How To Play Settlers Of Catan

Catan 101: Tutorial On How To Play Catan

Welcome to our in-depth Catan tutorial & guide where you can learn How To play Settlers of Catan, How To Setup The Catan Board, Catan Strategy & Tips, How To Play Catan With 2-Players and How To Play Catan Online.

This Catan tutorial was written by a former Canadian National Championship Finalist. For more information on the origins of this legendary board game, check out a quick rundown of what Is Catan?

This Catan guide and walkthrough will cover how to play the board game, which is also available to play online. First, let’s start with the basic concepts of gameplay, and then get more into the intricacies of the game.

How Many People Can Play Catan?

The original game of Catan is played with either 3 or 4 players. There are other versions of Catan that allow up to 2-6 people to play at the same time.

In order to play with 2 people, you simply need the base game of Catan. A minor rule needs to be amended when playing with 2 players. The robber now provides players with resources instead of allowing the active player whose turn it is to rob with the opportunity to steal from another player.

You can learn more about two-player Catan rules here.

Alternatively, if you'd like to play with 5 or 6 people, you'll need to add a game extension in addition to the original base game. Catan has a handful of extension versions you can play such as SeafarersCities & Knights, Traders & BarbariansTreasures, Dragons & Adventurers with additional stand-alone editions like Game of Thrones and Starfarers.

For this tutorial on how to play catan, we will stick with the original base game where 3 or 4 players are allowed to play per game.

How Many Players Can Play Catan?

How To Set Up Catan

Firstly, you’ll start by creating the game board frame. The outer pieces connect by matching the small numbers at each end.

Secondly, the next step is to shuffle the 19 terrain hexes and place them inside the board frame. There is a recommended beginner set-up that can be found in page 3 of the official rules.

Thirdly, you’ll take the 18 numbered tokens. These tokens have letters on the back and you'll need to put the tokens in letter order. Afterwards, place them on the board. You’ll begin in the upper left corner of the board with the “a” token, then with “b” next, so on and so forth.

Continue putting the tokens on each hex, circling the outside hexes and moving inward. The desert hex does NOT get a numbered token. Place the rubber piece on the hex and you are now ready to play!

Click on the following link for a more detailed explanation on the Catan board set up.

Alternatively, you can create quick random Catan maps using these Top 6 Best Catan Map Generators.

How To Set Up Catan Board

How To Play Catan

First, each player selects a colour of game piece each for the game. The player pieces include 5 settlements, 4 cities, and 15 roads.

Secondly, each player receives a building cost card to reference throughout the game. Afterwards, separate the resource cards into five piles: Wood, Brick, Ore/Stone, Wheat/Grain, and Sheep.

After that, it's now time to shuffle the development cards and place them face down right beside the largest army and longest road cards.

Every player gets to start the game with two settlements and two roads on the board.

Settlements and Resource Cards

An important rule to remember is you can only place a settlement on the board two roads away from any another settlement. Meaning, at no point in time during the game, can a player place or build a settlement only one road away from any another settlement on the board.

A settlement is placed on the points of the hexes and roads are placed between points. To determine who starts, all players can simply roll both dices to see who has the highest number.

Once the 1st player has been determined, you do the same for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th position.

The play moves clockwise to the second player, who will place a settlement and a road. Afterwards, play moves to the third and/or fourth player, who place a settlement and a road. For the second placements, it’s the reverse order this time. The 4th player will start followed by the 3rd, then the 2nd and last but not least, the 1st player.

The players will initially receive resource cards for the resources used by the surrounding hexes of your 2nd placement. During the game itself, you collect the resource if the number on your respective hexes that you have settled on has been rolled.

Each player can look at their own respective cards in an actual game but you shall keep your cards hidden from the other players.

Catan Resource and Development Cards

How To Win At Catan

The object of the game is to be the first player with 10 victory points. Victory points are received by building settlements and cities, as well as having the largest army or longest road and by getting victory point development cards.

There are several Catan strategies a player can implement during gameplay in order to come out victorious. You can check out our in-depth Catan Tips & Strategies to learn more.

Players will use resource cards received throughout the game to build towards getting 10 victory points. A turn consists of three phases. The first phase is resource production, the second is the trade phase, with the third being the build phase.

Resource Production Phase

During the resource production phase, any player with a settlement placed on a hex with that rolled number gets a resource card. Compared to a settlement which only receives one resource card if that number is rolled, each city gets two resource cards.

After the resource production phase is complete, the trade phase begins.

Trading Phase

During the trade phase, players have the option to resource cards from other players through bartering. Resource cards can be traded between players known as a domestic trade.

Trades can be proposed by any player (during their turn) and counter offers can be made as well. The player whose turn it is, has to be a part of the trade.

A player can also trade four similar resource cards for any one resource card from the stockpiles across the border. Example, you can trade four brick cards for one sheep card.

There are harbors also called ports that offer more favorable trade-in rates. Players with a settlement or city on a Harbor can trade in three similar resource cards for any one resource card ONLY If the Harbor is a three to one Harbor.

You can also get two to one rates on a specific resource harbors. For example, if you have a settlement on the wheat harbor, you can trade two wheat/grain resource cards for any other resource card if you chose to do so.

Following the trade phase is the build phase.

Catan Settlements And Cities

Building Phase

The player whose turn it is can build using resource cards. According to the building cost card, a player can use a wood and a brick card to build a road. A wood, brick, wheat/grain and sheep card are needed to build a settlement.

Each settlement a player has on the board is worth one victory point. Friendly reminder, you can only build settlements two roads apart from any other settlement.

Meaning, you can’t build a settlement if you’re only one road piece away from any of your opponents’ settlements as well as your own

A settlement can be upgraded to a city with two wheat/grain cards and three ore/stone cards. Each city a player has on the board is worth two victory points. Afterwards, your 1 point settlement now turns into a 2 point city.

A development card can be purchased with a wheat/grain, sheep and ore/stone card. Development cards are explained in more detail over here.

Once a player finishes making any trades or builds, the dice move clockwise to the next player.

What Happens When A 7 Is Rolled

When a seven is rolled, the robber is activated first. Any player with eight or more resource cards loses half their cards. If you hold 7 cards or under, you are safe from throwing half your resource cards.

The numbers are rounded down when a 7 rolls. Example, if you have 9 cards in your hand and a 7 is rolled, you simply need to throw away 4 cards. If you had 11 cards and a 7 was rolled, you only need to throw away 5 cards. Then the player that rolled the seven will move the robber piece on the board to a new hex of their choosing.

Consequently, when the robber is on a numbered hex, that hex will not produce any resources. In other words, no one on that specific hex collects that resource.

Finally, the player who rolled a 7 will get to steal one resource card from an opponent who has a settlement or a city adjacent to the hex. The player will pick a random card from the opponent he chooses to steal from.

Furthermore, the same player will then get to trade and build after stealing the resource card IF they want.

Catan Development Cards

Catan Development Cards - Rules

There are three different types of development cards that can be bought throughout the game. At any time during a player’s turn, that player can play one development card. As long as the card being played wasn't bought on the same turn.

When a knight development card is played, the player will move the robber to a new hex and will steal one resource card from an opponent who has a settlement or a city adjacent to the hex with the robber. Additionally, the knight card will stay face up in front of the player who played it.

During the game, the first player to play three knight cards is awarded the special largest army card that is worth two victory points. If a player creates a largest army, the largest army card is given to that player.

Another player may “steal” the largest army if they have one more knight than the previous “Largest Army” card holder. Example, if a player has the largest army with 3 knights, another player must play 4 knights in order to claim the largest army and earn those 2 points.

Progress Development Cards

There are three different progress development cards. Follow the description on the progress card to reap the benefits.

When a player has a plenty progress card, they can receive any two resource cards from the bank.

Once a player has purchased monopoly card, they can steal one respective resource from every player. Meaning, if someone plays a monopoly card and asks for "Wood", every other player must give their wood cards to the player who played the monopoly card.

When a player has a two-road building card, they can build two roads adjacent to any of their settlements, cities or other roads. They may also chose to split the two roads and place one single road at two different locations.

A victory point development card is kept by the player and can be used towards winning the game. You do not reveal victory point development cards. The best strategy is keep it a secret and not advise the other players that you have one or more victory points in your hand.

The first player to build a continuous road with at least five road pieces is awarded the special longest road card that is worth two victory points. If a player creates a longer road, the longest road card is given to that player.

Again, same concept as the largest army, the opponent will need to build a road longer than the opponent who has claimed the longest road.

Furthermore, if the player with the longest road has 5 consecutive roads placed together, an opponent must build a road with 6 road pieces in order to claim the longest road card and “earn” the longest road card and two points from them.

How Many Points To Win Catan?

How Many Points To Win Catan

Once a player has at least 10 victory points on their turn, the player can win the game.

Players can only build up to the amount of pieces they have. Development cards can never be traded. A domestic trade cannot be made with similar resource cards.

If a settlement or city is built along another player's longest road, the road is broken. Meaning, only the player with the placed settlement can build roads from that point on for the remainder of the game.

The opponent can not continue building his road as they are now cut-off. The longest road card goes to the new player with the longest road of at least five road pieces.

If a resource card pile runs low and multiple players are owed the resource, no player gets the resource card. Alternative to the set up shown in the official rules, the game set up can be randomized by placing the number token at random. Equally, the harbors can be randomized by placing the Harbor tokens over the border harbors.

That wraps our tutorial on How To Play Catan. We hope you found it helpful and have fun playing the #1 board game across the globe, The Settlers of Catan

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