Victory Points (Part 2/2) - Visible vs Potential VPs
Updated: Apr 12, 2022
This time, we will start with a surprising fact: "face down Victory Point development cards are visible VPs". Yes, they really are. The number of both your face up & face down dev. cards are public knowledge; hence, every unused dev. cards of yours will be counted as 01 VP by your opponents (maximum 05). Even though a Knight or a Year of Plenty is hardly ever as worthy as a VP, until you flip them up, do not expect others to think you have fewer VPs. Not only VP dev. cards, but VPs from other sources including settlements, cities, the Longest Road, and the Largest Army are all deemed visible. That is everything about visible VPs, short and condensed.
Potential VPs, on the other hand, are a very comprehensive concept that requires deep in-game knowledge and lots of experience. Most of the problems related to potential VPs revolve around robbing, blocking, boycotting, and trading or allying with a specific player.
First, we shall talk about hand resource cards. Resources are basically the means to get real VPs. When you are a careful card counter, you will know sometimes a 03-VP player with 01 card in hand is not truly ahead of a 02-VP one with 07 cards. If the latter has successfully gathered the stuff they need to gain another VP, says 04 cards for a settlement, it means they might soon get to 03 VPs with 03 cards left in their hand afterwards. In this case, robbing them is still considered a fair-play act.
Second, don't forget to calculate how far away people are from getting their next VPs regarding roads they have built on the board. This refers to both their capabilities to place another settlement and to capture the Longest Road. For instance, when a 04-VP player is 02 roads (04 resources) away from obtaining 02 VPs from the Longest Road, consider them having somewhat 05 VPs (halfway through).
Next, let's go back to the unused dev. cards. Despite being treated as VPs in standard circumstances, face down dev. cards should always be expected to be any other ones, particularly the worst ones for your current situation. If it happens to be those exact cases, 01 dev. card may gain them more than just 01 VP. Below are some examples:
>> If they are only 01 Knight away from achieving the Largest Army, assume one unrevealed dev. cards of theirs a Knight, which gives them 02 VPs.
>> A Monopoly does not give a player an advantage only, it also slows their enemies down by confiscating their in-hand resources. Therefore, a well-played Monopoly is +01 for its owner and -01 in total for other foes, which equals 02 VPs.
>> Road Building and Year of Plenty have helped many steal a good settlement spot, even take the unclaimed Longest Road and win games. Remind yourself and others to be aware.
Finally, do you remember all the elements to be evaluated when picking starting settlements? Include them when doing your maths to appropriately estimate other people's power. Think about who has access to the rarest resource, or which player has a better combination of terrain hexes. Pay attention to the player who is producing a large amount of a specific type of resource while controlling a corresponding 2:1 port. To a greater extent, add and multiply the number of pips each individual owns, deriving from their settlements and cities. The same numbers of VPs do not necessarily mean the same level of potential. Practising these methods over time helps you identify opportunities and threats in a more effective manner.
The article has come to an end. As usual, have you got any questions or feedback to give, leave them in the comment section below. Besides, please drop a like and share this post with your fellow Catan players if you find it helpful. Thank you and see you next time!