When I play Settlers of Catan, I often find myself rapidly bored by the trading component of the game. This is normally because of one or two players who insist on endlessly protracted negotiations for any item. These always start at ludicrous extremes ("I want a lumber.", "I'll give you a lumber - for 3 sheep, a brick and two ore!", "No way!", etc. etc.) and take forever to converge (if they ever do). I find this type of thing can quickly suck the life out of the game. This is a shame, as, apart from that aspect, the game is quite entertaining.

How do you handle this sort of behaviour?


10 Answers 10


Don't engage in it. Start with your offer (Make it a fair one the first time round), and break it off as soon as someone tries to squeeze a little more out of the deal. People will tend to loosen up as soon as they realize they are not getting any deals done thanks to their negotiation urges.

Simple 'no's work best.

  • Agreed; I've found that once people find out no one will trade with them, they start to tone things down. Your mileage may vary, of course. Oct 22, 2010 at 11:36
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    -1 because this does not address the more difficult part of the asked question, wherein two OTHER players are having protracted negotiations that are boring you.
    – Sparr
    Oct 28, 2010 at 6:01
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    You are playing with the wrong people... :). You can usually disrupt a trade by underselling the player whose turn it isn't. You can also start by acting like a auctioneer, guiding the players through the trade. This may not always help ins speeding things up, but at least you have got something to do.
    – Powertieke
    Oct 28, 2010 at 6:42

I've played with some slow players, but those folks sound extreme! Here is how I would handle it.

First, agree on a time limit for trading and enforce it. Next, initiate trading with the players you know are more reasonable. If an agreement can be reached, ask the problem traders if they can beat it. Don't give them long to answer and then move on.

You might consider starting closer or even on a good port if you are playing with these players. If they know you can trade 3:1 or better it should loosen them up.

Also, be sure to enforce the rule that requires you to be a part of all trade discussions during your turn. IE, this should not happen

  • You - I need Lumber
  • Player 1 - I'll give you a lumber for 3 sheep
  • Player 2 to Player 1 - I'd do it for 3 sheep and a brick
  • Is "you to be a part of all trade discussions during your turn" actually a rule? I know that you need to part of all trades during your turn, but limiting discussions too? Oct 22, 2010 at 15:08
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    You can only engage in trades when it's your turn, or with the person whose turn it is. I believe this is clearly stated in the rules.
    – Powertieke
    Oct 22, 2010 at 20:53
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    It's perfectly legitimate for Player 2 to say "I'd do it for just 2 sheep if you wait until my turn." In fact, this adds more strategic depth to the game. But admittedly, it does slow the game down.
    – Elliott
    Jun 30, 2011 at 7:47

We play we an implicit rule of offer, counter offer, response. I suggest you discuss that rule with you players and you implicitly play it.

The player who is playing his turn something like : I would like a wood, I can offer a sheep. The other players can accept, reject or making a counter offer. The player who is playing his turn something can accept a counter offer or make a final counter that the other player can just accept or reject.

If the other player just reject the first player offer, its turn is over.

Playing that way, people making extreme demand just get reject by everybody and their turn is very short. It force player to make reasonable offer at the start.

I am not in favor of a time limit because it is hard to enforce. But it should be clear that if a person is not decide after around 5 seconds, we told her to decide now how or think to it while the other are playing.


This is just a case of a player taking too long to take their turn.

Just house rule in a turn time limit, say "You should finish your turn in X minutes/seconds/whatever, except in really extraordinary circumstances."

Assuming everybody's just playing for fun, it shouldn't be too contentious.

Of course, if you find your games are really competitive you might consider a proper time piece to enforce stricter time limits.


If people want exorbitant quantities of resources for a trade, I just don't bother trading with them. Encourage your friends to be reasonable, or deny trades. A little mediation on your own part might even be worth it. I know I've successfully encouraged other players to trade to my own determent. I would have won when my turn came by claiming largest army had my friend not gotten the resources to build that city.

If your going to take forever to cut a deal, I don't mind commenting. If people are willing to pay exorbitant rates, I'll undercut them if I can.


Something that might work: Limited permission to trade. Consider this...

Every player starts the game with a "merchant" token. If you want to initiate a trade (ex: "I'm looking for ore or wood. I'm offering sheep and grain."), you have to spend your merchant token. If you don't have a merchant token, you can't initiate a trade, but you can still offer responses to a trade request.

If all players but one are out of merchant tokens at the end of any player's turn, all players get a merchant token.

The idea here is that the ability to initiate a trade becomes rare and valuable. This makes players who futz around with ridiculous (and time-consuming) offers less likely to initiate a trade when they're not desperate, and makes them less desirable to negotiate with when you're the one who initiated the trade. It also prevents them from attempting to trade every turn, since they can only initiate a trade if they have a merchant token.

I hope this helps!

  • The only person who should be initiate trade is the current player, and I have had games where I look to trade most turns because I am missing one resource and have a decent amount of other resources to trade. I have also seen trades that will slow down the leader in the process, seen people trade to block the road of the player in the lead.
    – Styxsksu
    Dec 20, 2018 at 20:14

Borrowing a mode from another game: you only get one offer attempt per opponent. They either accept or reject. If accepted, you may repeat after the first trade. Move on to next offerer (in 5-6p).


One way to speed up the trading is that a player may offer only one trade at a particular RATIO (e.g. 1 to -3 or 1 to -2) per turn. That means, I can offer you one ore for one wool and one grain (1 to -2), or one ore for one wood and two brick 1- to -3).

But it eliminates different permutations of the same ratio; "You won't give me one wool and one grain for one ore? How about two bricks for my one ore? No, make that two woods for my one ore."

The other person can counterpropose: I won't accept one ore for one grain and one wood, but I would accept one brick for one grain and one wood (same ratio, 1:2, from the first to the second person).

But in this way, a person can basically make two (not unlimited) offers per turn, one at a 2:1 ratio, the other at a 3:1 ratio.


This is a social question, akin to 'How do I get my guest to offer to do the dishes', or 'How do I convince my housemates to put their dishes in the dishwasher?'.

Some people are better at social cues than others, and in any social situation, people may not be aware at first that they're breaking social rules.

The answer, is to provide social cues, that they pick up without losing face. Make light of that they're dragging the game out, while keeping the mood light and fun. without making a drama of it. Hopefully they'll pick up on it.

The term we usually use is 'Quick game is a good game!'.


I've always hated player trade and it is especially bad when players invoke no kind of trading strategy. Sometimes they'll hand cards over to the player who is close to winning! People seem to think solely about the cards they need, but there are many scenarios where the act of trading leaves you in a worse position overall due to helping another player.

Because of this, when playing on catan universe I have implemented a strategy to discourage player trading. It is as follows.

Focus exclusively on hexes with ore, wheat and sheep. Get your 2 cities down and then relentlessly buy cards.

Meanwhile, publicly keep track of the number of player trades initiated by each player and announce you intend to exclusively attack the player who attempts the most trades.

Keep the robber on that player using knight cards and all your 7s. You will quickly get the largest army and all of the help you need to make up for the absence of lumber and brick from the rest of the deck and the robber.

If they don't have cards to trade, they can't trade.

Don't engage in any player trading yourself. You won't need to anyway.

Where possible rob hexes that will prevent the other player from being able to buy development cards.

Don't do this unless you have at least four probability dots for each of the three types.

Expect lots of anger from the compulsive traders, so don't play like this with friends 😀

  • 2
    This sounds like a good way to make people not want to play with you.
    – Joe W
    Jun 6, 2021 at 3:47
  • So is excessively trading or handing the game to another player through idiotic trading. The game is better without it. I use it on catan universe against strangers I'm never likely to encounter again. Yeah, they find it infuriating:-)
    – Jimbo
    Jun 6, 2021 at 8:32
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    There are other solutions to fix excessively trading besides publicly calling people out and trying to target them. Kingmaking is a different story and can actually be encouraged by what you are doing. If the person you are targeting is losing they could decide to make sure you don't win.
    – Joe W
    Jun 6, 2021 at 12:54
  • I've won games using this strategy where all of the other players were trying to target me. They can try, but I control the resources needed for dev cards and I don't give them away. Once they all managed to block me in with roads. 4 points for 2 cities, 2 for largest army, 4 victory cards later, I won.
    – Jimbo
    Jun 6, 2021 at 14:42
  • Honestly if there was a player doing this in games I played I would either not play with them or stop playing. As you said it there will be people who don't like this and I would expect them to exclude you from games if this is your answer. As for not winning my point was they can easily become kingmakers with the goal of making you lose.
    – Joe W
    Jun 6, 2021 at 14:44

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