Picking Starting Settlements (Part 2/2) - Resources & Ports

Updated: Jul 26

Once you have known the basis of probabilities, you can move on to learn how resources synergise with each other. This goes beyond just picking resources that work well with each other, to ensuring you have corresponding amounts of them. Let's have a look at the building cost card for the Catan base game.

Apparently, there are multiple significant points that can be derived from the picture. First of all, Wheat is the most important resource in the game, appearing in three out of four recipes. Second, Brick is always used alongside Wood with a 1:1 ratio; similarly, Ore can never work without Wheat, the only difference is we usually need more Ore than Wheat. And third, Sheep is the least important resource, which is widely accepted in the Catan community. If we are to rank the resources base on usefulness, it is going to be Wheat - Ore - Brick - Wood - Sheep.

Moving on to the next part, we will be discussing 03 of the most basic strategies when picking your starting settlements in Catan.

  1. Getting at least 01 hex of every resource. Since you already have a bit of everything, this strategy provides lots of independence, particularly for new players who are not used to offering trades to other players.

  2. Focus on the upper half of the building cost card, especially Brick and Wood. This strategy is very straightforward with the resources it brings. You will also be aiming for 02 bonus VPs from the Longest Road. For this strategy to work best, we recommend you start the game with 02 Brick, 02 Wood, 01 Wheat and 01 Sheep hexes.

  3. Focus on the lower half of the building cost card or only Ore and Wheat on some rare occasions. The two main objectives of this strategy are upgrading all settlements to cities and getting 02 bonus VPs from the Largest Army.


Besides the power to purchase roads, settlements, cities or development cards, your resource cards also have the power to be traded away for other ones that you do not have. During trades between players, a rarer resource often has higher value; hence, picking rare resources around your starting settlements is encouraged. Trading with the bank (or maritime trades) is a different story because the bank does not care about the scarcity of any resources. The only factor that affects your trades with the bank is whether you have ports or not. There are a total of 09 ports on the board: 04 generic 3:1 ports and 05 specific 2:1 ports.

Oftentimes you will find picking a port(s) with your starting settlements reasonable. If so, you might be interested in calculating the value of each port. Hereby we propose our methods to identify how many pips your ports are worth.

  1. A 3:1 port gains 01 pip in value for every 04 pips on each resource. The reason for that is because the 3:1 port reduces the price from '04 of a kind for 01' to '03 of a kind for 01', which is exactly 25%. Let's say you pick 4-6-9 (Ore-Ore-Wheat) and 8-10-Port (Sheep-Wheat) as your starting settlements. As the total number of pips on your Ore is 08, it contributes 02 pips in value towards your 3:1 port. In that manner, your 04 pips on Sheep increase the port's value by 01 pip. And last, with 07 pips, Wheat only raises the port's value by 01 pip as well. To sum up, your port is worth a total of 04 pips in this scenario; meanwhile, the power level of your starting settlements is 24.

  2. As for specific 2:1 ports, the value of each port will be half of the total number of pips on the specific resource hexes. Applying a similar calculation, we see that the 2:1 port cuts the price by 50%, from 04 for 01 to 02 for 01. For instance, if you have a 2:1 Sheep port and you start with 5 and 9 as your Sheep number, the port's value will be 04 since it is half the combined number of pips on 5 and 9, which is 08.

That is the end of Picking Starting Settlement part 2. We hope you have learnt something from the article. Thank you for reading!

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