“I developed games to escape. This was my own world I created.” – Klaus Teuber.

How did a German dental technician create a board game out of his basement that now has over 40 million copies sold worldwide? This is the creation story of how the renowned board game, Settlers of Catan, came to be.


The Start of a Board Game Adored by Millions Worldwide

Klaus Teuber was born in 1952 in Rai-Breitenbach, a small village in central Germany. When he was a child, he would play in his own world by setting up miniature fighters. His creative mind would use random materials to create a landscape of rivers and mountains.

During the war, Teuber was forced to serve mandatory military service. In the barracks, he rediscovered his love of board games. He would create his own board games to entertain his wife and young son in the barracks.

In the 1980s, Klaus Teuber worked at a dental office. He was extremely unhappy with his job. He disliked the company that he worked for and did not enjoy his profession. To take his mind off of his occupation, he began to develop board games out of his basement. Weekly, Teuber would ask his wife and children to test out alternative versions of his creation. He enjoyed the idea of Icelandic settlements, so his game revolved around this theme. Teuber stated that his breakthrough moment was making the decision to use hexagonal tiles instead of squares.

Catan was first published in Germany during the year 1995. In the following year, it was released in the United States. Mayfair Games, publisher of Catan, reported selling seven hundred and fifty thousand Catan-related products. Catan was being sold in stores such as Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. With Catan being easily accessible in these large, big-box chains, it gradually grew in popularity. Catan continued to grow when special editions and expansions of the game were released. Fans were rushing to buy Catan Junior and Star Trek Catan.

In 1998, Teuber left his job at the dental lab. With his wife Claudia and their children, the family began to form a family business. Teuber’s sons, Guido and Benjamin, hold important titles. Guido’s role is English marketing while Benjamin controls international marketing and assists with game development. Claudia’s role is bookkeeping, and she also tests new game ideas. Klaus’ daughter is primarily an actress, but she is said to help the company by also testing new versions of Catan.

“The start of the tipping point was 2008,” said Bob Carty, a spokesperson for Mayfair Games. After this point in time, Catan began to grow rapidly. It started as a game common for families, however, more and more students on college campuses began to buy the game.

As Catan grew, the number of expansions of the game increased. There are numerous electronic versions and spinoffs. Did you know, Catan even has its own novel? Written by Rebecca Gable, a German historical-fiction novelist, The Settlers of Catan is a novel about a small coastal village dealing with great hardships. When a violent storm washes the members of the village onto the shores of Catan, they begin building their society from the ground-up.

At Playmore, we have several editions and expansions to Catan including Explorers & Pirates, Seafarers, Age of Darkness, Legend of the Conquerors, Rivals for Catan, Traders & Barbarians, Dawn of Humankind, Catan Junior, and Elasund: The First City.


So, How Do You Play Catan?

To play Catan, the objective is to “collect and trade resources to build up the island of Catan”. It is a game of strategy, economics, and negotiation.

Players must attempt to be the most dominant force on the island by building settlements, cities, and roads. Every turn, each player will roll their die to discover which resources the island of Catan will produce. To build, players will spend resources. A player’s resources will consist of wheat, sheep, wood, brick, and ore. Each land type, excluding the desert tiles, will create resources.

The setup of the game consists of randomly ordering hexagonal tiles in a honeycomb shape and neighboring them with water tiles. Players will receive two settlements and roads. Players will also receive a collection of resource cards. There is also a robber tile, which you must watch out for! When the robber tile lands on a space, that terrain will not produce resources. The robber tile forces players to trade with opponents.

Players gain points by building settlements and cities. You can also earn points by having the largest road or the biggest army. When a player obtains 10 points, the player can claim a victory.


What Makes Catan So Esteemed In The Board Game World?

In my opinion, what makes Catan such as a highly rated board game is that it can be played by anyone. It is a perfect family game as it is suitable for children aged 10+. However, Catan can also be played by board game extremists who focus inherently on strategy. Catan can be both simple and advanced all at once. It appeals to a wide array of individuals.

According to Adam Weisberg, a finalist to the 2006 Settlers of Catan US Championship, “[Catan] is easy to learn because it draws on equal parts of strategy, gamesmanship, and luck. With a little luck, a sharp new player always has a chance to beat an expert”. Catan is also said to be beneficial because it rewards cooperation. Catan is not classified as a cooperative game, although, it involves plenty of trading with players. Weisberg states that, “it [Catan] brings out competitive spirits in a positive way”.

Board gamers adore Catan so much that they believe it is better than Monopoly. Catan has been said to be the Monopoly of our time by Wired magazine. It features similar concepts and mechanisms to Monopoly, such as economic theory and adorable miniature pieces. However, it is believed to be a stronger game than Monopoly because it is modernized, and players can maintain close competition.

It was also mentioned in the Washing Post that Catan has taken hold of the board game community because it represents true aspects of our modern society, such as limited resources and intertwined global economies.


Klaus Teuber: A Board Game Master & Legend

Klaus Teuber devastatingly passed away just this year on April 1st. He was 70 years old. Teuber was said to have a brief illness.

Teuber’s mind was incredibly intelligent and passionate. He was a loveable and peaceful individual who enjoyed good games that surrounded the concept of cooperation. Catan was developed so that nobody would be eliminated. He wanted every game of Catan to be close. “You cannot destroy someone’s building. It’s impossible. And you have to communicate,” said Teuber.

Klaus Teuber contributed immensely to the world of board games. Catan has won countless awards for its outstanding gameplay.

With millions all over playing Catan, Teuber’s legend as talented Gamemaker will live on!


Fun Facts About Catan!

  • Catan is available in over thirty languages.
  • The game has its own website named PlayCatan.com where over 80,000 members play online! Klaus Teuber himself used to play on this site before his passing. He would go under an anonymous name to compete with players worldwide.
  • In 2015, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that the teammates of the Green Day Packers would regularly play Catan as a team-bonding exercise.
  • During Germany’s Spiel convention in 2015, 1040 participants, including Klaus Teuber, sat down and played a game of Catan.
  • There are Catan championships and tournaments all over. In America, Catan enthusiasts compete at local qualifying tournaments, hoping to win a seat at the Catan United States National Championship in Ohio.


Thank you for reading this blog post! If you are interested in playing Catan or any of its expansions, come check us out in store at 51 Front Street (inside Shops On Sydenham!).

Let’s PLAY MORE.ca!