What Now?

So as of December, I finished my mathematical analysis and presented it to the Math faculty and all of that.

So now what? Do I leave this blog to vanish into the depths of the internet, never to impart Settlers knowledge to anyone again? Well, I’ve been analyzing Settlers strategy based on the statistics I took and based on economic principles. Now that the mathematical analysis has been submitted for grading, I can delve into some of the more complex economic situations that the game presents.

I’ll get into that a little more later (I need to brush up on my playing so I can talk about things correctly), but for now, I’ll share a short story that indicates the importance of  knowing the economics of Settlers in trying to optimize strategy.

I was explaining some of my results on assigning a quantitative value to each resource, and the person I was explaining it to threw me for a small loop when they told me that my search for value was worthless – the game sets the value of each resource in determining the unchanging costs of anything we’d like to build. We all are familiar with the cost card, and some of us might even scoff at opponents who need to reference it during a game. My opponent argued that if the cost of each building remains the same, than the value of each resource must be fixed as well. I beg to differ. The value of each building is a very liquid thing – we’ve all been in games that were won by stealing the longest road. In this case, the road built to win the game is extremely valuable – much more so than a road in a game where the longest road is securely held by a margin of 5 roads. In each of these scenarios, wood and brick are valued differently. In my quantitative analysis of resources, I ended up assigning a fixed value to each resource, but also accounted for change throughout the game. This is economics.

I’m toying with the idea of trying to go explain in-depth how income works in Settlers, and it seems to be a project that might take more than one post. I’ve already looked at rolls and resources, so I plan on taking a different angle at it, and trying to analyze it qualitatively instead of quantitatively. Settlers has a neat way of giving a sort ceiling to income (a 7 being rolled forces you to discard half of your cards), and there are a lot of strategies in regards to spreading vs. clumping that haven’t been looked at.

Feel free to add your opinions, insights, and thoughts below.

  1. 18/04/2011 at 4:49 pm

    I agree with you, Peter. As you’ve shown, you can analyze the value of resources and that will vary somewhat based on the placement of tiles and numbers. But once the game begins, probability (in one sense – applying to realization of resources in hand) ceases to exist and reality takes over.

    The term “probability” has meaning to a coin toss that has yet to occur, but once the coin has landed, the outcome IS. The game is the same. Once the dice are cast, settlements constructed, and so on, the value of resources can begin to change immensely. “Probability” still applies to the potential of acquiring resources on future turns, and therefore continues to play a very important role in sound decision making, but as the game goes on, actualized resources often dominate resource value assessments. If a certain resource is scarce “in hand,” it can drastically alter the strategies, the willingness to trade, and the outcome of the game.

    The costs are fixed, but the true values are not.

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