Settlers of Catan Optional Rules

by Thomas A. Stobie, S.F.O., (

These options can be used individually or together.

Two Player Game Version

These rules adapt the original rules for use with just two players.

  1. Each Player uses two colors.
  2. Trading with the other player is not used. Trade with the bank only.
  3. 20 Victory Points are required to win.
  4. Increase the threshold from 7 to 9 where discarding on a "7" is required.

Variable Board Layout

I have created these rules to allow the players to customize the layout. As the board layout significantly affect strategic, players should be aware that the choices they make during the layout phase will affect the way the game plays and how productive any settlement or city will probably be.

  1. Shuffle the land cards in one pile facedown.
  2. Shuffle the port cards in another pile facedown.
  3. Place the sea hexes in another pile.
  4. Place the number chits with the number side up and sorted by number.
  5. Determine which player will do the first layout action and alternate layout actions among all the players until the board is totally layed out.
  6. Layout the land tiles as follows:
    1. The first player draws a land hex and places it face up on the table. Place the bandit on top of it to remind all that this hex is the center hex.
    2. Then, the next player, draws a land hex and places adjacent to an already placed land hex and not more the four hexes away from the center hex. Repeat this step until all the land hexes are deployed.
  7. Layout the port tiles as follows:
    1. The next player draws a port hex and places it so that both ports touch land, no port touchs as already deployed port and, if possible, no port hex touches another port hex. Repeat this step until all the port hexes are deployed.
  8. Place the regular sea hexes around the board to provide support for the other hexes. Sea hexes are assumed to cover the remaining spaces around the board as well.
  9. Remove the bandit from the board.
  10. Layout the number chits as follows:
    1. Special Rule: No number may be placed in a hex adjacent to a hex with the same number in it.
    2. The next player takes a "6" or an "8" and plays it on any empty non-desert land hex that is not adjacent to an already deployed "6" or "8". Repeat until all 6's and 8's are deployed.
    3. The next player takes a "5" or a "9" and plays it on any empty non-desert land hex that wouldn't create a junction (potential settlement site) with more than 2 of "5","6","8", or "9". Repeat until all 5"s and 9's are deployed.
    4. The next player takes one of the remaining number chits and plays it on any empty non-desert land hex. Repeat until all number chits have been deployed.
  11. Now determine the player that will start first, and follow the normal rules of play. It is important that the order of play be determined only after the board is layed out. If this is not done, the first player to go may be able to set up the board to his advantage.

Official Competition Board Layouts

I see the following options for official competion board layouts.

  1. Standard Rules, competition official deploys tile according to random setup in rules. I feel this one has the potential to be the most unbalanced.
  2. Standard Rules, each round uses same setup (created per rules or design by competition officials)
  3. Variable Layout Option, competition officials create the layout. Same layout used by all boards in a round.
  4. Variable Layout Option, players create layout.

When competition officials create a layout, it is recommend that they playtest the layout prior to the competition and make sure it is fairly balanced.

Different Victory Scenarios

I have come up with a number of victory points required based on the number of players and the length of game desired. You should decide what the target is before play begins. If it is not discussed, it is 10 for 3 or 4 players and 20 for 2 players. The longer the version the more significant becomes the "Pick a Card" deck.

Length of Game

2 Players

3 Players

4 players

















Note that with the 3 player medium or long version, additional settlement, city, and roads markers are needed (unless at lot of use of the "Pick a Card Deck" is desired.)

For Competitions, I would recommend 4 player-normal, 4 player-medium, or 4 player-long.

Page Updated: Oct. 9, 1996

©1996 Mayfair Games