Picking Starting Settlements (Bonus Part) - Turn Order

Updated: Jul 22

The turn order in Catan stays exactly the same for the entire game except for the picking starting settlements phase only. There are 02 rounds in that phase: The first round sees the regular turn order from A to B to C; meanwhile, the flow reverses from C to B to A during the second round. That keeps the game balanced by offering a better opportunity to the last picker, at the same time making the characteristics for each pick clear. Now we shall begin!

  1. The first pick is an influential pick. Its potential is limitless since it has no preceding pick. Depending on the turn player's likings, he could either stick to the best location there is (such as 5-6-9) or take a slightly worse spot to devalue the surrounding area (pick 5-9-10 to nullify both 5-6-9 and 5-8-10), carving his idea onto the game's shape. Whatever decision he makes is going to be impactful for sure. Usually, it is nigh impossible for the first picker to expect what will be leftover for his second pick.

  2. The second pick is an adaptive pick. Oftentimes there will be multiple worth-picking locations on the starting board. When his picking turn comes, the player might take the chance to get a guaranteed good spot. However, if he only cares about his well-being, he could risk losing to an overwhelmingly powerful third participant (with an 8-10-P Sheep port & 4-6-9 triple Sheep hexes available for example). Therefore, his choice needs to be flexible according to the situation. Moreover, it is wise for him to predict where to place his next settlement because it is only 02 turns away.

  3. The third pick is an independent pick. It is also the final pick of the first round; hexes picked in the second round will immediately yield 01 resource each. Since the third and fourth picks are conducted by the same person, he can freely put 02 of his settlements down then decide which one will produce resources. Besides, the double picks more often than not serve the starting-with-a-port tactic.

  4. The fourth pick is a synergistic pick. Its job simply is to provide the player with what suits his strategy - specific resources in case he picked a 2:1 port or particularly rare ones in other circumstances. Also, from this point, any picks which are not for their owners' sake will solely focus on restraining the enemies.

  5. The fifth pick is an opportunistic pick. As the playing field is occupied with 04 settlements, it is an easy task to tell everybody's intentions. The third player has already placed both of his settlements; meanwhile, despite having revealed only his first one, the first player will not have many choices for his second position when the board becomes crowded. This pick is not only to disrupt what the third player has in his mind but also to keep the first player away from obtaining another decent spot.

  6. The sixth pick is a consequential pick. What goes around comes around. If the player's first pick decided how other picks should go, his second one merely offers him any creative options. Unless the others accidentally leave a reliable spot open, an average in value location is acceptable already.

In conclusion, each starting position has its own pros and cons. Were we to rate the turn order according to proactiveness and reactiveness, it will be proactive -> reactive -> proactive -> proactive -> reactive -> reactive. You would be considered competitive only after being capable of successful pickings from all three positions. If you find anything worth discussing, please leave your comments below. We will end the article with this 'sort of' table, thank you for reading!


1st/6th - Insightful/Intuitive • Interests and responsibilities

2nd/5th - Resourceful/Radical • Exploitation of expectations

3rd/4th - Powerful/Potent • Freedom within a framework

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