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Pen & paper Catan - for emergencies

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Do you love Settlers of Catan? You do!? Great, me too!  Do you carry it with you wherever you go? No? That's what I thought.

Few of us carry a hex-board, road pieces, dice, resource cards, and all the other trappings a of good game of Catan with us on a daily basis. (If you do, then my hat is off to you good sir/ma'am.)  That is why I spent some time finding a way to play a reasonable facsimile with just things you almost always have on hand: pens, paper, and pocket change.  This is for all the times you were camping and forgot to bring the board, or were stuck at the airport for an unexpected 4 hour layover.

The final product at the end of this 'ible will look like Picture 2.  (OK. OK.  Maybe in real life, it'll look more like Picture 3, but this is an instructable and I wanted it to look extra nice for demonstration purposes.)

*Disclaimer*  Settlers of Catan is a great strategy / nation building board game that is WAY more fun than it sounds. The game was created by Klaus Teuber and first published in Germany, before becoming a world-wide hit.  This instructible is not meant as a replacement for owning the real game, just for use in emergency situations.  If you like Catan, you should go buy it (but who are we kidding, if you like Catan you probably already do.)


 
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This is a great idea thank you :o)

I have made up a write on/wipe off copy for printing/laminating to save me remembering exactly how to write it up lol if anyone would like to use it
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-play-Catan-with-pen-and-paper-and-loose-cha/

Many thanks x
ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)  yorkrambler1 year ago
thanks!
artworker2 years ago
Very creative. This technique can be used to design a new board game! 5*
Awesome! Wonderful idea and very practical!
Seconded. Great implementation!
ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)  orvis3 years ago
Thanks you guys.
Geli123 years ago
király ötlet én is szwretem a tarsasokat meg az instructablest is :-)
tan te vagy az első magyar akut itt látok
kelseymh3 years ago
This is an excellent Instructable, and a great concept! On an interesting side note, in the U.S. edition of the game, the "Knights" are called "Soldiers". That probably also helps to avoid confusion with the Cities and Knights expansion set.

If you're really doing this for a road trip (or road trips), one would probably want to make one of the nice looking boards, with resources left out, and photocopy it a bunch of times. Similarly with each player's accounting page.

I am especially impressed with how well you were able to approximate 2d6 rolls using weighted 5d2 coin flips. I think the discrepancy between 6/8 vs. 7 could be the most problematic. I might spend a little time futzing around to see whether I can get you a better algorithm, but I suspect you've done the right thing.
ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
Thanks for the compliment. And you are right, the 6/8s are slightly more likely to appear and the 7s are a bit less likely to appear, which tends to lead to a bit of a richer game (not richer as in better, richer as in "everybody has a few more resources than usual").
Ah! Actually, that's a very interesting point. It's not something you can do with real dice (except maybe by doing a rules change where the robber is tagged on "6" or on "8", instead of on 7). But the ability to tune the probabilities with weighted coin flips introduces a very nice generalization.
kelseymh3 years ago
Okay, I did find a second solution for the dice, which gives "lucky sevens" :-) It was fun to set up the spreadsheet and then just fiddle with the "tails" values. Using 1/2/2/3/4 (instead of your 1/1/3/3/4), I get the following percentages:


Roll Dice Coins Difference
2/12 2.8% 3.1% +0.3%
3/11 5.6% 3.1% -2.4%
4/10 8.3% 9.4% +1.0%
5/9 11.1% 12.5% +1.4%
6/8 13.9% 12.5% -1.4%
7 16.7% 18.8% 2.1%


So with these coins, sevens are a couple of percent more likely to come up than with real dice, but they are also now the highest probability.

I've uploaded my spreadsheet to I'bles and attach it here, if you or anyone else wants to play around with it. In principle, given the constraint that the five heads have to add up to 2, the five tails have to add up to 12, and you want the percentages to approximate real dice, it ought to be possible to set up an Excel optimization (Solver) to find the best solution. I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
I'm glad to see other people are Excel dorks like me :)

While I was fiddling for this 'ible I did consider using 1/2/2/3/4, but eventually settled on 1/1/3/3/4 because it created more variation in the rolls, rather than having 2/12 = 3/11 and 5/9 = 6/8. But both ways work and I think both would be fun to play. I guess it comes down to how much you want the robber to come into play. :)

I wasn't expecting people to be interested in the probabilities, but since you are I'll include my spreadsheet. It also shows the probabilities of 'drawing' Development cards using coin flips rather than a deck of 25 cards.
Wow! You really did that by brute force :-D You might be interested in a few of the functions I used to simplify the calculations (I did not do things as efficiently as a real Excel expert would have done it).
oh, and here's the .xls file.
:-) Thank you for this! I'm still using Office X on my Mac. The only way I can read these new-fangled ".xlsx" and ".pptx" and ".docx" files is by letting Google have its way with them :-/
wilgubeast3 years ago
This is awesome. Thanks for sharing!
AndyGadget3 years ago
 
Settlers of Catan is a great game.  We won a set in a raffle several years ago and it's been a regular choice at our weekly family game nights ever since. (We take turns to choose the game we play that week.)  We've also introduced several friends to it.  The basic game is entertaining but we also have the 'Seafarers' expansion pack which makes it even more varied and enjoyable.

A playable travel version is a great idea.
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