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Say I have 3 ore, 2 wheat, and a wood, and player B has a wheat, a wool, and a brick. Player B puts the robber next to one of my settlements and has to take one resource at random. Player B wants to get my wood so they can build a settlement, and I actually want them to take the wood so I can upgrade one of my settlements to the city. If they had to take a resource at random, they might get something else that would be sub-optimal for both of us. If I could just give them the wood, it would be to both of our advantages.

Is the resource taken with the robber required to be random? If they want a specific resource and I want to give them that resource, can we just do that instead of player B having to pick randomly, possibly resulting in a situation that would hurt both of us, me by losing some I needed and them by not getting what they wanted?

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up vote 41 down vote accepted

It must be random as Pat said, but you could immediately offer to trade whatever he draws with the card you'd rather give him.

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Excellent answer. Of course "technically" it has to be random, but in practice there's nothing to stop the players coming to an arrangement just like this one. They just need to think slightly outside the box! – thesunneversets Apr 3 '11 at 3:25

Yes, the resource must be random.

Settlers of Catan has one of the best online FAQ's that I've seen:

“Seven” and Robber - Can I voluntarily give a card to a game partner, instead of letting him draw it? Answer


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Unless you play with house rules that allow for extortion... – neilfein Apr 2 '11 at 16:18
@neilfein - couldn't all rules answers have an appended, "Unless you are playing with house rules" clause? – Pat Ludwig Apr 2 '11 at 16:27
@PatLudwig the FAQ is only for the latest edition, and without the latest edition's rules, it's in several cases going to violate the wording of the rules in use... without there being house rules, mind you... so the FAQ really isn't the final answer. – aramis Jul 18 '13 at 18:54
@aramis - In general I don't agree with you as to the uselessness of the FAQ. In this particular case, I believe the rule has been the same forever in that the card must be chosen randomly. – Pat Ludwig Jul 18 '13 at 20:46

If they want it and you want to give it to them, that just skips the step of trading back whatever "random" card they pick. So it is random.

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They have the pick the card from your hand without seeing what it is. I don't see why you cannot tell them the one on the left is a wood if you want to. They wouldn't necessarily trust you though, as you might be trying to trick them into taking something else knowing they wanted a wood. (You might have 3 corn and 3 ore and want them to take a corn, for example.)

They might also tell you they wanted a wood, when in fact they wanted anything OTHER than wood in order to progress. You revealing which card is wood then allows them to take anything else.

I don't think its ever in your interests to give useful information about the cards in your hand to the robber; you can always trade afterwards.

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Where did you find the rule that it must be "without seeing what it is"? – The Chaz 2.0 Jun 12 '12 at 17:38

(Rather than comment on Nick's answer, I'll submit a proper answer...)

Yes, the resource must be random (Pat).

This we should all agree on, as the rules explicitly state it, and the FAQ (somewhat) reinforces it.

The issue is that the word should be "arbitrary", not "random". Nobody uses an actual random process to determine which card they want to pick! It's as subjective and psychological as paper-scissors-rock (in which people also believe that they are randomly making their choice... more often than you'd think!)

For this reason, there is nothing explicit in the rules to prohibit the robbery victim from revealing some/all of his hand. I have seen and done this many times. If the aggressor wants to take a visible card, he can; otherwise it's a crapshoot.

Note: revealing your hand is especially effective when all you have is a single resource that nobody needs. Of course, be wary of the monopoly card :)

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Nobody uses an actual random process? What about dice rolls? :P We always use dice to determine the card taken. – Samthere Oct 2 '12 at 12:28
Counterexample! – The Chaz 2.0 Oct 2 '12 at 18:48
I like to make one card stick out of the bunch (all still hidden), mumbling I wonder if he can find the ore he needs and that I do not need! – mafu Oct 30 '12 at 15:39
@mafutrct: I have known players to hide a card(s) horizontally behind their other cards while being robbed. Best to have them all laid facedown and a random number generator consulted : ) – The Chaz 2.0 Oct 30 '12 at 15:48
This answer is incorrect. You are not allowed to show other players your resource cards:… – AndSoYouCode Dec 18 '13 at 7:52

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