The Origins of Catan


Here is a little something you may have not known about The Settlers of Catan®.


     By now it seems that everyone knows about The Settlers of Catan® game. It has become one of the most popular board games to come along in years, attracting an audience of millions around the world and expanding into a series of related games and expansions. But The Settlers of Catan� has a secret past that most of the fans would never even guess. And from that secret past come Catan�s two brothers: Entdecker� and Domaine�.

     When master game designer Klaus Teuber first sat down to create what would someday become The Settlers of Catan�, he envisioned something much larger. From his early childhood, he was always fascinated by stories of discovery and adventure. When he began his career as a game designer, he hoped to capture the essence of these stories and he sought to create games that allow the players to experience the thrill of exploration, discovery, and development for themselves.

     It was not until the early nineties that he was able to begin working on his first prototypes. Part of his style of game design is to take ideas that develop while he creates the game materials. In a way, this mirrors the same themes of discovery and development that he hoped to express in his designs. Many of the elements of this first design would be familiar to fans of Catan: landscape tiles featuring seas, mountains, and forests, settlements which generated resources from the neighboring countryside, even trade and negotiations with the other players.

     But there was much more to this game. For starters, only a small part of the �world� would be available at the beginning. Players would have to send out �scouts� to explore the rest of the land, drawing tiles as they went. These same scouts would be used to establish new settlements in this growing land. Eventually conflict crept in as players would compete with their bands of scouts for the most valuable regions. It quickly became apparent that the game was too much for one box.

     So Klaus went back to the drawing board. He re-envisioned his concept. Instead of trying to draw all of his interests together in one game, he realized that he should create a trio of games. Each game would be able to focus on one aspect of his original grand design. This focus would make each game that much more interesting, that much more exciting. That much better. The first of this triad of games was, of course, The Settlers of Catan�, known in German as Die Siedler von Catan�. This was the game that was focused on development and trade.

     The second game would be known as Entdecker� in both German and English. Entdecker� translates roughly as �Discoverer,� and that is the role that players must undertake in this game. Entdecker� begins with an almost empty field. Only a few clues about what you will find are given. Each player is supplied with a small amount of coins that they must invest in order to send their exploration ship into the unknown. The exploration is done through the use of tiles. Each tile shows the waterway that the ship can explore, and may also show a small amount of land, ripe for further exploration. The goal, of course, is to explore the islands, earning points as you go. But it is not limited to that! For the second theme taken from the original grand design for Entdecker� was the creation of new outposts. In addition to funding your exploration, you must use your limited resources to establish new settlements and forts on the islands you discover. The points don�t go to the explorer, they go to the player who ends up in control of the island! And to further stretch your strategy, you must hire intrepid scouts to brave the jungles and negotiate with the natives that live there.

     The third game would focus on the inevitable conflicts between established princes for the limited resources. This game would be known as Domaine� among the American audience, and the Germans call it Loenherz�, although the game slightly differs in Germany. In Domaine�, the entire realm is explored. The settlements are built. The forests tamed. But your rivals certainly are not! First, you must stake your claim to regions of the board (which are called domaines). Then you must hire knights to defend your holdings, and to expand them into the domaines of your opponents! Politics and intrigue are the order of the day in this third portion of Klaus� original grand design.

     In a way, the three �brother games� tell a story. First, there is the Discoverer, boldly setting off into the unknown to explore and seek out new lands. Behind him comes the Settler, who establishes new outposts, and develops bold and productive societies. Lastly, there comes the Lion-hearted conqueror, claiming the various lands and forging them into a single mighty kingdom, under his own control.

     It is the genius of the designer that can take one bold vision, and create from it three fabulous games, each unique in its own right. Each game presents the player with unique challenges and opportunities. Each has a very different flavor to be enjoyed. But together they present the creation and growth of a world very much like our own.

To learn more about these great games from Klaus Teuber please visit the
product pages:

The Settlers of Catan ®         MFG0483   $38.00
Domaine™                              MFG4102   $49.00
Entdecker™                            MFG0499   $49.00