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No, according to the game designer Donald X. Vaccarino: I do not see this in the rulebook, but the intention was that you do not lose the tile, even if you immediately move away.


The first turn is basically a trade-off between getting the best bonus tile (given the scoring goals in play) and minimising the risk of getting trapped, by avoiding placing in a large area of one terrain and making as few adjacencies as possible. It's often possible to do this in such a way that the bonus tile you claim guarantees you another tile next ...


The answer to your question, as asked, is "The settlement must go back to where you picked it up from." But your question includes this phrase I haven't built on any other desert fields yet. So the only neighbouring desert field would be that one. This is not the correct rule. Perhaps you meant to say that you haven't built on or next to any other desert ...


In the BoardGameGeek FAQ it says: Harbor and Barn: Adjacency is checked when placing the piece Check for eligible hexes after picking up the settlement to move. E.g. if you place 3 settlements together on 3 canyon hexes and now have no settlements adjacent to any canyon hexes, and then you pick up one of those settlements with the Barn, then you ...


Hymie's answer is completely correct. Quoting from the rulebook: the 3 settlements must be built successively one after the other. And BGG FAQ: There is no rule that you must necessarily place your 3 settlements in a single contiguous group (though sometimes you must, and sometimes you may choose to).

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