4 of us were playing Catan - Cities and Knights, the barbarians attacked and the situation was as follows:

  • Player 1 has 2 cities and 1 knight.
  • Player 2 and 3 each have 1 city and 1 knight.
  • Player 4 has 0 cities and 0 knights.

Who loses a city?

1 Answer 1


Players 1, 2, and 3 will each have 1 city pillaged.

You say that players 2 and 3 are protected, but this is not correct. It doesn't matter if an individual player has as many knights as they do cities. All that matters is the total number of cities among all players compared to the total number of active knights among all players.

From the rules:

The strength of the barbarians is equal to the number of cities (including metropolises) owned by all players. Add up all the cities owned by all of the players anywhere on the island to determine this strength.

All active knights of all players (even those who do not own any cities) will defend against the barbarians. Only the active knights are counted, the inactive knights do not assist in defending the island in any way. Remember that the strength of each knight is based upon its type: basic (1), strong (2), or mighty (3). Sum up the value of all the active knights to determine the strength of the defending army.

The Barbarians win the attack because they have a total strength of 4 (for 4 total cities on the board), and the Knights have a total strength of 3 (assuming all Knights you mention are activated and level 1).

When the Barbarians win, they pillage a city belonging to the player(s) who contributed the least defense. However, players who do not have any cities are not counted for this purpose. Of the players who have cities, there is a 3-way tie for who contributed the least.

If the barbarians are stronger, they are victorious! If the barbarians win the battle, they pillage one or more cities. Pillaged cities are reduced to settlements (replace the city piece with a settlement). The barbarians pillage one city belonging to the player who had the lowest total strength of active knights when the barbarians attacked. Any player who contributed no knights are automatically considered to have the lowest total strength of active knights. If various players rie for having the lowest total strength of active knights, each of those player loses 1 of their own cities.

Important: When determining which player has contributed the weakest group of knights, do not count any player who has no cities or any player who has only metropolises. These players are immune to the effects of the barbarian attack.

  • 1
    As an aside, it is a very powerful strategy for player 1 to try to intentionally cause this to happen leaving them with the only remaining city on the board. This allows them to continue with developing commodities and improvements while the rest of the players struggle to salvage their game state. It is seen as rude or poor sportsmanship by some, but it is highly effective and can lead to huge point spreads like winning 15-5-4.
    – JMoravitz
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 12:20

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