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Subject: My 2 player variant has been updated rss

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Thanks to more extensive testing and suggestions from people, I've updated my 2 players variant on my web site:

http://nick.borko.org/games/Catan2Players.pdf

The main changes are:

* A hills tile has been swapped in instead of a pasture tile. The main reason for this is to accelerate the game play at the beginning of the game, to make it easier to build roads and settlements.

* The victory points was changed to 10 (from 12) as in the original game. I realized it was possible to draw a game at 12 points, and besides the games were being drawn out too long (exhausing both supplies and development deck by the end).

Hope you enjoy it,
Nick
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Craig Blumer
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Re:My 2 player variant has been updated
NickB (#467067),

Thanks for this variant. My wife and I enjoyed our first try at it. The game moves very quickly and has a different slant than regular Settlers, but still is clearly Settlers and was a lot of fun.

We followed the rule of no trading with each other. But, we'd like to try it allowing trading between players.

Thanks again.

Craig
 
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Feel free to trade with each other, if that's what you want to do! The no trading rule makes the game less interactive, but more strategic. If you do trade, I suggest you go with a 6 card hand limit instead of 7, since you will probably be using your resources much more quickly.

Nick
 
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MK
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I played this version recently and it seemed to be a very stalled game with no trading between players. Perhaps the fact that neither of us started with a harbor settlement had something to do with it, because it was very difficult to get 4 of a kind to make up for a deficiency in one area.

Will have to try again with putting settlements on harbors to start with.
 
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Chris Talbot
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My girlfriend and I gave this variant a try last night, and it worked out fairly well. I lost really, really badly, though.

Both of us liked the variant. We've played two-player Settlers just using the standard game several times, and it's generally worked out that we don't get in each other's way when we're building our roads and settlements. This two-player variant changed all that. Jacquie (my girlfriend) was getting in my way from about half a dozen turns in, and because of some of her road and settlement placements, my expansion plans got seriously screwed up.

Also, a four was never rolled during the game, and that's where my wheat reserve was. At the end of the game, she had 11 VPs and I had 3 VPs (the game should've ended one turn previously, but Jacquie didn't realize she had 10 VPs already -- but I'm happy for that, as I still only had 2 VPs in the previous turn ).

Chris
 
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Chris Talbot
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I was running on very little sleep when I wrote my previous post. A couple of other short comments about the variant...

The lack of the second six on the board was painful. It makes sense, though. If the second six was on a tile, there would probably be far too much production.

The smaller island makes the game much more cutthroat when it's just two players. I really liked this. With the full-sized island, playing with two players is too dull. This way, there was a much greater intensity to the game.

The randomness of the sea pieces is great. While I didn't think much about it when we got started, it really should've had an impact on where we put our starting settlements. The 3/1s, the ore and (I think) the lumber sea tiles popped up. I probably should've tried to take advantage of them with my settlement placing. Since a few of the port tiles won't pop up, it changes the strategic element a bit. Very nice.

Chris
 
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Chris Hawks
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Interesting. Looks to be worth trying out.
 
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Micheal Smith
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I'm sorry, I've looked over the rules a few times but which numbers do you place on which tiles? Do you just remove a few (like the post above saying it's lacking a 6) and then randomly place them? Or is there something else? Also, B/H, does that mean there's two numbers on one tile?

The variant looks really cool and I can't wait to try it with my girlfriend, but I'm just a little murky on the placement of everything, thanks.

NM, I figured it out, when I got home I saw the letters on the number pieces... funny I never noticed those before.

This variant is awesome though, I had a blast playing it, thanks for the wonderful PDF.

 
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Michael Kandrac
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Click on the image to get a better view of the numbers.

Gg
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Maarten D. de Jong
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The variant makes it quite playable for two, but as many people already remarked, I would suggest allowing trade between players. The game I and my girlfriend played reminded me quite clearly why I loathe Settlers of Catan: it all comes down to what you roll with the dice, and if you don't get any resources, you're simply out of the running. With trade between players you might have at least some chance of keeping up, and not, as happened to me, losing with 10 to 3.

Fortunately I had my revenge later on with Hansa devil.
 
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This seems to be a big hit with the boyfriend/girlfriend set... And yup me and mine too! This works really great for two players and I think the no trading rule works fine... a great variation, especially when compared to the ones on the Mayfair site...
 
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I would say, if you'd rather have trading in the game, go for it! The rules I came up with are by no means authoritative or even sanctioned by Klaus For all I know, he's out there shaking his head shake

My argument to those who say it now all depends on the roll of the dice, there is some truth to that; however, now that you've got a much smaller board, I believe it's easier to set yourself up to mitigate the dice by selecting high probability resource areas and setting yourself up on or near a port that takes advantage of that production. But yeah, the dice can kill ya, that's a beat to death topic yuk

Anyway, I'm glad to see so many people enjoying the rules. I just wish the travel version I have could accomodate them, but oh well, it's a nice excuse to find a 3rd and a 4th, which makes for a richer experience anyway

Nick
 
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David Turner
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Nick,

Your 2-player variant is now my wife's favorite game! We have played 15-20 games in the last week. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.

We do play with a few minor alterations:

1. We allow trading, rare but it does happen from time to time.
2. We start with 6 resource cards. Using both starter towns to determine the resources (total number not just type). Without doing this the game seems to start a bit slow, with alot of die rolling in the begining.

We have also enjoyed playing to 12 points. We only remove one town (not removing a city or roads).


Thanks again,
DT

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JessA
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My daughter loves Settlers above all other games. Today she was home sick from school and we tried your variant. It was great! It's a slightly different game, but much better than other 2 player variants that we've tried. She enjoys trading, so we left that in.

Tip for you!
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andrew histand
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this variant works well, except that it seems impossible to come back after one player has a lead. in the 10 or so times i've played this, every game has been a blowout, including one game in which the losing player managed to build only 2 roads. this turns the game into simply a contest to see who can build the first city or settlement, because in my experience, that player wins every time. its just not that fun for me the either be dominating or dominated all of the time.
 
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Thanks for trying! Yeah, there is a "luck" factor when playing Settlers, and sometimes that can ruin the game if you're rolling low probability numbers a lot

In a 3-4 player game, a lot more can happen between turns in terms of collecting and trading, which is why sometimes there are turns in the 2 player version where you do nothing but roll and pass. I personally haven't found this too bad, since the game keeps moving, but I see your point. In some variants the players roll twice, but in the end game you end up with so many cards it's just ridiculous. So the tradeoff is a kind of mundane opening game rolling and collecting resources, but I think it's better than having a fistfull of cards and making building trivial. To me, THAT'S mundane!

Also note that in a 2 player game the initial placement is much more crucial than in a 3-4 player game, because turns come around more often, and so can the robber. Sometimes I adopt a strategy of collecting a lot of one resource and getting an early harbor if I can't get a good starting spot where I can easily get both wood and brick. It's more difficult to get started, but once you have the harbor you can more easily overcome the lead your opponent has probably gained early. Well, unless you're really unlucky

Nick
 
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Brent Pollock
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I've no experience with the other 2-player variants, but this seemed to work well enough today as a vehicle for introducing it to my 12-year old. He booted my buttocks in the first game as his wheat/ore strategy resulted in two quick city conversions while I was still desperately trying to hew timber & fire some brick.

The second match was closer, but we had to call it due to another engagement. Grand fun - thanks.
 
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Houserule Jay
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andrewstan5 wrote:
this variant works well, except that it seems impossible to come back after one player has a lead. in the 10 or so times i've played this, every game has been a blowout, including one game in which the losing player managed to build only 2 roads. this turns the game into simply a contest to see who can build the first city or settlement, because in my experience, that player wins every time. its just not that fun for me the either be dominating or dominated all of the time.


For anyone reading this thread who is experiencing the same problem as above, try the following changes:

1. We play with 3 Forest, 3 Brick, 3 Wheat, 3 Ore and 2 Sheep hexes. We also play with 7 ports, 3 - 3:1 ports, and 4 of the other ports leaving out the Sheep port. (mostly preference here)

2. Shift the ports by one spot in order to keep them off the 6 and the 8 hexes (making them something you have to work even harder for instead of them being on the spot you start with).

3. We allow trading (preference really).

4. You can not use the Robber until both sides have 3 VP's (this ensures someone does not get too early of a lead).

5. This one is the most important. Make the following substitution with the numbers: Remove "K=8" and replace with "Q=3". During set-up, instead of: C,M,O,I,B/H,L,J,D,N,G,A,K,E,F. This now becomes: A,M,O,I,B/H,L,J,D,N,G,Q,C,E,F. Just a couple changes in the order to balance things now that one extra 8 is missing.

This last change is very important IMHO as it will prevent one player from having 2 high production numbers right off the start and the other only having 1 fighting the get the other as now there is only one 6 and one 8 instead of one 6 and two 8's. At first I liked the idea of fighting over the extra number but it is too easy for someone to just cut you off and now they have a huge advantage.

One more thing that has been suggested by others but we haven't had to do yet, you might make the Robber's stay only 5 or 6 turns in case someone is having lots of bad luck and not rolling 7 while the other is. 3 would be too little IMO, Soldier cards would then devalue.

Everything else is the same. Thanks to Nick, lots of people have been enjoying Settlers on the smaller island and will continue to do so.

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Cool, I'll have to lay it out and try it. I'm not too keen on removing a high production number, because it keeps the game moving. It is very important to occupy these hexes at the beginning of the game, though, because if you let the other player stand alone on them, you've got an uphill (and probably losing) battle ahead of you.

Also, are you sure the distribution is still going to be fair moving around the numbers? I looked at a lot of different configurations, and the one I settled on seemed to have the best distribution. But like I said, I'll have to analyze your changes and try it out.

Keeping the math and probabilities of the game in balance is important, so I've been coming up with some other ideas that help keep the game balanced and the leader in check rather than altering the board layout itself. I'd like to hear from people if you can try some of the following rules:

1. On the subject of the robber, I'm becoming a fan of the "two in a row removes the robber from the board" variant to help alleviate the running away problem. It also lessens the sting of the soldier cards as well, since playing one while the robber is out (and you placed it there) will remove it from the board. A double robber still enforces the hand limit, but the second roll doesn't let you take a resource from the other player. However, a soldier card does let you take a resource from the other player no matter what (otherwise it's useless other than for the largest army... comments?).

2. Another tweak I am liking is making the hand limit at 6 instead of 7. I'm thinking that it might be even better at 5, but I haven't tried that yet. The problem is that your turn comes around much faster in a 2 player game, so you have a lot more opportunity to decide whether to hold or spend resources. And a hand limit of 7 doesn't really hurt the leader as much as a limit of 5 would.

3. Here's another suggestion: don't put a 2:1 harbor type next to a hex of the same resource. In that case, just discard the harbor and pick a new one. Don't put the discarded harbor back in the stack to pick, just leave it out of the game. A harbor on the same resource hex automatically gives the player who places the first settlement an unfair advantage that's almost impossible to overcome.

Nick
 
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Houserule Jay
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Hey Nick, just my initial thoughts here on your reply.

Quote:
Cool, I'll have to lay it out and try it. I'm not too keen on removing a high production number, because it keeps the game moving. It is very important to occupy these hexes at the beginning of the game, though, because if you let the other player stand alone on them, you've got an uphill (and probably losing) battle ahead of you.

Also, are you sure the distribution is still going to be fair moving around the numbers? I looked at a lot of different configurations, and the one I settled on seemed to have the best distribution. But like I said, I'll have to analyze your changes and try it out.


I think 2 or 4 high production numbers is the only way to go otherwise one player will always have an advantage by having the extra one, at least that is what we found. Of course 2 on the small island makes more sense and the game still moves along great with only 2.

The configuration is quite balanced, you'll see when you set it up. I also found one other way that was good too using only one 6 and one 8 as well. (moving numbers around but keeping good ones apart as in our examples given)

Quote:

1. On the subject of the robber, I'm becoming a fan of the "two in a row removes the robber from the board" variant to help alleviate the running away problem. It also lessens the sting of the soldier cards as well, since playing one while the robber is out (and you placed it there) will remove it from the board. A double robber still enforces the hand limit, but the second roll doesn't let you take a resource from the other player. However, a soldier card does let you take a resource from the other player no matter what (otherwise it's useless other than for the largest army... comments?).


As everyone notices whether it is 2, 3 or 4 player the dice are going to burn you eventually as you mention, it just hurts even more with only 2. We have always played with any number that there is no attacking until people have 3 VP's (actually this came from playing on MSN). However, with the 2 player, since you have only one attack choice (your poor unlucky opponent), I think a little extra help wouldn't hurt. 2 in a row sounds like another good implementation. Now if they roll a third 7 they get to burn you again though yes?

Quote:
2. Another tweak I am liking is making the hand limit at 6 instead of 7. I'm thinking that it might be even better at 5, but I haven't tried that yet. The problem is that your turn comes around much faster in a 2 player game, so you have a lot more opportunity to decide whether to hold or spend resources. And a hand limit of 7 doesn't really hurt the leader as much as a limit of 5 would.


I might try out the 6 card limit just to see if it presents an extra challenge but I don't think 5 will work at all. It would be extremely hard to build anything, especially a city. 7 seemed to work fine too, don't forget the poor guy trying to catch up can and will be stung by the limit, maybe not as often though.

Quote:
3. Here's another suggestion: don't put a 2:1 harbor type next to a hex of the same resource. In that case, just discard the harbor and pick a new one. Don't put the discarded harbor back in the stack to pick, just leave it out of the game. A harbor on the same resource hex automatically gives the player who places the first settlement an unfair advantage that's almost impossible to overcome.


I fully agree with this, we did it right from the start, that is also why we shifted the ports off the 6 and 8 hex. With only one other opponent all the little things are magnified, this is also why the poster in the other thread found they had to seperate the wheat and ore tiles and put them on the edges. With taking out the one 8 I don't think that is necessary however.

Thanks again for posting your variant and giving us fans of the game another great option. Jay
 
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John May
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I played this a bunch of times with my wife this week, and definitely enjoyed it. We have found this board layout works quite nicely with Cities and Knights (shortening the Barbarian's track by 1 or 2 to increase the threat). We played three games of this, and all three ended 13pt to 11pt or 12pt. The non-C&K games definitely were not as balanced, we will have to try out some of tweaks.
 
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Got a chance to play some more this past weekend... here's what I found.

NickB wrote:
1. On the subject of the robber, I'm becoming a fan of the "two in a row removes the robber from the board" variant to help alleviate the running away problem. It also lessens the sting of the soldier cards as well, since playing one while the robber is out (and you placed it there) will remove it from the board. A double robber still enforces the hand limit, but the second roll doesn't let you take a resource from the other player. However, a soldier card does let you take a resource from the other player no matter what (otherwise it's useless other than for the largest army... comments?).

This worked rather well, though it took some explaining to get my wife to understand exactly how it worked. That didn't stop her from creaming me, though. Something didn't seem quite right about 7 being sometimes a "dead" roll, but it certainly did make playing the soldier cards a more tactical experience.

I think this one is a keeper, but I need to come up with a more simplified explanation of the mechanics. Getting nothing for rolling a 7 sometimes seemed odd, but I don't think it seriously detracts anything from the game since you'll be rolling again soon enough. It's also a good time to play a saved soldier card devil

Quote:
2. Another tweak I am liking is making the hand limit at 6 instead of 7. I'm thinking that it might be even better at 5, but I haven't tried that yet. The problem is that your turn comes around much faster in a 2 player game, so you have a lot more opportunity to decide whether to hold or spend resources. And a hand limit of 7 doesn't really hurt the leader as much as a limit of 5 would.

OK, it looks like 6 is the sweet spot here. With only 5 cards, it hurts too much at the end game when you're collecting enough resources to trade and build yourself a city. So I'm gonna have to give a solid recommendation on lowering the hand limit to 6 from 7 cards. It didn't hit too often, but just enough to keep players spending their resources, which I think is the intent of the original rule.

Quote:
3. Here's another suggestion: don't put a 2:1 harbor type next to a hex of the same resource. In that case, just discard the harbor and pick a new one. Don't put the discarded harbor back in the stack to pick, just leave it out of the game.

Big thumbs up on this one. I don't know why I didn't put that in the original rules to begin with

I didn't get a chance to play with the modified layout described above, but in the games we played it was very balanced, and no player was too far behind that they couldn't catch up. Although at times it seemed like one player was going to win, timely road building and development card purchases kept them in check. I'd love to hear what other people's experiences are with these mods.

Nick
 
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Hey, Jay, thanks for your thoughts.

jayjonbeach wrote:
I think 2 or 4 high production numbers is the only way to go otherwise one player will always have an advantage by having the extra one, at least that is what we found. Of course 2 on the small island makes more sense and the game still moves along great with only 2.

How would one person get 2 while the other person only got 1? You can certainly make an inital placement on the same hex as another player, as long as you're 2 vertices away. With 3 high probabilty resource hexes, there is probably 1 worth sharing. And it certainly makes robber placement more interesting I think you should give playing with an odd number of high production hexes another go with this in mind

Quote:
As everyone notices whether it is 2, 3 or 4 player the dice are going to burn you eventually as you mention, it just hurts even more with only 2. We have always played with any number that there is no attacking until people have 3 VP's (actually this came from playing on MSN). However, with the 2 player, since you have only one attack choice (your poor unlucky opponent), I think a little extra help wouldn't hurt. 2 in a row sounds like another good implementation. Now if they roll a third 7 they get to burn you again though yes?

Yes, once the robber is off the board, you're free to play a soldier card as well as move it back onto the board on a 7 roll. The soldier card becomes a lot more interesting with this scenario!

On the thought of an early robber hurting too much in the early game, I can see where this can be a problem (although I haven't been unlucky enough to see this happen in a game yet, and perhaps the double robber rule minimizes this somewhat). No attacking until 3 VPs is certainly a good way to mitigate that, though.

Quote:
I might try out the 6 card limit just to see if it presents an extra challenge but I don't think 5 will work at all. It would be extremely hard to build anything, especially a city. 7 seemed to work fine too, don't forget the poor guy trying to catch up can and will be stung by the limit, maybe not as often though.

You're right; 5 is just too low. After playing many with hand limits at both 7 and 6, I would have to say 6 is the much better choice for 2 players. There were some games when the 7 limit just never happened.

Quote:
I fully agree with this, we did it right from the start, that is also why we shifted the ports off the 6 and 8 hex. With only one other opponent all the little things are magnified, this is also why the poster in the other thread found they had to seperate the wheat and ore tiles and put them on the edges. With taking out the one 8 I don't think that is necessary however.

Well, the original game has ports on both 8s, so I don't think that's necessarily a negative. I compensated for having 3 ports on the 6 and 8s by having those ports only touch those hexes, not share the ports with other hexes. Shifting ports any other way causes the high production hexes to share the port with another hex, which I think unbalances the game. I think removing same 2:1 ports fixes the big generate-2-per-roll (cuz you probably have 2 settlements on the hex to get to the port in the first place) trade-for-1 problem that gives you unlimited access to any resource.

Nick
 
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David G.
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My son and I really enjoy this variant, thanks!
 
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Sure, no problem. If you were the last person to move the robber in a previous turn, and you roll a "7" again, then the robber goes off the board. In other words, you can't be the same person to move the robber the last 2 times it moved. This prevents one player from rolling a streak of 7s and killing the other player's hand.

HTH,
Nick
 
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