FAQ about Catan

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor


Everything You Need to Know About Catan

Welcome to the ultimate guide for all your Catan questions! I’m here to give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about this popular board game. So, let’s dive right in!

What is Catan?

Catan, also known as The Settlers of Catan, is an epic board game that brings out the strategist in all of us. It’s a game where you get to build and expand your own civilization on the mythical island of Catan. Exciting, right?

How do I play Catan?

Playing Catan is incredibly fun and easy. The game board consists of hexagonal tiles that represent different resources like wood, brick, sheep, wheat, and ore. These resources are used to build roads, settlements, and cities. The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach a certain number of victory points by strategically managing your resources and trading with other players.

What makes Catan so popular?

Catan’s popularity stems from its unique blend of strategy, negotiation, and luck. Every game is different, and each decision you make can have a big impact on your chances of winning. It’s a game that keeps you on your toes and keeps you coming back for more.

Where can I play Catan?

You can play Catan with your friends and family at home or join an online community to play with people from all over the world. There are also Catan tournaments held in many cities, so you can put your skills to the test and compete with other Catan enthusiasts.

What are some tips for winning at Catan?

If you want to increase your chances of winning at Catan, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on building settlements and cities early in the game to gain victory points.
  • Strategically place your initial settlements to maximize your access to different resources.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of trading. Negotiating trades with other players can greatly benefit you.
  • Diversify your resource production to have a balanced supply.
  • Pay attention to what your opponents are doing and adapt your strategy accordingly.


Now that you know the ins and outs of Catan, it’s time to gather your friends, set up the game board, and embark on an unforgettable journey to conquer the island of Catan. May the best settler win!

When I use maritime trade in the game, I have to trade resources with the bank, and the resources I trade must be identical. Normally, I need to trade 4 identical resources to get one resource of a different type. However, if I have a harbor, I might get a better trade rate. With a “?” harbor, I can trade 3 identical resources instead of 4. The harbor only gives me a better trade rate, but the resources still need to be the same.

Can I build multiple roads, settlements, and cities in one turn, or can I only build one piece?

During my turn, I can build as many pieces as I can afford. As long as I have enough resources, I can keep building as much as I want.

If I have enough resource cards, can I buy a settlement and a city in one turn?

Sure, you have the option to purchase a new settlement and upgrade it to a city in one go. Of course, you’ll need to have enough money to cover the cost of both the settlement and the city.

Now, once the game is underway, can you buy a settlement and a road on your turn and place them anywhere on the island, even if they’re not connected to your other roads, just like you could at the start of the game?

Unfortunately, no. In the setup phase, each player gets two rounds to place a settlement and a road anywhere they choose on the island. However, once the setup phase is over, the normal building rules come into play for the remainder of the game.

You can find these rules on page 5 of the rule book. Keep in mind that new roads can only be built if they connect to an existing road, settlement, or city that belongs to you.

When it comes to building new settlements in the game, there is an important rule to keep in mind – they can only be constructed if they are connected to an existing road. After the initial setup phase, it is not permissible to place a new settlement and road anywhere on the island. Instead, you must build them on a part of the island where you already have a road network.

But what happens if you run out of roads to place on the hexes? Are you allowed to use something else, or are you limited to the 15 roads provided?

Settlers has strict limits on what you can build in the game. If you have used up all 15 roads of your color, you cannot build any more roads. The same goes for settlements – you are limited to 5 in total. However, if you choose to upgrade one of your settlements to a city, you can later rebuild it as a settlement. Additionally, you are allowed to have 4 cities. It’s important to have the correct mix of pieces at the start of the game to ensure fair play.

So, here’s the situation: Player A has a road that’s 5 pieces long, and then Player B comes along and builds a road of the same length. The question is, who gets the Longest Road bonus?

Now, if we take the rules literally, it would mean that Player A keeps the bonus tile until someone else builds a road that’s even longer – like 6 pieces or more. This means that the player who not only has the longest road but also built it first would be the winner. Sounds logical, right? But is it really true?

Well, let me break it down for you. If a player has the longest road, they get to keep the longest road card and enjoy its two victory points. But here’s the catch: this will go on unless and until another player comes along and builds a road that surpasses the current longest road. So, in this case, if Player B wants to steal the longest road card from Player A, they need to build a road that’s at least 6 pieces long. It’s as simple as that.

Now, don’t forget, Player A still has a chance to up their game and make their road even longer. This means that if Player B wants to snatch the longest road card, they have to build even more segments. It’s a double-edged sword, my friend – one that keeps the competition alive and the excitement buzzing.

So here’s the deal: there’s this special card called the longest road card. It’s pretty cool because it stays with the person who has the longest road until something changes. And there are two ways that can happen.

  1. If one of the other players builds a road that ends up being longer than the current longest road, then that player takes the longest road card and becomes the new owner. It’s like a game of one-upmanship, but with roads.
  2. Or, if someone else gets the longest road card because their road is longer, and then you come along and build a road that’s even longer, well guess what? You just took the longest road card right out from under them. Talk about a power move.
  3. If you place a settlement on the longest road, it breaks the road into two parts. Remember to follow the 2-step rule. After placing the settlement, we need to determine who now has the longest road. If only one player has the longest road (which could be the same player from before), they get the longest road card and two points. But if more than one player has the longest road, or if no player has a road with at least 5 segments, then the longest road card is not awarded and set aside. If any player later builds a road with at least 5 segments, they can claim the longest road card.
Do settlements of different colors affect other players’ roads?

Hey there! So, here’s the deal – settlements totally have the power to break up other player’s roads. Let’s say the blue player has this rad road that’s like, six segments long, right? Now, imagine the red player comes along and builds a settlement right in between two of the blue player’s roads. In that scenario, we say that the blue player’s road is officially “broken”. Bummer, right?

Now, here’s the twist – when a road gets broken, it can’t be counted towards the Longest Road card. So, if the red player built their sneaky settlement between the fourth and fifth blue road, the blue player would only be able to count their longest road as 4. And since four is just not long enough for the Longest Road card, they’d have to give it up. Tough luck!

But don’t despair! Even if your road gets broken, you can still use it to build other stuff. So, let’s say the blue player had a sixth road segment at the very end – they could still build a settlement there, even though the red player went and broke their road. Of course, they’d still have to follow the distance rule, but at least they’re not totally out of luck.

Can I still build a settlement or road at the end of my trade route if it has been interrupted in the middle?

Absolutely! You are allowed to construct new roads or settlements anywhere you have already built. There is no requirement to trace your path back to the starting point of the game. Although a broken road may shorten your route for the Longest Road card, you are not prohibited from expanding on either side of the break.

Note: Keep in mind that if an opponent’s settlement blocks your road, you are not permitted to build a road on the other side if there is no existing road. You can only continue developing on both sides of the broken road if you had a road on each side before the settlement was established.

Can I win the game when it’s not my turn?

So, here’s the deal: if it’s someone else’s turn and I suddenly remember that I have a victory point card that, when combined with my other points, gives me a total of 10 points, can I declare myself the winner right then and there? Or do I have to wait until my turn to play the card and claim victory?

Well, the rule is pretty clear. You can only win during your turn. Even if you manage to earn enough points to win while it’s someone else’s turn (like when you snatch the Longest Road because someone else loses it, or because you remember your victory point card), you still have to hang tight until it’s your turn. However, during your turn, you can declare victory at any moment, even before you roll the dice. But here’s the twist – if another player reaches a total of 10 points before it’s your turn, they’ll be crowned the winner, even if you had 10 points first!

Have you ever wondered how to determine the longest road in a game? Can you just choose any road segment and go off in any direction? This question becomes important if you have a hex completely surrounded by road, with one road segment leading away from it. Does this mean you have a longest road of 7? I’m confused because my friends say that once your road forms a loop, it doesn’t count as a straight line anymore, just a big fork.

When counting the longest road, you have to consider the longest continuous branch. So, if you have a loop of 6 road segments, you can count it as six, but only if it’s at the end of your road. Let’s look at two examples: The situation you described would count as 7 road segments. It’s a loop with one segment sticking out.

If you extend the length of your leg, your longest road will also get longer. But if you have a loop with two legs, you can only count around the circle in one direction. You can choose to count the longer direction, but you won’t be able to count all six segments in the loop. The longest road doesn’t have to be a straight line.

It’s free to go back and forth and even double back. You can always count the longest fork possible when calculating the length of your road.


II. Robber

What happens if I roll a “7” and move the robber? Do I have to give up half of my cards if I have eight or more?

Yes, if you roll a “7” and move the robber, you need to check the number of cards in your hand. Even if you are the one moving the robber, if you have more than 7 resource cards, you must discard half of them to the bank.

Can the robber stop me from trading cards using a port, in addition to block my production from that hex?

No, the robber cannot block you from using harbors to get a better trade ratio. It only blocks the production from the hex it is on.

If I play a Soldier card to move the robber, do all players with more than 7 cards have to discard, or is it only if someone rolls a 7?

When a “7” is rolled, you only need to discard half of your hand. The soldier card lets you move the robber and rob another player, but it doesn’t force you to discard cards if you have more than seven.

III. Trades

Can I give cards to someone or trade them for something I want, like asking a player not to move the robber next to my city?

A trade is only legal if it involves an exchange of Resource cards between two players. Both players must receive at least one card in the trade, otherwise, it’s not a real trade. You can’t simply give away your Resource cards – you need to get something in return. Similarly, you can’t offer Resource cards to another player as a bribe because you wouldn’t be getting any cards back in exchange.

Can Player A trade two sheep with Player B for a resource he needs, considering that Player B owns a 2:1 sheep port?

The answer to your question depends on whose turn it is. If it is Player A’s turn, Player B cannot use their port to trade the 2 sheep for the desired resource. However, if it is Player B’s turn, they can use their port to trade the 2 sheep for the resource they need.

Are players allowed to propose trades when it is not their turn?

Yes, players are allowed to suggest trades even when it is not their turn. The rules state that you can only trade if the player taking their turn is included in the trade. However, there is no rule that prohibits negotiating trades when it is not your turn.

IV. Turn Sequencing

When it’s my turn in the game, do I have to roll the dice first or can I trade and buy things before rolling? And what if I have too many cards and want to get rid of some before potentially rolling a 7?

Do I have to roll the dice first? No, you have to follow a specific order during your turn:

  • A. Roll the dice for production or resolve a “7” if you roll it
  • B. Trade and build

You can’t trade or build before rolling the dice. However, there’s one exception: You can choose to play one and only one Development card at any point during your turn. So, you can decide to play a Development card before you roll the dice for production.

A popular strategy is to play a soldier card and move the robber away from one of your important hexes before rolling the dice, if the robber pawn is on one of your important hexes.

Can I play a Soldier card on the same turn after playing a Monopoly card?

No, there’s no rule that says you have to play a Monopoly card as soon as you get it. Actually, you can’t play any Development cards on the turn you draw them, except for victory point cards.

Plus, you can only play one Development card per turn, unless it’s a victory point card. So if you play a Monopoly card, you can’t also play a Soldier card during that same turn.

Can I play the Road Building card before I roll the dice?

On page 18 of the Settlers’ Almanac, I found a question that reads: “Development cards may be played any time during the player’s turn, even before rolling the dice.” It’s in italics, so it must be important.

The rules don’t say anything about restrictions, even though they mention that you can only build after you’re done trading.

So, the answer is yes! You can play any Development card before you roll the dice. There are no limitations on the type of Development card you can play. And when you use a Development card, you have to use its ability right away. But don’t worry, playing a Development card doesn’t count as trading or building.

Can you trade or build in any order during a turn in the basic Settlers of Catan game?

So, here’s the deal: in the basic game of Settlers of Catan, you have to finish all your trading before you can start building anything. It’s kind of a strict rule, you know? But, hold on a sec, in the expansions of the game, you totally have the freedom to trade and build in any order you like. It’s like a whole different ballgame! The game designer made this change to make the game longer and more exciting.

Now, here’s the scoop. If you are playing with an expansion that follows the original trading-then-building rule, you’ve got to stick to it. Finish all your trading before you even think about building. But don’t fret, because there are plenty of expansions where you can mix things up and trade and build in any order. So, just make sure to check the rules for the specific expansion you’re playing. Don’t break the rules, my friend!

V. Resource & Development Card

What happens if the bank doesn’t have enough resources for everyone?

If there aren’t enough resource cards in the bank to give everyone what they need, then no one gets any resources.

Do I have to show everyone how many cards I have?

Do I have to show everyone how many cards I have?

Hey there! So, let me get this straight. You’re wondering if it’s okay to keep your resource cards hidden from the other players in the game Settlers of Catan. Well, I’ve got the answer for you!

Yes, the number of cards you have in your hand is public information, but the specific cards themselves are not. Let’s say another player asks you how many resource cards you have right before moving the robber. In that case, you’ve gotta be honest and tell them the number of cards you’ve got. This applies to Development or Progress cards too. The quantity of each type of card you have (like resource, development, etc.) is something everyone knows at all times.

However, you don’t have to reveal the exact cards you have, like wood, sheep, or rock. That’s kept a secret. So, you can rest easy knowing that you can keep your specific cards hidden while still playing fair and square. Hope that clears things up for you in the world of Settlers of Catan!

Sorry, but you can’t hide your cards under the table (or anywhere else sneaky). The number of cards you have is always public information. You can only hide what type of cards they are.

What happens if you use up all the cards in the Development deck? Do you reshuffle the used cards or just keep playing without them?

In the unlikely event that all the cards in the Development deck are bought, no one can buy any more Development cards. It’s like when you build all fifteen of your road pieces. The game goes on, but you can’t build any more roads. Usually, someone will have won before all the Development cards run out, so this won’t happen too often in your games.

Can I trade a development card I can’t use?

Sorry, but you can never trade development cards, even if you can’t use them. So if you happen to draw a card that you can’t use, it’s just bad luck!

What happens when I play a Soldier card?

When you play a Soldier card, it only counts towards the Largest Army if you actually play it to move the robber. Soldier cards in your hand don’t count towards the total. Remember to keep your played Soldier cards face up in front of you, so all players can see how many you’ve played.

When I play the Monopoly card and choose a resource, all players must give me all of their resource cards of that same type. And let me tell you, it’s quite a sight to see everyone handing over their precious cards! But here’s the thing, once I use the Monopoly card, it stays face-up for the rest of the game. That way, everyone knows that it has already been played. No sneaky business here!

Now, you might be wondering if I get to keep collecting resources of that type for the rest of the game. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Monopoly card only works once. Yep, just that one glorious moment when I play it. After that, it’s all out in the open. You won’t see me hoarding all the wood or any other resource. Settlers of Catan isn’t about that kind of competitive trickery. It’s more about strategy and fair play. So, once the Monopoly card has been played, and believe me, everyone will know, the game moves on without any more collection frenzy.

Can I keep my victory point card hidden or do I have to show it to everyone?

You have the option to keep your victory point card secret or play it. There’s really no need to play it unless you have enough points to win. These cards give you hidden victory points that you can keep from your opponents until you reach the winning threshold.

If I play a different Development card, can I still play my victory point cards in the same turn?

Absolutely! You are allowed to play as many victory point cards as you want in addition to playing one Development card on your turn.

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