Settlers of Catan Seafarers Strategy

The Settlers of Catan Seafarers expansion adds a few elements to the Settlers universe and primarily focuses on sea hexes and gold hexes.  With the addition of new hexes and pieces to build the flow of the game changes and certain resources become more important to have in the Seafarers expansion.  This Settlers of Catan Seafarers strategy guide will go over specific strategies and guidelines to follow to see you succeed in this expansion.  For strategy tips concerning the standard Settlers of Catan game see the link below and if you are unfamiliar with Seafarers then it is recommended you read the Seafarers new player guide before this more complex strategy guide.

Placements of First Two Settlements & The Most Important Resources

One of the most important things in any Settlers game, no matter the expansions, is the placement of your first two settlements.  In Seafarers water hexes and gold hexes are added to the board that open up many options of expansion and strategy compared to the standard version of Settlers of Catan.  If you have experience in the standard version you will know that wood and brick are the two most important resources to begin in Settlers of Catan.  This trend stays the same with Seafarers in most scenarios unless if the board has very small islands and a lot of water you will need to cross.  Unlike the standard version sheep is more important since it is required to build ships and without it you will be stuck on whatever landmass you begin the game on.  Wheat and ore are still valuable but early on they are slightly less important since you aren’t going to be building multiple cities early on.  Gold hexes provide a choice of any resource but you are unable to settle on gold hexes to begin the games unless you specifically create your own board to allow that.

Considering everything above you have two choices going into the placements of your settlements.  You can stick with the strategy of getting wood/brick early on to help you expand quickly on land and get a third settlement before other players.  If you go this route then you will want to make sure you have at least one hex of every resource if possible, and if not then ore is the best resource to leave it out to begin the game.  If the game board has a very large landmass then sheep could be a replacement for ore, but if there is a lot of water and islands then sheep is crucial for ships.

The second option to begin a game in Seafarers is to place your first settlement on a very good location with three land hexes(inland) and then place your second settlement on the coast(preferably on a harbor if possible or a good number token) to open up building ships from the get-go.  This second option will allow you to expand via ships before other players and make it to islands and/or where the gold hexes are.

Choosing between either strategy to start with depends on whether the game board consists of a large landmass with only a handful of gold hexes/land hexes on the edges or if there are several islands.  With a large landmass you can almost always just focus on the large landmass, dominate it, and let other players waste resources crossing the sea hexes for little in return.  However, with smaller landmasses to play and develop on you are better off thinking about building ships either with your first two settlements or your third.

General Strategy

The general strategy in the Settlers of Catan Seafarers expansion is very similar to the standard Settlers game.  Early on in the game it is best to try to expand with roads(or ships) to get a third settlement in a high paying spot with good number tokens around it.  If you wait to expand then you will often be cutoff from good expansion locations or with seafarers you will be forced out of the landmass and will now need to build ships across the sea hexes to be able to expand.  The main difference with Seafarers is the risk and reward of deciding whether to expand to another landmass or to the gold hexes.  Usually it is best to wait until mid-game when you have at least 4 total settlements to decide to expand across the sea if there is more than one sea hex between you and the other land hex.  This is because it will take at least 3 if not 4 ships to be able to reach the other land hex before you get anything in return.  Aside from the difference with dealing with sea hexes the overall flow of the game and strategy still revolved around expansion that turns into building cities and focusing on largest army or longest road(trade route with ships).

Things to Avoid

Like the standard version of Settlers of Catan it is best to avoid building roads and ships that will not provide you any benefit in the next few turns.  Often players will start building ships only to notice that they do not have a steady stream of wood/sheep to complete it and also create a settlement on the other side.  It is also very important to keep your roads/ships placed to allow you to have a very long longest trade route(longest road in Seafarers) since with ships now counting the number of connecting roads/ships is now much higher than before.

It is very important to decide early on whether you will be building many ships or if you will only need to build a few in the game.  This will allow you to either settle on a very good spot with sheep or alternatively settle on locations providing better wheat/ore/brick/wood to allow you to expand quickly with settlements and cities where your first two settlements are.  Seafarers shakes things up a little bit but you can still win the game on most boards without needing to build more than a handful of ships.  Decide what path you will go down and then stick to it.  If you start building roads one way and then ships to this island, or that island then you will find yourself wasting valuable resources.


This Settlers of Catan Seafarers strategy guide has went over the changes that you will face in the Seafarers expansion compared to the standard Settlers version.  While Seafarers doesn’t shake the game to much it does provide additional strategies for you to try out and depending on the game board some will be better than others.  Seafarers provides a huge amount of customization with the addition of sea hexes and gold hexes and along with the many strategies to excel.

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