Firstly, who am I? My name is Simon Horowitz, and I’m a Colonist contributor. I’ve previously been ranked as high as #1 in New York and #48 globally in 1v1, which is why I feel qualified to share with you some of my best tips for success in 1v1 Colonist. I hope you enjoy reading, and that this post helps you boost your win rate!

Placement Stage - Plan to Win

Unlike in 4-player Colonist, you need 15 Victory Points to win. This complicates the game, as there are only 22 Victory Points available to you (5 settlements, 4 cities, 5 VP development cards, longest road & largest army.) You and your opponent are competing for 9 of those points - even if you place all your buildings, you still need longest road, largest army, or 2 VP development cards to win.

So What?

Plan how you will get to 15 Victory Points from the beginning. In 4-player modes, superior lumber and brick can be all you need to win. However, in 1v1, you could place all your settlements, build three cities, and win longest road… and still need 2 more VPs to win! When making your initial placements, you should know how you are going to expand and the plays you will make to win. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Quick Tip: Make sure you produce all five resources! There is rarely trading in 1v1, so if you do not produce a resource you will have to trade for it with the bank.

Early Game - Play Fast

Now that you have created a plan for your path to 15 Victory Points, it is time to execute. Early on, you should be focused on increasing your production as fast as possible. The player who produces more at the beginning of the game will likely produce more for the entire game (more production → more buildings → more production…) Additionally, if possible, get to a port! In 1v1, you will trade with the bank much more often than in 4-player games. Unlocking a 3:1 port reduces this cost by 25%, allowing you to be much more flexible in the later stages.

Remember: Use the robber wisely; target what your opponent needs, not what they have. If brick has been rolling frequently, block your opponent’s lumber. Brick is useless without it!

Late Game - Buy Development Cards!!!

Development cards, already a powerful aspect of Colonist, are made even more powerful when playing 1v1.

  • Knights - The robber is extra valuable in 1v1 because there is no trading. If you can block off your opponent from a resource, their only option is to trade for it with the bank. Having more Knights than your opponent allows you to control the robber, and have insurance in case of an opponent rolling a 7.
  • Victory Points - VPs are essential to winning 1v1. To get to 15 points without VP development cards, you would need to build 5 settlements, 4 cities, and win longest road or largest army. Save yourself the time, and buy development cards to get Victory Points!
  • Road Building - Road building allows you to easily expand your network of settlements, which is especially useful as there is much more open space on the board when playing 1v1.
  • Monopoly - There is only one other player in this mode… you must track their cards! By knowing what your opponent has in their hand, you can use monopoly to disrupt their game plan and catapult yourself into the lead.
  • Year of Plenty - Year of Plenty is the only development card that is weaker in 1v1. Since you produce more resources, its ability has less of an impact on the game.

Quick Tip: Use Road Building in the early game to cut off your opponent or take their settlement spots! Remember that you only have to beat one player, so it is worth it to take a slightly worse spot if it weakens their position.

Additional Strategy

  1. If you place, you will have the first turn. If possible, place your second settlement on a spot with brick and lumber, and use your starting road to cut off your opponent!
Cutting off opponent's road

2. Do not use offensive knights - if the robber is on your opponent’s tile, leave it there! Even if there is a better place for it, wait until your opponent rolls a 7 to use your knight.

3. Do not waste roads! In most 1v1 matches, longest road will go to the player who is able to connect their roads fully. When expanding, make sure that you will eventually be able to fully connect, so that you can continue to fight for longest road.

Don't waste roads!

While the brick port may be an attractive expansion spot, this placement would require you to build around the desert hex to connect your roads. Instead, perhaps build up to the 8/3 double sheep hex!

Play 1v1!

If this post inspired you to play some 1v1 games,

  1. Go to https://colonist.io/
  2. Click Play
  3. Click Ranked 1v1
  4. Enjoy!