Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan

subject_name = Settlers of Catan
image_link =
image_caption = Players collect resources and build roads, settlements, and cities in an attempt to gain the most victory points, winning the game.
designer = Klaus Teuber
publisher = Kosmos flagicon|Germany
Mayfair Games flagicon|UKflagicon|USA
Capcom flagicon|Japan
999 Games flagicon|Netherlandsflagicon|Belgium
players = 3 or 4 (standard)
5 or 6 (with expansions)
ages = 10 years and up
setup_time = approx. 10 minutes
playing_time = 60 to 90 minutes
complexity = Medium
strategy = Medium
random_chance = Medium
skills = Dice rolling, Trading
bggid = 13
bggxrefs = t
footnotes =

"Settlers of Catan" is a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber. It was first published in 1995 in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. (Kosmos) under the name "Die Siedler von Catan."

"Settlers" was the first German-style board game to achieve popularity outside Europe, and has been called the "killer app" of designer board games.cite web
title=Special K
author=Larry Levy
month=August | year=2001
] Over 11 million games in the "Catan" series have been sold,cite web
title=Catan Games
publisher=Mayfair Games
] and the game has been translated into twenty-five languages from the original German. [cite web |url= |title=Top 5 tabletop games |author=Ken Smith ||accessdate=2008-01-02] The game has rapidly become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex.cite web
title=Anatomy of a Game: The Settlers of Catan
author=Shannon Appelcline
work=Trials, Triumphs and Trivialities
] The game is well suited for family play, since no one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards goals that are within their reach.

The standard game and its many expansions are available from Mayfair Games in the United States and United Kingdom, from Capcom in Japan, Kosmos and 999 Games in the European Union, Devir in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and Strategy Games in Canada.


The players in the game represent the eponymous settlers, establishing a colony on the previously uninhabited island of Catan. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles ("hexes") of different land types. Numbered tokens are then placed on each of the tiles, except for one desert hex.cite web
title=Professor Easy's "Settlers of Catan" tutorial

Starting with two settlements and adjoining road sections, players build roads, settlements, and eventually cities as they settle the island. Roads are built along the edges of the hexes, and settlements at the corners; no two settlements may be built on adjacent corners. Positioning of roads and settlements allows a player to deny other players access to essential resources, and good building is one route to victory.

Each turn, a roll of the two dice determines which hexes produce resources (brick, wood, grain, ore, and wool.) This is the main random element in the game. Normally, players with settlements adjacent to those hexes receive resource cards of the appropriate type, with cities yielding more resources. However, if the dice roll is 7, the "robber" token must be moved to a different hex. This allows the player to prevent that hex from producing resources and to steal a resource card from another player.

The resource cards can be spent to build more roads or settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, and to obtain development cards for later use; or they can be stored for trade or later use. When a seven is rolled, players with too many stored resources lose half their stored resources, making the choice of whether to build or store resources a difficult one.

Players are allowed to trade among each other the resources they have produced, and to trade "off the island" for a hefty price. By building settlements in certain positions, players may obtain better off-island trading prices. Bad luck in the game can be mitigated by trading, and trading is the main method of player interaction in the game; astute trading is another route to victory. If a player is winning, other players may refuse to trade; this allows them to catch up with the leader.

A player receives a victory point for each settlement built, and another for each settlement upgraded to a city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road, grant a player additional victory points. The victor is the first player to possess ten victory points on his or her turn.

There is no combat. Players may harm each other by moving the robber, refusing to trade, cutting off building routes, taking the "longest road" and "largest army" cards, and using certain development cards. The layout of the board and restrictions on building allow for a player to be boxed in through poor play or bad luck. Also, given the random component of the board layout, it's possible for a player to gain a monopoly on a certain resource, then demand steep trade rates from the other players. Home games generally take between one and two hours to complete.

Teuber's original design was for a large game of exploration and development in a new land.cite web
publisher=Mayfair Games
] Between 1993 and 1995 Teuber and Kosmos refined and simplified the game into its current form. Unused mechanics from that design went on to be used in Teuber's following games, "Entdecker" and "Löwenherz." The game's first expansion, "Seafarers of Catan," adds the concept of exploration, and the combined game (sometimes known as "New Shores") is probably the closest game to Teuber's original intentions.

The "Settlers of Catan" series

The enduring popularity of "Settlers of Catan" has led to the creation of a great many spinoff games and products, starting in 1996 with the "Settlers of Catan" card game (later renamed to "Catan Card Game"), and including a novel, "Die Siedler von Catan", by Rebecca Gablé (ISBN 3-431-03019-X) set on the 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 "Settlers" 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 others' turns.

The second large expansion to the game, "Cities and Knights of Catan" (later "Catan: Cities and Knights"), was released in 2000. It adds concepts from the card game and its first expansion to "Settlers", 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. A 5-6 player expansion for "Cities and 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 "Settlers" 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, ' was announced for release in 2007. ' collects together a number of smaller scenarios, some of which have previously been published elsewhere. The set includes an official two-player variant.

Two special editions of the game were released in 2005: A collector's edition of the base game and "Cities and Knights", with hand-painted 3D tiles and playing pieces; and a 10th anniversary edition with detailed plastic pieces.

Mayfair Games released a fourth edition of "Settlers of Catan" in 2007. Aside from one minor rule change, the only differences were new artwork, a locking frame, and an insert tray to hold the components. Fourth-edition versions of "Cities & Knights", "Seafarers", and the 5-6 player expansions were also released. [cite web |url= |title=Catan Re-Launch Update! |accessdate=2008-02-23]

Video games

Since the game's release, a number of computer games have been published based on Catan and its spinoffs. The first officially-sanctioned English-language release was "Catan: The Computer Game" developed by Castle Hill Studios and published by Big Fish Games. Microsoft acquired Catan: The Computer Game and discontinued sales and development, instead releasing "Catan Online" on MSN Games in August 2005. The same game later became available on other online services. Teuber and Big Huge Games recently worked together to produce "Catan", a version of "Settlers" for the Xbox Live Arcade. It was released on May 2, 2007.

An official Settlers of Catan online game was announced on Dec. 16, 2002. [ [,en_US/LLC News Catan Online World] ] [ Catan Online World] allows players to download a Java application that serves as a portal for the online world and allows online play with other members. The original board game may be played for free, while expansions require a subscription membership. The application is currently available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and UNIX.

There have also been several unauthorized video game implementations of Settlers. One of these unauthorized versions, called "Java Settlers", was developed by Robert S. Thomas as part of his Ph.D. research at Northwestern University. A paper describing the AI research involved was published in the "Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces". [cite journal |author=Robert Thomas and Kristian Hammond |year=2002 |title=Java settlers: a research environment for studying multi-agent negotiation |journal=Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Intelligent user interfaces |pages=240 |url= |accessdate= 2007-09-15 ] The source code for Thomas' Settlers of Catan implementation along with the AI code was released under the GNU General Public License.


* Games Magazine Hall of Fame

* Origins Award for "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board Game" [cite web|url=|title=Origins Award Winners (1996)|publisher=Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design]

* Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year
* Deutscher Spiele Preis 1st place
* Essen Feather


External links

* Catan GmbH's [ "Settlers of Catan" website]
*bgg par
section1=game|id1=13|name1="Settlers of Catan"
section2=wiki/page|id2=Catan_Series|name2=the "Catan" series

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