Settlers of Catan

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Settlers of Catan
Settlers.jpg
Board Game published by
Kosmos (Germany), Mayfair Games (U.S.)
No. of Players 3 - 4, with expansions: 2 - 6
Session Time ~1-2 hours
Authors Klaus Teuber
First Publication 1995
Essential Books N/A


Settlers of Catan is a board game where you compete with other players for resources by building towns and roads. It's an economic resource management game, where you gain resources based on the die roll, which corresponds to a value determined randomly at the beginning of the game. The goal of the game it to reach 10 Victory Points first.

The game was designed in 1994-1995 by Klaus Teuber. It's produced by Kosmos in Europe and by Mayfair Games in the US

One of the more fun aspects is trading, where you and the other players barter for better deals. This can lead to alliances, truces, and broken hearts as each player competes for a better position (while trying like hell for it to look like they're way behind everyone). It can lead to hilarious moments too. Yelling "I got wood for sheep!" is quite possibly the best thing that can happen in a board game. Especially if you're playing with a Greek, Welshman, or Kiwi.

No mention of Catan on /tg/ would be complete without a mention of Do you catan?

Expansions[edit]

How to Play

There are tons of expansions for Settlers of Catan as well:

  • Settlers of Catan
    • Settlers of Catan 5-6 Player Expansion
  • Cities and Knights of Catan (repel the barbarian invaders while advancing in science, politics, and trade)
    • Cities and Knights 5-6 Player Expansion
  • Seafarers of Catan (involves sea hexes, ships, gold fields, and many different island arrangements)
    • Seafarers 5-6 Player Expansion
  • Fishermen of Catan (mini expansion)
  • River of Catan (adds a new resource, gold, and replaces 3 tiles in the base game)
  • Catan: Traders and Barbarians (includes Fishermen, River, and a bunch of new shit)
  • Catan: Explorers and Pirates (includes ships with cargo bays, different pirates, different fishermen, flowing spice, and the part where you have to "discover" two-thirds of the board)

SciFi[edit]

Settlers of Catan has two science fiction spin-offs, the original Starfarers of Catan and the licensed Settlers of Catan Star Trek game.

I have not played Starfarers, but the Star Trek game makes the dice rolls a bit more forgiving by letting each player pick a Star Trek crew member with extra abilities.

  • Each crew member can use their ability at most two times (and needs to use it at least once) before you can/have to replace them with a new crew member.

Play[edit]

The game board is created new each time, consisting of hexagonal tiles that fit together in a rough circle (unless you're using the 5-6 Player Expansion, in which case it resembles an oval). After the various land types are laid out, the values are drawn and placed on them in a reverse pattern.

Resources[edit]

When the die roll indicates a land with a settlement on it, the player owning that settlement gets a resource card of that type. These are:

  • Forest - Wood (also Books in Cities and Knights)
  • Mountain - Ore (also Coin in Cities and Knights)
  • Fields - Wheat
  • Plains - Sheep (or Wool, also Cloth in Cities and Knights)
  • Quarry/Clay-pit - Brick (or Clay)

You can hold any number of resource cards, but if someone rolls a 7, everyone with more than 7 cards must discard half their resources. Then whoever rolled the 7 must move the Robber.

The Robber[edit]

The robber is a special piece. It begins play on the Desert hex (arid, it doesn't produce anything) and if someone rolls a 7 or plays a Soldier card, they must move him. Whatever hex the Robber is placed on cannot produce while he is there. The player moving the robber can rob any player who has a settlement on the hex that he places the Robber on. This is a good way to let someone know you're thinking of them. Especially since you're depriving them of a resource plot.

Spending Resources[edit]

To gain points in Catan, you must build. The major caveat is that you may only build if what you're building is connected to one of your pieces, and that you have the proper resources to purchase it. The first thing most people build is Roads. You can build more settlements eventually, which increase your resource production, and eventually you can upgrade those settlements into cities, earning you even more resources and an extra Victory Point. You can also buy Development Cards.

Development Cards[edit]

These are special cards. They do not count against your hand, and can bestow special functions. The Soldier card allows you to chase off the Robber and put him somewhere else, Monopoly lets you take all of one resource from every player, road building allows you to build roads (duh) without expending resources (not so duh) and some cards, like the Chapel, give you Victory Points. (It's a good idea to conceal all development cards, people tend to get mean if they know you have VPs in your corner)

Victory Points[edit]

The goal of the game is to get 10 of them. There is a base scale to measure these, which include two 'special condition' awards:

  • Settlement - 1 point
  • City - 2 points
  • VP Card - 1 point
  • Longest Road - 2 points (Special Condition of having a longer road than all other players, of at least 5 segments in length)
  • Largest Army - 2 points (Special Condition of having played more Soldier cards than anyone else, with a minimum of 3 played)

Video Game Ports[edit]

There have been several clone versions of this game available online for years now, as well as official licensed games for both PC and Xbox. A Version for Nintendo Switch has been announced.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Snakes and Ladders - Risk - Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium