How To Play Catan Board Game For Beginners?

What Is Board Game Catan?

Catan board game, formerly known as ‘Settlers of Catan’ is a German-style game that is considered a modern classic across the Globe.

It’s not just the critics who loved the game; the 35 million+ copies sold are a testament to the popularity of this awesome game, and you know that it deserves all the praise it gets.

The game takes space on the mysterious island of Catan, a new world full of optimism and opportunities! The game is designed for 3-4 players and takes around 60-120 minutes to finish.

The premise is pretty simple. You and your friends are settlers coming to settle on the island. Similar to our real world, these settlers want to build settlements, roads, and cities. So you are racing against your friends to make a sprawling civilization.

You’ll keep gathering victory points on your journey toward building a civilization. These points are important as they decide who wins the game, the player who gets 10 victory points wins, and the game ends there.

The game’s rules are simple, yet the mechanics are complex to give you a chance to create your own strategies when playing.

catan the board game

Why Is Catan Board So Popular?

As mentioned earlier, since its release in 1995, the game has been considered a modern classic. The game elegantly combines the aspects of trading and building in a simple and approachable board game that is unlike anything else.

Plus, we humans love to explore, so when you get a call to adventures, like to the island of Catan in this case, you’re not going to decline the offer.

The island is full of natural resources and beautiful sceneries; you can turn it into a sprawling civilization while going against your friends.

After reading all that, you might wonder, “This is a great game, the rules might be confusing”, and you’d be wrong to think so.

Many people believe good games with complex mechanics are hard to get into, but not with Catan. The rules are straightforward, and anyone over 10 can thoroughly enjoy the game!

So in this next section, we will show you the easiest way to approach this game. By the end of the blog post, you’ll be well-versed in the game of Catan and start playing right away!

catan board game rules

How To Play Catan Board Game?

Before we jump into the rules, let’s get the basic setup done!

  • Number of players

Catan is a game meant to be played with 3-4 players.

  • Game Time

The game lasts anywhere between 60-120 minutes, spending how the game is proceeding.

  • Setup

Once you get a gist of how to play the game, you can try out different setups, but for now, stick to the setup shown in the rule book that comes with the game. This is the easiest way to kick-start!

  • Scoring

As mentioned earlier, the game ends when one of the players gets ten victory points!

Now that we have a general understanding of the basic setup and how the game is won let’s dive into the rules!

Catan Board Game Rules

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  • Components

The game comes with some components; let’s go over them individually.

  • Frame Pieces, Number Tokens, Terrain Hexagons

They are used to create the paying area; you have already set these up according to the rule book by now.

  • Sea Harbor Tokens

These are advanced items, and we won’t need them to understand how the game works.

  • Resource Cards

As the name suggests, these cards depict the Resources that can be used to build stuff; we’ll get to their uses in a moment.

  • Miscellaneous items

Development cards, special cards, the Robber,  building costs, cities, settlements, roads, and the Dice will also be required as we proceed.

settlers of catan board game

Now that we know what the different components of the game are. We can start playing a trial round.

Choose Colors

Every player will choose a color and will be given the corresponding colored Building Costs and Building items (cities, roads, and settlement pieces).

Place the cards

Take the Resource Cards and place them near the board; we will need them later. Do the same for the Development cards as well.

Make sure to shuffle the development cards before placing the deck near the board. Place the Longest Road and Biggest Army Cards near the setup as well.

  • Distributing Resource Cards

To start the game, we first need to distribute some resource cards. Now, if you’ve set up the board according to the rule book, you’ll notice that all the payers have a base on the board. Each is on an intersection of hexagons.

Each house will be placed on an intersection of three hexagons, so you’ll need to give this player three resource cards corresponding to those hexagons.

For example: If the red house is placed at an intersection where the Brick, Grain, and Wood resource hexagons meet, give the player one card for each resource.

The game proceeds in three stages, Roll, Trade, and Build!

  • Roll

Pretty self-explanatory; choose a player who goes first and roll the dice. See what numbers pop up, and look for the token corresponding to the number you got on the board.

Every player with houses on these hexagons will get a resource card corresponding to the resource it produces.

For example: If layer 1 rolls a 6, look for the hexagons with the number token 6. Then see who has houses at the intersection of that hexagon; these payers will get a resource card corresponding to that hexagon. Simple!

  • Trade

As the name suggests, you can trade the resource cards you have. Only the player whose turn is ongoing can trade with the other players; the other players can’t trade with each other.

You can’t trade development cards.

You can also take Resource cards from the game, but you’ll have to give up 4 resource cards of a type to get 1 resource card of the type you want.

This ratio is better at the ports. If you happen to be on a hexagon near the sea, and there is a port, there will also be a ratio written on it.

For example, Player 1 wants Wood and a port near him with a ratio of 2:1. So he gives away 2 sheep cards in exchange for 1 wood!

  • Build

This is the last step in your turn. You can now start building according to the costs given on your Building costs card.

For example: Player 1 spends 1 wood and 1 brick card on building a road.

Building Rules: You can only build roads if they are linked to existing roads, a city, or a settlement.

You can only build a settlement at a distance of two roads from another settlement.

Building a city has its perks, as when you build a city, you get double the resource cards on a dice roll. For example:

Player one has a settlement on an intersection near a hexagon numbered 6. When the dice rolls to 6, as we saw before, every player in contact with a hexagon of this number gets a resource card corresponding to it. But you’ll get two this time as you have a city on it!

board games like catan
  • Development cards

You can buy development cards by spending Resource cards. These cards can be handy and sometimes even give victory points. You can read the instructions given on them.

You can only use the Development cards in your next turn. So you can’t instantly use it on the turn when you buy it.

  • Longest Road card

As the name suggests, the player who builds a continuous road of length 5 gets this card, which gives you 2 victory points. If someone else breaks your record, they get the cards instead.

  • Biggest Army

The player with 3 Knight cards gets these cards, which give two victory points, and if someone else has more knights than you, you give this card to them.

  • Rolling a 7 and the robber!

You might notice that the Number 7 number token is missing on the board; this is on purpose. Whenever a player rolls a 7, the center hexagon gets activated with a robber on it.

When this happens, every player has to do these three steps:

  1. Count the number of cards they have; if they have more than 7, discard 4.
  2. The player who rolled the seven then can place the robber on the hexagon of their choice; the hexagon won’t produce any resource now, even if the number corresponding to it is rolled. Therefore stealing their resources!
  3. The player who rolled the 7 can now pick any one card from the player whose settlement is near the robber-infested hexagon.

And that’s it. You keep building and collecting resources until someone gets 10 victory points, and when it happens, they win; the game’s over!

We hope you found this guide helpful; if you did, share it with your friend who will be playing Catan with you so that you enjoy the game to the fullest!

Want to create a card game as fun as a Catan board game? Contact us to start your journey!