On her move, Alice trades with Bob: Alice gives 2 wheat, Bob gives 1 sheep.

Then Alice does her calculations again and decides it was a wrong move. She wants to trade her sheep back for one wheat, and Bob is willing to give her back 1 wheat for 1 sheep. Alice does nothing else between those trades.

Other players object, saying it's a catch to work around "no giving away cards for free" rule, and Alice and Bob might be conspiring.

I (being Bob) know for a fact it's not true, and the game rules don't explicitly forbid it, as far as I can tell.

Is it a valid move?

  • Doesn't relate to the rules of the game, but how would the other players feel if you did the first trade on her turn, then the second trade on your turn immediately following hers? Would they be completely happy with the two of you conspiring to give away a card in that case, since the game situation has at least changed? And how exactly do they plan to define and enforce an unlawful conspiracy? ;-) May 22 '15 at 17:57
  • @SteveJessop: I think they would, yes, a lot of things could happen between our turns. She was (apparently) planning to trade away her wheat to play Monopoly on it but started having second thoughts.
    – Quassnoi
    May 22 '15 at 18:32
  • I'd be surprised if people would really object in isolation -- it may be the case that people in your group view you and Alice as generally favoring one another over the rest of the group (whether intentionally or not), or maybe Alice tends to erratically make plays that greatly advantage a player; either way, an example with such a blatant outcome may simply have been the final trigger that got people to speak up.
    – user7583
    May 23 '15 at 10:35
  • That's funny. My edittion of Catan doesn't have any rule that forbids giving cards for free. Actually, buying resources from someone to pay later with other resources or favors (build a road there to block that player for me and I give you 2 wheat) is a really common strategy around my player group. However, it's worth to say that my Catan is a Brazillian edition, so translating shenanigans may happen.
    – T. Sar
    Nov 12 '15 at 10:57

This is not a card giveaway. You were under no obligation to make the second trade. For that reason, she is not, technically or otherwise, giving away a wheat for nothing.


This is what the official rules say:

! Trade After you roll for resource production, you may trade with other players or with the bank.
• You may trade as long as you have resource cards
• If you decide not to trade during your turn, no one can trade
• You may trade with another player between your turns, but only if it’s his turn and he elects to trade with you
• You may not trade with the bank during another players turn
• You may not give away cards
• You may not trade development cards
• You may not trade like resources (e.g., 2 wool for 1 wool)

The rules don't specific say this is not allowed although you can't give away cards, but seeing as a trade is concluded after you handed over the cards to each other, the second trade will be a new trade and is certainly a valid (although not nice)trade.

Technically she's giving away a wheat without anything for it and so it seems like you're ignoring the rule of you may not give away cards. You can try to deny it to the other players but if they don't believe it you can't prove that it isn't so.

So if I would be present at the table I would make trades only refundable for the whole amount if both parties agree to exchange the cards back. Other than that you can't discount a refund. So it really is up to the players and you should try to avoid this sort of situations and make trades permanent, no refunds.

  • 5
    Except by the rules, you're not giving away anything for free in any single trade, which is what the rules apply to. When agreeing to a deal, players must stick to the terms for that trade. However, players can make long-term, complex agreements, but only the current trade is enforceable by the rules. As such you run the risk of a player turning you down. The specific question in your group to ask is if someone's kingmaking someone else arbitrarily.
    – Samthere
    May 22 '15 at 14:23
  • 1
    By forcing all trades to be fully refundable you punish the other person in t h e trade. They have now exposed part of their hand that they might not have otherwise exposed and have gained nothing for it. By charging a "refund fee" they still gain th3 value of one card.
    – atk
    May 23 '15 at 7:47
  • @atk this doesn't force it to be fully refundable, though. The player can simply refuse to reverse the trade.
    – Random832
    May 23 '15 at 14:31
  • @Random832, to the contrary, the answer contains the sentence, I would make trades only refundable for the whole amount if both parties agree to exchange the cards back" it is fully refundable, which was my point. Refusing to give the cards back jas no beqring on my point. The other player couod well prefer to have the trade in habd (such as to get below 7 cards because they think a 7 should be f9ming soon). This custom rule removes substantial flexibility.
    – atk
    May 23 '15 at 15:24
  • @atk which means if one party does not agree, it's not refundable. The proposed rule only restricts transactions (can't do a partial refund), it doesn't make anything mandatory.
    – Random832
    May 23 '15 at 15:26

I fall somewhere in between here.

I think that if it happened exactly as stated above, it's fine: she made a trade, changed her mind, and now wants her sheep back - fine, but you have every right to get something in return. You certainly don't have to 'refund' the trade, right? So you charge her one of the two wheat.

However, if the first trade is entered into with the express intention of doing the second, then it's cheating, because it's trying to work around the rules. At least, it has the appearance of that. If the people you play with are more rules-focused, as in 'exactly as the rules are written', then it's still legal - in that case cards can't be given to someone with zero cards, otherwise they always can be via a trade like this. But with me, I'd think that has the appearance of violating the rule (and violates its spirit).


Technically speaking nothing in the rules would prevent that from happening, even if they are "giving away cards for free through the trading". That is a moral issue of playing ethically.

It depends upon whether or not you play with people who are douches or not. If you play with nice people who understand that sometimes people make mistakes then you should let them undo the trade. If they won't trade back, then maybe you shouldn't be playing with them anymore.

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