Monday, March 12, 2007

Game #4: Road Construction in Catan and the Value of Wheat

Another five-player game with Cinderella's family yesterday. 47 wood, 40 brick, 52 wheat, 75 sheep, 67 ore, and 21 discovery counters. (Once again we used jungles.)

Three times, players gave up cards when seven was rolled: 2 wood, a brick, 6 wheat, 2 sheep, and an ore. CindyBro and CindySis both used "Year of Plenty" cards to get a wood, 2 brick, and a wheat. CindyBro and Cinderella both had sheep ports, which came in handy in a very sheep-laden game, using them seven times for brick, thrice for wheat and ore, and twice for wood. CindySis used the ore port once, to get wood. Other trades with the bank were 4:1; ore for wheat twice, as well as ore for brick, ore for wood, and sheep for wood. No wood, no brick, 4 wheat, 34 sheep, and 18 ore were exchanged for 5 wood, 9 brick, 5 wheat, no sheep, and 3 ore. Including the "7" discards and the "YoP"s, that's 2 wood, 1 brick, 10 wheat, 36 sheep, and 19 ore surrendered, and 6 wood, 11 brick, 6 wheat, no sheep, and 3 ore obtained.

When a mixed group of counters and resources were exchanged for development cards, it was most common that the counters were used to replace wheat. In eight mixed purchases, seven counters were used for wheat, four for ore, and one for sheep. I still haven't figured out how to merge this data with the trading model I espouse, but it's a very good way to compare the relative values of wheat, sheep, and ore. Right now, I suspect that it is a mix of using the counters as substitutes for the high-value resources--usually wheat, and sometimes ore--and seeing an opportunity to obtain value while effectively discarding disposable sheep. (Four of the eight mixed purchases in this game were a sheep and two counters, and three were a counter, a sheep, and an ore. The remaining purchase was using the counter as a sheep, which is quite an outlier.)

The trading model indicates that in this game, brick was the most valuable resource, followed closely by wood. Three of the players spent the mid- to late game racing for the Longest Road bonus; CindyBro used up all 15 of his road pieces, and Cinderella, who won the race, used nearly all. CindySis would have used more than 11, but she no longer had room to catch back up with Cindy's road, so she stopped. CindyDad and I pursued a different strategies, though. I was built near both jungles, so I raised the Largest Army (eight soldiers), but had little success drawing other development cards--the only other type I drew was a single Longest Road. CindyDad tried to build in a balanced manner, but didn't build across the board like his children.

Cinderella proved victorious, with the Longest Road, a VP card, 2 cities, and 3 settlements. I had a chance to win, but drew too many soldiers, finishing with Largest Army, 2 cities, and 3 settlements. CindySis had 4 cities, CindyDad had 2 cities and 3 settlements, and CindyBro had 2 cities and 2 settlements. CindyBro was the first to get Longest Road, which put him ahead on points and drew the robber to the rich pasture that provided so many sheep for his port.

My problem: I wasn't able to build on a great wheat field early in the game. Instead, I chose to get a spot on the second jungle. This helped me buy development cards, but turning settlements into cities proved expensive, and slowed my economic growth. Cinderella, who, like her brother, used a "Sheep-O-Matic" strategy, was successful by having more than one pasture to rely on, and looking sufficiently non-threatening enough through the early game to keep from gaining too much attention. While CindyBro was leading, others were generally more willing to use her port to obtain needed resources, which prevented him from collecting the "user fee" that makes oft-used ports (especially the sheep port) valuable. This helped her catch up and build on more pastures, increasing her own flexibility. Lessons: in a five-player game, being able to build roads is important, as it allows a player to expand to other desirable locations, which are in abundance in such a game. Thus, brick and wood were the two most desirable resources. However, wheat is still important, and if pursuing a card-building or city-building strategy, it is the most important resource to have in abundance, as it is always valuable.


At 2:41 PM, June 08, 2007, Blogger eleka nahmen said...



At 5:13 PM, June 27, 2007, Blogger Nectar said...

Just wondering if you had ever read the book, "The Franchise Affair," by Josephine Tey?

At 10:36 PM, October 17, 2007, Blogger Kathryn said...

You're really weird...


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