Updated: Apr 4
Trading is one of, if not the most, abusable phases in a game of Catan. Although the developers of Catan have already put restrictions on domestic trades, more is required to ensure satisfying game quality. Because none of our propositions has been mentioned in the official rulebook or FAQ section on the website, we will call them 'ethics' for now.
1. Ports restrict the number of resources you can trade with other players. Without a port, you cannot domestically trade higher than 03 of a kind for 01 other resource. With a 3:1 port, the limit goes down to 02 of a kind. With a specific 2:1 port, you cannot trade more than 01 of that specific resource for another. I will make some comparative examples for a clearer understanding:
Provided that you have Wheat, and you are desperate for an Ore:
If you have no port, the maximum number of Wheat you can trade for 01 Ore is 03. Even though you can still offer better deals like 03 Sheep + 03 Wheat for 01 Ore, you cannot trade 04 Wheat for 01 Ore. In that manner, you cannot offer more than 07 Wheat for 02 Ore.
If you have a 3:1 port, the cap now lowers down to 02 Wheat for 01 Ore.
If you have a 2:1 Wheat port, you cannot offer more than 01 Wheat for 01 Ore.
In short, you can only offer and accept trades that cannot be done via maritime trades.
2. You can only trade with each player once each turn. Not only to speed up the game's pace, this is also to make sure no one can give away their resources by conducting multiple trades. Here is an example of an indirect give-away by using multiple trades per turn:
Provided that you have no port,
Before trading, you have 02 Brick + 02 Wood, player A has 01 Wood.
First trade, you offer A 02 Brick for 01 Wood. You then have 03 Wood, player A has 02 Brick.
Second trade, you offer A 03 Wood for 01 Brick. You then have 01 Brick, player A has 01 Brick + 03 Wood.
Third trade, you offer A 01 Brick for 01 Wood. You then have 01 Wood, player A has 02 Brick + 02 Wood.
After trading, you have 01 Wood, player A has 02 Brick + 02 Wood.
To conclude, you have just given player A 02 Brick + 01 Wood for free. That is absolutely unfun for the other player.
3. You can deceive others about having or not having a resource(s) when declining a trade offer, but not when you are offering or counter-offering during a trade. To put it simply, when the turn player offers 01 Brick for 01 Wood,
You can lie that you do not have Wood although you do have Wood.
You can lie that you do not want to trade your Wood away although you do not have Wood.
You can make a counter-offer, saying you will only trade away your Wood for 02 Brick. But, in order to make your counter-offer valid, you must prove that you have Wood in your hand by showing it to everyone. Only after the validity of an offer or counter-offer is confirmed that the trade can be conducted.
4. Blind trading, despite being an interesting part in many games of Catan, is illegal. The word 'blind trading' does not mean conducting a secret trade or hiding the contents of a trade. In fact, it means confirming a trade without knowing what you will get from it. A blind offer or counter-offer, on the other hand, is completely fine as long as both parties have everything clarified upon confirmation. Below are examples of blind offers with legitimate follow-ups.
Example 1: Blind offer during your turn - You find ending your turn with 08 resources too risky; therefore, you offer 02 of your resources for 01 other resource of any type. Although you are not interested in what you will receive, your 'tradee' still has to declare which resource they are giving you, then wait for your acceptance to seal the deal (which you may decide not to give).
Example 2: Blind counter-offer during other player's turn - The turn player is competing at one spot against another opponent. He has already pointed his roads there and needs to put down his settlement badly. Even though he has 08 resources in hand, he does not have enough to get 01 Sheep from maritime trades and seeks you for help. You may seize the opportunity, replying to him with the following counter-offer: "If you keep only 03 resources and give me the rest of your hand (05 resources), I will trade you 01 Sheep". Because your counter-offer is a blind one, the deal cannot be sealed straight away. Instead, if that player still wants to proceed, he must first put himself in an exposed situation by publicly reveal the 05 resources from his side. Only then, you can either continue with the trade or withdraw from it.