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
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
The winner of the game is the first person to reach
10 victory points, which are awarded for various empire-building
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).
- Raw material cards
Each raw material type has a picture of the type of tile which
produces it as the background, and a picture of the material itself
in a circle in the middle.
- Magic cards
- Knight (Ritter)
- Victory point (Siegpunkt)
- Progress (Fortschritt)
- Road building (straßenbau)
- Monopoly (Monopol)
- Invention (Erfindung)
The board of the game is made up of many hexagonal tiles. There are
various types of tiles:
- Land tiles
- Mountains, producing coal
- Hills (red/orange tiles), producing brick
- Pasture (green fields), producing sheep
- Farms (yellow fields), producing wheat
- Forests, producing wood
- Wastelands (yellow deserts with palm trees), producing nothing
- Sea tiles
- Plain sea tiles
- Generic harbours (normal sea tiles with two marked corners and a
- Specialist harbours (normal sea tiles with two marked corners
and a circle containing a raw material type)
Each player "owns" all the pieces of a certain colour. There are
three types of player piece:
These are small rods. They go between two tiles, along the edges,
and provide routes for expansion.
These are shaped like little houses. They go in the middle of three
tiles, at the intersection, and enable players to become
productive with the surrounding tiles. They are each worth 1 victory point.
These are shaped like churches. They replace settlements when they
are built, and increase production. They are each worth 2 victory
- The robber (black pawn-shaped piece)
- 2 dice
- Longest trade route card (Langste Handelsstraße)
- Largest army card (Grosste Rittermacht)
- Markers (letters on one side, numbers on the other)
- Building cost cards (Baukosten)
Setting up the game
Separate the tiles into land tiles, plain sea tiles, and harbour
tiles. Shuffle the land tiles and the harbour tiles (separately!).
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".)
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.
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.
Give each player a building cost card and their pieces.
Choose one player (usually the most experienced one) to be the
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
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.)
- Settlements are placed at intersections (ie the corners where
three tiles meet)
- Each settlement must be at least two edges away from every other
- Roads are placed along edges leading away from settlements of
the same colour.
- Roads are land-based - they may run along the coast, but not
into the sea itself.
Play now begins in earnest. The person who originally rolled highest
goes first, and play proceeds clockwise for the rest of the game.
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
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
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
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
The current player now has the option of building. There are 4
things you can build: roads, settlements, cities, and magic cards.
Roads each cost 1 wood and 1 brick. They are built along edges between
tiles, with the following restrictions:
- One end of the road must join up to either an existing road,
settlement or city. The piece it joins to must belong to the same
player - you cannot extend another person's road, for instance, or
start a road from their settlement. See house
rules for a little bit more detail.
- Only one road is allowed per edge - no dual carriageways!
- No roads can go into the sea. They can go along the coast,
Settlements each cost 1 wood, 1 brick, 1 wheat and 1 sheep. They are
built on intersections, with the following restrictions:
- Settlements must be placed next to a road belonging to the same
player. They do not have to be at the very end of the road, however
- you may build a very long road, then place settlements along it.
- No settlements can be placed within 2 edges of another
settlement or city - ie there must be at least 2 edges between a
new settlement and each old one. (Note: this means that you can only
have at most 3 settlements/cities around each tile. If 2 settlements
are placed opposite each other round a tile, no others can be placed
round that tile.)
- No settlements can be placed in the sea. They can be built on
the coast, however (eg for harbours).
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
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.
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
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
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.)
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.
This card lets you take any two raw material cards from the bank.
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:
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.
A couple of changes we sometimes make to the normal rules:
More extreme changes can be found on the
- In expansion games, the extraordinary build phase can be limited
to only allow other players to build if the person whose go it is
builds. This can make "not building" a reasonable tactic.
- The rule of only playing one magic card per turn can be relaxed.
This is sometimes useful if one or two players happen to be able to
build magic cards easily :)
- It's unclear whether victory point cards are immediately active
when they've been built. In other words, if you have 9 points and
buy a victory card, do you immediately win, or do you have to wait a
turn? We usually play that they're immediately active.
- If a settlement is built by an opponent at the end of one of
your roads, should you be able to keep building your road past it?
It seems that most people play that you can't, so that is how we'll
play in future too. (Apparently the 1996 English rules state this
explicitly.) However, there's a further case: if someone
builds a settlement in the middle of an unterminated road,
leaving sections of road which cannot reach one of your settlements,
what happens? Some people play that they are "lost" (returned to the
owner), some people play that they are "abandoned" (they stay on the
board but can't be built from) and some people play that they stay
and can be built from. At the moment I favour the last option.
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
- You start with 6 tiles across the centre instead of 5 when
creating the island.
- There are 2 wastelands instead of 1. The robber starts on either
- You use the expansion set markers instead of the normal ones.
- After the current player has built, other players have a chance
to as well.
Siedler (the game, artwork, rules, etc.)
is copyright Kosmos games.
For further information please visit the
official web site.
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