Updated: Apr 13, 2022
There are a total of 05 ways to earn Victory Points (VPs) in Catan: settlements, cities, the Longest Road, the Largest Army, and VP development cards. Amongst, 02 are considered productive while the other 03 are supportive. Both categories have their own pros and cons. Now we shall begin with the former and all of its characteristics.
Productive VPs help you gain more VPs by providing you the means to do it - resources. Cities simply double your current production rate in certain areas; meanwhile, settlements give you access to new places. Assuming you have the proper resources, a settlement usually costs you at least 06 cards (including a minimum of 01 road required) while a city adds 05 more cards on top of it. In total, '1 settlement + 1 city' equal 11+ cards for 02 VPs.
Return on investment of cities is indisputably significant when your starting settlements are placed in decent locations (such as 5-8-10), however, an early city easily makes you a robber magnet.
Settlements, on the other hand, give you access to a new resource(s), diverse your numbers, or stabilise your strategy with useful port(s). Furthermore, a well-built settlement does not attract robbers, at the same time allows you to be less dependent on dice results.
On the other side of the spectrum are supportive VPs. Above all, we suggest that everybody should stop calling them non-productive because it is just not right to do so.
We dare anyone to say that obtaining the Largest Army does not provide you any resources. For every 03 resources spent, a Knight (99% of the time) yields 01 resource which is not always a random one, while effectively slowing down your opponents and keeping the robber out of your business.
Although the Longest Road does not do anything aggressive regularly (like blocking an enemy's path for example), a thoroughly calculated Longest Road hardly ever wastes any resources of yours as it makes place for settlements to be put along the way. In fact, even when building a maximum of 15 roads, experienced roadbuilders oftentimes only sacrifice a couple of roads to connect the gap between 02 segments, potentially making it the cheapest price for VPs.
VP dev. cards are notorious for being the most braindead and effortless method of earning VPs. Drawing these takes a big role in some unexpected victories, or at least bringing you a step closer to the finish line. It is very common to see a roadbuilder winning with 01 VP card or a developer with 02.
Supportive VPs from the Largest Army and the Longest Road, on the surface, are much cheaper to get than those from cities and settlements. However, unless they help you win immediately or stop another from winning, maintaining them is definitely no easy task. In the worst-case scenarios, you might need to activate at least 07 Knights or build 13 more roads just to ensure the bonus VPs belong to you for good. Meanwhile, VPs from cities and settlements stay there with you for the whole game. Also, assuming all 03 players have exactly the same number of VPs as well as cards in their hands, most of the time it is wise to bet on the one(s) with the most amount of productive VPs. If your 08 VPs are only from cities and settlements, you are likely to generate resources twice as fast as another player with 04 + 02 from the Largest Army + 02 from the Longest Road.
Well, we hope you would be able to learn something new from the article. If you have anything worth discussing, please leave them in the comment section below. Cheers!