The Settlers of Catan Game Rules

Settlers of Catan, an immersive and strategic board game, may seemingly have a maze of rules that could baffle first-time players or even perplex the seasoned ones. From managing resources to constructing settlements and counting the victory points – the game is an interplay of clever strategizing and timely decision-making.

Settlers of Catan Rules

Let’s give you a quick snapshot of what you can expect in the following sections:

  • Understanding the game setup: Get familiar with how the game board is assembled, how to choose player colors, and how to place your initial settlements, cities, and roads.
  • The Three Phases of a Turn: Dive into the nitty-gritty of producing resources, trading them, and using them to build structures or purchase development cards.
  • Special Rules and Scenarios: Learn the unique setters of catan rules, including the role of the robber and the useful 3 for 1 trading rule.
  • Winning Strategy: Stay ahead of the game with our tips on strategy.
  • How to win: Understand how to earn victory points and when to use development cards.
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The Settlers of Catan Game Rules 3

The Game Setup

The first step is understanding how to set up the game. This involves assembling the game board, choosing player colors and initial resources, and placing the initial settlements, cities, and roads.

Assembling the Game Board

Settlers of Catan’s game board is made up of hexagonal tiles that represent different terrains, each providing a unique resource. Start by connecting the six sea tiles to form a hexagonal frame. Inside this frame, place the 19 smaller terrain tiles randomly. These tiles represent the five resources: lumber, brick, ore, grain, and wool.

For beginners, we recommend following the setup pictured on page three of the rulebook. This layout ensures balance and fairness for all players. Once you’re familiar with the ‘catan settlers rules’, arrange the tiles as you wish for a unique gaming experience each time.

Choosing Player Colors and Initial Resources

Next, each player chooses a color and takes corresponding game pieces: five settlements, four cities, and 15 roads. The color you choose will represent you throughout the game.

In a standard game, each player receives one resource from each terrain tile adjacent to their second settlement. In a beginner game, however, use the same process for each settlement marked with a white star.

Placing Initial Settlements, Cities, and Roads

Players then take turns placing one city and one adjacent road on the game board. Following this, everyone gets to place a second settlement and road, but this time in reverse order. This ensures a fair start for all players.

The placement of your settlements, cities, and roads is crucial as it determines the resources you’ll receive throughout the game. So, choose wisely and strategically! Ready to move on to the next step? Check out our guide on the three phases of a turn in Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan board setup - catan settlers rules
The Settlers of Catan Game Rules 4

The Three Phases of a Turn

Each turn in Settlers of Catan consists of three main phases: Producing Resources, Trading Resources, and Building Structures or Purchasing Development Cards. Let’s break down these phases to understand better the catan settlers rules.

Producing Resources

The first phase of each turn is all about resource production. This phase is initiated by rolling two dice. The sum of the dice determines which hex tiles produce resources. Any player with a settlement adjacent to a hex tile marked with a numbered circle token that matches the rolled number receives one resource card corresponding to that tile’s resource type.

For example, if the dice roll totals to ‘6’ and you have a settlement next to a hex tile marked ‘6’, you receive the resource card related to that tile. If you have two settlements next to the same hex, you get two cards of the relevant resource.

However, rolling a ‘7’ is a special case. No resources are produced, and instead, you get to move the Robber to a new hex of your choice. The Robber stops all adjacent settlements or cities from generating any resources until another player rolls a seven or uses a Knight Card to move it away.

Trading Resources

The second phase is all about trading. During this phase, you can negotiate with your fellow players to exchange resources. However, only the player whose turn it is can initiate trades. Others have to wait for their turn to strike up their own deals.

If no one is interested in trading, you can always trade with the “bank” at a rate of four identical resources for any one resource of your choice. If you have a settlement or city on a harbor, you can trade at a more favorable rate, as low as 2:1 for specific resources.

Building Structures and Purchasing Development Cards

The final phase is where you get to utilize your resources to expand your empire. By paying the appropriate resources, you can build new settlements, roads, cities, or purchase Development Cards.

In Catan, you can build four things: roads, settlements, cities, and development cards. Each of these constructions requires a specific combination of resources, and each offers distinct advantages. For example, settlements improve your resource production and are worth one victory point each, while cities, which are upgraded settlements, produce double the resources and are worth two victory points.

Development Cards, on the other hand, offer unique benefits like moving the Robber, gaining specific rewards, or even adding to your victory point total.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of the three phases of a turn, Catan is yours to conquer. Understanding the rules is just the first step. The key to winning lies in strategic planning, smart trading, and timely building.

Special Settlers of Catan Game Rules and Scenarios

In Settlers of Catan, several unique rules and scenarios can significantly impact the game’s progression. From the role of the Robber to the intricacies of building settlements, understanding these special rules is paramount to mastering the game. Let’s delve into these rules.

The Role of the Robber and the Rule of 7

When a player rolls a 7, the Robber comes into play. Any player with eight or more resource cards must discard half of their cards. The player who rolled the 7 then moves the Robber to a new hex, blocking resource production from that hex and potentially stealing a card from a player with an adjacent settlement or city. This “Rule of 7” adds an element of risk and strategy to resource management in the game.

The 3 for 1 Trading Rule at Harbors

Harbors are special locations on the game board where players can trade resources at a more favorable rate. The generic harbor allows players to trade any three identical resource cards for one of their choice. This rule can be a game-changer, enabling players to obtain necessary resources more efficiently.

Building Settlements: Distance Requirements and Victory Points

In line with the Catan settlers rules, settlements must be placed on unoccupied intersections and be at least two intersections away from other settlements, cities, or metropolises. This restriction, known as the distance rule, ensures fair and balanced gameplay. Each settlement provides one victory point and allows players to collect resource cards from adjacent resource hexes.

Upgrading Settlements to Cities

Players can upgrade their settlements to cities at the cost of 2 grain and 3 ore. The original settlement is returned to the player’s supply and can be reused. Upgrading to a city doubles the resource card yield from adjacent hexes and also adds an additional victory point.

How to Win Settlers of Catan

Winning a game of Settlers of Catan is simple in theory but can be quite challenging in practice. The first player to reach ten Victory Points is declared the winner, but how do you go about accruing these points?

Earning Victory Points

The most straightforward way of gaining Victory Points (VP) is through construction. Building settlements earns you 1 VP each, while upgrading these settlements to cities nets you an extra point, for a total of 2 VP for each city. However, as games progress, construction becomes increasingly challenging as players block each other’s building plans. This is where the game’s other methods of earning points come into play.

The Importance of Longest Road and Largest Army

Building the longest road and raising the largest army are two additional ways to earn Victory Points. If you can construct a road of at least five segments, you earn the “Longest Road” card and gain an additional 2 VP. Similarly, if you play at least three Knight cards from your hand, you earn the “Largest Army” card and, with it, 2 more VP.

These titles can be taken from you if another player builds a longer road or raises a larger army, so stay vigilant and keep expanding!

The Role of Development Cards and Special Victory Point Cards

Development Cards, though seemingly unreliable due to their randomness, can greatly influence your path to victory. Some of these cards are Victory Point Cards, which are held in your hand and only revealed when you’re ready to declare victory. Others, like the University or Great Hall, can generate VP for you.


The goal of Settlers of Catan is to be the first to score ten victory points. You can achieve this through a combination of building settlements and cities, having the longest road, raising the largest army, or holding victory point cards in your hand. Your strategy might change from game to game, depending on the board layout and your opponents’ moves.

If you’re interested in other board games, you’ll find a treasure trove of guides and reviews on our website. You might want to check out our guide on how to play Triominos, or our tips and strategies for the Swoop card game.

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