Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights Info
This game is a lot better than the original if you prefer complex games over simple ones. It is basically the regular Settlers of Catan game with a few twists in it.
Setup and Resource Strategy
In this game you lay out the board as usual except you leave out a water hex and replace it with the special double hex that has the pirates on it. Then a nice boarder is placed around the board to hold it together. It is possible to play this with Seafarers, and some scenarios will be better than others. Scenarios offering more land to build on will be better than scenarios causing players to be cramped.
There are a number of different ways you can go in this game. Like always you should closely observe the set-up of the board. In the original Settlers of Catan game, sheep were a fairly pointless resource and bricks were important. In this game, it is somewhat reversed. The only thing that bricks will get you are settlements and city walls. Only build walls when it is practical to do so. However, building on good brick numbers such as "6" or "8" is ideal if you can place a city on them. This is because your city will produce 2 bricks instead of a brick and a trade good. This makes bricks an ideal resource for trade, and the 2:1 brick port can be a very powerful asset. Grain is similar as cities also produce 2 grain, but you need grain so much that you are often spending it and rarely have an ideal time to trade them in 4:1. Settlements are not as important in this game, but you do need them (early on is important). They are only important because they can be upgraded to cities and they are solid victory points that cannot be taken from you. Cites are very important. You want to try to have one your starting city in a place where you can get at least one of these trade goods. Try to get a stable grain source in addition to trade goods. You will need this for your knights. Being on mountain and pasture is essential. It is very important that you can get a knight within the first few turns of the game.
Cities vs. Knights Strategy for Opening and Mid-game
So which do you get, cities or knights? At the beginning of the game, you definately want a knight before the first brigand attack. After that I like to get settlements. As soon as you build a knight and have it activated, you are free to build a city as long as it is unlikely that your opponents will build a city before the first attack. Since you all start with one city, once you build a knight, unless everyone else gets a knight built, you won't have the least knights, and you cities are safe.
Here's an interesting situation that is important to know what to do when it occurs at the begining of the game:
Everyone has one city and one knight. You can build a city or a knight and the brigands are definately on their way. Which do you build?
Answer: The city of course! Building the city will put the number of cities above the number of knights. Since everyone has the same number of knights, they all lose. This isn't bad, because now you have a city and no one else does. Not only that, but if your original city was in a bad place, but your settlement was in a good place, you just relocated your city to your benefit. Note that your opponents will be left to prevent such a situation. They have to build the stupid knight, not you. They might get a savior of Catan card, but they just wasted valuable city-building resources to get it. Looks like you'll have more cities than them for awhile.
As soon as you can build an improvement, DON'T HESITATE. Build it and start collecting more development cards.
This is the biggest alteration to the regular Settlers game. Sure, you didn't have "real" knights before, but that's more of an addition than total replacement. The biggest downside is that you can't just buy them anymore. Get lots of trade goods so you can get these cards and start making stuff happen! If you can't get all the resources that you want, try to aim for getting paper so you can turn that third level over and get resources on every role that you have. If you have problems building knights, or your opponents are just plain in your way, go for coinage. Cloth is kinda stupid (like sheep, but sheep is better), but it's still helpful nonetheless. Trade is important, and if you get lots of a certain type of resorce, having the merchant is helpful. However, if you have the opportunity to place a city where there are good sheep/cloth rolls, go for it, because after you get to the third level, you can trade your cloth in for other things at a 2:1 rate! If there is one type of commodity you can't get at all, it is better to trade resources to get the first level on that rather than getting the next level on something else. Flipping the first level over adds two dice rolls to that type instead of one.
Metropolises are good. If you ever have the opportunity to build one on your turn by using trade cards and if you don't have enough, but can cash in resources to get the remaining ones, you should do it immediately. Get the metropolis as soon as possible. They are first come, first serve and worth two points. Generally the winner of the game has one of these. Play your cards wisely. Metropolises are a unique opportunity two get two points with one shot, particularly since there is no largest army and you aren't even (or at least) should worry about getting the longest trade route. You probably won't have any brick to build it anyway. If you are playing with the seafarers expansion, getting the longest trade route is far more feasible. If you played the rest of the game well, you shouldn't be boxed in (a very bad position to be in in cities and knights). Also if you are getting close to the number of victory points to win, make sure you can draw the yellow development cards, as the merchant is the the only (concealed) victory point card you can have.
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