Settlers was one of the first German-style board games to achieve popularity outside Europe, and has been called the killer app of the genre. 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 much of Europe, Κάισσα in Greece (Οι άποικοι του Κατάν), Devir in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and Strategy Games in Canada.
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.
Players build by spending resources (brick, lumber, wool, grain, and ore), represented by resource cards; each land type produces a specific resource. On each player's turn, they roll the two dice, determining 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 on the board; if a player rolls 7, they move the robber to any hex, which will no longer produce resources until the robber is moved again; they also steal a resource card from another player.
Players are allowed to trade resource cards among each other if they choose to; players may also trade off-island (in effect, with the non-player bank) at ratio of four of one resource for one of any other. By building settlements in certain spots on the board (ports), players may trade at better ratios.
The goal of the game is to possess ten victory points on one's turn. Players possess one point for each settlement built, and a second for each settlement upgraded to a city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road, 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; and a third set of cards which allow the player one of several abilities when played. Having played the most knights also earns the player victory points.
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, 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 Edit
The enduring popularity of The Settlers of Catan has led to the creation of a great many spinoff games and products, starting in 1996 with the 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, Traders & Barbarians, was announced for release in 2007. It was released in 2008. Traders & Barbarians 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 The 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. 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.
Video games Edit
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 for the PC by Castle Hill Studios and published by Big Fish GamesTemplate:Fact. This off-line game is now 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. On June 1, 2009 the MSN version of Catan was discontinued. 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 version of Catan has been announced for the Nintendo DS, and was developed in collaboration with Klaus Teuber. The game can be played against computer opponents, and includes Nintendo WiFi online play.
An iPhone version of the game was announced on 23 July 2009. It is in development at Exozet Games in collaboration with Klaus Teuber. It was released 24 October, 2009.
An official 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 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. 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 and Knights' (with Seafarers and Cities & Knights expansions). 'The First Island' is available for the PC only in German; however, it can be purchased for a mobile phone even in English. 'Cities and Knights' is available in both languages.
Mayfair Games announced a version of Catan is coming to Facebook.
- Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board Game
- Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year
- Deutscher Spiele Preis 1st place
- Essen Feather
- Meeples' Choice Award
- Catan GmbH's The Settlers of Catan website