Alternative rules needed
during the lockdown we have been playing Catan boardgame a lot with our kids (in total 4 players). We have continuously encountered an issue in the game. Basically if you get lucky or unlucky in the beginning of the game your advantage or disadvantage grows more or less exponentially. However impact of luck decreases over the games duration. This makes a comeback for the loosing player much more difficult and we mostly end up in a duell between the two strongest players with the other two just watching. And this process starts very early in the game.
Now we noticed that if you play the 6 player edition with 4 players, the impact is less strong but the game gets significantly more boring because the lack of conflicts. We also noticed that Seafarers is a bit more resilient, but Cities & Knights is a bit worse.
We now changed the rules of the robber and declared that he cannot steal the first 3 rounds. Instead the player rolling a 7 gets the resource of the land he places him. Reason for the change was that the players whose turn it was last ended up being robbed very often, starting with a serious drawback.
I was also thinking that for Cities & Knights the Barbarians could raid the city as intended plus one city of the "richest" player. However that is determined.
Did any of you encounter the same problem? Also I would like to know if you give your kids a startes advantage. I am thinking about it because our kids are a bit reluctant to accept consultance for placing their starting settlements. Again with above stated problem it makes them loose more games than needed.
So thanks for any advice you have. by the way our boys are 8 and 11.
Hi, I've done something that could interest you. I've written the rules in german and I don't have enough time to translate, but maybe google translate could help you: https://forum.catanuniverse.com/topic/7376/neues-szenario-entdecker-und-piraten-händler-und-barbaren
There are definitely ways around that. Don't get me wrong, sometimes the board setup and the settlement placements just leave someone with a really bad starting spot. More often than not, there is Always a way, via ports/development cards. It should also be the responsibility of the rest of the players to constantly target whoever is obviously doing better. In the beginning this can be difficult to gauge, but mid game there should be at least one(or two) person distinctly winning. Even the person in 2nd should not be stealing from others (unless there is a clear advantage to doing so, like knowing that another person has a resource you need.)
Stealing from someone the first roll is completely legit, however, in house-games, for the sake of fun we agree not to steal the first bit. ELOs up to Platinum online can be somewhat welcoming to this idea, but generally above that, it's a cutthroat game. Someone who has a 6 ore for example starting point is almost certain to get stolen from. It's just that strong of a spot, players know that as soon as the city gets built, it's an uphill battle.
As a guideline - If someone is getting a city after3 rounds of rolling, they are Definitely the target. Make use of ports.
I've played many games where i got cut off on really bad numbers. End up winning with 11 development cards and a port.
Your boys will make excellent negotiators and tacticians if they get good at the game!