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There is a strategy called (highest) resource strategy in Catan. That is, build your initial settlements on hexes where the sum of the favorable die rolls is a maximum. That assumes 1) that all resources are about equal in value, and 2) an abundant resource is as valuable (or nearly so) as a scarce resource. But both of these assumptions seem counterintuitive.

In this video, a you tuber opined that "one ore > two sheep." That is, he would build his second settlement on a site with less ore than sheep, because the former is more valuable. This person has been blogging and playing for some time, so I assume that he is at least "somewhat" expert. His view also corresponds with my own rough calculations that the relative value of resources is: ore, 5, wheat 4, wood and brick, 3, and sheep 2. Taking the base of 3 for brick wood, I come up with value coefficients of 1.6, 1.3, and 0.7 for ore, wheat, and sheep respectively. I then multiply this vector by the values of ore, wheat and sheep to come up with a "dot product" that gives me an adjusted resource value. In this example, an ore hex with two die rolls is worth more than a sheep hex with four die rolls, because 2 x 1.6 (=3.2) >4x0.7 (=2.8).

Do any systems or experts "re-weight" resources using an algorithm similar to mine and then choose intersections for early settlements accordingly?

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  • The question seems to answer itself. You provide an example of a player you state is an expert ("somewhat") using a weighted scheme. So yes, there is at least one "expert" who uses such a scheme. (Beyond that, say listing all such experts or schemes, is off topic here) May 13 at 17:33

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That's a good question, even though I'm not sure you can come up with a universal "weighting" because there are many parameters that determine the relative demand between resources. Such parameters include the layout of your tiles (and the numbers they are assigned) and the stage of the game.

For example, if the overall odds for sheep are really low in a given game, its "weight" vs ore will be different than a game where you have an excess of sheep. Additionally, brick and wood tend to be very valuable at the start of the game when the best strategy is generally to expand, while ore generally becomes more important at later stages.

So I think you could indeed compute relative weights for each resource but these would vary according to many factors. And I think these factors lead players to implicitly choose certain positions vs others positions that may have better odds.

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  • Given the question is based on the selection of initial settlements, discussion of game stage appears to be irrelevant.
    – Nij
    May 13 at 2:23
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    @Nij When playing with randomly distributed hex tiles and values, one could incorporate the assumed development into the game in the initial settlement placement, which might deviate from a "general" strategy/weighting. This seems relevant enough to me to the question at hand. May 13 at 10:56

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