Tabletop games Wargaming


Publication date 1995
Players 3 or 4 (standard)
2, 5, or 6 (with expansions)
Age range 10 years and up
Playing time 60 to 80 minutes
Skill(s) required Resource management, Trading, Planning

Catan, or The Settlers of Catan in older editions, is a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber and first published in 1995 in Germany 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.


A giant game of Settlers being played at Gen Con Indy 2003. This is one of many Settlers of Catan custom extra-large boards seen during demonstrations and tournaments at Gen Con.

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.

Teuber's original design was for a large game of exploration and development in a new land. 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, Catan: Seafarers, adds the concept of exploration, and the combined game (sometimes known as "New Shores") is probably the closest game to Teuber's original intentions.

Expansions, spinoffs and tie-in products

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 to Catan, 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.


Richard Dansky comments that "for all of its elemental simplicity, The Settlers of Catan has breathtaking depth and breadth of experience. It's a resource-management game, defined by position and strategizing. It's a social game, defined by horsetrading of resource cards and 'Siccing the Fritz' (as my friends call the robber) with bloodthirsty bonhomie. It's a game of chance, ruled by dice rolls and card draws. It's a hardcore game and a light social pastime and everything in between, a laboratory where I can test a hundred different play styles and a genuine reason to invite friends over."


Video games

Since the game's release, a number of computer games have been published based on Settlers of Catan and its spinoffs. The first sanctioned English-language release was Catan: The Computer Game developed for the PC by Castle Hill Studios and published by Big Fish Games. This off-line game was available from MSN, as it was acquired by Microsoft who also released Catan Online in August 2005 on MSN Games, the game now requiring an internet connection. In 2005 Capcom edited the first portable version of Settlers of Catan on the N-Gage Nokia handheld device.

In June 2009 the MSN version of Settlers was discontinued. The same game later became available on other online services. Teuber and Big Huge Games worked together to produce Catan, a version of Settlers for the Xbox Live Arcade. It was released on May 2, 2007. Game Republic developed a PlayStation 3 version in 2008 titled also Catan.

A Nintendo DS version of Settlers has been developed by exozet games in collaboration with Klaus Teuber. The game can be played against computer opponents, and includes Nintendo WiFi online play. It was released in 2009, but only in Europe.

The Settlers of Catan online game was announced on Dec. 16, 2002. 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.

There have also been several unauthorized video game implementations of Settlers. One of these, "Java Settlers", was developed by Robert S. Thomas as part of his Ph.D. research at Northwestern University. His dissertation is available from the abandoned project home page. The source code for Thomas' Settlers of Catan implementation along with the AI code was released under the GNU General Public License.

Two official PC versions of Catan have been released, The First Island (the basic game only) and Cities & Knights (with Seafarers and Cities & Knights expansions). The First Island is available for the PC only in German. Cities & Knights is available in both English and German.

Catan and some of its expansions are also available in various languages for mobile phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android smartphones.

Mayfair Games announced a version of Catan is coming to Facebook.

Catan was released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2007. It was pulled without notice in mid 2014. There is no official word on why it was pulled or if it will return. Another game called Catan was released for the PlayStation Network in 2008. It also has been discontinued.

In 2010 Vectorform showcased a Microsoft PixelSense game for Settlers of Catan.

In August 2013 Catan: Creators Edition was made available for PC on Steam and Mac OS X in the Mac App Store. Catan: Creators Edition officially replaces the previous Catan: Cities & Knights. The game features both Seafarers plus the Cities & Knights expansions and includes a level editor.

Summer 2014, Bontom Games collaborated with Catan gmbh and Internet Explorer to bring an asynchronous version of Catan to the digital world. "Catan Anytime" is a short-session turn-based game designed for mainstream gamers to play with their friends and family, no matter the time and place.


Mayfair released a series of mini-stuffed animals based on the different resources presented in the game.

Film/television adaptation

In February 2015, Variety announced that producer Gail Katz had purchased the film and TV rights to The Settlers of Catan. Katz said, “The island of Catan is a vivid, visual, exciting and timeless world with classic themes and moral challenges that resonate today. There is a tremendous opportunity to take what people love about the game and its mythology as a starting point for the narrative.”

It is not currently known whether or not a future film or television adaptation would use Rebecca Gable's novel as source material.

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