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I recently bought the Settlers of Catan Card Game, played two partial games, and was very disappointed because of the seemingly huge importance of luck. Just about every action is based on chance:

  • resources are distributed based on dice rolls
  • land tiles are drawn randomly, except if you were lucky enough to pull the magic card allowing you to actually choose the land tiles
  • hand cards are randomly drawn, except if you are lucky enough to own some resources you can spare. However, even then you still need some luck in choosing the best card stack.
  • some action cards need some more dicing
  • when I played, the "mill" event was thrown over and over again by my opponent, so I never had any resources to advance my kingdom

I particularly hate investing effort to plan ahead, just to see my strategy crushed under bad dice rolls. I am seriously considering throwing away the game after having played it only twice. However, I bought this game because it received a lot of good internet reviews, even from reviewers I trust. Therefore I ask myself: is there really some strategy involved in this game, or do you just need a large amount of luck to win?

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Just because you dislike the game doesn't mean everyone else does too. Some people like reacting to and handling random events while others prefer playing within a more predictable system. This may simply not be your cup of tea... –  Kempeth Nov 30 '10 at 13:43
    
@Kempeth: You are right: whether you like a luck based game is a matter of taste. However while reading a lot of reviews about the game I got the impression that it is more a strategy game than a lottery. Therefore I wonder if there is a way to largely eliminate the luck factor. –  Dimitri C. Nov 30 '10 at 14:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

No, not in my experience. In fact, the Catan Card Game has a great depth of strategy and many ways to offset the luck of the dice.

Your chances will be greatly helped if you've found a Scout card, certainly. It should ALWAYS be one of your starting cards if you have the chance. If you don't, then you know there's one in the three stacks that neither of you searched to start with. Use the ability to cycle a card from hand, and pay two useless resources (gold, or sheep or corn) to search more stacks for a Scout.

When you do get a Scouted settlement, choose the numbers carefully. I try to choose a brick or ore that has the same number as my gold hex, so I get a real resource on every number. You could do the opposite and deliberately seek out both 5s so that you have a natural choice to Alchemist for.

After a game or two you acquire something of an instinct for which cards are good early, good late, good all the time (Merchant), or never good. Cycle your hand aggressively: you should always be aiming to draw a card per turn unless you have a really perfect hand.

There are several different approaches / strategies for how you deal with the event die, depending on your attitude to the luck of the game. If you're playing cautiously, you'll try to keep windmill points at least balanced with your opponent so they can't steal from you, and try to seek out tournament-point knights to get the tournament resources. I personally tend to go for the windmill token anyway as one of my 11 VP.

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