Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Since the Harbormaster card is not an official feature in the base game, we only have the Longest Road and the Largest Army as our 02 special cards. That leaves us to an infamous dilemma, who will go for the road and who will recruit the army? Oftentimes you will see either a 02 roads & 01 army or a 01 road & 02 armies situation. There also exists a peaceful scenario where the third player will simply become a "hermit" and mind their own business only. But on some rare occasions, they will rise as a "public enemy" and declare war with everyone else on the table.
While we pick the word "hermit" to call a player who is only concerned about building settlements and upgrading them to cities, "public enemy" is the term we particularly select to represent a player that craves for both the Longest Road and the Largest Army. "Public enemy", as well as "hermit", does not refer to an original strategy or tactic. Instead, it indicates a situation happening to a player after they unexpectedly revealed their intention of getting 04 bonus Victory Points from both of the special cards. For the remaining parts of this article, we will be explaining why it is worth being the public enemy in Catan.
First thing first, to be capable of pursuing your ambition, you need to make yourself a formidable force. Good number probabilities, a decent combination of resources & ports, along with a bit of luck from the beginning are the requirements.
Playing as a "public enemy" allows you to enjoy the game more because the number of tasks you manage will be added up by a lot. You have to prolong your road, at the same time, keep buying more development cards, not to mention placing your settlements and upgrading them to cities - that is true multitasking.
You will find your victory much more deserving while having no regret in case of a defeat since being recognised as a common threat by both of your opponents puts you into a rough 01 against 02 battle already.
When pulled off successfully, the game usually ends fast (less than half an hour) and the gap in VPs between you and the others will be considerable (10/6/5 for example).
In conclusion, unless you are new to Catan, you should take the chance to be the "public enemy" when the right time comes. The playstyle helps you improve multiple skills in a single game while also giving you a moment to shine. Cheers!