Die Siedler von Catan - Main rules

This is a retelling rather than a translation of the rules. Straight translations are available via links on the main page.

Table of contents

Game overview and objective

Siedler (or, more properly, "Die Siedler von Catan") is a board game for 3-4 players (or 5-6 with the expansion set). Each player is the leader of a tribe, and all the tribes are attempting to settle on the same island. Players build settlements, roads and cities on the island, using raw materials gained from the island itself. The more a player builds, the more productive his tribe becomes, enabling further building.

The winner of the game is the first person to reach 10 victory points, which are awarded for various empire-building actions.

Pieces and terminology


There are two types of cards in the game: raw material cards and magic cards (also known as development or special cards).


The board of the game is made up of many hexagonal tiles. There are various types of tiles:

Player pieces

Each player "owns" all the pieces of a certain colour. There are three types of player piece:

Miscellaneous pieces

Setting up the game

  1. Separate the tiles into land tiles, plain sea tiles, and harbour tiles. Shuffle the land tiles and the harbour tiles (separately!).
  2. Separate the raw materials cards into piles, but keep all the magic cards together. Place the raw material cards to one side, face up. Shuffle the magic cards and place them near the raw materials, face down. (This area forms "the bank".)
  3. Construct the island. Start off by making a straight line of 5 land tiles (6 for the expansion set), with edges touching. To either side of the line, make another line tesselating with the first, using one tile fewer. Continue until you have placed lines with only 3 tiles in. (Unless you have extra sets, this will have used up all the land tiles.) Now go round the island, alternating between a plain sea tile and a harbour tile. The harbour tiles must have their marked corners touching the land, but where there are two ways of doing this, either may be used.
  4. Randomly pick one of the coastal land tiles, and place the "A" marker in the middle of the tile. Go round in a clockwise spiral, placing the markers in alphabetical order, skipping wastelands. After placing all the markers, turn them so their numbers are face up.
  5. Give each player a building cost card and their pieces.
  6. Choose one player (usually the most experienced one) to be the banker.

Starting the game (the Founding Phase)

I strongly suggest that you read the rest of the rules before doing anything further, as bad choices at the beginning of the game can be ruinous.

Each player rolls the dice, and the person with the highest roll goes first. (In case of a tie, the players involved reroll.) Each player, starting with the first and going clockwise, places a settlement and a road, in accordance with the following conditions:

After each player has placed a settlement, the direction is reversed for the second round: starting with the last player and going anticlockwise, each player places a second settlement and road. Note that the second road must be next to the second settlement. (ie you can't have one settlement with two roads coming out of it and one with none.) As each player places their second settlement, they receive one raw material card for each of the tiles surrounding it. (eg if a settlement was at the intersection of 2 mountain tiles and a forest tile, the player would receive 2 coal cards and 1 wood card.)

Play now begins in earnest. The person who originally rolled highest goes first, and play proceeds clockwise for the rest of the game.

Normal play

Each turn is divided into three phases: a production phase, a trading phase, and a building phase. The phases only occur in that order - for instance, you may not trade after building. In addition, the current player may play a single magic card at any time during their turn. (You may not play more than one magic card during any turn.)

Production phase

The current player rolls both dice. If the roll is not a 7, any tiles with that number of marker on them (and without the robber on) are productive for that turn. Each settlement bordering a productive tile generates one raw material of the appropriate type for that tile, and each city bordering the tile produces two raw materials. Players owning buildings bordering productive tiles are given the appropriate resources by the banker (from the bank, obviously.) For example, suppose a 6 is rolled, and there is a mountain tile with a 6 on it, with an orange city, an orange settlement, and a red settlement bordering it. The orange player receives 3 coal cards (1 for their settlement and 2 for their city) and the red player receives 1 coal card (for their settlement).

If the roll is a 7, two things happen. Firstly, each player with over 7 raw material cards in their hand (magic cards are not counted) must give half of them (rounding down) to the bank. The player giving them up chooses the cards. For instance, if you have 9 cards, you must choose 4 of them to give up. The current player then moves the robber - follow the link for more information.

Trade phase

The current player now has the option to trade their raw material cards with other players (domestic trade) and the bank (sea trade). Domestic trade is reasonably free-form - you may ask what other people have, whether anyone is interested in one of your cards, etc. You may ask for 3 cards in return for 1 of yours - whatever takes your fancy.

Sea trade is more fixed. The bank will accept 4 of any one type of raw material in return for any 1 raw material you wish - eg 4 coal for 1 wheat. Harbours improve this ratio: if you have a settlement or city on a harbour (ie you have built on the marked corners of the harbour tile), you can trade more efficiently. Generic harbours (with "3:1" in a circle) allow you to trade any 3 raw materials of one type for any 1 raw material you wish (eg 3 sheep for 1 coal). Specialist harbours (with a raw material symbol in a circle) allow you to trade 2 raw materials of the specified type for any 1 raw material you wish (eg if you have a wood harbour, you may trade 2 wood for 1 brick).

Note: you may only trade during your go (or with the person whose go it is) - eg during Jill's go, Mike cannot trade with either the bank of Fred.

Build phase

The current player now has the option of building. There are 4 things you can build: roads, settlements, cities, and magic cards.

Building roads

Roads each cost 1 wood and 1 brick. They are built along edges between tiles, with the following restrictions:

Building settlements

Settlements each cost 1 wood, 1 brick, 1 wheat and 1 sheep. They are built on intersections, with the following restrictions:

Building cities

Cities each cost 2 wheat and 3 coal. They each replace a settlement belonging to the same player, instead of being built from scratch. (You may, however, built a settlement and upgrade it to a city in the same turn.) When a player upgrades a settlement to a city, they get the original settlement back.

Building magic cards

Magic cards each cost 1 sheep, 1 wheat and 1 coal. Although you may build as many magic cards as you wish during a turn, you may only play one - and you cannot play any card you have built in that turn. When you build a magic card, you should keep it face down in front of you - other players may know how many magic cards you have, but not what they are. Magic cards are never treated in the same way as raw material cards (ie they're not traded, stolen, etc). For more details on the uses of magic cards, go to the magic card section.

Extraordinary building (expansion set only)

When playing an expansion game (5-6 players), after the current player has finished building, everyone else may do so too. Building is conducted one player at a time, going clockwise. (This may matter if two people wish to build a settlement on the same spot, for instance.) See house rules for our variation on this.

Moving the robber

The robber stops production at whatever tile he is present on when the dice are rolled. He is moved by either playing a knight card or by rolling a 7. In each case, the person whose turn it is chooses where he moves to. He must be moved to a different tile. After moving the robber, the player moving him may choose any player with a settlement or city bordering the new tile, and take one raw material card from them. This is done at random - the "victim" fans out his raw material cards face down, and the player takes one of them.

Magic cards

Knight cards

Knight cards (which have "Ritter" at the top) are useful in two ways. When you play one, you may move the robber - use this to stop other people from being productive or to free up a tile you wish to produce with. Also, they form your army which can give you victory points. When you play a knight card, put it face up in front of you. Other players should always be able to see how many knights you have played. (They may not know how many knights you own but haven't played, of course.)

Victory point cards

Victory point cards (orange at the top, and with "1 Siegpunkt" at the bottom) are each worth a single victory point. They aren't revealed until the end of the game. Leaving other magic cards face down can make other players believe you have victory point cards. (This can be a hinderance, as people tend to gang up on anyone who looks like they might win. On the other hand, it may make players waste cards in desperate measures which are unnecessary.)

Progress cards

Progress cards have "Fortschritt" written at the top of the card, and come in 3 varieties: road building, invention, and monopoly. When a progress card is played, it is put at the bottom of the magic card pack.

Road building (Straßenbau)
This card allows you to build two roads for free at any point during your turn. (The usual restrictions on where you can place them apply, of course.)

Monopoly (Monopol)
On playing this card, the current player names one raw material type (eg coal), and all players must give the current player all the cards of that type in their hand. Hint: when playing this card, look at how many cards the bank has left of each type, and take your harbours into consideration.

Invention (Erfindung)
This card lets you take any two raw material cards from the bank.

Victory points

Settlements are worth 1 victory point each, and cities are worth 2 victory points each. (Upgrading from a settlement to a city "loses" you a settlement, so you only gain 1 point.) Each victory point card is worth 1 victory point. None of these points can be "taken away" from a player. However, there are two "dynamic" ways of having victory points:

Largest army

The largest army card is introduced when one player has played 3 knight cards. The card is given to that player, and is worth 2 victory points to whoever is holding it. To take it away, another player has to play more knight cards than the person holding it. (When two players have each played the same number of knight cards, whoever "got there first" will have it.)

Longest trade route

The longest trade route is similar, but with a twist. It is introduced when any player first creates a trade route of length 5. The length of a trade route is defined as the number of "friendly" roads it is possible to travel (starting anywhere) without going down the same road twice or passing by an opponent's city or settlement. (Trade routes may end at an opponent's building, just not go past one.)

As with the largest army card, to take the longest trade route card from another player, you must create a longer trade route. However, due to the part about not passing by an opponent's building, you may interrupt another player's trade route by building a settlement or city in the middle of it (subject to the normal building conditions). That player's trade route is then effectively divided into two. This can cause the longest trade route card to change hands (if, for example, you have a trade route of length 5, and break an opponent's trade route of length 6 into two routes of length 3). If, after an interruption breaks the longest route, there is no clear longest route, the card is taken out of play until there is a clear leader.

The longest trade route card is worth 2 victory points.

Ending the game

The game ends when any player has reached 10 victory points. You can, of course, change this limit (or play against a time limit) to vary the length of the game.

House rules

A couple of changes we sometimes make to the normal rules: More extreme changes can be found on the variants page.

Expansion rules changes checklist

Very little changes with the 5-6 player expansion set: The expansion set tiles are helpfully marked on the back (with a light pattern) so you can easily make sure you get the right tile/marker set.
Copyright information:
Siedler (the game, artwork, rules, etc.) is copyright Kosmos games. For further information please visit the official web site.
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