Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Phases of Settlers of Catan

This article defines phases of Settlers of Catan so that I can have a way to clearly talk about such phases in later articles.....

This article is the second part to a series of articles about the game Settlers of Catan which I started in October 2006 but was interrupted by a number of things in life. The first part of this article series is The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan. In this article, The Phases of Settlers of Catan, I define different game phases so that I may more clearly discuss these phases later on and refer back to this article if I need a precise definition.

Just like in the article The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan, I am also providing a vocabulary list to make browsing easier.

Vocabulary List:



Components - see the Vocabulary List from The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan.

Order of Pre-Game / In-Game Phases - the phases of a Settlers of Catan game happen in following order after you unpack the components: Island Setup, Player Piece Distribution, Intersection Draft, Game Start, Player Turns, Game End - Although the module does not explicitly give these terms or even the order, the module does implicitly give the order by the group of players in the module proceeding through the game in this way.

Board Setup - the phase in which the island of Catan is constructed by using hexes and number tokens, no port should border another port, and number tokens with 6s and 8s should not be placed on bordering hexes- These are typical Island Setup rules but can be changed before the Game Start phase if every player agrees and understands the consequences.

Player Piece Distribution - the phase in which each player chooses a color and receives 15 roads, 5 settlements, 4 cities of the chosen color.

Intersection Draft - the phase in which players do the following:
  1. determine who will play first, second, third, and possibly fourth or more for larger games

  2. the first player picks the intersection of their choice and places a settlement on that intersection and a road extending from that settlement, the second player picks from the remaining available intersections placing the same type of pieces in the same way, and so on until the player playing last picks from the remaining available intersections but, the order then changes and goes from last to first

  3. each player receives 1 resource card for each resource hex that their second settlement borders.


Game Start - the phase where the first player becomes the active player and starts their Turn Detail for their first turn – Note, I mention this as a phase because I find it useful to have a way to talk about this point of the game and as a clear divider of when the pre-game phases end and the in-game phases begin.

Turn Detail - a player turn is not necessarily a single phase but multiple phases in one - the turn phases are:

  1. Pre-Roll - The active player may play Soldiers or Victory Points development cards at any time before dice is rolled.

  2. Dice Roll - The active player rolls the dice. The dice role is resolved by generating 1 resource card of the hex type for each player with a settlement bordering a hex with a number token equal to the value showing on the dice, for players with cities on such borders get 2 resource cards of the hex type. However, if a 7 is the value showing after the dice are rolled, then each player with more than 7 resource cards in their hand returns half of their resource cards to the bank rounded down, and the active player gets to place the robber on a hex of their choice.

  3. Post-Roll development card rule - The active player may play any type of development card at this point in the turn and until the End of Turn, but the active player may only play one development card per turn except in the case of Victory Point development cards.

  4. Trading - The active player may trade using the bank at a 4:1 - ratio 4 of one type of resource card for 1 of another type. If the active player has a port that allows for trading at a more favorable rate of 3:1 or 2:1 then, the player may also use such ports during this phase. The active player may also initiate trades with other players at this point. If the active player has initiated a trade with a non-active player, then the non-active player may accept the trade, reject the trade, or offer a counter offer to the active player. Note trading with other players at a rate of 0:1, i.e., giving resources away, should be a rule discussed before the Game Start phase if every player agrees and understands the consequences.

  5. Building - The active player may build or buy at the rates provided on the building cost cards

  6. ** Post Build Trading - Some players will give the active player a second trade phase in which the active player can do everything described in turn phase 4.

  7. End of Turn The active player passes the dice to the next player and that player now becomes the active player.


Game End - Once a player reaches 10 victory points during their turn, that player wins the game and the game is over.

References:


-Noclafder

Friday, March 21, 2008

Settlers of Catan video overview by Tim Kerby

This article is only a preface to a video by Tim Kerby about Settlers of Catan. The video is a great supplement to content previously discussed by Robber Free Realm.....

Kerby does a good job visually illustrating the basics of Settlers of Catan described in The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan. Kerby also touches on very basic in game situations which players might encounter. This video is put together very well and is a great supplement to The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan and Interactive Settlers of Catan Learning Module from Profeasy.com.

Tim Kerby arranges the video in the following way:

  • Components
  • Game Play
  • Tim rates the game




References:

Video overview of Settlers of Catan - BoardGameGeek.com
Tim Kerby's Video - YouTube.com
Tim Kerby
Robber Free Realm

Friday, December 01, 2006

Not all resources are created equally...

This article describes how Not all resources are created equally... but more importantly, why wheat is the best resource and how to use this information in a strategy and plan around it when playing Settlers of Catan competitively.....
Not all resources are created equally...

...That is in the game Settlers of Catan, the wheat
resource is the best.

Table of Contents:

  • First observation
  • Second observation
  • Victory Points Dichotomies
  • Final observation
  • References




  • Top of Article

    First, let us look at the
    building costs cards. There are three different items that require wheat: settlements, cities, and development cards. On the other hand, every other resource is only required in building or purchasing two pieces.

    * When making an observation of this sort, I shall call this kind of observation a diversity resource observation - in other words, the method used when checking the building costs cards to see how many different pieces the resource will allow me to acquire.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    Second, from a numerical perspective, it could be argued that ore is just as valuable or is as good as wheat. Moreover, when we observe the building costs cards we can see that cities require 3 ore and 2 wheat and that development cards require 1 ore, 1 sheep, and 1 wheat. And thus from a purely numerical perspective wheat is just as good as ore and vice versa. However, when we consider the fact that settlements do require wheat - from the diversity resource observation above, wheat edges out ore by a little bit.

    * When making an observation of this sort, I shall call this kind of observation a numerical resource observation - in other words, the method used when checking the building costs cards to see how much of a resource or how many resource cards I will need to acquire certain pieces.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    Third, from a utility perspective, it could be argued wheat helps you win the game better than any other resource. That is when looking at hard victory points versus soft victory points and static victory points versus dynamic victory points:

    -hard victory point - Any victory point that is guaranteed by the act of purchasing an item before a player purchases that item. For example: settlements and cities are hard victory points.

    -soft victory point - Any victory point that is not guaranteed by the act of purchasing an item before a player purchases that item. For example: roads and development cards are soft victory points.

    -static victory point - Any victory point added to a players total number of victory points not acquired by Longest Road or Largest Army.

    -dynamic victory point - Any victory point added to a players total number of victory points acquired by Longest Road or Largest Army.


    These two dichotomies can be compared in the following way:



    After we look back at our first two types of resource observations (diversity resource observation and numerical resource observation), when we consider victory points, we notice that wheat is involved in the purchase of victory points more than any other resource.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    However, one must also consider another observation, the game state observation - the method used when checking the current game state for information about the game. When I make this kind of observation, I am really looking for who is in the lead and where I need to place the robber. When I consider the three observations together for the purpose of denying other players resources, while gaining resources myself, I usually place the robber on the hexes of the player who has the most (potential) victory points not including my own hexes in most cases. Usually the hex I am placing on is wheat or some other resource which the opposing player is trading in for wheat.

    So not only are these observations - the diversity resource observation, numerical resource observation, and game state observation giving you an edge alone, when used together they can give you an additional edge against your opponents.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    References:
  • http://www.soc-world.org/
  • An Intro to Metagames and Game States...
  • The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan
  • Robber Free Realm: at www.SOC-World.org
  • Robber Free Realm


  • Top of Article Table of Contents

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    An Intro to Metagames and Game States...

    This article provides a quick look into a few threads that will be discussed in great detail in later articles regarding Settlers of Catan strategy. Learn what a metagame is, a brief overview of Settlers of Catan metagames, and a brief overview of the concept of game states.....
    I know I have been lazy about putting up strategy based content for Settlers of Catan, but in all honesty, the article The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan is actually a foundation for strategy based content.

    Table of Contents:

  • On Metagames
  • On Settlers of Catan metagames
  • On Game States
  • References


  • When dealing with strategy based content for any game, the reason we, as people, want this kind of information is because we hold some belief that it will help us win the game more easily than before.

    Today I am going to talk about a type general strategy and get into some specifics relevant to Settlers of Catan.....


    On Metagames:

    If you have played high profile card games, then you might have already stumbled across the word
    metagame a time or two. But as Wikipedia points out metagaming is:

    Literally a game outside the game, is a prediction of how others will make decisions in a game based on their personality or their previous decisions. A metagame can exist in any game in which the opposition is human or portrays some sort of artificial intelligence and the competitors make choices. Metagaming is taking advantage of the metagame for purposes of winning more often.

    When dealing with the any metagame, players are making adjustments all the time. This can be seen very clearly when looking at forums because forums are the perfect environment for discussing issues such as game strategy. Forums are the perfect environment because players are not always on their computers at the same time but players can display their ideas without going through much trouble of having to post or worry about formatting. Then the other players can come along later and view and comment on the contributions from the players that have posted before them. The very thing that drives these strategy hot-beds is the value of their content.

    I want to give metagaming some attention because a lot of the strategy based articles on Robber Free Realm will have threads about the Settlers of Catan metagame.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    On Settlers of Catan metagames:

    The best strategy forum I have seen is on
    S3D Connector Forums regarding the Settlers of Catan metagame.

    In the past I would not give a direct link to the strategy forum because membership on this forum has been historically a little complex. That is, on the S3D Connector Forums, for a while at least you had to play a few ladder games before you could actually get access to the juiciest content. But as it turns out accessing the
    S3D Connector: Strategy forums is becoming much easier!


      Choices that can be made through out the game of Settlers of Catan:

    1. Setup / Placement Phase introspective player questions:

      1. Where (on which intersection) will the active player put their settlement / city?
      2. Which direction will the active player place their the road?

    2. In game introspective player questions:

      1. Can I win on this turn / my next turn?
      2. Can someone else win before I do?
      3. Should I trade on this turn / my next turn?
      4. Should I build on this turn / my next turn?
      5. Should I play this development card on this turn / my next turn?
      6. Where should I place the robber?


    The two questions that make the biggest difference are 2.1 and 2.2 because if the answer to question 2.1 is YES, and if the answer to 2.2 is NO, then the game should be over in a matter of a few minutes. Moreover, always, even in the early game, keep your mind set on the objective.

    Now each of the questions above can be broken down into smaller questions and can themselves be the discussion of entire articles. Also most of the questions are dependent upon one another and a current game state for information.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    On Game States:

    A
    game state - a set of collected data which describes all or most statistics about a game, i.e.: each players: point total, total resource accumulation throughout the game, number of unrevealed resource cards and development cards in hand, remaining piece total, longest connected road count, solider count, and the current board configuration.

    In an electronic / PC based version of Settlers of Catan,
    game states are much easier to keep up with because some actually have a statistics window you can have open while the game is happening, and in a few versions the software updates the window in real time. However, in a face-to-face game environment, when you are playing for fun at your local game night or in a tournament, my advice is to ask before you begin to write down information as the computer would. I can see people at a game night getting frustrated and accusing players that do this of sucking the fun out of games, and I can see people at a tournament disqualifying a player because they consider it cheating. Thus in a face-to-face game environment, I advise players to try to get comfortable with checking and updating the game states in their heads.

    The topic of game states itself can be broken down into smaller questions and each can be the discussion of entire articles.

    Top of Article Table of Contents

    Refrences:

  • http://www.soc-world.org
  • The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan
  • Robber Free Realm: at www.SOC-World.org
  • Robber Free Realm
  • http://www.s3dconnector.net
  • http://www.wikipedia.org


  • Special Thanks to: http://www.lifelearning.org as they have graciously linked to Robber Free Realm in the articles
    Another Place to Play Settlers of Catan, with Cities and Knights Option as well!
    and Fundamentals and Strategy for Settllers of Catan Board Game.

    Top of Article Table of Contents



    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan

    This article provides a basic look at the Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan. For more advanced players that prefer not to waist time reading this post, please note that I will refer back to this post in later posts to discuss subtleties and strategies of the game of Settlers of Catan, when I need precise definitions of basic concepts.....

    The Fundamentals of Settlers of Catan (Standard Settlers map 3 to 4 Player):

    (Yes...that is right girls and boys, this post has table of contents so you can more easily navigate.)

    Intro:

    The module is a link to a site by www.profeasy.com which explains how to setup and play a game of Settlers of Catan. A word of caution the module is a bit cheesy but nonetheless instructive. Thus, if you have the basics of the game down, then this module may not be for you.....

    For more advanced players that prefer not to waist time reading this post, please note that I will refer back to this post in later posts to discuss subtleties and strategies of the game of Settlers of Catan, when I need precise definitions of basic concepts.

    In the module the animate players discuss important basic components of the game:

    Back to Table of Contents for Post

    Back to Table of Contents for Post

    -Objective - The objective of this game is to get to 10 Victory Points before any other player. TOP

    -Dice - In the game there are two six sided die, each die is numbered 1 - 6. TOP

    -Hexes - Hexagon shaped tiles that come in 8 different types: hills, pastures, forests, fields, mountains, desert, ports (harbors), and water. TOP

    -Player Pieces - Settlements (worth 1 Victory Point), cities (worth 2 Victory Points), roads (worth 0 Victory Points). TOP

    -Border / Intersections - A settlement or city borders a resource hex. I will call the points where settlements can be placed hex intersections or simply intersections. (I make the subtle distinction because it seems that the module implies that such points cannot be discussed in an abstract way.) TOP

    -Resource Cards - produced by resource hexes: hills produce clay (AKA brick), pastures produce sheep (AKA wool), forests produce wood, fields produce wheat (AKA grain), and mountains produce ore. TOP

    -Robber - The robber is the small, black piece. At the beginning of the game the robber starts on the desert hex. When the dice are rolled and the sum of the two dice equal 7, then any player with 8 or more resource cards in their hand must discard half their hand rounded down, the player who just rolled the 7 moves the robber on to a hex of their choice, and that player then may choose to take exactly one resource card at random from any one player that has a settlement or city bordering the hex on which the robber has just been placed. TOP

    -Development Cards - Cards the bought by players during the game that can be played only during a player’s turn after the player rolls, and only one development card may be played per turn (unless the development card is a victory point card): solider, road building, year of plenty, monopoly, victory point. TOP

    -Solider Card - A development card used to move the robber from one hex to another. When the robber is placed on a hex for the first time, the player who placed the robber then may choose to take exactly one resource card at random from any one player that has a settlement or city bordering the hex on which the robber has just been placed.. (A solider may be played before a player rolls.) TOP

    -Road Building Card - A development card used to build two additional roads without paying the cost of 1 clay, and 1 wood for each road. TOP

    -Year of Plenty Card - A development card that provides the user with 2 additional resources of any type, (i.e.: 2 clay, 1 ore and 1 wheat, etc.) TOP

    -Monopoly Card - A development card that allows the user to name a resource and take all resource cards of the named type from all other players. TOP

    -Victory Point Card - A development card that adds 1 Victory Point to a player’s total number of Victory Points. TOP

    -Number Tokens - Tiles numbered 2 - 12, one 2, two 3s, two 4s, two 5s, two 6s, two 8s, two 9s, two 10s, two 11s, one 12, (7 is reserved for the robber). Each time the die is rolled, the sum of the two die showing indicates which number tokens will be activated. Any player with a settlement and/or city that borders a resource hex with an activated number token gets 1 resource (of the type the hex produces) for each bordering settlement and 2 resources (of the type the hex produces) for each bordering city. TOP

    -Port Hexes - A port hex is a hex that has 2:1 or 3:1 and either a resource symbol (clay, wood, sheep, wheat, ore) or a question mark. Ports that have a resource symbol and a 2:1, indicate that it costs 2 resource cards of that type to produce 1 resource card of any other type. Ports that have a question mark and a 3:1, indicate that it costs 3 resource cards of any one type to produce 1 resource card of any other type. If a player has no settlements or cities on any port intersections, then they may still trade with the bank at rate of 4:1, that is, 4 resources of any one type for 1 resource of any other type. A player may activate their ports or trade with the bank any time during their turn after the dice roll has resolved. (Players cannot activate their ports or trade with the bank to get under the 8 card threshold when the 7 is rolled, even if it is that player’s turn.) TOP

    -Building Costs Cards - Cards used to give players a small in game guide for how much each item (that can be bought) costs: road - 1 clay, 1 wood; settlement - 1 clay, 1 wood, 1 sheep, 1 wheat; city - 3 ore, 2 wheat; development card - 1 ore, 1 sheep, 1 wheat. TOP

    -Special Victory Point Cards - The Longest Road, and the Largest Army. TOP

    -Longest Road Card - The player gains the Longest Road Card and 2 additional Victory Points when that player reaches 5 connected roads, such that if A, B, C, D, and E are all roads, then A connects to B, B connects to C, C connects to D, and D connects to E. A player P1 retains the Longest Road until another player P2 gets more roads connected in the same way than player P1, at that point the player P2 gains the Longest Road card and player P1 loses the 2 Victory Points gained from the Longest Road and player P2 gains 2 Victory Points. TOP

    -Largest Army Card - The player gains the Largest Army Card and 2 additional Victory Points when that player plays a third Solider card face up. A player P1 retains the Largest Army until another player P2 plays more Soldiers cards than player P1, at that point the player P2 gains the Largest Army card and player P1 loses the 2 Victory Points gained from the Largest Army and player P2 gains 2 Victory Points. TOP

    Back to Table of Contents for Post

    -Noclafder

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    What is the Robber Free Realm?

    This article provides a brief introduction to what the Robber Free Realm is and why it exists.....

    What is the Robber Free Realm? The Robber Free Realm is the mind of a player who plays the game, Settlers of Catan. The robber reference is a ploy on the actual robber within the game of Settlers of Catan..... Thus, the Robber Free Realm (the player's mind) is an abstract area which the robber in the actual game cannot touch, and the resources (the player's thoughts) in the Robber Free Realm cannot be taken from the player.

    Within this blog I will attempt to give insight into formal and psychological strategy when playing the game Settlers of Catan. I will present basics of the game of Settlers of Catan, alongside intricate strategy, attempting to integrate the two as best as possible.

    -Noclafder