Settling into Catan

Share this...

Proclaimed as one of the most addictive games ever invented, Catan is widely played by young and old, both far and wide. Families and friends bond over Catan with its world of intrepid settlers, roads, and harbours.

With over 10 million units sold and counting, Catan is undoubtedly a modern classic that continues to hit the gaming sweet spot. The board setup can be interchangeable with every gameplay, so it can be played repeatedly with new possibilities for out-strategising opponents. Expansion sets add novelty and different themes. Since it first hit shelves in 1995, the game has appealed to a wide audience and a wide age group, with the recommended age set at 9 plus.

Gaming enthusiast and influencer; Alfonzo Words, has called Catan: “Winter wonder warmness in a box.” He says that it helped him reclaim the side of himself that enjoys strategy and fun.

Basic nuts and bolts of Catan

Imagine you and your group of settlers come upon the perfect land to start your settlement. You have resources around you and you start to build. You build roads, gather resources, and grow a bigger settlement. Things do sometimes go wrong—robbers steal your resources, and opponents outsmart you. But you keep going. You trade with other settlements, win victories and eventually your settlement grows so large it becomes a city.

Each player in the game represents settlers establishing settlements on the fictional island of Catan. The hexagonal pieces of the board are arranged and laid out at the beginning of each game. If you’re starting out, you can play Catan with the recommended beginner layout and then move on to a variable setup when you have more experience.

Each player then chooses a player colour and takes the five settlements, four cities and 15 roads of that colour to place in front of them.

Each player receives a building cost card—a reminder of what resources you’ll need to build further settlements, roads and cities, as well as buying development cards.

Players build by spending resources (wool, grain, lumber, brick, and ore) that are represented by resource cards.

A player gets to do three things on each turn: roll the dice, trade, and build. Players with a settlement adjacent to a tile containing the number just rolled receive one card of the corresponding resource; cities produce two cards of the resource. For example, player one rolls an 8, which means they receive grain, as their settlement is on the corner of a tile with an 8 marker that produces grain. Player two is on the other side of the same tile and also receives a grain card. On the other side of the board, player three is on an 8 marker and also gets grain.

If you roll a 7 on your turn, you activate the robber. Any player with more than seven resource cards must return half of them to the resource stacks. The robber also gets to steal a resource at random.

During their turn, players can trade, either domestic or maritime. Domestic means a player trades with other players. Maritime trading doesn’t involve other players, making it useful when opponents are making trade difficult.  

So, how does a player win? Whoever accumulates ten points first is the winner. Points are earned by having or accomplishing certain things, settlements, cities, the longest road, or the largest army.

A Thinking Board Game

Successful entrepreneurs, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, love to network over a game of Catan. It is a thinking board game that closely resembles entrepreneurship, where you have to be strategic, think on your feet, anticipate the market and make bold moves.

Founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, says in his book The Start-Up of You: “My passion for entrepreneurship and my interest in board game design led me to introduce many of my entrepreneur friends to the German board game, The Settlers of Catan.”

Solarpop spokesperson Philip Galliford concurs. “Catan is mentally engaging, and it’s also fun. It’s a different game every time, one that fires up your brain’s strategy mode. It’s one of my favourite games to play.”

Catan National and World Championships

In preparation for the Catan 2024 World Championship event, a series of Catan tournaments will happen across South Africa to crown the champion that will represent South Africa internationally.

Keep an eye on for news and information around the upcoming Catan tournaments and world championships.

For more information on the game, go to: