Early, Mid, Late, and End GameBefore continuing, it's important to consider the stages of the game. In Settlers of Catan, the game phases are motivated entirely by victory points and the building phases. The Early Game- Charactarized by rapid building by all parties. Roads, settlements, and development cards are commonly the most built items, as they are not only the cheapest items to build, but they also provide the quickest boost to VP and positioning. Trading is generally not a popular non-random resource generation option in the early game.The Mid-Game- Charactarized by extreme competition for positioning and strategic robber play. In this phase, players either become blockaded out of position or are attempting to blockade other players in order to advance their own position. Player trades become a more prevalent manner of non-random resource generation during the mid-game.The Late Game- Characterized by targeted robber play and the building of the more expensive VP items (i.e. Cities, Largest Army, Longest Road, etc. . .). The player with the most VP is usually targeted whenever the robber is rolled. The late game generally begins when a player has attained 7 VP. Maritime Trade becomes the most prevalent form of non-random resource generation in the game. End Game- The end game occurs whenever a player has achieved 10 VP.Building CostsThere are many things to consider when performing the initial placement phase. Since every board is randomized, there really is no correct position to place your initial settlements and roads. The mistake that most people make, in regards to initial positioning, is in that they formulate their entire strategy based on the initial positioning. For example, in Catan Universe, the prevalent meta is for Player 1 to build their first settlement on the highest producing (L) and (B) hexes in order to lock down road construction. While this isn't always a good or bad strategy, it's important to think about the resources required to build.While Roads and Developments are the easiest thing to build, they don't guarantee VP. Settlements and Cities are the more expensive building options, but they guarantee 1 and 2 VP, respectively. While a quick glance at this graph indicates that Grain and Ore are the more important resources, it's important to consider player trades, harbors and maritime trades, and what resources are currently on the board as well.The BoardNow that we have a clear understanding of building costs, let's take a look at the board itself. The board consists of the following distribution of resource tiles in every game of SoC. There are 19 tiles in the base game, 18 resource hexes and 1 desert hex. While this chart indicates that Lumber, Wool, and Grain are the most prevalent resources on the board, it's important to remember that the number tiles on top of the resource hexes are randomly distributed, and this is a more important factor in the distribution of resources than the number of tiles on the board itself.Notice that underneath the numbers on the board, there are a series of dots. These dots represent the probability of the dice rolls. I will cover this in a later chapter, but this is of the utmost importance in initial placement. For now, just know that the dots represent the probabilities of that number rolling. The higher the number of dots, the more likely that number will be rolled. When placing your initial cities, it's important to consider a few things: Which tiles have the highest probabilities to be rolled Where are these tiles in relation to their corresponding harbors What are resources are other players built upon currently REAL ESTATEHex Roll ProbabilityTaking a look at the image above, we can see a few things. First, we can see immediately that Ore production will be a problem for all players. There are only 3 ore hexes, and two of them have a 4 placed. The third Ore hex has an 2 placed. The first though would be to place your initial settlements on the highest probability spots, but this isn't always the best strategy (even though, sometimes, it is). We can also ascertain that Grain will be heavily producing resource, as all 4 grain hexes have probability markers of 3 or higher. Understanding the hex roll probability will help to increase awareness in the board, making the next 3 considerations much easier to understand, in regards to the scope of the game board and resource generation. HarborsUsing our prior example, we know that grain will be a heavily producing resource. We also know that the top producing Grain hex is right next to the 2:1 Harbor for Grain. That same Grain hex has an intersection with a roll probability of 11 (Label A). There is also a high probability Wool hex to the east of the Wool port (Label B). While the effectiveness of each port is determined by the roll of the dice, the Wool hex has a lower starting probability, so it can be assumed that Maritime Trade from this port won't be as effective unless the player is able to build on another Wool hex which will increase the probability that player receives Wool throughout the course of the game. The Brick hexes next to the Brick port (Labels C and D) will be more effective for Maritime Trade, as there are 2 separate Brick hexes next to the port, but it's connected to 2 low proabability hexes in Lumber and Ore. While a 2:1 Harbor is generally easier to work with, 3:1 Harbors (The question marks) can prove to be a game changer as well. Furthermore, some variants of the base game allow for 2 VP to be attained once a player has gained control of 3 ports, so controlling multiple ports can be one of the most important aspects of the game, in regards to resource generation and winning the game.The Other Players It's important to understand the other players' position and resource generation as well. In the example above, we can see that Blue controls a large portion of the Ore and Lumber that will be distributed throughout the game. Red is obviously planning on using Maritime Trade to improve resource generation through lumber, as they've given up 1 possible hex to control the Lumber port. Green controls most of the Wool, and I can all but assure that their first course of action will be to extend and build into the Wool port. Grey controls the Grain port and two of the highest Grain producing hexes. His gameplan is assuredly to use Maritime Trade to advance their position in resource generation. Understanding the other players' strategy will help to formulate your own strategy. Just remember this, in SoC, when players are utilizing the same strategy, the most successful player is usually the player whom controls the highest probability hexes for that strategy. Understanding your position in against a similar strategy will help to avoid planning a weaker strategy than your competitors. . All Devices. Play anytime, anywhere - against all Catan players worldwide. 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