Catan Cities Knights Strategic Thoughts

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor

Scheming in Cities & Knights

I have been playing the board game Cities & Knights a lot recently, and I’ve come to realize how important strategy is in this game. It’s not just about building settlements and roads; you have to think strategically if you want to win. In this article, I will share with you some of my thoughts on the strategic aspects of Cities & Knights.

Understanding the Progress Cards

The progress cards in Cities & Knights can be a game-changer. They come in different types, and each type has its own benefits. Some cards allow you to steal resources from other players, while others let you build more roads or cities. Understanding the different types of progress cards and when to use them is crucial in maximizing their potential. So, how can you use these progress cards to your advantage?

Well, one strategy is to focus on getting development cards early in the game. These cards can provide you with extra resources, knights to defend your cities, or even victory points. By building up your hand with useful development cards, you can gain an advantage over other players and set yourself up for success later in the game.

Maximizing Your City Upgrades

Aside from progress cards, another key element in Cities & Knights is upgrading your settlements to cities. When you upgrade a settlement, it not only becomes a city but also allows you to access new benefits. Cities produce more resources compared to settlements and can help you progress faster in the game.

Strategically placing your cities is another aspect to consider. You would want to position your cities near resource-producing tiles to maximize your resource production. This way, you’ll have a steady supply of resources to support your expanding empire. Additionally, building cities in strategic locations can also help you block your opponents’ expansion and gain control over key areas of the game board.

The Importance of the Longest Road

The longest road is not just a title; it can also be a winning strategy. But how can you achieve the longest road, and why is it so important?

Building the longest road requires careful planning and continuously expanding your road network. Having the longest road not only gives you extra victory points but also denies those points from your opponents. It can be a powerful way to hinder their progress and maintain your own dominance in the game.

Controlling the longest road also opens up opportunities to block your opponents’ expansion and limit their resource production. By strategically placing your roads and connecting key locations, you can create bottlenecks and impede their growth. This not only benefits you but also forces your opponents to rethink their strategies and adapt to the new circumstances.

Conclusion: Craft Your Strategy

As you dive into the realm of Cities & Knights, remember that the game is more than just randomly placing settlements and roads. A successful player carefully plans their moves and thinks strategically to outwit their opponents. By understanding the various elements of the game, such as progress cards, city upgrades, and the longest road, you can craft a winning strategy and put yourself on the path to victory.

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You might be surprised to hear that I have some disagreements with the “almost-complete Strategy Guide” provided on this website by Alex Pomeranz. The way we each play the game varies, leading to different dynamics within each group.

While his tips are meant to be general and not overly significant, I do want to discuss his overall assessment of the value of certain resources and other aspects of the game.

Game Strategies

Like most strategy games, there are a few approaches that tend to lead to success in Cities and Knights of Catan. The rules of the game create these strategies as you play.

In the world of Settlers, there are a couple of supercharged strategies that stand out – focusing on Brick and Wood, or Ore and Wheat, with the goal of achieving a specific game plan.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve also got the Resource/Port strategy, which depends on the situation, as well as the catch-all “All Resources” strategy. Let me break down a few of my own strategic approaches to this game.

Sheep and cloth, anyone?

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This is one of the most interesting and effective tactics I’ve come across in Cities and Knights. The idea behind this strategy is to generate as much Cloth as possible in the early stages of the game, while also maintaining a focus on Cloth production in the middle and late stages.

The strategy revolves around two key elements: the Trading House and the Merchant:Sheep. The Trading House allows you to exchange any two Cloths for anything else, while the Merchant:Sheep, obtained from yellow progress cards, lets you convert Sheep into any other resource you may need.

The real strength of this strategy lies in its ability to quickly and easily obtain any resource or commodity you require, albeit at a slightly higher cost (two for one) using your most common resource. This flexibility forms the solid foundation of the strategy.

Of course, you can still trade and use your Sheep for other purposes as well.

Here’s what makes the strategy really powerful: the yellow progress cards – Resource Monopoly, Trade Monopoly, and Commercial Harbor. These cards are essential for consistent wins, so it’s crucial to keep a close eye on what everyone else has.

What’s great about these cards is that they not only strengthen you, but also weaken your opponents. It’s like getting two benefits in one. However, there is a downside to this strategy: it relies on luck. The outcome may or may not go your way, since progress cards are based on chance.

Variations: The Merchant:X Strategy is basically what makes Sheep/Cloth so great. You could easily adapt it to focus on Brick or Wheat if you want. If you have the means, you can also trade your Sheep, Brick, or Wheat at a Port, which will free up your Merchant for other resources.

The best thing about the Merchant:X strategy is that it allows you to go after multiple lines for Metropolis early and with power. Getting two Metropolises is not hard to do, even if you only have tiles for producing Cloth.

Defender Of Catan

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In my quest for domination in the game of Catan, I have discovered a strategy that revolves around accumulating an abundance of ore and coin. By focusing on these resources, I am able to strengthen my military power and earn valuable Defender Points.

This strategy bears some resemblance to the traditional Ore/Wheat strategy used in the basic game. However, instead of aiming to build multiple cities, I focus on producing an impressive quantity of ore and wheat. It’s important to note that the ore resource is limited to one per tile, even if I have a city on it.

But it’s not just ore and wheat that are essential. A sufficient supply of sheep is crucial for upgrading my Knights to Mighty status. Having a solid foundation of Basic Knights is also helpful for managing any unexpected desertions. Additionally, I need a small amount of wood and brick to construct roads, which my Knights can traverse. If I happen to acquire a Smith card from a rival player, it’s an excellent opportunity to enhance my Knights further.

The Power of Strategy and Control

One of the best things about this approach is that your opponents have limited options to counter your moves. Once your army reaches a formidable size, you are almost guaranteed to score a point every time the Barbarian pays a visit. These points are secure, as no one can snatch them away from you.

Another advantage is that you have control over the military forces in Catan. If someone annoys you, you have the power to let those wealthy merchant cities fend for themselves. Reducing three rival cities to Settlements can be a decisive blow that paves the way for victory.

And let’s not forget the significance of the Political Metropolis in achieving the magic number of 13.

Wood and Aqueducts

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The Aqueduct is often hailed as the most potent Progress ability in the game. Personally, I lean towards the Trading House, but the Aqueduct can really pack a punch if you know what you’re doing.

The Wood/Aqueduct strategy centers around Paper production and clustering your settlements around a few key numbers. This way, you can either amass a large quantity of wood, paper, or any other resource you desire.

It’s also a good idea to ensure a consistent supply of Bricks. Building walls will shield your abundant resources from robbers, and having spare wood gives you a purpose for those extra bricks.

What makes this strategy work so well is its focus on early game growth. It’s like the “rush” tactic of Cities and Knights. With this approach, you can choose any resource you need, allowing you to expand quickly compared to other players. The Green cards also contribute to this potential.

However, there is a downside to this strategy. You need to have the Aqueduct built before you can handle a series of unproductive rolls, making it somewhat of a gamble. If luck isn’t on your side, your game could end before it even starts.

When you first start playing the game, you might come across a building called an Aqueduct. It’s interesting to think about how you can use this building strategically to your advantage. However, it’s important to keep in mind that combining an Aqueduct with an early placement that spreads your numbers might not be the best move. In fact, it could end up causing your number spread to become so wide in the mid-game that you hardly ever use your Aqueduct at all.

That’s why it’s crucial to manage your probabilities effectively in order to make the most out of your Aqueduct. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re utilizing the building to its full potential and reaping the benefits it offers.

My Thoughts

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Points aren’t always a good thing

Hey there! I wanted to chat with you about points in the game. You see, most of the time, having a lot of points can actually put you in a tough spot. Why, you ask? Well, when you start racking up points, people start to take note of you. They might even put an embargo on you! Plus, there are some really strong cards in the game that can only be used against players with more points.

Don’t underestimate commodities

Listen up, because this is super important. Commodities are special resources that are harder to come by. And let me tell you, they are way more powerful than regular resources. Why? Well, having commodities gives you access to progress cards, and those bad boys can help you score points. So, when you’re gathering resources, don’t forget about the commodities. They can give you a real edge in the game.

The secret power of City Walls

Now, I’m about to reveal a game-changer. City Walls. Yes, you heard me right. City Walls are seriously underrated. They might not seem like much, but let me tell you, they are a force to be reckoned with. Just think about it: City Walls protect your resources from that pesky Robber. And every time you dodge that thief, guess what? You get to keep all those saved-up resources. Trust me, City Walls can really make a difference in your game.

But City Walls offer more than just a means of defense. They also serve as a storage facility for your cards. When you have 3 City Walls, your maximum hand size increases to 11. This becomes incredibly valuable later in the game when you want to upgrade your cities and hold onto multiple commodities in your hand, all while still maintaining your regular resources.

Those without City Walls will soon realize the disadvantage they face in the middle of the game compared to those who have made the smart investment in Walls.

The significance of available resources

You’ll need to find reliable sources for all 5 resources by mid-game, or you could be in big trouble from an embargo. The most common way to do this is by having a good major in the trade arm of city development for the Merchant card and Trading House, or by using a port. It’s best to use a 2:1 port if you have a lot of one resource, or a 3:1 port if you don’t.

Space is important

In the basic game, having a lot of settlements, cities, or the Longest Road is crucial to winning. But in this version, you can win with just 2 cities and 2 settlements.

When it comes to cities and settlements, having less of them can actually be an advantage. You see, having fewer points means that you won’t attract as much attention and won’t be as vulnerable to things like the Master Merchant. Plus, you won’t have to invest as much in building roads. But if you do decide to spread out and increase your points, you need to have a solid plan in place to protect yourself from attacks.

Not all points come from settlements

Here’s something important to keep in mind: not all points come from settlements on the game board. In fact, the points you can earn from things like Defender of Catan, Printing Press, Constitution, Longest Road, and Metropolises are usually quite substantial. These points can be gained with relative ease, which means that they act as reserves of “virtual points” that you can tap into when you’re confident in your path to victory.

A critical turning point

Hey there! Let me tell you about the most incredible thing I’ve witnessed in a game. I once saw someone gain a whopping 8 points in just one turn. Can you believe it? They got one point for their Constitution, two points for having the Longest Road, and two points each for having both a Blue Metropolis and a Green Metropolis. On top of all that, they also earned one point for having a settlement. It was mind-blowing!

Now, let’s talk about winning strategies. Winning with 5 points is pretty rare, but it happened that one particular player managed to pull it off. They had two Cities with City Walls, one settlement, and a remarkable network of four connected roads. Amazing, right? Usually, though, players win with anywhere between 6 and 11 points. The most common winning range falls between 7 and 9 points. So, keep that in mind when you’re aiming for victory.

Trading Ports: Your Key to Success

Here’s a tip for you: Trading Ports are absolute game-changers. In this version of the game, ports that offer Wheat, Brick, Sheep, and Wood hold immense power. They can truly elevate your game. As for Ore ports, well, they’re not as crucial. You won’t find yourself using them as often, if at all.

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