Insulating Your Valuable Resources — Settlers of Catan Hand Management Strategy

This is a Quick Tip – Easy Fix article focusing on concise strategy tips in 500 words or less.

The main theme of this article is hand management, which is a deep and varied topic. However, this article focuses on one small tip–insulating crucial cards in your hand. Often, either through a useful rob or lucky 2 or 12 roll, you will have a card in your hand that you desperately need to hold onto. During initial placement, you’ll occasionally find yourself placing your 2nd settlement on a 12 or 2, for the sole purpose of starting the game with that resource. You can then use that resource, particularly if it’s sheep or wheat, to settle on a much more productive source with your first expansion.

So, for example, say I placed my 2nd settlement on a 5, 9, 2, and that 2 is my only source of sheep. Now, if that sheep gets sniped by the robber? I’m toast, especially if the other players are good and recognize that they can either drive a super hard bargain for a sheep, or force me to burn 4:1. I’m left waiting for a 2 to roll, or collecting cards for a costly trade to the bank. Thankfully, insulating your hand can help mitigate the possibility.

The best way to avoid getting your critical card stolen is to properly pad your hand with other cards. Say, for example, I have 4 cards. A brick and wood (a road), a sheep, and another wood.  I am on a decent amount of wood and brick. Should I build a road this turn?

If I desperately need to cut someone off to a spot, then probably. Otherwise, it’s best just to hold my cards and wait for my next turn for a couple reasons — first, it’s always good to have information about where other players are going before I build a road — and second, it helps insulate my sheep with two more cards in my hand. By having 4 cards in my hand instead of 2, the probability of having my sheep stolen is cut in half.

Moreover, if I am on no duplicate numbers, there is no possibility I can be over 7 cards by the time it’s my turn again (as I can only get 1 resource on each of the next 3 rolls). Next turn, when I perhaps have 6 or 7 cards, and I can build my road and still have some ‘padding’ in my hand for my coveted resource card.

A common mistake is trading 4:1 or 3:1 for a card and simply holding onto it with a small hand size. You’ll often see players do this when they’re saving for a city, trading in for ore or wheat and simply letting it sit in their hand, ripe for the picking. These make great robber targets, as stealing that one ore they traded the bank for is, to your opponent, effectively stealing 3 or 4 cards.

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