Updated: Apr 5
Before you start reading, we must warn you that this thread is highly controversial. As inferred from the title, is it better to trade in your turn or your opponents' turns? We know this kind of problem is very easy to be brought up, but it is much harder to put down in a way that satisfies everyone. Although we agree with most online Catan guides and YouTubers who tell you it is best to trade in your turn, we consider that mindset only suitable for beginners. Why, you might ask. Here is the catch.
First of all, it is undeniable that trading in your turn is so much more convenient since you can spend the received resources and get more Victory Points right away. However, when trading in your turn, the deals usually lean toward your opponents' favour. The reasons will be you are the one in need, that they are only trying to help you, and that you have the opportunity to gain more points and resources right then and there while they have to wait for a few more rolls. As of now, the only exception we can see is when you conduct the trade as a service, either to help an opponent lower their hand cards down to below 08 or to let them utilise your port indirectly. Besides, in many cases, you will be deemed a considerable threat when having a face-down development card(s) on your side of the field. Until you flip one of those cards up (which might be all VP cards and cannot be activated ironically), their fear of you using Road Building/Year of Plenty to block their road, steal their settlement spot, or Monopoly to take back the stuff you traded will not go away.
To solve many of the above problems, try offering trades in your opponents' turns. When they are the ones with high demand, the advantage of controlling the price - the ratio of the trade, will be over your side instead of theirs. Since you cannot activate any dev. cards in their turn, they will not be afraid of any backstabbing tricks. However, it is now you who need to watch out for whatever cards they have up their sleeves. Also, remember to make sure that you are not giving them a free win, or you will be regretting your decision for the rest of the gaming night.
Speaking of the diplomacy aspect, giving an opponent the right thing at the right time makes you their friend in need, at least for a couple of rounds temporarily. Oftentimes it will help you dodge some of the upcoming robbers, as well as give you a few good future trades. Now we believe some of you have started to feel interested in trading outside your turn and wondering how to do it the most efficient way. The key factor is card counting, i.e. memorising what your opponents have in their hands. Don't just play your own Catan; instead, step inside their shoes and try to play everyone's game at once. Only then you will be able to find out what they want to do, or even manipulate them to do the things you want them to do. Check out the example below.
Let's say you, an "Oreless" Wood-Brick-centric player, lack one final Ore for your first city but have 02 spare Sheep. From your memory, the turn player has 02 Wheat and 03 Ore in hand. Knowing so, you waste no time offering them 02 Sheep for only 01 Ore, suggesting that they should purchase 02 dev. cards instead of upgrading. In this scenario, for someone who can't produce Ore like you, an Ore is worth way more than 02 Sheep, not to mention the price for it may get higher if you wait until your turn to make an offer.
To sum up, the article does not state that you should never trade on your turn. We just particularly encourage you to do it in other people's turns to maximise the benefits as well as avoid some of the mentioned drawbacks. Pro Catan players would know when is a good time to trade and the best way to do it, not just restrict themselves to trading in their turns. Thank you for reading our thread, and see you at the next one!