Settlers of Catan: A Chronological History

Learn the unique history of the most popular board game in the world -Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan: A Chronological History

This post looks at the history of Settlers of Catan, exploring the plethora of expansions, variants, and spin-offs released in the game's 27 years of existence. We hope you enjoy our trip into the archives!


Settlers of Catan is first released in Germany with the title "Die Siedler von Catan." The original game featured brick, lumber, wool, ore, grain, longest road, and largest army, all resources and items that remain in base Catan to this day.

The Settlers of Catan Box
The Settlers of Catan Box


   Catan Card Game, a card-based version of Catan, is released. It will eventually become "The Rivals for Catan."

   The 5-6 player extension for base Catan is released.

   The second edition of Settlers of Catan is released. It includes alternate colors and instructions on gameplay with up to 8 players.


   Seafarers, the first-ever expansion to base Catan, is released. Seafarers introduces ships to Catan, which can be built for one wool and one lumber. In addition, longest road is renamed "Longest Trade Route." It is now awarded to the longest continuous chain of roads and ships. Along with the introduction of ships comes the introduction of pirates, which operate like robbers on the sea and prevent players from building ships near them. Seafarers also introduces "Gold" and "Fog" tiles to the game. Gold Field tiles produce a resource of players' choice, and the resource type and number of Fog tiles are hidden until a player builds a road or ship to them. Finally, Seafarers includes a variety of "scenarios," custom board set-ups that come with slight rule changes to give players unique game experiences each time they play.

Catan: Seafarers
Catan: Seafarers

   The Water of Life, a base Catan adaptation, is released in partnership with the Glen Grant Distillery Company. The game mechanics are not changed, but resources and other items are renamed to fit the theme of Scotch whiskey production.

   The Tournament Set, the first expansion to the Catan Card Game, is released. The Tournament Set will eventually be split into two expansions titled "Science & Progress" and "Knights & Merchants."

   The third edition of Settlers of Catan is released. 


   Alexander & Cheops, the first set in the Catan Historical Scenario expansion series, is released. Each historical scenario expansion alters the rules and objectives of Catan to fit a different historical narrative.


   The 5-6 player extension for Seafarers is released.  

   Cities & Knights, an expansion to base Catan, is released. In this expansion, Development Cards are replaced by three types of Progress Cards (green, blue, and yellow). The City Upgrade Calendar replaces Building Cost Cards, and Largest Army is removed. Furthermore, three commodities: paper, coin, and cloth, are added to the game and are produced by cities placed on lumber, ore, and wool tiles, respectively. Another critical addition to the game is city improvements, where players can spend commodities on adding a variety of special abilities to their cities. In addition to city improvements, players can buy City Walls which cost two bricks and increase maximum hand capacity by two resource cards. Finally, Cities & Knights also introduces the Event Die to Catan. When a ship is rolled on the Event Die, Barbarians advance closer to Catan. When they arrive, a special Barbarian attack phase is initiated, and players must fight back or have their cities destroyed.

Catan: Cities & Knights Box
Catan: Cities & Knights

   Starfarers of Catan, the first game in the Starfarers of Catan series, is released. Starfarers is a standalone game where players travel in spaceships to distant planets in pursuit of valuable resources.

   In March 1999, five expansions were released for the Catan Card Game: Trade & Change, Politics & Intrigue, Knights & Merchants, Science & Progress, and Wizards & Dragons. Each expansion incorporates new cards and adds unique spins to the game.

   The Settlers of Nuremberg, a Catan spinoff commemorating the founding of Nüremberg, is released.


   Das Buch un Speilen, a major Catan expansion including fifteen scenarios and a multitude of variants, is released exclusively in German. Due to the expansions popularity, English versions exist for sale in the US.

   The 5-6 player extension to Cities & Knights is released.

   The Communication in Catan is released. This version of Catan was created for the French telecom company Alcatel as a promotion. The mechanics of base Catan are unchanged, but resources and other aspects of the game are renamed to fit a telecommunications theme (longest road becomes longest fiber line.)


   Troy & the Great Wall, a Catan historical scenario, is released.

   Starship Catan, a card game adaptation of Starfarers of Catan, is released.


   The Settlers of Catan: Travel Edition is released. The Travel Edition is a more compact version of base Catan created to be easy to travel with.

Catan: Travel Edition (Current Version) Box
Catan: Travel Edition (Current Version)

   The Settlers of Canaan, an adaptation of Catan which takes place in Canaan, is released.

   Settlers of the Stone Age, a part of the Catan Histories series, is released.

   Gold & Pirates, an expansion to the Catan Card Game, is released. The expansion was created for a 2002 card game tournament but was officially released later in the year.


   The Settlers of Zarahemla, a Book of Mormon-themed adaption of Catan, is released. The gameplay is similar to base Catan, with the addition of a temple players work to build.

   Barbarians & Traders, an expansion to the Catan Card Game, is released. This expansion can be played alongside any of the five-card game expansions released in 1999.

   The Kids of Catan, the first version of Catan created for a younger audience, is released.


   Catan Austria, an adaptation of Catan themed around Austrian tourism, is given to attendees of the 20th Austrian Gamefest.

   Rockman.EXE Catan is released in Japan. The game is identical to base Catan but renamed and themed around the Mega Man media franchise (known as Rockman.EXE in Japan.)

   Candamir: The First Settlers is released. The first game of the "First Settlers" series, Candamir has the same theme as base Catan but with different game mechanics.

   Artisans & Benefactors, a Catan Card Game expansion, is released.


   Catan 3D Collector's Edition set is released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Catan. Only 5,000 English copies, 2,500 German copies, and 500 Dutch copies were ever released, making this one of the most limited-edition releases in Catan history.

   Atlantis: Scenarios & Variants, a boxed expansion to base Catan, is released exclusively in Germany.

   The Building of Castle Chaffenberch & Renaissance in Styria, a Catan scenario pack, is released.

   Catan: Paper & Pencil is released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Catan. The game is released in partnership with pizza chain Hallo Pizza, and orders of the special "Catan Pizza" come with free copies of the game.


   Simply Catan, a version of base Catan altered to make games easier to set up and take less time, is released.

   Elasund: The First City, the sequel to Candamir, is released.

   Struggle for Rome, part of the Catan Histories series, is released.


   Settlers of Catan Junior, which evolved from "The Kids of Catan," is released.

   The fourth edition of Settlers of Catan is released. In this edition, game tiles are made thicker to prevent flipping.


   Traders & Barbarians, an expansion pack containing five scenarios, is released. The scenarios are sequential, each adding new aspects to the game. The first scenario, Fishermen of Catan, adds fishing to the game. The second, The Rivers of Catan, allows players to expand around rivers and reap rewards from doing so. In the third scenario nomads enter the game, sending out caravans for trading. The fourth scenario involves a barbarian attack on Catan which requires players to train knights and fight. In the final scenario, Traders & Barbarians, players work to repair Catan after the barbarian attack by carrying out deliveries.

Catan Traders & Barbarians Box
Catan: Traders & Barbarians

   The Settlers of Hesse, a map expansion to base Catan modeled after the German state Hessen, is released.

   The Gold of Ankh-Morpork & Rincewind and the Tourist, Catan scenario packs, are released.

   The Settlers of the North Rhine-Westphalia, a scenario pack with a board modeled after the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia, is released.

   Catan Board Game: Gallery Edition, a cheaper and simplified version of base Catan, is released.


   Settlers of America: Trails to Rails, a Catan Histories expansion based in America, is released. The game incorporates railroads and locomotives.

   The Rivals for Catan, a complete remake of the Catan Card Game, is released on the 15th anniversary of the Card Game's creation.

Rivals for Catan Box
Rivals for Catan


   Oil Springs, a base Catan expansion that adds oil as a resource to the game, is released.


   Frenemies of Catan, an expansion that adds "favor tokens" to the game, is released. Favor tokens are given in exchange for doing favors for other players, complicating the social dynamics and incentives at play.

   Merchants of Europe, a Catan Histories expansion where players are merchants and compete to build trading routes, is released.

   Star Trek Catan, a Catan adaptation themed around Star Trek, is released.

Catan Star Trek Box
Star Trek Catan


   Explorers & Pirates is released. In this major Catan expansion, ships are added to the game and can transport items around the map. An extension to allow 5-6 players to use this expansion is also released this year.

Catan Explorers & Pirates Box
Catan: Explorers & Pirates


   Ancient Egypt Catan, an official spinoff that transports Catan to ancient Egypt, is released.


   The 5th edition of base Catan is released, officially renaming the game from "The Settlers of Catan" to "Catan."

New Catan Box
New Catan Box


   A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch is released. This Catan adaptation has similar mechanics to base Catan, adding a few show-related twists.


   Catan: Rise of the Inkas is released. This standalone game transports Catan to the Andean regions of South America, where they compete to establish and grow their tribes.

Catan Rise of the Inkas Box
Catan: Rise of the Inkas

   Catan Dice Game, a dice-based version of base Catan, is released. It is the only version of Catan that is playable by a solo player.


   Catan: Starfarers is re-released. Initially created in 1999, Starfarers is redone to simplify the game mechanics and add variability to the game board.

Catan Starfarers Box
Catan: Starfarers


   The 5-6 player extension to Catan: Starfarers is released.


   Treasures, Dragons & Adventures is released in English. It requires base Catan, Seafarers, and Cities & Knights to be played and adds dragons to Catan!

Catan: Treasures, Dragons, Adventures Box
Catan: Treasures, Dragons, Adventures


Spreadsheet with sources and additional information. If you believe any releases were omitted or have any exciting release information to add, please reach out to [email protected]!

Official Catan Website