger), and include a player’s
    development cards when trying to determine their overall score. For example,
    you should act as if someone with five points and three cards actually has
    three Victory Point Cards for a "soft" total of eight. In other words, even
    though the point total you see (the "hard" point total) is five, they actually
    have a possible eight points, and you should treat them accordingly.
    Use this "soft" total to determine who to send the robber after, as well as a
    measuring stick for when to brake off trade relations with a player (I’d say
    to break off all but the most critical trade relations when a player reaches
    seven "hard" points, or seven or eight "soft" points). Also, if someone has
    already played two Soldier Cards or is within two lengths of road of achieving
    Longest Road, assume one of their cards is the final Road Building or Soldier
    Card needed for Largest Army or Longest Road, adding yet another point to
    their "soft" total. This strategy may seem overly cautious, but the thing is
    that even if you’re wrong, you’re not very wrong - think how many points a
    well-played Monopoly Card could snag, and a well-played Year of Plenty Card
    could easily bring a player another point. By factoring these cards into a
    player’s score, you’re getting a better feel for where they really stand, and
    not just where they appear to be.
    Conversely, you can expect both your human and AI opponents to assume that
    your cards are victory points as well. And because AI opponents in particular
    won’t trade with you (and will consistently send the robber your way) when
    they believe you’re at least a few points ahead, you may opt to use other
    Development Cards in your hand sooner rather than later so they’re not
    mistaken for Victory Point Cards. However, only do this after it has become
    apparent that the other players are targeting you - it’s entirely possible
    they aren’t factoring your development cards into your score, in which case
    there’s no need to tip your hand too soon.
    9. Trading
    Trading is one of the most important parts of the game, and a good trader can
    very often turn a bad situation into a good one. This is also one part of the
    game where dealing with human and AI opponents differs tremendously. Because
    of this, I’ve included hints and suggestions for playing against both.
    --- 9A. Easy AI Opponents ---
    As far as trading goes, an easy AI opponent is generally not really an
    opponent at all - they are sheep to be fleeced. While they will occasionally
    be stubborn to give up one or two resources they need, easy AI opponents are
    eager to please, and will do some really stupid stuff just to deal with you.
    If you have one wool and they have... let’s say, three of everything, you
    start by offering to trade one wool for two wood (or whatever). Unless they’re
    hurting for wood, they’ll generally accept. With easy AI opponents, always try
    to make two-for-one trades instead of straight trades - generally they’ll let
    you. Then offer one wood for one wool. Generally, they’ll still accept. Keep
    doing this until you have all of their resources. Yeah, like I said, Easy AI
    opponents are pushovers.
    --- 9B. Moderate and Hard AI Opponents ---
    While, as previously stated, Hard AI opponents are unrealistically stingy in
    their trades, they’re still fairly similar to Moderate AI opponents. Your
    trades with both should be handled one of two ways, depending on whose turn it
    is. If it’s your turn, you’ll often have to submit your full offer for them to
    respond, either by matching your request, giving you one of their own
    (generally one they find to be similar), or refusing you outright. You might
    want to add one "?" to your "want" pile to see if you can get more, but
    generally Moderate and Hard AI players shy away from this. The same goes for
    "two of what I have extra for anything" trades - computer AI players just
    respond to this by asking for more of what they want in exchange for whatever
    they’re willing to give (regardless of what you have, want, or are asking
    Most of your deals with AI opponents will likely be on their turn, as they
    seem more willing to compromise what they’re willing to give (if not take).
    Generally, they’ll want one or two specific resources, and will generally
    trade you virtually anything else in their possession to get them. By their
    nature, computer players will wait to retract an offer until someone accepts
    it, some time has passed, or all other players have refused it (by pressing
    the Y button). Because of this, it benefits all of the human players involved
    (and is just good courtesy) if everyone cancels unwanted offers from the AI as
    soon as possible to expedite things.
    The AI will cycle through multiple offers of resources in exchange for what it
    wants, and if it’s desperate enough, it will even offer two and later three of
    something in exchange for what it wants. If you see it do this, remember that
    it will likely do it again on its next turn unless it gets what it wants, even
    if it refuses that same offer on your turn - like I said, AI opponents are
    just more willing to deal with you on their turn.
    If all players leave the trading session with the computer, it will assume no
    one wishes to trade at the moment, cease trying to trade, and proceed with its
    turn. Again, as a courtesy to other players, if you have no interest in
    trading with the computer, exit the trading session to expedite the turn.
    One more note - if a computer-controlled player uses the "You’re too far
    ahead!" emote, it will refuse to trade with you until either you start to fall
    behind the point totals of other players, the AI’s point total goes up, or (in
    some cases) you use up your Development Cards (thus showing that they aren’t
    Victory Point Cards). So until this happens, you should just automatically
    exit the trade screen whenever the AI pulls it up on their turn - you’re just
    wasting time otherwise. Also, you should take this as a sign that the AI
    players are gunning for you, and will be far more likely to send the robber
    after you every chance they get (so take whatever precautions you can).
    --- 9C. Human Opponents ---
    Xbox Live is not exactly the perfect place to breed good manners, but if you
    want to be effective at trading in games with real people, you need to start
    trying, pronto. Whether you believe it or not, your success at trading will be
    at least in part dependant on how courteous you are. If you offer clean
    trades, don’t consistently try to price gouge others, and offer signals to
    indicate what you’re trying to do and why, you’ll get a much better response
    to your offers. Conversely, it will only hurt your efforts if you offer messy
    trades (two for two, three for three), pull "bait and switch" crap, or make it
    difficult for others to discern just what you want to do.
    First and foremost, before you even open the trade screen, there are a few
    things you need to do. One - know what resources are in play by holding the
    left bumper and checking out the upper-left corner of the screen. If you see
    there are ten wool in play, for example, you’ll know that those in possession
    of it are far more likely to part with it. Conversely, if you see that there
    aren’t any brick or ore, you’ll just be wasting everyone’s time by asking for
    it. In addition, it helps to have a good idea what building costs are so you
    don’t have to keep checking back with it to see what you need.
    Second of all, play every game as if some of the players you play against are
    wearing headsets and some aren’t. Maybe all of them have headsets, maybe none
    of them do (heck, I’ve even played games where everyone but myself was
    speaking Spainish), but learning how to be clear and polite to both types of
    players at all times by default is a good habit to make no matter how you cut
    This means getting familiar with the emote system. There are four pages of
    emotes you can switch between by holding the right bumper and tapping left and
    right on the D-pad. While a lot of players seem to lean towards the "heart"
    and "fireball" emotes, these are actually some of the least useful - you’re
    not going to win anyone over with these, and if poorly used they can actually
    make for a bit of animosity.
    Mainly, the emotes you’ll want to use will be on the second page. Use "got
    nothing" if someone is trying to ask for you to trade something you don’t
    have, "sweeten the deal" if you want to haggle with another player a bit, and
    "come back to trade" if the other players prematurely leave the trading screen
    (which often happens, especially when you make an offer none of them like and
    they leave before you make another one). Also, on the first page, you might
    want to make subtle use of the "You’re too far ahead" ("target winner") if
    people have been targeting you with the robber a lot and you want to try and
    throw them off onto another player that’s in the lead.
    Proper use of these emotes smoothes over trading for players with and without
    headsets, although you should be careful not to overuse them - if you are
    constantly emoting, you’ll annoy other players and you could even be briefly
    silenced by the game for spamming.
    On the trade screen, it pays to use a kind of shorthand to indicate what
    trades you’re willing to make. While some players opt to push forward
    everything they’re offering and request everything they want, this can be
    confusing and counter-productive - "Are you offering me one wood, one wheat
    and one ore for one wool and one brick? Do you want a one-for-one deal, or
    three-for-two? Sorry, I don’t have brick so I can’t help you..."
    So here’s what you do. On your turn, always start with what you want (unless,
    of course, you don’t want anything in particular, and are simply trying to
    trade away a resource you have in excess). If you were going to offer two
    resources but there’s someone willing to give you what you want for just one,
    you won’t ever know if you offer the two resources first. Ask for one thing at
    a time, too. And, if you have multiple resources you could offer, show this
    using what I dub the "flick" method or "flash card" method. Offer one
    resource, then pull it back and offer the next, then pull that back and offer
    the next, leaving each up long enough to show that your actions are
    deliberate. If any of the other human players sees something they want,
    they’ll undoubtedly match your offer, and you can select them and accept their
    It’s also worth mention that I see few players making proper use of the
    "?" card. If you have an excess of one resource and you’re willing to trade
    it for anything, use the "?" to signify this (i.e. "I’ll trade one wool for
    one ‘?’"). The same goes for anyone willing to trade anything to get a
    specific card (i.e. "I’ll trade ‘?’ for one wool"). And naturally, if you want
    to sweeten your offer (or request it sweetened), you can always ask for or
    offer two "?" or one "?" plus a specific resource.
    A few notes on headsets:
    Strategically, it pays to wear a headset even if you’re not going to be
    speaking into it, so you can hear other players’ comments. However, if you are
    going to speak into it, again, being polite and considerate will translate
    into greater success in the game. Turn the microphone off when not in use,
    don’t swear, don’t use crude or offensive language, don’t insult other
    players, and try to keep the mood light - you are playing a game, after all.
    This is important even if you’re playing cutthroat and serious. Here’s an
    in-game conversation I had recently as an example:
    Me: (Moving the robber to the other player’s location) Sorry.
    Him: What? No you’re not!
    Me: Well... (deadpan) I’m sorry I had to resort to such drastic measures...
    He and I have a good laugh, and even though I kinda’ screwed him over in the
    game, he knows it wasn’t anything personal, and doesn’t take it personally,
    either. Basically, a little friendly banter and diplomacy helped to maintain
    good trade relations, and also subdue the possibility that this guy is gonna’
    get revenge on the brain and start sending the robber my way out of spite.
    Also, even though you’ll be using the non-verbal shorthand I mentioned above,
    it still helps to use the headset to coerce players to trade. Saying things
    like "Does anyone want some wool? I’ll trade two for anything" or "Come on, I
    know there are ten wood in play - someone’s gotta’ be willing to trade me a
    few" are helpful in getting players to reevaluate their resources and decide
    what you’re offering may be worth their while.
    10. FAQ
    Q: How should I decide where to place the robber?
    A: When placing the robber, your aim should be three-fold. One, you want to do
    as much damage as possible to whoever is in the lead. Two, you want to do as
    much damage as possible to all other players. And three, you want to steal a
    resource from someone likely to have what you want. To determine who is in the
    lead, go back up and read "8E. Victory Point Cards (and "soft" victory point
    To determine what spot would do the most damage, hold down the left and right
    trigger to see what resource tile is providing the most resources (this
    information only displays once you have started to place the robber), and also
    keep in mind what resources others are most in need of. As for determining who
    is likely to have a resource you need, your best bet is to just pay attention
    to who gets what resources and who uses what resources.
    Q: How does the game count the road length for the Longest Road bonus?
    A: The bonus is awarded to the longest single continuous line. To give you an
    idea, here are some examples of how it works:
    \    /            This is measured as three spaces long, as the longest 
      --              distance from point A to point B is only three spaces long.
    /    \
      --              This counts for seven lengths. You can measure this as if
    /    \            the horizontal line in the middle doesn’t exist, or you can
    \    /            count it like one of the two "feet" don’t exist, but it
      --              works out to be the same.
    /    \
      --              Thirteen of the fourteen lines     --	
    /    \            here count. It works like this:  /    \		
    \    /                                            /     /		
      --         --                                      --       --
    /    \ __ /                                        /      __ /
    \    /                                             \    / 
      --                                                 --
                      Do you get the idea?
    You should also keep in mind that many players are crafty and keep their road
    peices disconnected until the last minute, in hopes that other players won't
    notice they're one step away from getting Longest Road. Because of this, pay
    attention not only to the game's count of longest road, but also the potential
    players often have to make their road length leap in size by connecting two
    stretches of roads.
    Q: What’s the best way to decide where I should place my next settlement?
    A: Much like when you place your first settlements, you should look at
    resource dots first, then location, then the type of resource. Continue to
    use the L&R triggers to see the possible settlement locations and their value.
    Pay attention to the location of other players, and be careful in deciding
    when you need to hurry to snag a spot before the other guy does, and when a
    spot is too far to reach in time. Finally, pay attention to the resources
    you’ll be getting - what’s most important for you to get right now?
    Q: Someone else just got the Longest Road or Biggest Army bonus that I was
    going for. Should I still try to get it?
    A: You need to take a step back and determine whether or not you're really in
    a position to do this. If you don’t have any development cards and the other
    player is holding on to two or three, you probably won’t be able to get your
    army to catch up to his. At the same time, if the enemy is collecting
    resources faster than you, or they’re getting more wood and brick, it’s
    unlikely that they’ll give up the Longest Road bonus easily. You should also
    press the left bumper to see how many army cards are left unplayed, and
    compare how many road peices you and the other player have remaining to plunk
    down. In the end, if it’s a close race, it might be worth trying for, but you
    should always remember that if you fail to catch up, you will have wasted
    valuable time and resources that could have been better spent on settlements
    and cities.
    Q: How do I know if a trade is worth making?
    A: Generally speaking, as long as you get what you want out of a trade, it’s a
    good trade. However, there are a few intricacies and exceptions that bear
    paying attention to. First off, remember that you shouldn’t trade with someone
    who’s too far ahead (read "8E. Victory Point Cards (and "soft" victory point
    totals)" for more on this), because no matter how good a deal they give you,
    you’re still bringing them one step closer to winning the game.
    You should also keep in mind the goals other players may have - if you're
    trading an opponent a card they could use to get a road or settlement to block
    you off, you're just helping them to defeat you. If they just need one more
    Soldier Card to get the Biggest Army bonus, maybe you should hold off on
    trading them ore. Sometimes, it's just more important to deny resources to
    your opponents, even if it restricts your trade as well.
    Also, while occasionally you’ll want to trade two or three resources for one
    you really want, never trade four for one - at that price, you might as well
    make a port trade and deny the other player a chance to get more cards (and
    naturally, the same goes for three-for-one or two-for-one deals if you have a
    port that allows for better port trades). Aside from this, just try to keep an
    eye on supply and demand.
    Q: Supply and demand? What is this, an economics class? What the heck do you
    A: Basically, the more rare something is, the more valuable it becomes. Keep
    an eye on both the available resources (hold both left and right bumper) and
    the resources in play (hold the left bumper) to get a feel for what resources
    are scarce at the moment and what’s going to be scarce in the long-term -
    these resources are ones you should be more stingy with, only trading for
    multiple resource cards. In fact, if you’re the only one with a steady supply
    of a resource, you may want to consider refusing to trade it at all - you’ll
    be sacrificing trade opportunities, but you’ll also be constraining the supply
    of every other player in the game. Also keep in mind that demand will change
    as the game goes on, and while people will often fight tooth and nail for
    brick and wood early on, later the focus will generally be on wheat and ore.
    Q: Is there ever any situation where I would WANT to make a bad trade?
    A: If one player is farther ahead than the others, it is in the interests of
    the other players to cooperate. If another player can block off the wining
    player's attempt to get the longest road, for example, you may want to provide
    him with the wood and brick he needs to do so, even if this means an act of
    charity on your behalf. At the same time, you and the other players that are
    behind may want to cooperate to try and buy as many development cards between
    yourselves as you can, so you have the best opportunity to plague the winer
    with countless Soldier Cards. Remember - even though trading is one of the
    most important elements of the game, the most important goal is to win,
    naturally. And if one player shoots ahead of the others, there are times when
    cooperating and making a few bad trades can give you a better chance to win.
    Q: Okay, just tell me, what’s the easiest way to win? Settlements and cities?
    Biggest Army? Longest Road? Victory Point Cards? What?
    A: Actually, it’s nearly impossible to win with just one of these goals as
    your focus. Usually, you need to combine two or three. There aren’t enough
    Victory Point cards to get you to ten points, and you wouldn’t be able to do
    it with Biggest Army and Longest Road combined. As for settlements and cities,
    you would need a full five settlements upgraded to cities (or four cities and
    two settlements, or three cities and four settlements) to win the game
    without any other help - doable, but not easy. As a result, you need to be
    sure not to narrow your focus too much. If you obsess over just one goal
    instead of trying to make progress on numerous ones, you’re losing sight of
    the big picture.
    Q: Okay, okay, I can’t just do one of those things. But answer the question -
    what should I do? A: First of all, you absolutely need as many resources as
    possible, so you’ll want to try to build as many settlements and cities as you
    can (usually you’ll go for settlements, but sometimes cities are easier to
    build depending on the resources you have access to). However, both
    settlements and cities are expensive, and it can’t hurt to space them out a
    little with development card purchases. If you get two or more soldier cards,
    you can aim for Biggest Army, but don’t even bother with anything less. As
    time goes on and you’ve expanded your territory, you can compare your length
    of roads to your opponents’ (hold right trigger), and use that to decide
    whether you have a chance at snagging Longest Road. Basically, keep building
    settlements and/or cities until you see an opportunity to get points
    Really, your best shot at winning is to adapt to the situation as it changes -
    sometimes you have to change your strategy if what you were aiming for
    previously isn't panning out, and it pays to be flexible enough to allow for a
    few contingency plans in case your current strategy fails.
    Q: If you had to name one important fact about the game players don't seem to
    realize, what would it be?
    A: I am constantly running into people who don't realize that they can see how
    many of each resource is in play by holding down the left bumper. Seriously,
    it makes your trading go a lot smoother, and it is outright essential when
    you're using a Monopoly Card.
    Q: Anything else people don't seem to know that they should?
    A: I can't stress enough how important it is to use Left Trigger + Right
    Trigger to check revenue dots. This is incredibly important to so many
    aspects of the game and cannot be stressed enough.
    Q: Just what the heck is Red/Green Colorblind?
    A: This has no bearing on the gameplay, but it’s something that’s considerate
    for people with Red/Green colorblindness. Basically, it ensures that the
    colors of the four players are always white, red, blue and teal, which are
    easy for colorblind people to distinguish from each other (as the name
    implies, colorblind people often have trouble distinguishing red from green).
    Q: Why can’t I play ranked matches with dice cards?
    A: Dice cards solve one problem inherent to the game and add another. On the
    one hand, they ensure that the dice will be "rolled" exactly proportionate to
    what the odds dictate they should be (hold right bumper and right trigger to
    see what has been rolled compared to what the odds show). On the other hand,
    they leave a door open for people who can count cards (or people who know to
    check the dice odds screen) to know what dice rolls are coming up, which would
    make ranked games a bit less fair because of this predictability - people
    will see that sixes are due to come up soon, for example, so they start
    moving the robber to the sixes. Or they’ll see that seven has reached its
    limit, so they’ll know they don’t need to worry about their hand getting too
    big until the dice deck is shuffled, because there’s no risk of a seven
    coming up to make them discard. Suffice it to say, it throws off the balance
    of the game, and while the randomness of dice rolls can often make for a
    series of rolls that’s unfair, at least it’s not unfair in a way that
    players can take unfair advantage of, if that makes sense.
    Q: Is there any advantage to playing the "Living World" style over the
    "Classic" style or "Mayfair Games" style?
    A: Technically no, but the information is in my opinion more accessible and
    easier to see in the Classic style (the color-coordination gives it a slight
    edge over "Mayfair Games" style, I think), so I’d recommend serious players
    to use that one.
    Q: Why can’t I play this version of this game with multiple local players?
    A: Part of the game’s strategy comes from the fact that each player’s cards
    are hidden from each other, and it would be hard to do this with everyone
    staring at the same TV screen. If you want to play a game locally, you’re
    gonna’ have to actually buy a copy of the Settlers of Catan board game
    Q: I see characters like Lenin and Ceasar in the game’s artwork - why aren’t
    they in the game?
    A: Supposedly there’s going to be downloadable content in the future that
    will add these characters. When it will be released and how much it will
    cost, I don’t know.
    Q: How does the game decide your rank?
    A: To be honest, I don’t know.
    11. Thanks and Credits
    I know that there are undoubtedly many strategy guides out there on how to
    effectively play the board game Settlers of Catan, but I did not reference
    any of these when creating this guide. As I said earlier, this guide was
    created specifically for the XBLA version of the game. This is the first
    released version of this guide, and all of the writing and information
    presented here is my own, although any comments or suggestions are welcome.
    If you would like to comment on this guide, please go to my website, Digital
    Entertainment News (http://www.dignews.com) and post a comment in the Xbox
    section of the message boards. If I use your suggestion in a future revision
    of this article, I will be sure to mention your name here.
    In any case, I would like to give my advance thanks to the staff and community
    of GameFAQs, not only for making the publication of this guide possible, but
    also for being understanding if I've made a mistake somewhere here - this is
    my first submitted FAQ, and I'm sure I'll make some mistakes here and there,
    so I apologize in advance!
    12. Legal Information
    This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal,
    private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed
    publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other
    web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a
    violation of copyright.
    Copyright 2006 Jake McNeill

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