CATAN® - For 2 Players
Three or four players always makes for the best CATAN® games, but when you’re staying at home and don’t have additional players, these two-player rules will get you by. (This rule set can be found in the CATAN - Traders & Barbarians Expansion, as well!)
What you need:
- CATAN base game
- Two players
- 20 trade tokens (You can use common household items: beans, beads, coins, etc.)
Place the two sets of game pieces not chosen by the players beside the game board. They will serve as game components for two imaginary neutral players.
Place the trade tokens beside the board. At the beginning of the game, each player receives 5 trade tokens.
Set up the terrain hexes as usual in the white area shown below. For each neutral player, place 1 settlement (without a road) on one of the intersections of the game board marked in the following illustration.
You and your opponent then build your two starting settlements with roads, according to the normal set-up rules. Therefore, after finishing the set-up phase, each player has 2 settlements and 2 roads on the game board, while each neutral player has 1 settlement.
Playing the Game
In general, the normal 3-4 player rules for CATAN apply. The changes are described below.
Rolling for Production
On your turn, you roll the dice twice in a row.
It is essential that the two dice roll results differ from one another. If the second dice roll gives the same result as the first one, roll again until you get a different result.
Immediately after each of the two dice rolls, the two real players obtain resources and/or move the robber (a “7” result).
Building for the Neutral Players
Whenever you build a road or a settlement, you must also build (for free) 1 road or 1 settlement for either of the two neutral players. If there is no legal settlement location for the neutral players, you must build a road instead.
You do not follow this process when you build a city or buy a development card. In those cases, you do nothing for the neutral players.
There are two other important points about the neutral players:
- They never receive resources.
- They can obtain the Longest Road.
Using Trade Tokens to Take Actions
On your turn, you may pay 1 or 2 trade tokens and take one of these actions:
- Action “Forced Trade”: You draw 2 random cards from your opponent’s hand; in exchange, you give your opponent 2 cards of your choice from your own hand. If your opponent only has 1 card, you can take it, but still must give that opponent 2 cards in exchange.
- Action “Move the Robber”: You may move the robber to the desert hex.
If your victory point total is less than or equal to your opponent’s total, you must pay 1 trade token to take an action. Otherwise, an action costs you 2 trade tokens. Return spent trade tokens to the supply.
Replenishing Trade Tokens
- Once during your turn, you may discard one of your face-up knight cards and take 2 trade tokens in exchange. If you hold the Largest Army card and discard a face-up knight card, you might have to set aside the Largest Army card. If you have only 2 face-up knight cards after discarding, set it aside. If you and your opponent have the same number of face-up knight cards (or your opponent has more) after discarding, set it aside. Thereafter, a player that has the most (at least 3) face-up knight cards takes the Largest Army card.
- When you build a settlement adjacent to the desert hex, take 2 trade tokens (this also applies during the set-up phase).
- When you build a settlement on the coast, you take 1 trade token (this also applies during the set-up phase).
- When you build a settlement adjacent to both the desert and the coast, you take 3 trade tokens (this also applies during the set-up phase).
You can also download this pdf with all the rules described on this site.
Want more two-player options?
CATAN - Explorers & Pirates also offers a two-player option.
Rivals for CATAN is a card game specifically designed for two players.
Struggle for CATAN is a card game that can be played with two to four players.
CATAN Dice Game is a fast-playing roll-and-write game for any number of players
CATAN Traveler also includes this 2-player variant!