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I recently played with a friend who said you can use the maritime harbor to trade 2:1 in both directions. I said this wasn't true, but couldn't disprove him in the rule book. The rules say:

The exchange rate of 2:1 only applies to the resource shown on the harbor location.

Suppose you're on a 2:1 wood trade.

(1) You can trade 2 wood cards for 1 grain/ore/sheep/brick card.

(2) You can trade 2 cards for 1 wood card. (2 grain for 1 wood. 2 brick for 1 wood etc.)

Can you only do (1), (2), or both. Which is correct?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

This is covered in the Catan FAQ:

Trade - What is the meaning of the resource symbols on some harbor hexes?

Answer The special harbor hexes always show the resource type of which you have to discard 2 units in order to receive one different resource or one commodity.

In other words, it only works one way - the way you expected.

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A maritime trade is one with the bank. The bank will NEVER trade with you at favorable terms, because it doesn't need to. The bank is only in the business of trading to "make money" (favorable terms for the bank, bad terms for you). The special harbor doesn't change this (although it will reduce the terms against you from 4- to -1 or 3- to -1 or 2- to -1, for that commodity).

The only time you can get favorable terms is in domestic trade (with another player). And that happens only when the other player needs the trade more than you, and is hoping that you will give him better terms than 4- to -1 (against him).

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