Monday, March 04, 2013


I know people have issues with the way dice work in Settlers of Catan; just because 6's and 8's should come up more often than 4's, doesn't mean that they do over the short-term. So, they use a a deck of cards that exactly matches the probabilities of the results of two dice. I think one of the charms of Settlers is that, over the short-term, your expected chances of getting that valuable 6 region to pay off might not happen. 

But after falling way behind in a recent "Settlers Trails to Rails" game, I was more concerned with the way rolling a 7 just extends the pain. With every roll of 7, no resources get produced for a turn...effectively pushing out the game one extra turn. So, not only was I falling further behind because of wacky, non-expectant dice rolls...the game was just getting longer due to the 7s.

So, is there something that can be done to change that?

Now, I also don't think the robber should change...stealing a card from the leader (and shutting down one of his hexes), and keeping someone from hording cards are important to the game. But what if, after a player rolls a 7 and performs his duties as a robber, the player does an additional action...he simply keeps rolling until he rolls a non-7, pays out the regions on that number, and the game continues as normal?

Basic probabilities here.... 6 out 36 possible rolls will result in a 7. So, every sixth roll will result in a robber action...producing no goods, which, based on my theory, extends the game by another turn. If we let a player still payoff regions, that would mean the game doesn't have those extended turns, and we've reduced the length of the game by 1/6.

Assuming a game of Settlers takes 120 minutes. 1/6 of that time is 20 minutes. So, now the game is reduced down to a game that takes 100 minutes. That seems somewhat substantial.

So, let's roll with this rules change. Does it affect, in any way, that the game gets played? The game probably becomes looser in the end game, since every turn will produce supplies, and therefore starting out a turn short of cards won't happen very often. The robber rules will still be in effect limiting hand sizes, though.

Does trading change? Since your hand size will be larger, it will be easier for you to build what you want...but you will also have more cards to trade, and I think, there will be more incentive to trade to keep under the robber 7-card level.

Because of this, I think that game even speeds up more, because it will be easier to hit the winning conditions (even though that may be offset by the slower player turns, due to having more cards in hand...which will create more decisions to be made). But I don't think anything fundamentally changes.

It's worth a try at some point. I think.