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While playing Catan tonight, I rolled a 7 and moved the robber.

No one had more than 7 cards, but I still asked how many cards people had in their hand because I wanted to know who had the most.

All the other players told me false numbers and said they didn't have to tell me how many cards they had if I was going to use the knowledge to steal from someone.

Is this right? Am I not allowed to ask how many cards a player has?

2 Answers 2

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Per the Settlers of Catan FAQ here:

Is it true that the number of cards in your hand is always open and available information? Specifically, should it be readily apparent how many development cards you have, but have not yet played? Or can you hide the resource cards under the table or in your pocket so that no one can see how many cards you have?

Yes. The quantity of cards you have in your hand is public information. But the identity of those cards is not. If another player asks, for example, how may resource cards do you have, right before he moves the robber, you must tell him truthfully the number of resource cards you have in your hand. The same goes for Development or Progress cards. The number of each type of card (resource, development, etc.) that you have is public knowledge at all times. (But, not the specific cards, i.e. wood, sheep, rock…)

It's a terrible idea to allow players to dissimulate about the number of cards in their hand. For one thing, it means that unscrupulous types could pretend they didn't need to lose resources to the robber. For another, it runs the risk of creating a situation where everyone has to keep track on paper or mentally of what everyone else draws just to make sensible plays, and that would be a big waste of time and effort.

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  • You could say something like "You need to count out loud to prove that you don't have more than 7." Nov 7, 2011 at 13:40
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    @thesunneversets Is that site you linked official? It doesn't seem to have any correlation to Mayfair Games or Klaus Teuber. Nov 8, 2011 at 16:46
  • The email address for rules queries given at that site is @mayfairgames.com, so I see no reason to suspect it of having been unofficial information. A bigger cause for concern would be that it's quite an old site! In any case, the ruling was and remains correct... Nov 20, 2011 at 11:59
  • The link now requires authorization and can't be viewed. May 2, 2016 at 2:15
  • "For another, it runs the risk of creating a situation where everyone has to keep track on paper or mentally of what everyone else draws just to make sensible plays" I don't see how one's plays would not be "sensible" without knowing how many cards are in people's hands, and if we don't trust someone to not cheat and not discard cards for the robber, they why should we trust them to tell us how many cards they have? And there's already a competitive advantage to keeping track of who has gotten what resources from die rolls. Feb 10 at 18:27
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As answered in the FAQ on the official Settlers of Catan Website:

Resource Cards - Am I obligated to tell my game partners the number of Resource Cards in my hand?

Yes.

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