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In Settlers of Catan (the board game), in a game with four players, is it considered a good strategy to try to lock one (or two) other player(s) from a given resource in order to have an upper hand for later trading? I mean, placing your cities so that you prevent someone from accessing any ore, for example. (Ore is the easiest, because people tend to neglect it in the very beginning of the game.)

I never do it, but it happened on its own once or twice, and it is really great. You can get better bargains because people are desperate for it. So, is it a known strategy? Do you look for that kind of advantage when playing Catan?

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4 Answers 4

It's not a bad strategy, if (1) you still have access to all resources, and (2) you have a group willing to trade. But it's not generally a "good strategy."

I've seen a situation where one person had a lock on all the wood (random setup). The result? everyone else went for ports, and no one traded with them.

You can't really compel competent players to pay more than 3:1 for any resource, since a port allows 3:1, and they who get too greedy tend to lose out on everything else as no one will trade with them.

If, however, you have it on good numbers (5,6,8,9), and trade it to others at 2:1 and/or can get the 2:1 port for that resource, build your cities on it, and use it for just about everything, it's workable. A lot depends upon the group being played with.

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It's definitely one of the components you should look at when deciding on your strategy in the game at the start. I evaluate the following components when placing (and deciding where to go later on):

  • Number Diversity
  • Resource Diversity
  • Good Numbers
  • Getting close to a monopoly on a resource (this question)
  • Ports
  • Whether there's one resource that is going to be shortchanged
  • Order of Placement
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In the many instances I have seen this strategy attempted, it has always involved a compromise on other resources, which hurts the greedy player in the end. Furthermore, nobody trades with a player who is dominating them. It's psychology and strategy both.

In the best case scenario, provided you can get good probabilities of all 4 of the other resources, and lock up the only high-probability ore, by all means go ahead. This will involve a lucky setup and a lucky roll (to go first, and to still be able to get all 4 other resources.)

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Ore (and to a less extent Corn) are both incredibly important resources. Since there are only 3 Ore hexes, its definitely worth trying to corner the market in Ore if you can. It is hard to build cities if you have to trade 3:1 for ore. Since people often want Ore in bulk, you can often get very good mutually beneficial deals such as 3 ore for wood+bricks+2corn.

I wouldn't try to do the same for wood or bricks since you won't really be able to leverage it into much of an advantage. And definitely not with sheep!

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