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In the Better Settlers' setup, I can trade with bank at 3:1 or 2:1 ratio if I have a settlement or city on specific harbors. But the location of the harbors (3:1 and 2:1 ratios shown) doesn't match with the game that I have. In my game, these ratios are printed on outside long pieces. I also went to the official Catan site and compared pictures in the rule book with one from Better Settlers' site, and the pictures don't match :(

Why does Better Settlers site show custom 3:1 and 2:1 placements?

  • The short answer is that at least some versions of the game (and I think the Seafarers expansion) come with pieces for marking the harbors. I don't know the details off the top of my head, though. – Cascabel May 7 '15 at 5:00
  • This question could be improved by the main title being the actual question, rather than just the name of the board game. – AndyT May 7 '15 at 11:50
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    As a side note: the better settlers site is positioning the harbours incorrectly. The harbour should "face" down a row of 4 or 5 tiles, not down a row of 3 tiles. (Not sure if the word "face" makes sense to anyone, but that's how I think of it). – AndyT May 7 '15 at 11:52
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@Jefromi is correct, there are card pieces that you can use to cover over the ports printed on the sea frame. In this image you can see the port pieces covering the printed ones. They are used to randomise the ports, in a similar way to randomising the tiles. Note that they only change what type of port it is, and not its location.

Seafarers of Catan also comes with additional port pieces, but they are used in a different way specific to that expansion.


To answer your comment, there is a specific reason that the ports are arranged as they are in the board game. This is to do with balance of the game: if they are arranged differently then you could get ports too close together, which makes that area of the board much more powerful than it otherwise would be. To avoid this, each port needs to be at least two hex edges away from its nearest neighbour. As the board only has 30 outside edges, with nine ports this only leaves three leftover edges, so the possible variations are all very similar to each other if you try to space the ports out evenly. As to why there are nine ports, not ten, I don't know, but I expect the game designer tried the game with different variations and found nine to make a better game than ten.

To quote Andrew Flynn's answer:

The reason I chose not to force harbors positions even after the new version is I found that it was possible to create better and more variable board setups if I didn't add the constraint of fixed harbors.

While I haven't played Andrew's game, I would be surprised if it allows ports to be too close together, and so while the exact locations may be different, the board will look similar and the overall balance of the game won't be affected. (The screenshots I've seen seem to support this.)

As an aside, the Seafarers of Catan introduces many scenarios with different port locations, but the ports are still carefully placed, and the "variable setup" rules suggest you don't move them (although you can shuffle them up, as usual). Again, this shows that the placement of ports is very important to the balance of the game, and shouldn't be messed with too much to avoid breaking it.

  • I looked at the image and i see what you mean. But Better Settlers' port "locations" are different from the original port locations. Is that normal? – user2543622 May 7 '15 at 17:53
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    To answer the question, the balance of ports is definitely still aimed to be maintained and even improved from the original way they're spaced out. What makes Better Settlers special is it has the ability to lay out a board that doesn't require special, repeatable instructions. So while using Better Settlers, you'll notice the ports are more randomly spaced, but still maintain a balance across the entire board. Same goes with the Seafarers expansion of Better Settlers. – Andrew Flynn May 8 '15 at 12:02
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I created Better Settlers and the other answers are correct in that the version that I usually play with, the harbors are completely individualized on their own hexes so it's possible to completely randomize them. Newer versions of the game have the continuous puzzle-interlocking pieces to make things quicker for setting up.

The reason I chose not to force harbors positions even after the new version is I found that it was possible to create better and more variable board setups if I didn't add the constraint of fixed harbors.

The best solution with new versions is to flip the frame pieces over (so harbors aren't visible) and then use the additional harbor pieces that come included with the game (you can even just use a piece of paper if you don't have the additional pieces).

Hope that helps!

  • Would it be possible to answer my comment to Tom Potts's answer below - I looked at the image (boardgamegeek.com/image/2360057/catan) and i see what you mean. But Better Settlers' port "locations" are different from the original port locations. Is that normal? – user2543622 May 7 '15 at 17:54
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    Sure! See my answer below – Andrew Flynn May 8 '15 at 12:00
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In my version of Settlers of Catan (bought in the UK circa 2007) the land hexes are surrounded by sea hexes. Some of these sea hexes have harbours drawn on them. But as the harbours are on individual hexes, their placement can be completely randomised.

In my version of Seafarers of Catan (bought in the UK circa 2009) the playing area is edged by long pieces, similar to the OP's. But the harbours are on small individual pieces that are placed on top of the sea (whether the sea in question is an edge piece or a sea hex in the middle of the play area). Hence, again, their placement can be completely randomised.

So, in answer to "Why does better settlers site shows custom 3:1 and 2:1 ratios?" - It's not custom, it's just what came with the version they purchased.

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