The Settlers of Catan, sometimes shortened to just Catan, is a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber and first published in 1995 inGermany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlag (Kosmos) as Die Siedler von Catan. Players assume the roles of settlers, each attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow; the first to reach a set number of points, typically 10, is the winner. The game and its many expansions are also published by Mayfair Games, Filosofia, Capcom, 999 Games, Κάισσα, and Devir.
The Settlers of Catan was one of the first German-style board games to achieve popularity outside of Europe. As of 2015, more than 22 million copies in 30 languages were sold. The game has been translated into 30 languages. It is popular in the United States where it has been called "the board game of our time" by The Washington Post. A 2012 American documentary film titled Going Cardboard (featuring Klaus Teuber) is about this game's impact on American gaming communities and what came of it. The game involves large amounts of strategy, while still being fairly simple to learn, making it perfect for those who wish to enter the world of strategic boardgames.
How to Play
The players in the game represent settlers establishing colonies on the island of Catan. Players build settlements, cities, and roads to connect them as they settle the island. The game board representing the island is composed of hexagonal tiles (hexes) of different land types which are laid out randomly at the beginning of each game; new editions of the game also depict a fixed layout in their manual, which has been proven to be fairly even-handed by computer simulations, and recommend this to be used by beginners.
Players build by spending resources (brick, lumber, wool, grain, and ore), represented by resource cards; each land type, with the exception of the unproductive desert, produces a specific resource. On each player's turn, two six-sided dice are rolled to determine which hexes produce resources. Any players with settlements or cities adjacent to hexes marked with the number rolled receive resource cards of the appropriate type. There is also a robber token, initially on the desert; if a player rolls 7, the robber must be moved to another hex, which will no longer produce resources until the robber is moved again; the player may also steal a resource card from another player. In addition, when a 7 is rolled, all players with more than 7 resource cards must discard half of their cards, rounded down. However, the player gets to choose which half of their resource cards they must discard. For example, a player with 11 resource cards must discard any five cards when a 7 is rolled.
Players can trade resource cards among each other; players may also trade off-island (in effect, with the non-player bank) at a ratio of four of one resource for one of any other. By building settlements in certain spots on the edge of the board (ports), players may trade with the bank at three-to-one (3 of any single resource type) or two-to-one (two of a specific resource) ratios, determined by the port's location.
The goal of the game is to reach 10 victory points. Players score one point for each settlement they own and two for
each city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road and the largest army (by playing the most knight cards), grant a player additional victory points.
Resource cards can also be spent to buy a development card. Three types of development cards include cards worth one victory point; knight cards (or soldier cards), which allow the player to move the robber as if they had rolled a 7 (but without the remove-half rule); and a third set of cards which allow the player one of three abilities when played.
- Setup: Setup the board as either a copy of the introductory setup, randomly flip over tiles and place the numbers in alphabetical order spiraling in, or completely randomly tiles and numbers.
- Advanced Setup: If using a random board, choose settlement placements in player order, then a second settlement in backwards order, with a road attached to each.
- Playing Development Cards: For your turn, you can play 1 development card at any time (including before you roll), but not one that you bought that turn.
- Income Roll dice for income that turn: everyone with settlements/cities next to a tile with that number gets one/two of that resource per settlement/city adjacent to it (respectively).
- The Robber: If you roll a 7, you must move the robber (that weird bowling pin looking thing) to any hex of your choice. Then choose a player that has a settlement/city next to that hex. Steal a card at random from their hand. While the robber stays their, that hex doesn't produce anything (you can signify this by putting him on top of the number.) Using a Knight card allows you to perform this entire action immediately. Then, if this was a 7-roll (not a Knight), each player with 8+ resource cards in hand (not development cards) discards half of their choice, keeping rounded up.
- Buy/Trade Then you can offer/receive trades and buy things. People can only trade with the current player. The offers do not have to be equal, they often won't be. I.e. if everyone wants to build a city, then Ore and Grain will be at a premium.
- Bank Exchange: The current player can also trade with the bank, either 4 of a single thing for 1 of anything (always an option), or use a port (i.e. 3:1 of any single resource, or 2:1 of a specific resource type for 1 of anything, instead) if you have a settlement/city on that port (there are 2 spots for each port.)
- What to Buy: There are 4 things you can buy: Roads, Settlements, Cities (an upgrade), and Development Cards. You can buy any number of them. (Use the 4 reference cards that come with the game for the costs.)
- Roads: You must have roads going from one of your settlements/cities to the location you are building a new settlement. Your starting settlements do not need to be connected to each other.
- End Your Turn: Then you pass the turn to the next player, and they start by either playing a development card or rolling the dice.
- Victory: You win when you have 10 points - 1 point per settlement, 2 points per city, 2 points for Largest Army (Minimum 3+) and/or Longest Road (Single continuous branch, no double counting, Minimum 5+), 1 point for victory point development cards (which are 5/25 development cards.)
- Victory point development cards: Victory point development cards are special. They're the only ones that may be played all at the same time, immediately, when you would win as a result. Otherwise, you must hold them and, if you want, perhaps pretend that they aren't victory point cards that could win you the game next turn if they let you do that one last trade.
Revisions and Expansions
The popularity of The Settlers of Catan led to the creation of spinoff games and products, starting in 1996 with The Settlers of Catan card game (later renamed to Catan Card Game), and the 2003 novel, Die Siedler von Catan, by German historical fiction author Rebecca Gablé, which tells the story of a group of Norse seafarers who set out in search of the mythical island of Catan.
After releasing the card game, Teuber began to publish expansions for the base game. The first, Seafarers of Catan, was released in 1997; it was later retitled Catan: Seafarers.Seafarers adds ships which allow players to cross sea hexes, and includes scenarios in which players explore an archipelago of islands. It also adds gold-producing hexes which allow players to take the resource of their choice.
In 1998, the first historical scenario pack was released, which allows players to reenact the building of the pyramids of Egypt or the expansion of Alexander the Great's empire using Catan game mechanics.
In 1999, expansions to allow fifth and sixth players were released for both Settlers and Seafarers. As well as extra components to accommodate more players, the expansions add an extra building phase to the turn, so that players can participate in the game during each other's turns.
The second major expansion to the game, Cities and Knights of Catan (later Catan: Cities and Knights), was also released in 1998. It adds concepts from the card game and its first expansion toCatan, including Knights who must be used to defend Catan from invading barbarians, and improvements which can be bought for cities which give benefits to players. In addition, three commodities (paper, coin and cloth) can be produced as well as the original resources. A 5-6 player expansion for Cities & Knights was released at the same time. Also released in 2000 was a book of variations for Settlers.
A second scenario pack for Settlers concerning the building of the Great Wall of China and the Trojan war was released in 2001, and in 2002 a travel edition of Catan was published, featuring playing pieces which slot into a fixed-layout board. Atlantis: Scenarios and Variants was published in 2005. Atlantis is a boxed set which collected a number of scenarios and variants published in gaming magazines and at conventions, such as The Volcano and The Great River. The set also includes a deck of event cards which replace the dice in the main game, giving it a less random spread of resource production.
A deck of event cards which replaces the dice in the base game, released in 2005, won the 2007 Origins Award for Game Accessory of the Year.
The third large expansion, Catan: Traders & Barbarians, was released in 2008. Traders & Barbarians collects a number of smaller scenarios, some of which have previously been published elsewhere. The set includes an official two-player variant.
A special edition of the game was released in 2005: a 10th anniversary collector's edition of the base game and Cities & Knights, with hand-painted 3D tiles and playing pieces.
Mayfair Games released a fourth edition of The Settlers of Catan in 2007, with new artwork, a locking frame, a deeper box, and an insert tray; there was also a minor rule change. Soon after its release, two changes were made to the fourth edition. The robber playing piece was changed from a black to a grey color and the soldier development card was renamed a knight. Fourth-edition versions of Cities & Knights, Seafarers, and the 5-6 player expansions were also released.
Kosmos, Mayfair, and 999 Games released the first stand-alone "Catan Geographies" title, Catan Germany, in 2009. The "Catan Histories" subseries includes Settlers of the Stone Age, a re-release of Struggle for Rome, and Settlers of America.
Catan: Oil Springs is an expansion by Erik Assadourian and Ty Hansen introduced in 2011 designed to draw attention to environmental issues. It is offered as a free download or for purchase from the Mayfair Games website. The scenario adds oil fields that can be used to make other resources and develop metropolises, but disasters can strike if too much oil is used. Oil can also be taken out of the game, for victory points and to prevent disasters.
Star Trek Catan is a spin-off of the original series released in 2012 by Mayfair Games. The game uses the same basic components with new names, new graphics, and some minor rules additions. The building costs and resources match the original game.
Catan: Explorers & Pirates, the fourth large expansion, was released in 2013.
The Catan line was rebranded in 2015 for the 20th anniversary of the series, with the original Settlers game renamed simply Catan.