Catan Development Cards
An Introduction to Rules and Card Distribution
Catan is a classic board game designed by Klaus Teuber in 1995 that has sold over 32 million copies and has become an iconic game in the modern board gaming renaissance. The game consists of various elements, and players can get points through several means, such as building roads, settlements, and cities or purchasing development cards. This article thoroughly explores Catan development cards, including their distribution, when to play them, and what they do.
1. What are Development Cards?
Catan is a game offering various ways to spend resources and obtain victory points, providing players with multiple strategic options. In addition to building roads, settlements and cities, players may also purchase development cards which add an intriguing layer of complexity to the game.
Development cards are an essential part of Catan and can be bought for one wool (sheep), grain, and ore. There are 25 development cards in the game, divided into three categories: knight cards, progress cards, and victory point cards.
2. How many of each Catan Development Card?
In a standard game of Catan, without any expansions, there are 25 development cards. Some of these cards offer direct victory points. Others grant the card bearer with special abilities. Additionally, players the collect and play the most knight cards receive the coveted Largest Army achievement card.
Knight Cards: 14 total
- Knights (x14) – Move the robber. Steal one resource from the owner of a settlement or city adjacent to the robber’s new hex.
Progress Cards: 6 total
- Road Building (x2) – Place two new roads as if you had just built them.
- Year of Plenty (x2) – Take any two resources from the bank. Add them to your hand. They can be two of the same resource or two different resources.
- Monopoly (x2) – When you play this card, announce one type of resource. All other players must give you all of their resources of that type.
Victory Point Cards: 5 total
- University (x1) – One victory point. Reveal this card on your turn if, with it, you reach the number of points required for victory.
- Market (x1) – One victory point. Reveal this card on your turn if, with it, you reach the number of points required for victory.
- Great Hall (x1) – One victory point. Reveal this card on your turn if, with it, you reach the number of points required for victory.
- Chapel (x1) – One victory point. Reveal this card on your turn if, with it, you reach the number of points required for victory.
- Library (x1) – One victory point. Reveal this card on your turn if, with it, you reach the number of points required for victory.
3. Buying and playing Development Cards?
Players buy Development cards on one turn but, with the exception of Victory Point cards, may not play the new card on the same turn.
4. What’s the distribution of Catan Development Cards?
As mentioned previously, knight cards are the most common development card and make up more than half of the development deck. Progress cards are less common than knights, and victory point cards make up only 20% of the deck. However, this does not mean that the odds or pulling a specific card are set or known, at least not after the first card is drawn. Since players may not play most development cards on the turn in which they are drawn, and player do not reveal their card until they are ready to play it, it’s near impossible to know what the distribution of cards are after the first card is purchased.
5. What’s the best winning strategy for development cards?
Players start the game with two victory points from the starting settlements. The five victory point development cards can help players reach the number of points required for victory, but players must be cautious about revealing them too soon. There is also an achievement called “Largest Army,” which requires players to have three knight cards and provides two additional victory points until another player takes it. On average, players need to have four or five knights to secure the Largest Army card.
According to computer simulation tests, the best strategy for winning Catan is the Development Card Strategy.
6. What’s the Development Card Strategy?
The Catan Development Card Strategy focuses on ignoring wood and brick during the initial placement of settlements and instead prioritizing ore, wheat, and sheep. While it may sound counter intuitive, as wood and brick are essential to expanding your civilization, focusing on these higher-valued resources can be very lucrative.
Back in 2008, a blogger going by the moniker Brain did a study using the Development Card Strategy. They found that by falling the Dev Card Strategy, they won 64% of all games. What was most interesting about their study, was that the order of turns affects the outcome of the game. The winning percentage was higher when Brain played as the third or fourth player instead of the first or second player. Why? Most likely because of initial placements. Playing as the third or fourth player means Brain had either the first or second placement. After all, the greater the chance a player has of hitting their resources, the greater their chance of winning.
Brain states that the hardest part of the strategy is determining when to upgrade to a city instead of buying development cards. While they are not able to present any specific data leading to a right answer, Brain notes that they will choose to save up for a city when their hand gets “close” to the cards needed for upgrading.
7. What are other benefits of Development Cards?
Tabletop Monthly makes additional achievement cards such as the “Most Developed” card, which rewards players for developing the quickest, as well as scenarios such as Awaken the Dragon, which relies on collecting knights to defeat the dragon.
8. In Conclusion
In conclusion, Catan development cards are an important aspect of the game, providing players with various strategies to gain points and win the game. Understanding the cards’ distribution and when they can be played is crucial to maximizing their effectiveness.