Catan Board Setup

Catan Setup 101: Comprehensive Guide

Treasured Settlers Grip Mats

How To Assemble The Catan Board

Welcome to our Catan board setup tutorial where you’ll learn how to setup your Catan game presented by a former Canadian National Championship Finalist.

When it comes to strategic board games, none can be as iconic as the Settlers of Catan. Basically, it's perfect for game nights, friendly competitions and family gatherings. This classic game has been a mainstay of the tabletop gaming community for decades.

Now, with the advent of a Catan board builder, also known as a Catan map generator, you can create your own unique Catan maps and board setups. Offering endless possibilities for new and exciting experiences, check out the Top 6 Best Catan Map Generator list here.

In this comprehensive guide, we will be discussing the official Catan board setup. Additionally, we'll dive in the different variations that can be created with or without the help of a Catan board generator, also know as a Catan map builder.

By the time you finish reading, you will have the required know-how to setup your Catan board and how to use the Catan board generator to create randomly unique Catan board maps.

How To Set Up Catan Board

The Official Catan Board Setup & Pieces

Catan Game Components

Firstly, the official Catan board setup is the standard setup that is used to play the game. However, Catan can also be played by randomizing some of the Catan game pieces, more on that later. The game consists of the following game components:

  • 19 hexagonal tiles that create a 5x4 board, with each tile representing a resource (18 resource tiles and one desert tile).
  • 6 sea frame pieces with 9 harbor pieces included.
  • 18 circular number tokens that will be placed on the hexagonal tiles.
  • 25 development cards (5 victory point cards, 6 progress cards and 14 knight cards)
  • 95 resource cards (brick, wheat, wood, ore and sheep cards)
  • 2 dice
  • 1 robber (black piece)

Catan Resource Cards

There are 5 different resources and a desert in Catan:

  • Wood/Lumber (4 tiles)
  • Brick (3 tiles)
  • Ore/Stone (3 tiles)
  • Sheep/Wool (4 tiles)
  • Wheat/Grain (4 tiles)
  • Desert (1 tile)

the official setup is a unique board that allows for different strategies and tactics. You can check the official rules here.

This Catan board setup is a great way to get started with the game, as it provides players with a balanced and structured gaming environment.

Lastly, it also helps to create a fair and equal playing field for all players, as the resources are distributed in a way that allows everyone to have an equal chance of success.

Treasured Settlers Grip Mats

Setting Up The Island - The Catan Board

To set up the Catan board, begin by clipping together the blue edges of the frame. You can then arrange the land hex tiles in the official beginner formation given in the rulebook (see image below). Alternatively, you can shuffle the hex tiles facedown and place them randomly for a variable setup (for experienced players).

Place the numbered tokens in either the official beginner setup or in alphabetical order, starting at a corner and working counter-clockwise towards the middle of the board.

The robber pawn starts on the desert tile.

Select a player colour and take the five settlements, four cities and 15 roads of that specific colour and place them in front of you.

Catan game pieces

How To Begin Playing Catan

Each players places two settlements and two roads on the board (one settlement and one road each at a time). Roll the dice to determine the order. The player with the highest rolled number gets to choose his position in the order to place the initial settlement. Meaning, the player can elect to go 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in the order if there's 4 people playing the game. 

The first player in the order gets to place one settlement and one road on the board. Afterwards, the second player gets to do the same, so on and so forth. The last player in the order gets to place back-to-back placements and roads, with the order going in reverse order for the second settlement placements on the board.

Each player can elect to receive a building cost card. The card shows you which resources are needed to build specific assets in the game: a road, a settlement, a city and a development card.

Catan Building Cost Card

The Longest Road and Largest Army cards can be placed near the board for everyone to see as you'll need these later during the game for players to claim. Each card is worth 2 points. 

Catan Largest Army and Longest Road Cards

Separate the resources into piles of their type: sheep, wood, brick, ore and wheat.

Catan Resource Cards

Shuffle then place the development cards facedown in one pile. The developments cards include:

  • Knight Cards (14x)
  • Victory Point Cards (5x)
  • Year of Plenty Cards (2x)
  • Road Building Cards (2x)
  • Monopoly Cards (2x)
Catan Development Cards

Catan Beginner Setup - Official Setup

For the beginner Catan setup, take the resources of the land surrounding the settlement marked by the white star in the rulebook. For the experienced player setup, you receive resources from each of the tiles next to your second settlement. Now that you know the different ways to setup your Catan board, you can begin your exciting adventure!

Catan Board Setup For Beginners

Source: Official Catan Board Setup

Catan Map Generator - Catan Board Builder

If random maps are your thing, check out our list of Top 6 Catan Map Generators. We listed two user-friendly tools below for building custom Catan maps quickly at the press of a button. Essentially, it's a Catan map builder, also known as a Catan board generator.

Both online tools are well-engineered Catan board randomizers with the option to customize a few settings. They make it super easy to build unique Catan maps.

On this Catan board generator by Jamison Bunge, a user has the option to choose either the basic map or the expansion map with the extra following settings:

  • 6 & 8 can touch (adjacent tiles)
  • 2 & 12 can touch (adjacent tiles)
  • Same numbers can touch
  • Same resources can touch
Catan Map Builder - Catan Board Generator

On the other Catan map builder from Alex Beal, the user only has access to the basic map and the option to change the following settings:

  • Generate new board
  • Generate new pseudorandom board
  • Generate completely random board
Catan Map Builder - Catan Board Generator

Unquestionably, using a Catan map builder is an excellent resource for those looking to customize their Catan playing experience. Once the map is complete, players can quickly replicate the map with the board pieces. Try it out here.

Top 6 Catan Map Generators.

Learn How To Play Catan

Overall, Catan offers many different board setup variations along with a plethora of strategies and tactics that can be leveraged on your way to victory.

If you're looking to learn the ins and outs of playing Catan, you're in luck! With a few simple rules and an emphasis on trading and resource management, you can learn the basics of the game in no time. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned expert, there's something for everyone to learn.

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