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Settlers of Catan has a lot of public knowledge. For example, a player cannot hide how many resource cards or development cards they have.

Are any of the following public knowledge?

  • Size of the bank: are players allowed to pick up the stack of remaining wheat and count them?

  • Trades: are two players allowed to trade in a way that no one else knows what was traded?

  • Discarded cards: if a player rolls a 7 and has to discard resources, do they have to state what they're discarding, or are they allowed to sneakily put down cards in hopes that no one saw them?

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3 Answers

It is my experience that when players trade, the player who's turn it is asks for resources or offers them. The other players will then respond to the proposed trade however they see fit. All this information is done publicly and other players may offer a better trade to undercut another player. There isn't anything in the rules about trading having to be done publicly, but it's the only way I've seen the game played. Also, if you play the game online on the games official website, all trades are offered publicly by a player requesting a resource, and the results of that trade is shown to all users. The same goes for if the player chooses to trade with the bank.

Since the size of a players hand is public knowledge, (that is declared explicitly in the rules) when they discard cards, how many cards they've discarded is also public knowledge. You can watch them return the cards to the bank, and make a accurate educated guess of how many cards of each type are returned. Thus, while it's not in the rules for them to declare how much of what they're discarding, it's easy to guess most times. On the online version of the game, that information is offered to the player.

Finally, how many cards are left in the bank is something that is mentioned in the rules.

If there is not enough of a given resource in the supply to fulfill everyone’s production, then no one receives any of that resource during that turn.

Thus, during resource production, a count of how many resources are left in the bank of a particular type should be made if it looks like there will be a shortage. I can't find reference in the rules if there are other times when the resource should be counted, but there is nothing in the rules saying you can't do it either. However, in the official online implementation of the game, that information is NOT offered to the player.

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That quote is only for the latest edition of the rules, it didn't apply in earlier versions (you gave out until you ran out). –  Lance Roberts Jul 5 '11 at 5:05
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@Lance Roberts: Interesting. In my rules (early German edition, likely 1995 or 1996, there is unfortunately no date on it and I can't remember when exactly I got it), it's the same as ICodeForCoffee quoted (though not in English, of course). So the rule was actually there from the beginning :) –  OregonGhost Jul 11 '11 at 20:32
    
So you've not played Settlers of Catan, until you've played it in the original German then? Sorry! I know it's a bad pun. It sounds like they corrected they English translation to be more accurate to the original German rules. –  ICodeForCoffee Jul 11 '11 at 20:46
    
For online versions, there doesn't seem to be a limit to the number of resource cards given out, so although the information isn't given out, it isn't there to be given. –  warbaker Jul 13 '11 at 17:51
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Discarded cards: if a player rolls a 7 and has to discard resources, do they have to state what they're discarding, or are they allowed to sneakily put down cards in hopes that no one saw them?

- Players do not have to state what they are discarding, they must only show that they are discarding the right number of cards.

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Is that actually stated in the rules, or just your opinion? I can't find that in my copy of the rules or the online PDF –  LittleBobbyTables Jul 5 '11 at 2:15
    
I think it is simple logic (since you do not show your cards, you do not have to show them when you discard, otherwise, every discard would give others a lot of information about your hand), but one can also check the computer games to be sure. –  ruhsuzbaykus Jul 5 '11 at 14:37
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The discards, however, are required to go back to the correct piles, so the information becomes public anyway. –  aramis Jul 6 '11 at 3:10
    
Yes, but only to the one who is responsible of the piles. –  ruhsuzbaykus Jul 6 '11 at 7:26
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People can watch and see what's turned in. –  aramis Jul 7 '11 at 4:56
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Note that trades are done face down, and so if you do something like "I'll trade you two resources for a brick" only the traders know what the brick was traded for. Also cards are traded face down, and if you want to rapidly stop people from trading with you a good tactic is to trade something other than what you said you were going to trade.

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This seems unusual to me. I have never played a game where trades were done face down. Trades were always publicly communicated, so there was no reason to be secretive when passing the cards. –  Greg Jul 5 '11 at 15:36
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Right... my question is whether this sort of thing is allowed. Alternatively, I could say "I'll trade you this for a brick", and only show the person I want to trade with. –  Elliott Jul 5 '11 at 18:46
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