To mark a possible starting point for some future discussions and to offer newbies a first framework of orientation, I am posting the "Tips for your first encounters with Rivals for Catan", which can be downloaded at catan.com:

Tips for Your First Encounters with “The Rivals for Catan”

Compiled and written by P. G. Bartschat and Dr. Reiner Düren

Introductory Game: Tips for Newcomers on Catan

The emphasis of the Introductory Game is on founding new settlements and upgrading settlements to cities. Your best friends are the production booster cards, particularly the Brick Factory and the Iron Foundry. Remember: Production boosters affect only adjacent, matching regions.

Did you forget to consider an adjacent production booster when rotating a region? To be reminded, simply place a small, dispensable object (coin, peanut, diamond ring) on the region.

Don't spend too much time waiting to place a production booster between two identical regions. It is better to build the Brick Factory adjacent to only one brick region than to keep the card in your hand forever. Later, you can use the Relocation card to amend the situation.

If you have built a Marketplace, you shouldn't expand your principality for the moment but upgrade the existing settlements to cities or place expansion cards.

If you have a choice between various trade ships, take the ship whose resource you can get most of (e.g., by means of a production booster).

If you already have built two expansions featuring trade points or strengths points, try to find at least one matching third expansion: you won't get a cheaper trade token or hero token victory point.

A region can only accommodate three resources. You don't have use for the resources of a “full” region at the end of your turn? Consider trading them for a resource you only receive on rare occasions. You can also use resources to choose cards. Before you make a decision, check which resources you need to play the cards in your hand.

Don't despise the Merchant Caravans! Especially in the Introductory Game, they are among the most important cards.