Catan, previously known as The Settlers of Catan or simply Settlers, is a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber.
In the eighties, Klaus Teuber was working as a dental technician outside the industrial city of Darmstadt, Germany. When Klaus Teuber developed The Settlers of Catan in the 1990s, board game design was just a side hobby for him.
Of course, Klaus didn’t develop this smash hit of a game on his own. In fact, it was a family affair. His sons, Benny and Guido Tuber, along with Klaus’s wife, were all playtesters for Catan.
Catan was first published in 1995 in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlag (Kosmos) as Die Siedler von Catan.
Catan involves three or four players building settlements, trading resources, and racing to earn 10 victory points. Each game begins with a shuffling of the board tiles, producing a wholly different board each time. Settlers allows players to produce resources, build roads and settlements, buy “development cards,” and trade with one another.
Catan has become one of the world’s most popular board games.
It has gone on to win awards and become the first German board game to sell outside of Europe.
Catan is popular in the United States where it has been called “the board game of our time” by The Washington Post.
The game has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.
It was released in the United States in 1996 – last year, its English-language publisher, Mayfair Games, reported selling more than seven hundred and fifty thousand Catan-related products. Big-box chains like Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble carry the game and its offshoots, such as Catan cards, Catan Junior, and Star Trek Catan.
Including all the spinoffs, expansions, and special editions, there are about eighty official varieties of Catan — more if you include electronic versions — and Teuber has had a hand in creating all of them. Paraphernalia in the online Catan shop includes socks and custom-designed tables.
Star Trek Catan is a spin-off of the original series released in 2012 by Mayfair Games. The game uses the same basic components with new names, new graphics, and some minor rules additions. The building costs and resources match the original game. It incorporates the “Helpers of Catan” expansion, with the cards renamed as Star Trek characters.
A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch is a spin-off based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. As Brothers of the Night Watch, players harvest resources from the Gift to build settlements and keeps, while contributing to the defense of the Wall. The game was released in 2017 in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Czech/Slovak, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Hebrew and French.
Rebecca Gablé, a German historical-fiction author, has written a Viking-era Settlers of Catan novel. Pete Fenlon, the C.E.O. of Mayfair Games, said, “Our volume of sales will be such that, over time, Catan could, in terms of gross revenue, be the biggest game brand in the world.”
A short film titled The Lord of Catan was released in 2014. Actors Amy Acker and Fran Kranz starred in the film as a married couple enmeshed in an increasingly intense game of Catan.
Every year, thousands of Americans compete at local qualifying Catan tournaments in the United States. The winners of those tournaments are then guaranteed a seat at the Catan United States National Championship, which is held every year at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.
The first Catan World Championship was held in 2002 at the game fair “Internationalen Spieltage” in Essen, Germany. It took place there every year until 2008, when it was hosted at Gen Con Indy, in the United States. Since then, the Catan World Championship has taken place every two years, with the location alternating between the United States and Germany.
The most people playing Settlers of Catan simultaneously is 922 and was achieved by Mayfair Games (USA) in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, on 16 August 2013. The event took place during the trade show Gen Con Indy 2013. The game was set up as one continuous Seafarer’s expansion board with all 922 players, with the final winner being the first to reach 25 points.
The highest altitude playing a board/party game is 5,870 m (19,258 ft 6.36 in), and was achieved by Amy Askes, Scott Askes, Jonathan Brett and Riley Tighe (all Canada) at Uhuru Peak on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, on 11 February 2019. The four played Settlers of Catan for one hour at the peak of Kilimanjaro.
Today, Catan remains one of the most popular board games on Amazon, outselling titles like Life, Battleship, and yes, Monopoly. Its popularity is also widespread, with sets available in 30 different languages around the world.