I'm fairly new to Settlers. I was playing online last night and drew a Knight card. The robber was already on a tile that had two of the game leader's cities attached. I had few resource cards at the time, so I wasn't close to being able to get something I needed, so I saved it for a few turns. When I finally played it, the other player went off on me for not playing the knight sooner.

Also, no, I did not already have two other knights, so it would not have gotten me the largest Army token.

So my question is this: Is it always better to play the knight immediately, or can it make more strategic sense to play save it?

  • 5
    Did the other person perhaps have some personal interest in the knight getting moved?
    – Cascabel
    Aug 14, 2014 at 17:31
  • It was not blocking him. It was an ore tile I think and I know it was either a 6 or an 8.
    – Kevin
    Aug 14, 2014 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


Simple answer is no, it is not always in your best interest to immediately play a knight when you get one. In all truth I would say that it is better to hold onto it for a while unless the robber is currently in a position that is hurting you. By holding onto it you accomplish two things, first you keep protection for yourself allowing you to move the robber if it moves to a bad place for you. Second it allows you some time to make sure you optimize use of the card. And lastly if the robber is in a place that hurts your opponents and not you that is great reason to not play the knight.

  • That was my thinking. But the guy reacted so strongly, I was wondering if I had missed something.
    – Kevin
    Aug 14, 2014 at 17:56
  • 3
    I would wager that the other player just wanted the robber in a different position
    – Joe W
    Aug 14, 2014 at 18:13
  • @JoeW That's why I asked, but the OP said no. Maybe he had some political motive? Wanted it moved to another opponent who seemed to be in the lead?
    – Cascabel
    Aug 14, 2014 at 19:50
  • 2
    Additionally, no one knows what the card is until it is played, for example it may be a road building, monopoly, or victory point card. If you always play a knight card immediately, then it will become obvious if you have a different development card. Aug 14, 2014 at 19:52
  • 1
    @JoeW It was a three player game, so wanting it on someone else doesn't make sense. The only thing I can think of is that maybe he was keeping track of what people had better than I was and knew the guy in the lead already had a bunch of what it was on and it would have been better on something he needed, e.g. it was on ore, maybe he already had a bunch of ore and I would have been better off moving it to the guy's wheat tile.
    – Kevin
    Aug 14, 2014 at 20:28

Its almost always better to save the knight and NOT play it immediately.

  • You can play the knight when the robber is blocking one of your settlements to unblock it. You can even do this before you roll the dice on your turn.

  • Having an unplayed knight as a threat can convince a player who rolled a 7 to place the robber elsewhere rather than somewhere that blocks your settlement, as if he blocks your settlement, you'll play the knight to move the robber to block his settlement.

There are only a couple of times you want to play it immediately

  • when doing so will prevent another player from winning by denying them the largest army

  • when you already have other unplayed cards, as you can only play one card per turn.

  • 1
    It's worth noting, that since TIES for largest army go to the person who acquires it first, playing your Third Knight ASAP can be advantageous (or 4th if someone else already has Largest Army w/ 3 Knights).
    – aslum
    Aug 15, 2014 at 16:20
  • 1
    Depends on which version of the rules you are using -- the original German rules where ties go to the first player to play the knights or the later rules where ties cause noone to get the bonus.
    – Chris Dodd
    Aug 15, 2014 at 17:19

The best time to play a knight is NOT necessarily immediately.

One example was the one you cited, that you should wait for more knights to get the largest army, if that was your ticket to victory.

Another case is where the robber is on a hex that hurts you a "little," and hurts your leading opponent "more." In that case, your best interests are served by "hurting your opponent more" and not playing the knight.

Sure, if the robber is on a hex that costs you, and no one else, critical resources, then you might want to play the knight immediately.

Catan is something of a "curved" game where how much you advance is no more, or less important, than preventing other people from advancing. The person that complained about your not playing the knight at once either didn't understand that, or perhaps was trying to distract you from playing according to that understanding.

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