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Rules to Play The Settlers of Catan

Vijith Menon
Settlers of Catan is a board game designed to build and develop settlements. This story elaborates on the rules on how to play The Settlers of Catan, an exciting and fun-filled multi-player game.
Did You Know?
Klaus Teuber, the game designer was a dentist before he ventured into this field.

Settlers of Catan is a strategic board game made for maximum 4 players. It was created in 1995 by Klaus Teuber. It involves creating settlements and ultimately conquering the tiny island of Catan.
Players adopt the role of settlers, trading in resources and upgrading settlements into cities. The player to reach the maximum points is declared the winner. A documentary film based on its impact on American audiences called Going Cardboard was released featuring Klaus Teuber himself. The game also goes by the name of Die Siedler von Catan.

Contents of the Game

  • 19 hexagonal tiles
  • 6 sea frame pieces
  • 9 harbor pieces
  • 18 circular number tokens
  • 95 resource cards (assuming the symbol of ore,grain,brick, wool, and wood)25 Development cards (14 Knight/Soldier, 6 Progress, 5 Victory)
4 "Building Costs" cards

2 Special Cards "Longest Road"&"Largest Army"

16 Cities (4 of each color shaped like churches)
20 Settlements (5 of each shaped like houses)

60 Roads (15 of each shaped like bars)

2 Dice (1 yellow, 1 red)

1 Robber
Setting up the Game
  • Select a color and take your 5 settlements, 4 cities and 20 roads and nothing less.
  • The player to go first is decided by the eldest. But it can also be decided by the throw of the dice.
  • The player who goes last in the first round, gets to go first in the next round and vice versa.
  • Turn by turn, place your 2 settlements and 2 roads on the board. Take your color's Building Costs card. Put the rest in front of you.
  • Place the special cards "Longest Road" & "Largest Army" beside the board along with the dice.
  • Shuffle the Resource cards and put them face up. Do the same to the Development Cards but put them face down.
  • You receive 1 resource card for each terrain hex surrounding your settlement. If it's a city, then you get 2 resource cards.
  • Place the robber in the desert.
Settlement = Requires a Brick, Lumber, Grain, and Wool Card

A Settlement should always be built where 3 hexagonal tiles meet.(none are occupied by any settlements, even yours). Each settlement must connect one of your roads.
Every settlement is worth 1 victory point. When a terrain hex produces resources, we receive a Resource Card for every settlement adjacent to the hex. If you build 5 settlements, you have to upgrade one of them to a City if you want to continue building settlements.
City = Requires 3 Ore and 2 Grain Cards

A City is always upgraded from an existing Settlement. A City produces 2 Resource cards for every adjacent terrain hex. Each City is worth 2 victory points.
Buying Development Cards = Requires an Ore, Grain, and Wool Card

There are 3 different types : Knight/Soldier,Progress and Victory Point. Each has a different effect. These cards never go back into the pile and you cannot buy more if the supply is empty.

Special Cases


If you roll a 7, no one gets any resources and the Robber piece is activated. The player who activated Robber can move it to any hex and stop the production of its resources. If you have more than 7 resource cards, then half of your cards are confiscated and returned to the deck.
You can steal 1 resource card from an opponent who has a settlement or city adjacent to the hex the robber is on. If the hex is adjacent to 2 or more settlements, then you choose which one to steal from.
Playing Development Cards


If you play a Knight card, then you get to move the Robber. The player who has more than 3 Knight cards automatically gets the "Largest Army" card. It's worth 2 victory points. If another player has more Knight cards than you, then he gets the "Largest Army" card by default and its' 2 victory points.
Progress Cards

There are 2 each of 3 varieties:
  • Road Building: If you play this card then you may immediately place 2 roads according to rules of building roads.
  • Year of Plenty: If you play this card you may take 2 resource cards from the supply stack and even build in the same turn.
  • Monopoly: If you play this card, you must name 1 type of resource and the players must give all cards of this particular resource in their possession.
Victory Point Cards
They must be kept hidden. They should only be revealed on the verge of victory. You can play any number of victory cards after you purchased them.

Beginner's Strategy


Always build settlements on most rolled numbers. For example, a 12 is only rolled with 2 dice, hence the chances of it coming up frequently are low. Always build near the numbers 6 & 8 to be safe or close to a port for safe trading.

Build a settlement near the 3:1 ports where we can trade 3 of our resources of the same type for another resource. Unlike the bank which offers a 4:1 deal. When in doubt, always build toward the sea. It's a safe bet and the robber rarely target the particular area.
Beware the Robber

Never focus your energy on one hex. It makes you a target for smart robbers. Never have more than 7 cards or you give them up if someone rolls a 7.
Development Cards

You can buy development cards to build more roads and improve your progress through the game. The names and uses are described above.

You can trade with someone when it's you turn. Trade smartly. Never trade with someone who's about to win. Trade to stay below 8 cards. You can even charge high prices for your resource. You can trade 3 sheep for your 1 grain and so on.
Victory Points

The ultimate goal of the game is to gain victory points. So build maximum cities and settlements for which you need an unlimited supply of grain and ore. Use the development cards to gain extra points. If you get 10 points, then you win the game, Hurray!!

If you have 10 or more victory points, you win the game. If you reach 10 points and it's not your turn, the game continues till any player(including you) gets the desired result.
In conclusion, Settlers of Catan isn't your typical "conquer-to-win-it-all" kind of game. It requires unity & co-operation from other players. A game fostering peace & tranquility from the Germans.
If you love Settlers of Catan, you can buy more of its expansions. It has even been upgraded to include 6 players. Or you can play similar games such as Dominion, Carcassonne, and Puerto Rico.