Home > Settlers of Catan, Trends > Spreading vs. Clumping Trends (part 1)

Spreading vs. Clumping Trends (part 1)

My first real post brings me to my first real problem: what should I post about first? I’m still adding games played to my charts (which I’m sure I’ll show you sometime, or at least explain what I look for) so I’m not going to present some sort of groundbreaking strategy that’s a sure-fire win every time. Instead, I’m going to speculate about strategy and trends. I keep stats throughout every single game, but only record the winner’s strategy in my charts – I’m tracking winning strategies to see if any come to the surface as the winning strategy. Throughout this stat-keeping process, I’ve noticed some small trends, that are most likely insignificant, but interesting none-the-less.  Let’s look at the opposing strategies of spreading or clumping.

Firstly, what is it?
Spreading: the idea that spreading yourself over all of the resources/numbers is best. You’re more likely to be picking things up consistently.
Clumping: the idea that maximizing yourself on a few resources/numbers is best. When you pick up, you pick up lots.

I’m not going to make a conjecture on which idea has a better chance of helping you out (yet), but I have noticed something.

When people do choose to clump their numbers, they more often choose to clump on 8’s as opposed to 6’s, and 5’s as opposed to 9’s.  Less puzzling is the fact that people tend to clump on common numbers (6’s or 8’s) more than other high probability numbers. This is fairly obvious, as it is significantly harder to move to a common number once the game has begun. Common numbers get tapped out very quickly as people move quickly to capitalize on them. 4’s, 5’s, 9’s, and 10’s are easier to pick up later in the game, because most players’ first priority is to settle again on their common number, as to pick up twice on it. Why, then, do we (or maybe it’s just the people that I play with) have an apparent bias towards 8’s and 5’s? To be honest, I have no idea. I’m chalking that one up to a still-growing number of games played.

What about resources?
This is a little different. When we look at the numbers on the board, we know exactly what they are worth – the probability of each number being rolled is represented on each piece. When we look at resources, we have no easy way of valuing them. Some people swear that sheep are useless, while others claim that ore is the key to winning (traditionally I’ve been in both of these groups, and this research is forcing me to change my ideas). What do people do in terms of spreading or clumping on resources then? I’ll get back to you on that later.

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  1. 07/03/2011 at 10:04 pm

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