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Monopoly – Catan [Game Changer]

There are few games as iconic as Catan. Initially known as Settlers of Catan, Catan was released in 1995, by designer Klaus Teuber. It is a game of strategy and skill, with a helpful hand of luck thrown in. Catan, as a game, revolves heavily around resource collection and hand management, as each turn you collect the sheep, wood, grain, clay, and ore that make the game so iconic.

Throughout Catan you turn those resources in to various different structures, connections, or cards to help you win the game. The first player to 10 points is the victor, and those points can be gained in cities, settlements, or development cards.

In order to get points through development cards, in Catan, there are a couple of options available. You can stumble across one of five victory point cards within the deck. Once bought, these are revealed when you believe you have enough points to win the game. The other way of gaining direct victory points through the development cards is through gaining the largest army. Knights make up 56% of the development card deck, and through being the first person to gain three knights, you gain Largest Army. Largest Army is an achievement worth two victory points, however, those two points can be taken if someone else (at any point) gains more knights than you.

Of course, the development cards aren’t only about points or knights. Out of the deck of 25 cards, there are six additional cards that help change your game. The first of these is Year of Plenty, with which you can take resources from the bank. The second one of these is Road Building, with which you can immediately build two roads. Finally, we have the third card, and the game changer we are going to be talking about today – Monopoly.


Monopoly in Catan

Monopoly is one of the all-time great cards in Catan, and one of the most interesting aspects of the game. With that in mind, what does it do?

Well, the wording on Monopoly is this:

When you play this card, announce one type of resource. All other players must give you all of their resources of that type.

Monopoly, Catan, Mayfair Edition

Yes, that is correct. It can often be seen as a bit of an aggressive move to block someone with the Robber in Catan, whilst taking a card. With Monopoly, it is possible to not only to rob one card, but to potentially rob any number from any number of players. Oh yeah. It can make you seriously unpopular.

The Power of Monopoly in Catan

Of course, being an arse to people isn’t really where the power of Monopoly lies in Catan. Instead, the true power of Monopoly sits in moments where resource is a serious problem. The power of Monopoly is as an enabler to continue to act even when waiting for specific cards to come up.

It is a well-known fact that, despite the laws of probability, every game of Catan will have a resource shortage at some point or other. No matter what you all desperately need, whether grain or ore or clay or lumber, at one point in every game the dice just won’t roll in your favour. It’s not maths. It’s fate.

This is where the true power of Monopoly lies.

The best use of Monopoly I have personally seen happens whenever there is a resource shortage. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say, for instance, that clay (bricks – whatever you want to call it) simply won’t come out. Although everyone has built around a clay pit (mine?), and it is on an eight, for some reason everyone is rolling threes and the eight remains elusive.

Then, suddenly, an eight is rolled. Everyone cheers. Everyone can finally build what they want to build…

…and then you play Monopoly. You call brick and everyone has to give you the brick they just had.

Yes, this is what is known as a “being really mean”, and it will definitely make you the target of the next Knight or robber; that being said, the players also kind of need to be nice to you.

Why? Well, you’re now the player with the resource that everyone else needs. Not only can you use that yourself, with the ability to truly get ahead due to holding a hand full of the metaphorical resource scarcity, but you also have a hand of resource potential.

The power of Monopoly is the ability to turn your hand from nothing to one of the best trading hands in the game. The power of Monopoly is to, by painting a target on your back, you enable yourself to stride ahead of your opponents. That is the power of Monopoly.

Of course, Monopoly plus a couple of Knights in your hand means that it doesn’t matter if players try to block you. You can block them back. Development cards, man, they can be unstoppable.

Monopoly the Game Changer

When looking at the power of Monopoly, it is hard to deny that it can be a game changer. It can be all too easy going from nothing to being put in a position of power around the table. The trick is to wait for precisely the right moment to play it.

That said, it isn’t a perfect card. The biggest problem is that, only comprising 2/25 cards in the Development Card deck. This means that it is more than possible to not see a Monopoly card through an entire game of Catan. It is an unreliable strategy to aim to get one into your hand as the odds aren’t in your favour (I sense an article about “conditional probability” coming along). That being said, it can be devastating if you do…devastating to your opponents that is!

There is no doubt that Monopoly is a fantastic card, tricksy as it may be.

This article has been one in a series of articles we are doing about Game Changers – cards, components, and aspects to games that really help make the game what it is. With that in mind, what are your thoughts on Monopoly? Do you think it has a place in a valid Catan strategy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Other Game Changers:
Second Chance – Star Wars: Destiny
Pan – Santorini
Recover the Magister’s Orb – Lords of Waterdeep

Other Catan Articles:
Catan Development Card Analysis
Catan Longest Road Strategy
Catan Starting Strategies: 8 Different Ways to Start
Is Catan a Good Game?
Is Catan a Real Place?


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