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When I play Settlers of Catan, I often find myself rapidly bored by the trading component of the game. This is normally because of one or two players who insist on endlessly protracted negotiations for any item. These always start at ludicrous extremes ("I want a lumber.", "I'll give you a lumber - for 3 sheep, a brick and two ore!", "No way!", etc. etc.) and take forever to converge (if they ever do). I find this type of thing can quickly suck the life out of the game. This is a shame, as, apart from that aspect, the game is quite entertaining.

How do you handle this sort of behaviour?

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8 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Don't engage in it. Start with your offer (Make it a fair one the first time round), and break it off as soon as someone tries to squeeze a little more out of the deal. People will tend to loosen up as soon as they realize they are not getting any deals done thanks to their negotiation urges.

Simple 'no's work best.

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Agreed; I've found that once people find out no one will trade with them, they start to tone things down. Your mileage may vary, of course. –  LittleBobbyTables Oct 22 '10 at 11:36
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-1 because this does not address the more difficult part of the asked question, wherein two OTHER players are having protracted negotiations that are boring you. –  Sparr Oct 28 '10 at 6:01
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You are playing with the wrong people... :). You can usually disrupt a trade by underselling the player whose turn it isn't. You can also start by acting like a auctioneer, guiding the players through the trade. This may not always help ins speeding things up, but at least you have got something to do. –  Powertieke Oct 28 '10 at 6:42
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One way to speed up the trading is that a player may offer only one trade at a particular RATIO (e.g. 1 to -3 or 1 to -2) per turn. That means, I can offer you one ore for one wool and one grain (1 to -2), or one ore for one wood and two brick 1- to -3).

But it eliminates different permutations of the same ratio; "You won't give me one wool and one grain for one ore? How about two bricks for my one ore? No, make that two woods for my one ore."

The other person can counterpropose: I won't accept one ore for one grain and one wood, but I would accept one brick for one grain and one wood (same ratio, 1:2, from the first to the second person).

But in this way, a person can basically make two (not unlimited) offers per turn, one at a 2:1 ratio, the other at a 3:1 ratio.

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Borrowing a mode from another game: you only get one offer attempt per opponent. They either accept or reject. If accepted, you may repeat after the first trade. Move on to next offerer (in 5-6p).

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Something that might work: Limited permission to trade. Consider this...

Every player starts the game with a "merchant" token. If you want to initiate a trade (ex: "I'm looking for ore or wood. I'm offering sheep and grain."), you have to spend your merchant token. If you don't have a merchant token, you can't initiate a trade, but you can still offer responses to a trade request.

If all players but one are out of merchant tokens at the end of any player's turn, all players get a merchant token.

The idea here is that the ability to initiate a trade becomes rare and valuable. This makes players who futz around with ridiculous (and time-consuming) offers less likely to initiate a trade when they're not desperate, and makes them less desirable to negotiate with when you're the one who initiated the trade. It also prevents them from attempting to trade every turn, since they can only initiate a trade if they have a merchant token.

I hope this helps!

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We play we an implicit rule of offer, counter offer, response. I suggest you discuss that rule with you players and you implicitly play it.

The player who is playing his turn something like : I would like a wood, I can offer a sheep. The other players can accept, reject or making a counter offer. The player who is playing his turn something can accept a counter offer or make a final counter that the other player can just accept or reject.

If the other player just reject the first player offer, its turn is over.

Playing that way, people making extreme demand just get reject by everybody and their turn is very short. It force player to make reasonable offer at the start.

I am not in favor of a time limit because it is hard to enforce. But it should be clear that if a person is not decide after around 5 seconds, we told her to decide now how or think to it while the other are playing.

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If people want exorbitant quantities of resources for a trade, I just don't bother trading with them. Encourage your friends to be reasonable, or deny trades. A little mediation on your own part might even be worth it. I know I've successfully encouraged other players to trade to my own determent. I would have won when my turn came by claiming largest army had my friend not gotten the resources to build that city.

If your going to take forever to cut a deal, I don't mind commenting. If people are willing to pay exorbitant rates, I'll undercut them if I can.

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I've played with some slow players, but those folks sound extreme! Here is how I would handle it.

First, agree on a time limit for trading and enforce it. Next, initiate trading with the players you know are more reasonable. If an agreement can be reached, ask the problem traders if they can beat it. Don't give them long to answer and then move on.

You might consider starting closer or even on a good port if you are playing with these players. If they know you can trade 3:1 or better it should loosen them up.

Also, be sure to enforce the rule that requires you to be a part of all trade discussions during your turn. IE, this should not happen

  • You - I need Lumber
  • Player 1 - I'll give you a lumber for 3 sheep
  • Player 2 to Player 1 - I'd do it for 3 sheep and a brick
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Is "you to be a part of all trade discussions during your turn" actually a rule? I know that you need to part of all trades during your turn, but limiting discussions too? –  Simon Withers Oct 22 '10 at 15:08
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You can only engage in trades when it's your turn, or with the person whose turn it is. I believe this is clearly stated in the rules. –  Powertieke Oct 22 '10 at 20:53
    
It's perfectly legitimate for Player 2 to say "I'd do it for just 2 sheep if you wait until my turn." In fact, this adds more strategic depth to the game. But admittedly, it does slow the game down. –  Elliott Jun 30 '11 at 7:47
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This is just a case of a player taking too long to take their turn.

Just house rule in a turn time limit, say "You should finish your turn in X minutes/seconds/whatever, except in really extraordinary circumstances."

Assuming everybody's just playing for fun, it shouldn't be too contentious.

Of course, if you find your games are really competitive you might consider a proper time piece to enforce stricter time limits.

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The question boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/122/… discusses this particular aspect in greater detail. –  Commodore Jaeger Oct 23 '10 at 14:18
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