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Settlers of Catan

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Teuber with his creation

Settlers of Catan is a multiplayer board game invented by Klaus Teuber, first published in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. under the name Die Siedler von Catan. It won the Spiel des Jahres 1995 and Deutscher SpielePreis 1st place 1995 and the Origins Award for 1996.

Settlers is perhaps the first German-style board game to reach any degree of popularity outside of Europe. It has been translated into Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish from the original German. Teuber's original design for the game encompassed both the standard set and its first expansion, which combine to form New Shores. The standard game and its 4 expansions are available from Mayfair Games in the United States, from Capcom in Japan, and of course Kosmos in the European Union. See also the listing of official and unofficial variants.

The game has become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex. At a recreational level, the game has various characteristics that make it suitable for family play. For instance, no one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards quantized goals that are within reach, such as building a city in a certain space. At the competition level, the game showcases the heights of adaptive analysis, which the human mind does best.

The following documentation is inclusive of official clarifications regarding the published rules. It also includes links to competitive online communities, and information on where and how to purchase physical copies of Settlers and its expansion sets.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 The Board
3 Basic rules of play
4 Variants
5 Strategic considerations
6 External links


Settlers of Catan Official Maps - US Edition

Settlers of Catan may be played with numerous variants on 23 official, playtested boards, created by combination of the standard game with its expansion sets. The boards are shown as listed below, in order from top left to the bottom right:

The game presumes that its players are new settlers on the uninhabited island of Catan. On the 21 sea maps, settlers may also explore one to three smaller, secondary islands. During the game, settlers tap the land's natural resources to build roads, ships (on sea maps only), settlements, and cities. They may also purchase development cards that represent further progress towards civilization. Overall progress is recognized by victory points that are earned by building principalities and other . Resource production is controlled by two six-sided dice (see specifics below). A player wins by being the first settler to declare, on his turn [1], that he has accumulated the requisite number of victory points, which varies from board to board as listed above. Extra victory points beyond what's sufficient to end the game count only towards bragging rights.

The importance of random dice as a game factor varies inversely with a player's progress in skill. The best players worldwide have shown that they can win slightly more than half of their games, consistently over long periods of time.

The Board

Standard (III-IV) Board - US Edition

The Standard (III-IV) board consists of 37 hexagonal terrain tiles. To the right is an example of a map layout created from those 37 tiles:

TileNameResourceProduced# on Board
sea none9
2:1 port2-for-1conversion5
3:1 port3-for-1conversion4

To follow the official rules for board assembly [1]:

Basic rules of play

Resource gain

From natural production

Each land hex, apart from the desert, produces a specific natural resource for players who build adjacent principalities. When two six-sided dice are rolled on each turn, all land hexes marked with the resulting number yield 1 resource per adjacent settlement, and 2 resources per adjacent city. The probabilities that govern the rolling of two six-sided dice dictate that hexes marked with six or eight are expected to be most productive, while those marked with two or twelve are \expected to be least productive. The 6 and 8 number tokens are printed in red, to highlight this expectation. All cards must be visible at all times; specifically, the total number of a player's resources is public information that must be confirmed truthfully upon inquiry [1].

At the beginning of any 3 or 4 player game, the bank holds 19 of each resource type; in any 5 or 6 player game, the bank holds 24 of each resource type. Players can discern roughly how much of each resource is in play by looking at the bank, as evidenced to the right. If at any point not enough resource cards are left in the bank to pay all of the players all of the resources that they are due, then no player gets any resources [1].

From trade transactions

Resource loss

From stealing and robber placement

At the beginning of the game, a black Robber token resides on the desert hex. Whenever a seven is rolled, the rolling player must relocate the Robber from its current location to a different, resource-producing land hex. The rolling player may then choose to steal 1 resource from one of the adjacent players who holds a nonzero number of resource cards. The rolling player must steal a resource card when it is physically possible. The hex on which the Robber stands becomes unproductive for as long as the Robber remains; that is, when the production number for that hex is rolled, adjacent players get nothing. The Robber has no effect on the functionality of ports [1].

From discarding on a dice-roll of 7

Whenever a 7 is rolled in a 3-4 player game, a player who holds more than 7 resource cards must select half (rounded down) to be returned to the bank [1]. The official rules state that the same rule applies in 5-6 player games, but that all players may buy anything during a new Special Build Phase on each turn (turn actions other than buying are not allowed). However, instead of using this Special Build Phase, many game groups observe the unofficial variant, which allows a player to hold up to 9 cards (instead of 7) without having to discard half of his hand when a 7 is rolled.

Playing order

At the beginning of the game, each player rolls the dice. The player with the highest result is given the first position, with the remainder of the playing order determined in a clockwise fashion. Extensive playtesting has revealed that top players post-positional win percentages (PWPs) that lie within one to two percentage points of their overall win percentages (OWPs). In other words, the game design is remarkably balanced, such that in any particular game each player has roughly the same shot at winning with skill, regardless of playing position. Serious players should crosscheck their PWPs with their OWPs; statistically significant deviations can reveal, for instance, a player's extra strength in first position, in contrast to a great vulnerability in third position.

Building rules

Building Costs

Once the board has been assembled, edges may be found wherever two hexes meet. Roads may be placed on edges only, but never on the edge between two sea hexes. Likewise, ships may be placed on the edges only, but never on the edge between two land hexes, and only on boards other than the two standard boards. Intersections may be found where three adjacent hexes meet. Settlements may be placed on intersections only. Since three hexes border each intersection, the influence of a settlement or city extends over each of those three hexes. No settlement (friendly or otherwise) may be placed within one intersection of another, pre-existing settlement (aka The Distance Rule). To build each type of property on the island of Catan, a player must pay a specific combination of resources, shown at right.

Initial placement

At the beginning of the game, each player is permitted two initial placements (shown above on the Standard (IV) map). Each initial placement consists of one settlement, placed at any intersection on the island (as permitted by The Distance Rule), with either one road on land or one ship on sea, extending from that intersection. (Ships may be used on the 21 sea maps.) Following the normal seating order, each player selects one placement. Then, following the seating order in reverse, each player selects a second placement. Every player begins the game with the resources yielded the three hexes adjacent to their second placement. For every non-producing hex (e.g. desert or sea) that is adjacent to the second placement, one less starting resource is given. Players often find it useful to begin the game holding resources for buying a road (timber,brick), a development card (grain,ore,sheep), or most of a city (ore,ore,grain).

Further expansion

Turn phases

Each player's turn must proceed in the following phases. No backtracking is allowed. [1]

  1. Playing a development card at any time, even before rolling the dice. (optional)
  2. Rolling the dice and collecting (or discarding) resources. (mandatory)
  3. Placing the Robber and stealing a resource. (mandatory if a 7 has been rolled)
  4. Domestic, maritime, and bank trading. (optional)
  5. Building. (optional)
  6. Passing the dice and ending the turn. (mandatory)


Each road costs one timber and one brick to pave. Additional roads may be built only as extensions of a player's existing roads. Roads may not be moved from one edge to another, nor may they be taken off the board and returned to a player's hand. Each player has 15 roads at his disposal. If a player should run out, the situation cannot be remedied.


Each ship costs one timber and one wool (for sails). Additional ships may be built only as extentions of a player's existing ships. Specifically, a ship may not be built off of a road without a coastal settlement or city at the transition point. Once per turn, a player may choose to move the last ship on one of his open-ended chains of ships, to any other edge on the board where he would be permitted to build a brand new ship. On the 2 standard boards, no player may use any ships. On the other 21 boards, each player has 15 ships at his disposal. If a player should run out, the situation cannot be remedied.


Each settlement costs one timber, one grain, one brick, and one wool. Additional settlements may be built only on a player's own road or ship routes. A new settlement can gives a player access to new resource hexes and number tokens. The Distance Rule that governs settlement placement continues to apply, i.e. the positioning of each new settlement must satisfy the spacing minimum. Each player has 5 settlements at his disposal. If a player should run out, he cannot build another new settlement until a city displaces a settlement on the board and returns it into the player's hand. For this reason, it is rarely advisable for a player to build his fifth settlement prior building to his first city. An exception arises in a Standard (III/IV) game, when a player plans to gain all 5 of the remaining points required to win, by means other than the building of additional settlements and cities.


Each city costs two grain and three ore. Cities may be built only as upgrades of a player's existing settlements, just as hotels replace houses in the game Monopoly. Oftentimes upgrading a settlement at a nice intersection offers the best increase in production capability. During the same turn, player is permitted to build a new settlement and then upgrade that particular settlement into a city. Each player has 4 cities at his disposal. If a player should run out, the situation cannot be remedied.

Development cards

Each development card costs one grain, one ore, and one wool. One development card that is not a victory point card may be played anytime during one of a player's turns, starting from the turn after the time of purchase. Victory point cards, however, may be played immediately upon purchase, and also do not count towards the one per turn playing limit. Victory point cards that have not been played at the end of a game still count towards a player's final score. Thus, no advantage can ever be gained by a decision to declare hidden victory points before the end of a game.[1]

At the beginning of any 3 or 4 player game, the bank holds 25 development cards: 14 Soldiers, 5 Victory Point Cards, 2 Monopolies, 2 Road Builders, and 2 Years of Plenty. In any 5 or 6 player game, the bank holds 34 development cards: 20 Soldiers, 5 Victory Point Cards, 3 Monopolies, 3 Road Builders, and 3 Years of Plenty. Any development card that is played has its effect precisely once, and remains face-up so that everyone knows that it has been played. In order words, played development cards do not return to the deck. When all development cards have been bought, the game continues, but players simply cannot buy any more development cards. A development card may not be traded under any circumstances, even when its owner cannot put it to use. [1]

Move the robber. Steal one resource card from the owner of an adjacent settlement or city.
Victory Point Card
1 victory point!
When you play this card, announce one type of resource. All other players much give you all their resource cards of that type.
Road Building
Place 2 new roads as if you had just built them.
Year of Plenty
Take any 2 resource cards from the bank and add them to your hand. They can be two different resources or two of the same resource. They may immediately be used to build.

Largest Army

The first player to put his third Soldier card into play is considered to have the Largest Army, and receives 2 victory points. During the course of the game, if another player reveals more Soldiers than the current owner of the Largest Army, then that player immediately takes over ownership of the Largest Army and its associated victory points. If a player's army reaches the same size as the army of the person already holding the Largest Army, ownership of the Largest Army does not change hands. Only the current owner of the Largest Army possesses the 2 victory points.

Longest Route

The first player to own a continuous route with an end-to-end length of 5 roads and ships is considered to possess the Longest Route, and receives 2 victory points. During the course of the game, if another player builds a route of greater length than the current owner of the Longest Route, then that player immediately takes over ownership of the Longest Route and its associated victory points. If a player's route reaches the same length as the route of the person already holding the Longest Route, ownership of the Longest Route does not change hands. Only the current owner of the Longest Route possesses the 2 victory points.

However, player's route may be broken, if another player builds to an available intersection on the route and builds a legal settlement there. If such an interruption creates a situation where two players owned routes of equal end-to-end length, then the Longest Route and its 2 victory points belong to no one, until one player re-establishes ownership of the Longest Route [1].

A player may win the game by earning his final victory point by placing a settlement that breaks a road, such that one of his opponents now holds 10 or more victory points with the Longest Route in hand, since the win must be declared on a player's own turn. See Mayfair Games's Rules Clarifications to resolve any further confusion involving the Longest Route.

Victory points

The following properties are worth one victory point each: (1) a settlement, and (2) a victory point card. The following properties are worth two victory points each: (1) a city, (2) the Largest Army, and (3) the Longest Road. On certain maps, bonus victory points are awarded, for settling on new islands and building trade routes. See the pages dedicated to those maps for details.


This section has been moved, in the interests of maintaining a manageable file size for this documentation. See Settlers of Catan, Variants for more information.

Strategic considerations

Likewise, this section has been moved to Settlers of Catan, Strategic considerations.

External links

Commercial availability of the game

Disclaimer: This article in no way takes a position on whether people should or should not buy this game, or where they should buy it.

Available products:

Available sources:

Official rules and competitive play

Fan musings