Settlers of Catan New Player Guide

Settlers of Catan is more difficult to learn and pick-up than most board games you might have played before Settlers.  Many board games have a few actions you can commit and a very shallow as far as what you can and cannot do on the board.  Settlers of Catan breaks the mold of what you expect out of a board game and hands you a game with a vast amount of depth and strategy at your fingertips.  While Settlers is complicated to learn, especially with the expansion packs, for first time players it also is a great game for non-gamers and people who love to play board games/video games.  The uniqueness allows the casual and non-casual game players come together and get enjoyment out of the game in different ways without sacrificing the ability to win a game.

This Settlers of Catan new player guide will touch on things you should familiarize yourself with prior to picking up the game or if you are struggling to grasp the game after your first full game.  This guide covers the standard Settlers of Catan version and for the Seafarers and Cities & Knights expansions please refer to their respective new player guides.

Settlers of Catan Keywords

Knowing the lingo of Settlers of Catan will not only help you by allowing you to read guides and the book included with the game, but also helps other people teach you about Settlers of Catan along the way.  The keywords below will focus on the standard Settlers of Catan version and we will first start with keywords associated with pieces that are on the board.


Resources refer to wood, brick, ore, wheat, and sheep.  Resources can be gained off of the hex represented by each resource on the game board and depending on which number is rolled by the dice you may receive any amount of a specific resource each dice roll.  Resources are easily accounted for by their respective resource card that you will receive and have pictures of wheat, ore, brick, sheep, and wood on them to keep them easily managed in your hand.

Personal Game Pieces

Below are the names of the pieces you will have to place on the board and are capable of building or obtaining with resources/commodities.


A settlement is represented as a small single-story house and you can have up to five of them on the board at any given time.  A settlement grants you one resource if the number of a resource hex is rolled adjacent to your settlement.  Settlements must have at least two roads between them before another is built and also must not have under two open spaced where roads could be placed between them.  Settlements are placed at the intersections of hexes(on the points) and are not placed where roads are placed.  To build a settlement you must have one wood, one wheat, one sheep, and one brick.  Settlements are also worth 1 victory point and are crucial to winning a game.


A city can be built to replace a settlement to provide additional resources and/or commodities.  When a city is built for three ore and two wheat it is placed where a settlement once was and the settlement is removed from the board and can be built again in another location.  You can build up to four cities at any given time on the board and are worth two victory points compared to the one victory point a settlement is worth.


A road connects settlements, cities, metropolises, and is the life blood of your empire in Settlers of Catan.  Roads cost one wood, one brick and one player can build up to 15 roads at any given time.  Roads are crucial since you need two roads to expand outward and build another settlement.  You can use roads to build past other players and block them in.

Pieces on or Near the Board


The robber is activated whenever the total of the dice equals seven when they are rolled each turn.  Each player holding more than seven cards must discard half of their cards.  After players discard any cards they need to the player who rolled the dice is capable of moving the robber to any land hex they wish to.  When the robber is placed on a land hex that hex will not produce any resources/commodities for settlements/cities adjacent to it even if the number is rolled on it until the robber is moved.  The player placing the robber then is able to steal a card of their choosing from a player with a settlement or city adjacent to the robber.

The robber is almost always used to hurt the player(s) in first place and who are ahead of other players.  Placing the robber on players in last place is usually not a good idea since it allows the player in first place to run away with the game.


A hex refers to the hexagon resource and sea tiles, a.k.a, hexes.  It is simply an easier way to say resource hexagons and instead most people simply say hexes or hex.  Hexes are bricks, sheep, ore, wheat, wood, and desert and are easily distinguishable as their respective resource/hex.

Number Token

A number token refers to the numbers placed on land hexes to signify when a resource is given out depending on the total of the dice outcome.


Harbors and/or Ports are pieces placed on the board that allow players to trade with the bank at less than a 4:1 ratio.  Some harbors/ports allow a player to trade at a 3:1 ratio and others allow a player to trade at a 2:1 for a specific resource.  To utilize a port/harbor a player must build a settlement/port on either side of the harbor/port piece.

Development Cards

Development cards are special cards that can be purchased to help you advance further towards winning.  Development cards cost one sheep, one ore, and one wheat and cannot be played the same turn you purchase them on.  A player may only play one development card per turn as well.  Development cards provide victory points, special bonuses, or soldiers that can lead to gaining a 2 point victory point bonus.

Red and Yellow Dice

The standard version of Settlers of Catan comes with one red dice and one yellow dice.  Both are rolled at the start of a turn to determine which resources a player might received based on the number tokens on the board.  In the Cities & Knights expansion the red dice is used to determine if a player receives a progress card.

Longest Road

Longest road is a special large card that is rewarded to the player who has the longest amount of roads that are connected.  The road length must be at least 5 roads in length and must not be broken by any gaps or another player’s roads.  If players are tied for the longest road then neither holds the card.  The longest road card is worth a total of 2 victory points.

Largest Army

The largest army card is a special large card rewarded to the player with the most amount of solider development cards that are played.  A player must have a minimal of three soldiers and like the largest road if two players are tied then neither holds the largest army card.  The largest army card is worth a total of two victory points.

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Additional Keywords

Below are some more keywords to know in Settlers of Catan that aren’t related to physical pieces on or near the board.

Victory Points

Victory points are the primary goal of Settlers of Catan and reaching the amount of victory points you have set to play to is the only way to win the game.  Typically the standard version of Settlers of Catan for 3-4 players is played to 10 victory points, however you may adjust this amount to your liking.  Adding more players with expansions will see you rise the victory point amount to a minimal amount of 13 with other variations of Settlers.


Players may trade during their turn after they roll the dice and before they build.  Players can trade at a 4:1 ratio with the bank during their turn, and also at a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio if they are on a specific harbor/port.  Players can also trade with other players at any ratio they wish but may only initiate the trade during their turn.  If it is not your turn you cannot initiate a trade or trade with the bank.

Continue to page two to learn more more about Settlers of Catan

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