4

In Catan, there are five resources: wood, brick, wheat, sheep, and ore. You get two free settlements that can access up to three resource hexes for a total of six. An "ideal" placement will let you access two hexes of one resource, and one of each of the other four (that is, all five). But sometimes, this is not practicable, and you have to choose four resources to access with your first two settlements, "neglecting" the fifth. In that case, how do you choose which resource to do this with?

I would imagine that you might "neglect" a resource that you can trade easily for, or be able to access quickly with a third settlement. And that you would come to these conclusions after studying the board. How would these considerations, or others I haven't mentioned, impact your decision?

5

If you must neglect one of the resources, then there are several possibilities, the main three are:

  1. Neglect Ore. Roads and settlements do not cost ore, thus it is possible to start without ore and build a settlement on a ore hex later.
  2. Focus on Ore, Wheat & sheep, going for fast 2 cities and development cards, then with the extra resource production trade your way into another settlement.
  3. Harbor 2:1 + Go heavy on a specific resource.

The best option depends on many aspects including:

  • The distribution of resource: abundant resource goes down in importance, scarce resource goes up.
  • Trade possibilities: either with the other players or with the bank. Does another player needs your resources? How trade-happy are your opponents? Do they think you are a head (which will make them less inclined to trade with you)
1

As other answers have described, the relative importance of resources varies from board to board, so it's a bit hard to generalize which resources are less important. Instead I think it's more prudent to figure out which resources are scarce and try to guarantee that you have viable plans to get them. If you have the rarer resources, then you'll be able to more easily trade for you other missing resources.

Typically, the most scarce resources are brick or ore since those resources only have 3 hexes of production instead of 4. Wheat is also usually in high demand since it's used in 3/4 of the your building recipes. By process of elimination this makes lumber and sheep easier to neglect on an "average" board.

Another strategy is trying to build on a variety of numbers in addition to a variety of resources. This means you won't miss out on many rolls and can slowly accumulate resources to use at a trader (or even the 4:1 trade if really needed). Just keeping the sheer quantity of resources flowing (regardless of their type) can still be important. I would often prefer having only access to four abundant resources (numbers like 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11) instead of 5 mediocre ones (say 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12).

0

Studies have shown that the five resource strategy is only the number 2 winning strategy. Number 1 is the so-called "hybrid" ore-wheat-sheep, with either brick or wood (more likely brick, since there are only three brick hexes). That implies that you would neglect wood.

The above two strategies are basically neck-and-neck until you get to a board with high ore content (11-13 rolls out of a theoretically possible 13 if you don't put 6s and 8s side by side). Then the extra ore makes up for your lack of say, wood.

Sheep is another resource you can consider neglecting. The demand for sheep is lower than for most other resources. On the other hand, there are four sheep hexes versus only three hexes for wood and brick, so unless their numbers are something like 2, 3, 11, 12, this will be a relatively abundant, hence "neglectable" resource.

It's true that you about equally likely to win with the longest road (a wood brick strategy) as with ore-wheat-sheep. But the important thing to remember is that everyone starts with two settlements and two roads. In resource terms, that means four brick, four wood, two sheep, two wheat, and no ore. So going forward, ore and wheat are scarce resources.

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