Catan Cities Knights Strategy Guide

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor

Cities & Knights Strategy Guide

Cities & Knights is an intricate and strategic board game that requires careful planning and decision-making. Whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the game, this guide will provide you with valuable insights to help you develop successful strategies and dominate the game board.

First and foremost, when playing Cities & Knights, it’s crucial to understand the importance of resources. You’ll need a steady supply of brick, lumber, ore, grain, and wool to expand your settlements, construct magnificent cities, and develop powerful knights. Without these resources, your chances of victory will be slim.

To ensure a steady flow of resources, focus on building settlements in areas that have the most potential for resource production. Pay attention to the numbers on the board, as they indicate the likelihood of receiving resources. By strategically placing your settlements near high-probability resource tiles, you increase your chances of gaining the necessary resources to succeed in the game.

However, it’s not just about resource production. In Cities & Knights, you also need to protect your cities and settlements from barbarian attacks. These attacks can decimate your progress and leave you vulnerable. To safeguard your settlements, you must invest in developing powerful knights. Knights can fend off barbarians and protect your cities from destruction. Be cautious though, as knights require resources to activate and maintain. Manage your resources wisely to strike a balance between expansion and defense.

Furthermore, throughout the game, you’ll come across progress cards that can greatly impact your strategy. Progress cards can provide you with various advantages, such as additional resources or the ability to move the robber. Take advantage of these cards by strategically timing their use. Utilize them when it benefits you the most and when it hinders your opponents’ progress.

In addition to that, establishing beneficial trades with other players is essential in Cities & Knights. Look for potential trading opportunities where you can acquire the resources you need while offering resources that others desire. Building strong trade relationships with other players can be mutually beneficial and greatly increase your chances of success.

Remember, Cities & Knights is not just a game of luck; it’s a game of strategy and careful decision-making. By considering resource production, defense against barbarians, progress cards, and trading opportunities, you can develop effective strategies that will set you on the path to victory.

So, if you’re ready to embark on this exciting and challenging board game adventure, take these tips to heart and strive for greatness. Good luck, and may the best strategist prevail!

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Welcome to the Almost Complete Cities and Knights Strategy Guide! Cities and Knights (CaK) is our go-to board game, and I have lots of experience to share with you. It’s surprising that there isn’t already a comprehensive strategy guide considering how much depth Cities and Knights adds to the basic Settlers game.

Assuming you have a basic understanding of the Settlers and Cities and Knights rules, let’s dive in!

Chances of Producing Resources

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When you play the game of settlers, one of the most important things to understand is probability. After playing the game many times, I’ve noticed two key things:

  1. The probabilities for the numbers follow a simple pattern that looks like a ^ (caret). Here’s how it works:
  2. Numbers 2 and 12 come up 1/36 of the time each.
  3. Numbers 3 and 11 come up 2/36 of the time each.
  4. Numbers 4 and 10 come up 3/36 of the time each.
  5. Numbers 5 and 9 come up 4/36 of the time each.
  6. Numbers 6 and 8 come up 5/36 of the time each.
  7. Number 7 comes up 6/36 of the time.
  8. In the Mayfair version of the game, each dot on the tile represents a 1/36 chance of that number being rolled on someone’s turn.

Now that we understand the probabilities, let’s talk about how resources are distributed on the game board.

How Resources are Distributed on the Board

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Let me share an important point I’d like you to understand. We need to consider how the resources are distributed on the game board. This means we should look at which resources are abundant and which ones are scarce.

The best way to figure this out is by counting the dots for each resource. However, in reality, players usually prefer the resources with high production numbers and avoid the ones with low production. So, a good way to gauge the potential supply of a resource is by noting which ones have marquee numbers (5, 6, 8, and 9) on them.

Pay close attention to the resources that have 0 or 1 marquee numbers. These resources tend to be in shorter supply compared to others. This makes them more valuable in the trading market.

But here’s where things get interesting. The shortage of wood and ore can really throw a wrench into your plans. These are the resources you need to build roads, settlements, and cities. Without them, you’re stuck.

So, what can you do in this situation? Well, one option is to focus on other strategies. Instead of relying heavily on wood and ore, you could try to gather more brick and wheat. These resources are still plentiful and can help you expand your settlements and cities.

Another option is to be strategic with your trading. If you have an abundance of one resource, you can try trading it with other players who have what you need. This way, you can compensate for the shortage of wood and ore and continue building your empire.

Lastly, don’t forget about development cards. These cards can be a game-changer. They can give you additional resources, help you steal resources from other players, or even score you victory points. So, if you’re struggling with a shortage of wood and ore, try investing in development cards to gain an advantage.

In conclusion, while the shortage of wood and ore in Cities and Knights may seem like a hinderance, there are ways to overcome it. By focusing on alternative strategies, utilizing trading effectively, and leveraging development cards, you can continue to thrive and build your civilization, even in the face of resource scarcity.

When it comes to wood in the game, having less of it is not usually a problem. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, players tend to gather around the areas where wood is plentiful. They do this to get green cards and access to the aqueduct.

As a result, there is usually enough wood to go around, unless there are not enough spaces for it on the board. However, the shortage of wood does have a big impact on the ore market. Ore is already in high demand because it is used to build cities. Now, with cities becoming more important and knights needing ore to be built, the demand for ore is even higher.

As a result, ore is often hard to come by in the Cities and Knights game. In my opinion, it is generally the most important resource to have a good supply of.

How valuable are the resources?

Here are my thoughts on the relative importance of the resources:

    • Resource Necessity measures how important it is to have at least some access to a resource when the barbarian attacks. It means you should get one or two of those resources every time.
    • Resource Overall is how important I perceive that resource to be in the context of the entire game.
    Wood Moderate Low
    Brick Moderate Low
    Wheat Moderate High
    Sheep Low Moderate
    Ore Moderate High

    Now, let me break down my reasoning for the choices above:

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    Wood is a pretty important resource. It’s not as valuable as some others, like brick or wheat, but it’s still necessary if you want to build roads and settlements. Wood is especially important when it comes to cities because they only produce 1 resource instead of the usual 2. Despite this limitation, wood has great overall significance in the game. This is because two of the best progress cards, the alchemist and the inventor, are both green cards, which require wood to build. Additionally, the aqueduct is an extremely important card that cannot be overstated, especially if you’re missing a 6 or an 8.

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    Bricks aren’t very important or necessary because they’re usually easy to find. Plus, cities can produce twice as many of them compared to other resources. But city walls, on the other hand, aren’t as helpful as other improvements.

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    Wheat is really important because you need it to activate your knights before the barbarians attack. But it’s not super rare, so it’s kind of important but not the most important thing. When there’s not a lot of wheat available, other players might try to stop you from getting it by trading. In that case, make sure you have another way to get wheat, like using a port to trade brick.

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    Sheep are actually pretty important when it comes to building knights. They come in handy, especially at the start of the game when you’re trying to get your first knight up and running. In the grand scheme of things, sheep aren’t the most valuable resource out there. But, the yellow progress track can give you a nice boost in resources, so finding good sheep spots is definitely worth it.

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    The Importance of Ore in Settlers of Catan

    When it comes to playing Settlers of Catan, one of the key resources you’ll need to keep an eye on is ore. This valuable material is crucial for constructing your first knight and plays a vital role in the game. Its scarcity adds an extra layer of challenge, as cities only produce one ore instead of the usual two resources.

    While the blue progress track may be considered the weakest amongst the three tracks, it still holds its own and can be quite useful, especially when it comes to the bishop and spy cards.

    Sheep, brick, and wood are typically the resources you’d trade at a 2-to-1 port, but don’t overlook the potential of wheat as well. Trading wheat with other players can often prove beneficial, but it’s equally important to keep ore for yourself. Having enough ore allows you to upgrade your settlements to cities and build knights, capabilities that are integral to your success.

    The Significance of the Progress Tracks

    In basic Settlers, development cards were seen as an optional strategy, but in the cities and knights version of the game, progress cards are essential. Ignoring them would be a huge mistake, as they play a vital role in your overall strategy and can determine whether you win or lose.

    Here are some general thoughts on the progress tracks:

    Yellow: The yellow track is all about producing and trading resources. It’s especially helpful at the beginning when resources are scarce. As the game goes on, the yellow track becomes less important, but there are still some powerful cards, like the master merchant. With this card, you can trade anything at a 2 to 1 rate for one turn. Imagine having 18 cards in your hand and being able to trade them so easily! This ability can also come in handy when trying to build a different colored metropolis.

    Blue: The blue track is the weakest one. It’s focused on knights and military actions, like moving the robber and stealing cards. The special ability of this track, building level 3 knights, is the least useful out of all three.

    Green: The green track is the strongest track in the game. It focuses on science and contains the two most powerful cards: alchemist and inventor. The aqueduct is also a very strong special ability, especially if you need a 6 or an 8.

    Many people overlook the importance of the progress tracks, especially at the beginning of the game. Progress cards can greatly impact your performance, and the earlier you start acquiring them, the better off you’ll be.

    It’s worth trading to flip the first page of a progress card, even if you have to trade at a disadvantage. You only need one commodity to flip that first page, and the rewards are well worth it. Consider this:

    When you flip to the first page, your chances of generating a card go from 0% to 5.5% (2 in 36). The following pages will only increase your odds by about 2.75% each, and since they cost more commodities, they aren’t as valuable. However, if you manage to flip the first page of all three tracks early on, you will have a 15% chance of getting a card with each roll!

    If you’re playing with 6 players, this means you can expect to get 1 card between each of your turns. This becomes worthwhile very quickly. Usually, if I have 4 extra resources, I’ll trade them with the bank for a commodity I don’t have so I can flip that first page.

    On the other hand, it’s crucial not to give initial commodities to players who haven’t flipped those pages yet.

    Building a Strategy

    The first and most crucial decision you’ll make in the game is where to put your starting settlement and city. Take your time with this – it’s a big one. In order to make the best choice, there are a few things you should keep in mind (in the order that I think is most important):

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    The importance of resources

    Having access to valuable resources is key. Look for spots where you can gather the most important ones.

    Overall productivity

    Consider how productive a location will be overall. Aim for places that will allow you to gather resources efficiently.

    Number distribution

    Pay attention to how the numbers are distributed on the board. Some numbers will come up more often, so try to settle near them.

    Resource distribution

    Also, consider the distribution of resources. You’ll want to be close to different types of resources to ensure a diverse supply.

    Room to expand

    Keep some breathing room for expansion. Don’t settle too close to other players; give yourself space to grow.

    Earning bonus points

    Think about ways to earn bonus points. Certain settlements and cities can generate extra points, so plan accordingly.

    Blocking opponents

    Don’t forget to consider how you can block your opponents. By settling strategically, you can restrict their growth and gain an advantage.

    Using trading ports

    Lastly, take advantage of trading ports. These can be a great way to quickly obtain the resources you need.

    Key Points for Gameplay

    So, to sum it all up, here are the most important points to keep in mind:

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    1. If you want to succeed in the game, your first priority should be getting a knight. This is crucial because if the barbarian attacks before you have a knight, you may end up losing your initial city. Therefore, it’s important to consider the resources you have access to and what you can gain from your starting hand. You should also be aware of which resources will be in high demand and may not be available for trade.
    2. Another important strategy is to focus on building an aqueduct. This is a very powerful structure, especially if you’re missing key resources. Additionally, the green progress track can provide significant advantages. Don’t underestimate the potential of the yellow progress track, particularly in the early stages of the game.
    3. In order to win, you’ll need a total of 13 points. This means you should aim to either have the longest road or establish a metropolis.
    4. As the barbarians draw near, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions:
    5. Can I gain a victory point by building another knight?
    6. Can I prevent an opponent from gaining a victory point by building another knight?
    7. If the answer is yes to either of these questions, it’s definitely worth considering building another knight.
    8. If I have at least 2 more knights than another player, should I deactivate 1 to gain an advantage?
    9. Deactivating a knight can be strategically beneficial, especially if it prevents an opponent from gaining a victory point from defeating the barbarians or causing them to lose their cities.
    10. When playing the board game, it’s important not to give away your strategy too early. For instance, some players make the mistake of constructing a road to a desired settlement before actually having the necessary resources to build the settlement. This can be a good move if wood or brick resources are scarce and there’s a high chance of opponents stealing them. Similarly, it can work if there’s no competition for the spot and you’re close to reaching your maximum card limit. However, in most cases, it’s smarter to wait and build both the road and settlement together. If that’s not possible, prioritize building the settlement first. By doing this, you not only gather more resources but also prevent sneaky opponents from playing two roads or a road building card and stealing your spot.
    11. To maximize your chances of winning at Settlers of Catan, keep your strategy hidden. Avoid letting other players know that you are close to victory, especially when it comes to claiming the longest road. Wait until you are ready to win before you make your move. Building roads using road building cards is a great way to do this.
    12. Protect your first city at all costs. Losing it early in the game can make it nearly impossible to recover and win. Be willing to make sacrifices and make unfavorable deals if it means safeguarding your city. Pull out your most convincing “you’re sleeping on the couch tonight!” face if you have to. Whatever it takes to keep that city intact.

    Hey there! Let me share some tips and strategies for playing Settlers of Catan. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Here’s what you need to know:

    1. Remember to use your knights to protect yourself from the robber! Put your knights next to the spots where the robber is most likely to appear.
    2. If you really need to, you can move a knight to a spot where you want to build a settlement but don’t have enough resources yet. Just remember, you can only move the knight on your turn. And oh, you can also displace knights, but that doesn’t happen very often in my group.
    3. I’ve noticed something interesting – when the desert is in the middle of the board, the game tends to slow down. I’m not sure how you can use this to your advantage, but I’ve seen players lose their starting city and then come back to win when the desert is in the center.

    Now that you have some strategies under your belt, let’s talk about the rules and house rules. Here we go!

    Rules and House Rules

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    Hey there! Did you know that there are a couple of rules that many new gaming groups tend to overlook? It’s true! The first rule has to do with an official change in the errata:

    “When you’re playing with the Cities & Knights expansion, the Robber can’t be moved at all until the barbarians make their way to Catan for the very first time. So, when someone rolls a 7, all you have to do is check if anyone has too many cards in hand.

    The Robber will stay right where it is and no one will lose any cards. Not even cards or Knights can affect the Robber. And this applies to the Pirate Ship too, if you decide to use it in the game.”

    The reason behind this rule change is pretty simple. It’s just not fair to have your resources and cards stolen while you’re busy trying to get your first knight.

    There’s this rule about the robber and the aqueduct in the game. The aqueduct lets you draw a card if you don’t produce anything on a roll that isn’t a 7. But what happens when the robber ruins your production? The official Kosmos ruling states that if the robber ruins your production and you have the aqueduct, you can use the aqueduct to draw a card of your choice.

    In my group, we play with three house rules (along with the mentioned official errata rule):

    1. We changed the robber/aqueduct rule. The robber isn’t very useful if it can’t stop a player’s production, and the aqueduct is already powerful enough. So, we play that the robber steals your production, but it still counts as production. This means that if your only production is stolen by the robber, you wouldn’t get to use the aqueduct.

    I want to mention a couple of things I’ve noticed while playing the game. First, there’s this card called the “intrigue” card in the blue deck. Honestly, it’s not very useful. In all the times I’ve played (which is over 40 games), I’ve only seen it used once. So, I don’t really recommend keeping that card in the game.

    Another thing I wanted to mention is about drawing victory points. Normally, when you draw a victory point, you have to flip it up. But here’s the problem: the table is usually cluttered with cards, food, and drinks. So, if you’re sitting far away from someone, it’s hard to see if they’ve drawn a victory point. That can give some players an advantage over others. To solve this, we’ve made a house rule. If you draw a victory point, you have to announce it to everyone and make sure you have their attention. That way, it’s fair for everyone, and the clutter on the table doesn’t create any unfair advantages.

    Lastly, I want to say that you can come up with your own house rules for the game. Just remember to let new players know that these are not official rules. And if there are any veteran players, make sure to tell them too, so they don’t get upset.

    Now, let’s talk about the downsides of the game.

    In Cities and Knights, there are two main drawbacks, both of which can be traced back to the original Settlers game.

    1. Settlers heavily relies on luck. I once witnessed a game where around 40% of the dice rolls resulted in either 9 or 10. And to make matters worse, one player had multiple settlements on those numbers. Despite starting off in a less-than-ideal location, she managed to drain our resources and come out victorious. So, it’s important not to get too discouraged by losses because they’re bound to happen. However, this element of luck never goes so far as to make the game completely random or impede you from implementing a solid strategy. In terms of determinism, Cities and Knights offers no improvement over basic Settlers.
    2. Cities and Knights can become quite slow in certain situations. This usually occurs when three different players obtain the metropolises, and another player gets the longest road. As a result, you have multiple players with 8 to 11 points. What really makes the game drag at this stage is the progress cards. By the late game, players tend to accumulate a lot of them, and it’s common to see each player playing between two and four cards. When you multiply that by six players, it significantly slows down the game and can extend the playing time to three hours. We encounter this situation approximately 20-25% of the time we play.

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