Picking Starting Settlements (Part 1/2) - Number Probabilities

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Catan is a game of both luck and skill. Luck is an uncontrollable factor, whereas your skill can be improved. There are two essential skills for every Catan player when it comes to picking starting settlements: calculating the values of spots, and picking the right combination of resources. Here we will just focus on the former and overlook the latter as our discussion is about the odds of rolling 2D6. Check out the table below.

As you can see, there are 36 probabilities from rolling 2D6, resulting in 9 outcomes varying from 2 to 12. Amongst, 7 appears the most, followed by both 6 and 8. The number of times a number appears in the table equals the number of pips displayed on its corresponding number token. Therefore, both 2 and 12 have 01 pips, 3 and 11 both have 02 pips, while 4 and 10 have 03 pips, and so on.

A basic Catan board has 18 number tokens holding a total of 58 pips. Divide 58 pips by 18 tokens, we have 3.22 as the average number of pips on each token. Provided that you only place your starting settlements on tri-hexed spots, the average combined number of pips you shall get in theory is 19.33. In fact, the lowest number of pips you need before the game starts should not be lower than 19 if both of your starting settlements are surrounded by 03 resource hexes. A popular example is picking 3-4-8 and 5-6-11 as your starting settlements, in which case the duo's total value of 21 is right about the average.


Now that we have explained the meaning behind those pips on the number tokens, let's discuss how we analyse the value of resources on the board. In Catan games, oftentimes you will hear people say terms like "low ore", "high sheep"; but is there any standard to identify how much is low or high? The answer is yes, check out the table below.

Since there are only 03 hexes of Brick and Ore each, the standard for them will be lower than the other three each of which have 04 hexes. As can be inferred from the table, an average amount of Brick or Ore is 8 -> 11 pips; meanwhile, 11 -> 15 pips is the standard amount of Wood, Sheep, and Wheat. With that in mind, you will have a better idea of how to pick your starting settlements, as well as how to aim for the right port.

We hope the information we provide will help you improve your skills in Catan. Don't forget to check out part 2 of Picking Starting Settlements. Cheers!

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