When I was learning to play Go, recording and reviewing my games helped me improve rapidly. I'd like to do something similar for Settlers of Catan, but it's obviously much more difficult to record Settlers games.

How do you / would you guys go about recording games (in enough detail to reproduce the entire game verbatim)? Have any of you had success doing this in the past?

  • The one problem is the development cards and what order people draw them, since all you can tell by watching is the order of playing them.
    – Styxsksu
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


I've never seen an established lexicon for recording Settlers games, but I bet you could gin one up pretty quickly that would be able to capture everything of note. Here are the major things I think you'd need to capture and my ideas on some compact notation

Board setup. The tiles types are randomized, but the letters always play out in the same order. I'd just create a list with all the letters and then in table format list the tile time under that letter during your setup. Insert a row with no letter for where the desert is located. For example

A Sheep
B Ore
C Wheat

From here on out, you can use the letters as the signposts for where the action is happening. For example:

  • Intersection pieces (e.g. cities) are recorded by the letters of the three surrounding tiles.
  • Roads only require two letters.

Then number the players by starting order and record the staring information (i.e. settlement location). Now just record the bare minimum of action as the game progresses. For example:

Turn 1, Player 1 
Roll: 6 

No need to record what each player drew as that can be determine based on the board setup. Record any trades. Ports can just be player 0, where the ratio will tell you if it was a generic or specific.

P4: 1S, 1O; P3: 2W

Record any builds:

Road: B,D

Since the information to be captured is going to be exactly the same each game, I bet you could create a blank spreadsheet or table to help ensure you didn't forget anything important. It could have an area for the setup information and then columns for each player and each turn (that could just continue as long as required by the game).


I didn't really discuss the private knowledge aspect of Settlers: the cards. This represents the most challenging aspect to capture in the game log because cards are private knowledge. (I'm assuming you don't have someone not playing who is dedicated to recording the game.)

In this case I suggest recording in the game log when a given player obtains a card, and then having each player record the cards they pull in order. Once the game is over, you can augment the official log with the notes from each player.

  • Sometimes people forget to pick up all their resources. You would need to note such lapses.
    – Greg
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 14:07
  • On our games, we usually remind people if they forget.
    – Elliott
    Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 21:06
  • If you really record the whole public game, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out who stole what from whom, which is the only truly hidden information about resource cards.
    – warbaker
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 19:39
  • This is great. I would personally use a mediawiki site to track these changes for your players to revisit.
    – Alex R
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 8:45

With Catan being partially a game of luck, using a recording system the same way you would with Go, might not yield usable data that you can learn from. Games like Go and Chess are 100% skill. Such that, if I played chess with Bobby Fischer, he'd beat me 100 games out of 100.

Setters of Catan, on the other hand, is a cooperative game and does have an elements of "luck", much like you would find in poker. While it is true that skill will drastically increase your chances of winning, there are times that if the dice just aren't rolling in your favor, there's no amount of skill that will overcome your run of bad luck.

In other words, instead of recording each move for analysis, like you would with Go. Perhaps, like with poker, calculating the probability that a certain course of action will move you forward, might be a more effective approach.

  • 1
    This does not appear to be an answer to the question being asked.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 16:09
  • 1
    @GendoIkari, it doesn't answer the question as asked verbatim. However it does address the basis for the question that the OP opened their post with, namely the desire to improve their game play. Sometimes answers that address the need rather than the question can be more helpful.
    – YLearn
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 2:08
  • 1
    This answer pointed out a key difference between Catan (the luck factor) and Go (no luck), and suggested a way "around" the problem. That's good enough for an answer.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 23:10

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