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Subject: Two-player rules for Settlers of Catan rss

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Clinton Balmain
United States
Texas
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I had someone recommend Settlers of Catan to me as a two-player game. I usually lean towards two-player games since my wife and I play once we put our son to bed. But when I looked into Catan, I noted that it says it's for 3-5 players. Is there a good set of two-player rules, or is one of the variations of Settlers of Catan better for two players?
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Mike Banks
United States
Harrisburg
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I've been using Nick Borko's two-player variant for a while now, and it works very well!

http://nick.borko.org/games/Catan2Players.pdf

This is copied from a post of his in the main Settlers "variant" forum.

Enjoy!
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Matthew Wills
Australia
Panania
NSW
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It is actually for 3-4 players - to support 5 or 6 you need to buy an expansion.

For two player play, Settlers is fairly unsatisfying. You could try the Settlers of Catan Card Game (which is two players only), or other games in the KOSMOS two player line - such as Lost Cities or Jambo.
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J
Canada
Slave Lake
AB
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The Borko rules work well, but I wouldn't buy Catan just for them. If you had it already, they're worth a try.
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@spielfriek
United States
Virginia Beach
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My 12-year-old son and I have been playing 2 player Settlers with the rules right out of the box. Sure, it gets a little wonky, but it's still fun. And it's more appealing to either of us than the two players Settlers Card Game.

I'm going to try the Borko rules to see if they help with our wonkiness issues.
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Susan Butler
United States
Eastport
Maine
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My husband and I also play Settlers right out of the box just the 2 of us and we LOVE it!!!

...Sue
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Brian Cherry
Canada
North Bay
Ontario
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tapestry wrote:
My husband and I also play Settlers right out of the box just the 2 of us and we LOVE it!!!


I agree. Settlers rules work very well for 2 players. My wife and I don't end up trading, so the game can be a little unbalanced though. Often, the person who chose the right numbers at the start will have a much easier game. It's a small thing though, and we still love playing it.
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My wife and I still enjoy the rules I came up with a while back, but you really need to play optimally on such a tight board. If you make mistakes and get left behind, it's fairly hard to catch up. There are lots of good suggestions for variants of those rules to make it a little easier to play more casually in the original thread:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/60692

Nick
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Andrew Snyder
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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for two players I like to leave the robber off the board and play to 12 points. Solders and 7s rolled still cause the loss and/or theft or resources.
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Rick Kimmel
United States
Waconia
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schlappy wrote:
I've been using Nick Borko's two-player variant for a while now, and it works very well!

http://nick.borko.org/games/Catan2Players.pdf

This is copied from a post of his in the main Settlers "variant" forum.

Enjoy!


I don't understand that B/H thing. Does H replace B or do you use both H and B?
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J
Canada
Slave Lake
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ekimmel wrote:
I don't understand that B/H thing. Does H replace B or do you use both H and B?


If I remember right, B and H are 12 and 2. Use both on one hex.
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rootbeer wrote:
ekimmel wrote:
I don't understand that B/H thing. Does H replace B or do you use both H and B?


If I remember right, B and H are 12 and 2. Use both on one hex.

That's right, B and H go on the same hex, so rolling either a 2 or a 12 trigger the resource for that hex.

Nick
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Rick Kimmel
United States
Waconia
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Thanks guys. I figured that was the case but thought I'd get a clarification. I'll be trying it this weekend with my son. :-)
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Kunnagh Scott
England
Bristol
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My good lady and I also enjoy the occasional two-hander of Settlers.

Our preferred rule set is this one: http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/brewerytap/1/IntSett.html which turns it into a more head-to-head experience.

There's an image
which shows the end of one of our games.

You don't need the Seafarers expansion that this image shows, you just use the other roads as boats.

I really recommend this variant.
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Joe Harr

New Jersey
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My girlfriend got me a copy of the core game for my birthday, and we immediately set out to find a two-player version.

We weren't happy about eliminating trade altogether, so we're working on a 2-player system similar to Risk, where a third party exists without really doing anything but gathering free loot.

Come morning, we'll test v1.3 of our ruleset, and if it works out well, I'll share it here. Its a fun game without trade, but that ability to barter or even to totally get worked over in a trade deal is a huge part of the fun. It's not worth it to play without any trading going on.
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Christian Link
United States
Snowmass Village
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There are official 2 player rules for the purist by Klaus Teuber:
http://catan.wikia.com/wiki/2-player_variant
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Joe Harr

New Jersey
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Alright, we're finished playtesting the ruleset. I wasn't satisfied having to remove trade, so I decided to let it get a bit more complicated. We found that, although forcing in an automatic trade mechanic is harder to adjust to, it's more rewarding and challenging than a sure-fire trade to the bank.

We use a "Natives" system similar to that of many strategy video games (ex. Anno 1404, Age of Empires 3, Empire at War, etc) and even some simple boardgames, like Risk.

Feedback welcome! If rules need changing in the future, it will happen.

http://dracorotor.deviantart.com/#/d45s0lj
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Jamie Mack
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I like the sound of your rule variant, but am a little confused on a few points.

1. The way I'm reading it is that during the native turn each human player will get a chance to trade off resources to the bank for wheat, stone and wool? Why would both players get that chance? Wouldn't the player who rolled for the natives that turn be the only one to get this opportunity?

2. The rules for the d6 die roll for trading with the natives lists 2:1 and 3:1 trades in favor of the natives. I'm assuming this would mean a trade involving wheat, stone, and or wool since that's really the only resources the natives deal with? For instance, it's my turn and I want to attempt a trade with the natives. I roll a die and get a 2 for a 2:1 trade in favor of the natives. Let's say I need brick and I have a wool, and a wheat to trade for that. That would be an acceptable trade, correct?

But let's say I don't have any wheat, stone or wool. Would the natives simply refuse to trade with me (on a roll of 2 or 3) since, in theory, I have nothing they want?

3. It seems possible that the natives could end up purchasing more than one resource card on their turn. In that case which one would be played on their next turn?

That's all for now and I'm sorry if these questions turn out to be ridiculously simple to answer, we havent' had a chance to play through the game using your rules yet.

Anyway, here's hoping you can clarify. Like I said, I like what I see so far.

res
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Francesco M
Belgium
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I made a modified version of Klaus's rules for my girlfriend; since then we have been playing tons of games this way and she loves it.

I think it's more easier than the original version and it offers more strategic opportunities because you have to consider neutral player development too. I hope you will enjoy it.


SETUP
Set up the board according to the normal rules of the game you are playing.
One color that is not being used by the players will be used by neutral player and should be set beside the board. Before the first player places a settlement, place two neutral settlements (same colour) in opposite locations (http://catan.wikia.com/wiki/2-player_variant).

GAMEPLAY
The game is played according to normal rules except in the following exceptions:
1. Resolving Dice Roll: On each turn, the player throws the dice twice instead of once, but he can use development card only after the first roll.
Players collect production cards for both rolls; current player decides the order in which neutral cards are acquired.
Neutral player has to retain a maximum of five resource cards and these cards are shown on the table; if the neutral player gets more than five cards, he has to discharge the older ones.
If a “7” is rolled the player moves the Robber and the usual actions are taken; he may choose to take a card from the neutral player, in this case the other player shuffle the cards and the first player pick randomly one of them; soon after the second player put back the neutral player cards on the table.
2. Neutral Building: When a player chooses to build a road (without using the road building development card) or a settlement, that player also builds a corresponding one for the neutral player at the end of the first player turn. The player must build the same type of neutral building as the one just placed by the player.
Building a city or buying a development card does not affect neutral players in any way. However, it is possible for a neutral player to receive the “longest trade route” card.
3. Neutral Trading: a player may choose to trade cards with the neutral player, one per time. The neutral player accepts only resource card he has not, and gives only resource card (the oldest card of the chosen type) if he has one more at least. Resource cards acquired by the neutral player are considered newer than the previous ones.


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John Doe
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There's a popular 2-player variant that hasn't been mentioned on this site yet: just have each player play two colors. There are no neutral colors. Each player alternates their turns (your two colors do not play back to back). Each color is treated as a separate player (cards do not mix).

An important change to the rules is that you can trade with the other player, but you may not trade between your own two colors. Whatever trade you propose can be agreed upon (or counter-offered) by the opponent, but you won't know which of the two colors you are actually trading with until the trade is agreed upon. At that point, you must make the trade. This keeps trading in the game. It actually feels a little diabolical because you may want something badly, but now you have to deal with the fact that you might be helping a color get cards you don't want them to have or you might not. So, trading still has some of the robustness that the normal version has.

A player wins when either of their two colors gets to 10 points.

Strategy can be very different than a normal game. Now that you have two possible colors to win with, you can have them work together in various ways. For example, perhaps one color is a massive road builder to set up blockades so that the other color can build settlements more easily. In that case, one of your colors is a sacrifice and the other player is going to need to counter the road building strategy. Another good strategy is to hedge your bets by choosing the two most optimal strategies that you can think of (as if the two colors are truly different players), except that you have to be careful that building does not conflict with each other.

I find this variation offers a high quality gaming experience and makes it so that you can easily play the extension games (like Traders and Barbarians). We're messing around with rules about placing the initial settlements. So far, the standard rules have been fine, but there may be a more interesting element to the game if the opponent has some say in where your colors have to begin.
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Nathan Cornelius
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Indiana
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I don't really understand why everyone needs special rules or variations for two players. I have played numerous games with only two players using the standard rules and never had any major problems. Sure it's not quite as interesting or robust as when playing with more players, but it still works quite well.

The only real differences are (1) a bit more limited trading - but it does still occur, (2) only one target for the robber - but the probability of rolling a 7 remains the same so it is still relatively fair, and (3) less board congestion - though this of course depends on the map you use.
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Scott Metzger
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Florida
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For me, board congestion is part of the game and part of the fun. My wife and I have tried out 4 different 2-player variations in the last 2 days and the ones that have us fighting for spots with lots of strategy were the most fun (for me). We have at least 1 more variant to test and then retest all of them before we come to a conclusion.
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Liam O'Caoimh
Ireland
Model Farm Road
Cork
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I found this video and I like his take on the two player variant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xqm0gPkjn4

He mentions a document in the video. Does anyone know where to get it?
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Sumo Sumo
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I played 1 game with standard rules with my girlfriend and we felt it was so lacking compared to our many player games that we didn't even want to finish it out.

We played 2 games with the borko rules (thanks for the link), and it was better; it kept the same rules mainly and just constricted the board to be more suitable for 2 players.

We also tried the Klaus official adaptation and we liked that the most after like... 6-7 games.
- 2 rolls instead of 1: this is much better because most of our turns otherwise are just roll, can't do anything, roll, can't do anything, etc. Only resources that were in hand before the rolls are susceptible to the robber.
- commercial chips: these give a way for the player that is behind to catch up. in a normal 4p game, the leader would get ganged up on, but in a 2p game there is none of that so this helps in a tiny way. also a way to get robber off, which in a 2p game can be on you forever.
- neutral players: resources and routes/longest routes get contested like a 4p game. I think this is great idea but too overpowered, especially if you are going brick/wood (settlements) early, rather than cities/dev cards. We decided we can destroy a neutral structure at a path's end by trading a brick+wood to bank, but it didn't help. I'd like to try being able to destroy a neutral structure with commercial chips (only at the end of a road path as opposed to the middle of a long road).
 
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Scott Miller
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In my mind, the problem with 2-player games in SoC is twofold:

First, the island is plenty big for two players, so the game ends before any significant expansion or competition for resources. Along with that, the game can be quite short (coming in at under 30 minutes).

Second, there is no balancing force. One player with a few lucky rolls early on can completely dominate the game. This is particularly true regarding the robber.

With those problems in mind, my wife and I have adopted the two following minor rule changes:

First, settlements are not worth any Victory Points. Everything else is scored the same. This means that the game cannot end until several cities have been built and Development Cards used. With this rule, our games now last 60-75 minutes, and the board is quite full by the end.

The second rule involves the robber. We noticed that if one player got a few 7 rolls early, they could pound their opponent, creating an insurmountable lead. Without a third player as a balancing force (who would likely team up against the leading player), the game was much less fun. So we decided that the robber could not simply be moved completely at will. Now, when a player rolls a 7 or plays a Knight Card, the player rolls again and must move the robber to a location with that number (a roll of 7 moves him back to a desert hex). The exception is that you cannot be forced to hurt yourself with the robber; if moving him would hurt you, you may keep him where he is. The result is that early in the game the robber is less likely to keep a player down significantly, but later in the game he could do so if you have expanded greatly but not wisely.

(Alternatively, you could adopt a rule that you may only move the robber to an opponent's space if you are behind in Victory Points.)

Since adopting these two rules, every game has been close and challenging. There are no allegations of luck being a significant factor in winning or losing, and each game is decided within 4 Victory Points. It's made our games competitive without anyone getting upset. And that, to me, is a perfect family game night!
 
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