Home > Settlers of Catan, Trends > Spreading vs. Clumping Trends (part 2)

Spreading vs. Clumping Trends (part 2)

Last time we talked about spreading out over roll numbers or clumping, and how people seem to be pre-disposed towards 5’s and 8’s (in the game I played last night, it sure felt like 5’s hit a lot more than 9’s…hmm). We ended on the next logical question:

What about resources?
The easy answer is this: winners (generally) don’t seem to clump up on resources – they like to make sure they get some of everything.

What’s the difference? Well, the most obvious difference is the way we place value in rolls and resources.
Rolls are given value by the probability of them being rolled. This is a pre-calculated value that doesn’t change. Any person who has taken a probability class knows that 6’s are more likely to be rolled than 5’s, which are more likely to be rolled than 4’s, and so on. Anyone who has played even once knows this by experience. Valuable rolls are based on the normal roll distribution.
Resources are a little trickier. The rate at which they are picked up changes every game. We can’t be certain that ore will be picked up more than wood. Also, these resources are used for different things, and so again we have another variable. If development cards and cities are the best thing to get, are ore and wheat the most valuable? You can see where we hit a roadblock – value of certain resources change depending on the strategy certain players use. Value is whatever each person says it is. More accurately, value is whatever the market says it is, but I’ll investigate that later.

So, it seems to me that players know that value of resources is not static, and so we seem to like to play it safe by spreading ourselves out. My stats are not at a point where I can make conjectures about which resource people seem to value least, but I can say that if a winner doesn’t start the game on all of the resources, they will most likely end the game on all of them, moving to a resource that they lack throughout the game.

On this note, I will make a claim that I’m up for examining closely and testing later:
Numbers don’t matter (as much) when you spread to a new resource.
This means that if I start the game with not settlements on a brick, my best move it to get on a brick, no matter what number. The relative difference between a 3 and a 4 is smaller than the between a brick and something I already am picking up. In economic terms, a 3 on a brick has a comparative advantage over a 4 of wood. Basically, a 3 on a brick that I don’t have is better than a 4 on a wood that I already have.

But this is just a claim I’m making for now. I’ll try and back it up with statistics soon. What about your experience? Weigh in on the comments below.

  1. Eric
    15/06/2011 at 10:17 am

    That’s my experience tool. I particularly try and place my starting settlements in a way that I can build my third settlement to any resource I don’t already produce.

    • 15/06/2011 at 8:45 pm

      I’ve started to notice other trends in my placement strategy that have more to do with what kind of settlement my third one will be. I’m going to try and look at a way to generalize movement in a graph theory sense, independent of the resources or numbers to see what happens.

  1. 21/10/2010 at 6:33 pm
  2. 17/11/2010 at 10:41 am
  3. 07/03/2011 at 9:01 pm

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