Kbp Catan Desert Sons Strategy Guide

Preface

This strategy guide is targetted toward playerss who know how to play desert sons and want to know how to play better. If you are not familiar with the rules check out the rules

Overview

The goal of Desert Sons is to collecting the highest value of treasures. During the game you will place tiles to grow oasis in a desert, placing your 'stones' on them and collecting treasures, camels, water and rumors when the oasis are closed. You can take a maximum of one item per stone you have placed on that oasis, and any oasis with two or more stones costs the caravan with the largest stone, one water when closed.

The key factors that limit how much you can grow are the number of camels in your caravan, how much water you have, and turns wasted, either due to an inability to place a tile that advances your oasis, or an oasis that takes more than four tiles to close (and thus the max of your four stones) to close.

At its core, Desert Sons is a game about efficiency. You want to maximize the number of treasures you take per turn, and per point of water.

Starting a game:

Object of the game

TO score the most points = for each of 4 types of treasure: points = # of tresures x (4 + rumors)
A treasure value can therefore vary from 4 -2 -1 = 1 to 4 + 2+ 1 = 7

TOP 10 takeaways

If you read no further , at least remember this:

  1. Play without the desert borders option if possible
  2. Start 1 tile away from edge on a brown/white space so that you can play any tile.
  3. Try to make oasis that you close when placing your 4th stone.to make effective use of water,
  4. Work your way around edge of board to take advantage of closing properties of edge tiles.
  5. take advantage of single stone oasis when possible
  6. wait until 1/3 of the game before purchasing rumors. Remember when they are all gone, you can then take one off.
  7. Generally always chose double water over a resource.
  8. POsition your camel to leave you able to place as many different types of tiles
  9. Pay close attention when an opponent places a rumor. You shouldoften be able to deduce whether it is positive or negative,

Fiinally and most important:
10. STAY OUT OF TROUBL: avoid putting yourself in a position whewre you need a specifc tile to close

Pre-game

First of all, there is one key start option to be aware (and avoid) for Desert Sons: Desert Border

Screenshot2011-01-18at92433PM.png

In this option, the edges of the board are considered desert for purposes of closing an oasis. This slows down the game, and is an option less people are familiar with. Instead look for games that specify no options or 4 players, such as:

Screenshot2011-01-18at92508PM.png

In this option, the edges of the map match both desert and oasis (green), thus any piece can be played and closed against them which greatly improves your efficiency and odds of being able to play a drawn tile. A common strategy is to move along an edge of the map playing tiles and building/closing oasis this way. We'll call this edge walking

Simple mechanics

The mechanics of this game are very simple:

  • click on a space to move your camel there
  • click on a tile to drop
  • drop tile on adjacent square to camel
  • drop stone to be able to claim a treasure.
  • When oasis is closed collect treasures, 1 per stone in oasis, largest stone first and then in descending order

Key Concepts / strategies

Oasis

It is very important to understand how to close an oasis. Each tile has either a dashed white or dashed brown line going to each of its for sides. A white dash means the face is inside the oasis, a brown dash means outside. An oasis is open as long as there is it contains a tile with a white dashed line that is not connected.

Camels

Each camel can carry 2 treasures, so you can collect 4 before you need to get another camel. Take or steal camels when you can, once you have room for 10 or 12 treasures you are probably alright.

Water

Water management is essential to be successful. Water is used for:

  • moving When moving more than 1 tile from inside an oasis to outside or vice versa will cost you 1 water. Note that 2 main axis are brown so you can travel anywherem along them for free when you are outside an oasis.
  • playing again. You can chose to spend a water to play again. Use this judisciously when there is a compelling reason for playing again.
  • First to pick up multiple treasures. When an oasis is closed with more than 1 stone, the person with the largest stone , picks first but must pay 1 water. If he does not have the water he loses his first pick.
  • Take a tile from opponent; you may take a tile from an opponent's hand for 1 water by clicking on the tile rather than the deck. Generally you will only do this to get a camel or to get a specific tille required to close an oasis.

With alll these uses for water it is very important to avoid having none

  • Double water: effectively gives you 2 extra turns. IN general should be chosen first over a single treasure.

RUmours

There are 6 rumours, 3 positive and 3 negative: -1 -1 -2 1 1 2 .
Resource selection strategy
WHen it is your turn to pick, what should you pick ?

TIles

number of tiles

types of tiles

.

Tips and tricks

Efficiency Tip 1: The First move

1 tile away from edge, on tile with desert and oasis

Here is a sample starting map with icons for three players:

ds_startmap.png

Every player starts with one tile to place. Many players will immediately move to an edge and place their starting tile. This is not the best idea unless you are starting with a camel. Instead, you want to save your starting tile. Knowing what it is, you can use it tactically when you have a good opportunity to extend to close an oasis without having to worry about drawing an incompatible tile. Consider it an insurance piece.

NOTE: To be clear:If you start with a camel tile in your hand …use it or lose it :)

Where would be the best place to start? Along an edge? Actually no. If you follow the roads that travel north/south, and east/west. Look at the rest camel at the western edge. Each of the edges has desert paths extending from them. As you have to place tiles so their sides match all adjacent tiles, you would need to draw a tile which has at least one desert face in order to place it on the edge. A large majority of tiles have at least one desert face, but not all of them. So starting at the edge has the risk of drawing a tile with four green sides, and losing a turn. If you follow the roads, you will see most of the junctures from the roads either have both paths showing desert or green. However two of the road segments have one desert and one green option, the 2nd from the west and the 2nd from the north. These are the best starting points to begin and draw a tile as you are guaranteed that whatever you draw you can place it on one side or the other.

When you draw a piece, if it is angled, direct it so the 'green' face aims toward the edge, now that you have begun to build your first oasis you will want to begin edge walking. This however leads to

Efficiency Tip 2: Oasis size

Optimum oasis size is 4 tiles wit 4 treasures and 4 stones

What is the most efficient sized oasis? Because an oasis that has more than one stone on it costs a water, technically the most efficient caravan would place a single oasis tile every turn that immediately closed, so they could take one resource a turn. In reality that isn't possible every turn, and most tiles that close with single placement on the edge provide a single water or a rumor, not treasures. Still don't turn up your nose at free water or rumors. Any time you can get an item one for one with your placement with no water cost, you are building efficiently. Still, assuming you are dealing with an oasis that has more than one stone and tile, the most efficient size is four tiles and four stones. That way you get to purchase four items for the cost of one item. Conversely, the least efficient oasis is one where you only have two stones. In that case you are spending a water on only two purchases. Every water you spend on a small oasis is less flexibility you will have later to take extra turns or move over difficult terrain (we'll get to movement later.)

Many players rush to close an oasis. Later in the game, when the board is crowded and it is hard to match all adjacent tiles, its worth closing an oasis however you can. Early on however, if you can place a tile so it closes a two stone oasis, or place it so that it opens outward, consider opening it outward as long as you aren't entering a crowded area of the map where closing it later will become difficult.

Take the following oasis. I began by edgewalking along the northern edge westward. The first tile openwest west. I could have closed the oasis with the second tile, by angling the camel section upward. However this would have led to a size two oasis and been inefficient with water. Instead I opened it up to the south.

DS_Buildout.png

The oasis ended up taking 5 tiles to close, thus I wasted one turn where I was unable to place a stone, however that is still a good balance of time and water for resources

DS_ClosedOasis.png

Efficiency Tip 3: Where to place from

In order to minimize your chances of losing a turn by drawing a card that can't be placed, consider where you choose to place your caravan when drawing from the deck. If there are two or more spots adjacent to the spot you want to place a tile, and they are free to move between, choose the one that has additional free sides. That way if the tile you draw isn't useful on your current oasis, you can possibly place another useful tile and start a new oasis. This is of greater importance if you already have two tiles in your hand. When your hand fills with three tiles you can not longer draw and must move elsewhere and play one. So minimizing your chances of reaching three tiles is quite valuable.

Efficiency Tip 4: Using Water

The primary use of water is paying for a closed oasis, and moving to more advantageous spots

We've already talked a bit about use of water and its importance to efficient play. Water is a key resource in the game. It can be used to:

  • Move anywhere on the map, including past white lines
  • Take a bonus turn
  • Pay for oasis of size > 1
  • Steal a card from an opponent's hand

So which of these are the best use of water? Obviously that depends on the situation, but in general it is good to use water for closing oasis, moving to new locations if your current one is getting cluttered (and thus likely to become inefficient for placing tiles), and for stealing useful cards from opponent hands, such as cards with camels, or cards that will close a large oasis or an oasis that would be difficult to close with randomly drawn tiles. Note which option I am not listing. Generally, using a water for a bonus turn is contrary to the play efficient ethos. What are the key exceptions? First, if there is an oasis you wish to close immediately. Perhaps you have a camel on an oasis that is accessible to other players, or perhaps you want to be able to move to a specific location before your opponent gets to play there, such as joining an existing oasis. The other time when using water for extra turns is useful is at the end game. If there are a small number of cards left in the deck, and you have spare water, taking an extra turn may deprive your opponents of a chance to make a final play or two by exhausting the deck sooner and on your turn.

Still the primary use of water is paying for a closed oasis, and moving to more advantageous spots.

I use water mainly when sharing an oasis and there is a double benefit: i get extra treasure, opponent doesn't. OR moving to edge to get benefit.

Efficiency Tip 5: Poaching Oasis

Make opponent pay water for your treasure, by placing a stone that is smaller than their largest on their oasis, or take a camel by playing the largest stone.

Sometimes an opponent will be working on an oasis, and you have the opportunity to add a tile to it. A common time to see people 'join' an existing oasis is when the oasis has a camel (which adds two camels to your maximum treasure capacity). However, as long as there is an easy to complete end or two to add onto, this is often a good idea if you can place a stone that is smaller than your opponent's largest. In order to see the size of your available stones, hover your cursor over the individual stones in your inventory.

DS_Stoneheight.png

The 'capstone' which you can see on my largest adds 4 to the largest stone of whoever has it at the moment. It moves clockwise to the next player when used:

Similarly, you can hover your cursor over someone else's stones in an oasis to see both what resources the oasis has, and what the size of the stones are. Ideally you want the #2 pick, thus they pay a water, and you still get to go ahead of most of their pieces.

DS_OasisHover.png

As a small mini-tip, I often avoid closing a joint oasis if the opponent has multiple stones and I have one stone, particularly if they've already used all four of their stones. This forces them to play tiles without stones to close the oasis, lowering their efficiency. It also allows you to move on to starting your next oasis while they are are busy earning a treasure for you. That said, if you're currently blocked from other building locations by white roads and would need to spend a water to move, and closing the oasis moves your caravan to a place connected to a brown road (free movement) out, then it can be worth it as it saves you a water returning again to the ideal of 'play efficiently'.

Efficiency Tip 6: Listening to Rumors

Rumors are the earshaped resource. There are 6 rumors, 1 +2 rumor, 2 +1 rumors, 2 -1 rumors, and 1 -2 rumor. Often the margin of victory in games is based on who has done a better job picking treasures based on the rumors. This is of course very luck dependent, both due to the uncertainty of the rumors and due to the resources that show on the tiles you draw.

That said, knowing the number of possible rumors, one value of placing rumors is knowing not just what you've placed but what that means other placed rumors will be. When drawing treasures, always look at the display at the bottom right of your screen showing each treasure type, along with any rumors placed upon it, marked in the color of the player who placed the rumor. If Red has placed a rumor on the rubies, and has no rubies in their caravan, you can assume rubies have a negative rumor attached to them and select another treasure in preference to the rubies. If you draw the +2 rumor and place it on a treasure, you know any other positive rumors will only be +1 at best, and that even if a negative rumor is placed on your treasure it is still worth at least 4 (4 + 2 for your rumor - (1 or 2 depending on size of negative rumor). That extra bit of information can help guide your treasure picks intelligently and thus hopefully efficiently.

If you see in this example, the top two players have the same number of treasures and water, so it is the rumors that decided the winner.

DS_FinalScore.png
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