Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Settlers of Catan
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, Finnish, French, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, 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 Kosmos in the European Union.
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 terrain hexes depicting mountains, plains, woods, etc. The settlements founded by the players provide their owners with natural resources dependent on the adjacent terrain, and dependent on die rolls each turn. These natural resources are used for activities such as building roads, upgrading settlements to cities, and purchasing development cards which represent a variety of advances toward civilization. The winner is the first player to accumulate ten victory points via these activities.
Players are allowed to trade among each other the resources they have produced, and to trade "off the island" for a hefty price. It is difficult for any one player to produce all the resources necessary for progress, so astute trading is the strategic heart of the game. Player interaction is further complicated by the presence of a robber, which is used to steal from other players and hinder their production of resources. There is no combat. Apart from the robber and refusal to trade there is no way to harm other players.
Settlers of Catan has rapidly become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex. At a recreational level, the game is well-suited for family play. 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. Home games seldom take as long as two hours to finish.
The game is also well-suited for tournament play. Luck plays a significant role, but players with a deeper understanding of the dynamics and strategies usually defeat weaker players in spite of the vagaries of chance. When played competitively, Settlers showcases the heights of adaptive analysis, which the human mind does best. Correct strategy is not absolute, but depends heavily on what the other players are doing. To play well, one must consider the nested ramifications of each decision one makes.
The Catan series
Settlers of Catan became a hit in both German and English language versions. Accordingly, the manufacturers have released a wide variety of followup products. Some of these require the base game to play, others are separate standalone games:
Expansions to the basic Settlers of Catan game include:
- Seafarers of Catan, which replaces one large island with several separated by sea
- Cities and Knights of Catan, in which players must defend Catan from barbarians and build a variety of city expansions using new commodities
- Separate expansions to allow 5 or 6 players to play each of the basic game, Seafarers, and Cities and Knights
- Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien I: Cheops & Alexander der Große (or The Settlers of Catan: Historical Scenarios I: Cheops & Alexander the Great); two historical games that use pieces from the basic Catan game and some new rules to play two scenarios in the Middle East.
- Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien II: Troja & Die Große Mauer (or The Settlers of Catan: Historical Scenarios II: Troy & The Great Wall); two historical games like above in the regions of Turkey and China
Related games from the same publisher include:
- The Communication in Catan, a promotional version of the original Settlers game produced for the French telecommunication company Alcatel
- Settlers of Catan, The Card Game (1996), a two-player game using themes from Settlers but with very different gameplay
- Five expansions to the Card Game, sold individually in German but in one pack in English
- Die Siedler von Nürnberg (1999), a Catan game set at the foundation of the city of Nuremberg
- Starfarers of Catan (2001), an adaptation of the Settlers concept to space travel and colonising planets
- Starfarers of Catan, 5–6 player expansion
- Starship Catan (2001), a two-player card game based on Starfarers of Catan
- Settlers of the Stone Age (2002), set on a stylised map of Earth in the Stone Age
- The Kids of Catan (2003), an exquisitely produced, very simple game for small children, with a clever turntable that allows all players to take a turn at once.
- Candamir: The first Settlers (2004), set around a prehistoric settlement. Players take on the roles of individual settlers moving around the game board fighting animals and gathering herbs, with individual characterisitics determining the chance of success.
Similar games from different publishers include:
- The Settlers of Canaan (2002), a licensed adaptation of Settlers of Catan to fit themes from the Old Testament by Cactus Game Design
- The Settlers of Zarahemla (2003), a licensed adaptation of Settlers of Catan to fit themes from the Book of Mormon by Inspiration Games
- Settling Zion (2004), a similar game using square blocks, a sixth resource and many additional cards by Zions Games
- Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board Game
Publishers of Settlers of Catan:
- Settlers of Catan: The standard set, Settlers of Catan (1995), is required for playing all 23 maps.
- Expansion sets: Due to the standard game's popularity, many new expansions have been issued, to add new possibilities and to make the game more complex and intriguing.
- Settlers of Catan, 5 to 6 player expansion (1996), required for playing Standard (V-VI)
- Seafarers expansion (1997), for 3 to 4 players, required for playing all sea maps (III-IV)
- Seafarers, 5 to 6 player expansion, required for playing all sea maps (V-VI)
- Cities and Knights expansion (1998), for 3 to 4 players, required for playing all maps (III-IV) with Cities & Knights variant
- Cities and Knights, 5 to 6 player expansion, required for playing all maps (V-VI) with Cities & Knights variant
- Alexander the Great historical expansion (1998)
- The Trojan War historical expansion (2001)
Online implementations - a few online versions have been made available, under the condition that players already own physical copies of the game:
- Brettspielwelt Online Portal - mostly Standard (III) with regular rules
- Pioneers of Peru by Wannagame.com - Windows based, messaging and ranking included, all scenario's and versions
- Java Settlers of Catan by Robb Thomas - mostly Standard (IV) with NTRR or NTRR7
- Sea3D by Jason Fugate - mostly Standard (IV) and New Shores (IV) with regular rules (team ladder available)
- Catan Online Welt (German only) - official RPG-like portal w/ a monthly fee, offers most boards and the card game
- AsoBrain Xplorers, java based Catan online - many scenarios, using just seafarers or cities and knights and seafarers
- Gnocatan - a client-server implementation for Linux/Unix
Comments and reviews can be found on the following web site Settlers of Catan at Boardgame Geek
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