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Before you read this articleyou will need to know the following terms and definitions: 

Game(-s): Noun. Singular or Plural. A standalone version of Settlers of Catan, which can be played right out of the box without making additional purchases. There is only one standalone (base) game of Catan.
Expansion(-s): Noun. Singular or Plural.  An Catan game that cannot be played by itself. It must be used in conjunction with a standalone (base) game. The 5 & 6-player expansions are a good example of this.
Scenario(-s): Noun. Singular or Plural. A small set of playing pieces and instructions that can be added to normal Catan gameplay. It cannot be played by itself--it must be used in conjunction with a standalone (base) game. The "Oil Springs" scenario is a good example of this.
Variant(-s): Noun. Singular or Plural. A set of instructions for using the pieces from a Catan game or expansion in a new way. Most variants are fan-generated and require printing and cutting out new pieces.


Favor Tokens

  • On January 25, 2001, Alf Seegart pointed out that many criticisms of Settlers of Catan stem from the fact that falling behind early in the game--which can easily result from unlucky die rolls--will keep players from being able to compete in later stages. This is all too true, and has been the source of much annoyance for members of all game groups.
  • The introduction of Event Cards did not perfectly remedy this problem (especially when Variable Set-Up is used), mainly because low-probability hexes are now guaranteed to be low probability! However, two simple elements make gameplay MUCH more balanced. The first is Catan Seasons Event Cards, and the second is Favor Tokens (discussed later).

We live in a time of altruism on Catan.  We give away resources to help lagging players.  We move the robber to isolated locations to ensure the safety of our fellows.  We even go out of our way to connect our roads with our neighbors’ networks.  Has everyone gone nuts?

Ah! Catan’s guilds reward such noble-minded behavior by handing out “favor tokens” (FTs).  Favor tokens grant us different advantages: road building for free, development cards, random resources, preferential trades, or even Victory Points (VPs).  Sigh…if goodwill really’s not part of this game.

This really helps those falling behind, but does not lead to inflation on the island of Catan for the following two reasons:

  • As players become more powerful with more victory points, they are less likely to suffer a roll without harvesting resources. Therefore, they do not receive favor tokens as often.
  • As players become more powerful with more victory points, they will draw closer to the winning number of victory points. Thus, they will find it more difficult to redeem their favor tokens.

Ever since the Settlers of Catan began employing this variant, games have become much more close, tense, and engaging. Now, the Settlers won’t play any other way.

Frenemies Guild Hall Board and Favor Token Bag

Place the Frenemies guild hall board(s) next to the board.

  • You will need two copies of the Frenemies scenario to play with more than 4 players. Combine both sets of Favor Tokens before following the rest of these instructions.


During the game, each Favor Token will be drawn from the “supply” of Favor Tokens in the opaque bag.  The number of tokens in the bag is pre-determined, based upon the number of players in the game:

  • In a 2-3 player game, place half of the non-dot Favor Tokens in the opaque bag.
  • In a 4-player game, place half of the dotted and half of the non-dot Favor Tokens in the opaque bag.
  • In a 5-player game, place all of the dotted Favor Tokens in the opaque bag, along with half of the non-dotted Favor Tokens.
  • In a 6-player game, place all of the non-dot Favor Tokens in the opaque bag.

Mix the required number of Favor Tokens (as explained above) together in an opaque bag. Place the bag next to the frame.

Earning Favor Tokens

  • The Guilds of Catan are dedicated to helping their members in times of need and distress. As such, players may earn favor tokens in one of 5 ways:
    • Move A Villain Harmlessly
    • Make A Donation
    • Connect Networks
    • Build Next to a Barren Hex
    • Suffer a Bad Harvest
  • If you earn a Favor Token, draw it randomly from the opaque bag (or face-down pile).
  • NOTE: You may not give away FTs. You may not trade FTs with other players.
  • There is no limit to how many Favor Tokens you may have at one time.
  • When favor tokens run out, players who would otherwise be eligible to receive one receive one gold as compensation.

Move A Villain Harmlessly

You earn 1 Favor Token if, after rolling a “7,” playing a Development/Progress card, or driving away a Barbarian with your Wagon, you move the displaced villain (Robber, Privateer, Pirate, Barbarian, Blockade Runner, Donkey Cart) in one of the following ways:

  • You move the villain to any hex (even to the desert, BUT NOT SANTA’S WORKSHOP!) with no surrounding buildings, trade routes, military forces, or transports. Of course, you must follow the normal rules regarding the placement of each Villain.
  • You move the villain to a hex, but decide not to steal a resource/commodity card from a player who owns a building adjacent to that hex. This only works if that villain’s normal rules (or the rules governing the movement of that villain, such as on a Development/Progress card) allow you to steal a resource/commodity card from an adjoining player.

You may perform this action only ONCE per turn.  If you move two or more villains during your turn, only one may qualify to earn you a Favor Token.

Make a Donation

On your turn, you may offer 1 resource/commodity/development/progress card to an opponent.  This opponent must have equal or fewer visible VPs than you have.  The opponent may accept or reject your offer, or even ask for a different resource.  If rejected, you may offer a card (same or different) to another player (with the same VP restriction).  If your offer is accepted, you earn 1 favor token.

NOTE: You may only give away 1 card in this manner during your turn.  If you are required to “give” a card to another player (because of an Event or a “steal” or “draw” Development/Progress card or special power, then this does not qualify you for a Favor Token.

Connect Networks

A network is all of the roads, boats, bridges, and buildings of one color that are connected to each other.  If you build a trade route that connects one of your networks with an opponent’s network for the first time, this opponent first earns and draws 1 Favor Token.  You then earn and draw 3 Favor Tokens.  This is considered “helpful” because trade routes make it easier for Wagons and military forces to travel across land and sea.  You only earn Favor Tokens for first-time connections of different-colored networks.  Should the 2 networks connect again later in the game at a different (or same, due to Earthquake or demolition, etc.) point, no one earns Favor Tokens.

Example: The red player builds road “A” and thus connects his lower network to the blue player’s network.  Blue earns 1 FT.  Red earns 3 FTs.  If either blue or red build a road on path “B,” they cannot receive any further FTs.  However, if either player builds a road on path “C,” both players earn FTs.  This is because red’ upper network only now become connected to blue’s network.

You cannot earn Favor Tokens for connecting your own networks with each other.  You may connect as many networks as you like during your turn, receiving 1 Favor Token for each new connection.  If, during set-up, you connect 2 networks, no one earns any Favor Tokens for that connection.  If you build a road that connects your network with the network of two opponents at the same time, you still receive only 3 Favor Tokens.  The owners of the other two networks each earn 1 Favor Token.  Going clock-wise around the board from you (the current player), the first opponent to your left draws from the bag first.

Build Next to a Barren Hex

You earn 1 Favor Token if, during Phase __: Trade and Purchase  of your turn, you construct a building next to a land hex that does not have a production token.  At the beginning of the game, the only hexes that meet this requirement are Santa’s Workshop, two of the deserts, and two of the castles on the middle island and two of the swamp hexes.  You may not receive a Favor Token for constructing a building next to a barren sea hex, unless that building is also adjacent to a barren land hex.

Later in the game, other hexes may lose their production tokens, due to the effect of Oil Disasters.  Building next to these newly-barren hexes also qualifies you to receive 1 Favor Token.

If you construct a building adjacent to two barren hexes at the same time, you only receive 1 Favor Token.  You may perform this action as many times as you like during your turn.

Suffer a Bad Harvest

If, when the top Event Card is drawn and the Production Number is resolved, you receive no resources (and the number was not a '7'), you receive 1 Favor Token as consolation (if there are a sufficient number left in the opaque “draw” bag).

You may receive 1 Favor Token in this way, even if it is not currently your turn. You may only receive 1 Favor Token per turn in this way, even if you have multiple hexes that do not produce.  You may receive a Favor Token in this way, even if the Bad Harvest is due to a special power, helper, villain, or Development/Progress card played against you.

Example: Rick picks the Top Event Card off the top of the stack and resolves a Production Number of “6.” He does not have any buildings next to a hex with a “6” production token, and neither does Rick’s opponent, Jenny.  Both Rick and Jenny may draw 1 Favor Token each.

Redeeming Favor Tokens

When and How Many

Anytime during Phase __: Trade and Purchase of your turn (but NOT Phase __: Conduct Special Purchase), you may redeem your Favor Tokens at the rate of one per victory point they presently lack (victory points needed to win the game minus the victory points they currently have).  Victory Points do not work retroactively.  If you have already spent Favor Tokens during your Trade and Purchase Phase, and then earn Victory Points that would otherwise prohibit you from redeeming those Favor Tokens, you may not redeem any further Favor Tokens during your turn, but you may keep the benefits of the Favor Tokens you previously turned in.  For example, if you have 4 victory points and need 10 to win, you can redeem six of these favor tokens for the corresponding favors.


Example: The blue player has 15 Victory Points.  He needs 17 VPs to win the game.  17-15=2.  Therefore, the blue player may only redeem 2 Favor Tokens during his turn.  He redeems both of them.  During his Trade & Purchase Phase, he earns another Victory Point. Now, he may only redeem 1 Favor Token.  Since he has already redeemed 2 Favor Tokens during this turn, he may not redeem any more Favor Tokens during this turn.


When favor tokens are redeemed, they are placed in a “discard” pile.  You redeem Favor Tokens by returning them face-up to the matching guild hall on the guild hall board(s) next to the gameboard:

  • Traders require 1 Grey wagon token;
  • Merchants require 1 Blue ship token;
  • Road Builders require 1 Brick Red shovel token;
  • Scholars require 2 Gold book tokens; and
  • Master Builders require 2 Green compass tokens.

By redeeming Favor Tokens, you receive “favors” from the guilds.  You must perform the resulting favor immediately. A Favor may not be credited and saved for later. NOTE: You are not allowed to use Favor Tokens that you receive during your turn.  You must wait until your next turn.

Each guild grants different favors:

  • Traders’ Favor: Trade 1 resource card for 1 different available resource card of your choice. You may take this action once or twice in a given turn.
  • Merchants’ Favor: Take any 1 available resource card of your choice.
  • Road Builders’ Favor: Build 1 trade route for free (but NOT a bridge!)
  • Scholars’ Favor: Draw 1 Development card (from any deck) for free. You may not draw a Progress card.
  • Master Builders’ Favor: Take 1 Victory Point marker. For the sake of showing who has the most Victory Points, keep the marker face up.  Because your number of visible Victory Points affects many different aspects of gameplay, it is usually a good idea to delay redeeming Master Builders’ Favor Tokens until later during the game.


Exchanging a Favor Token: If you don’t take a guild action, you may exchange 1 Favor Token from your supply for a Favor Token from the bank’s supply.  First, choose which one of your Favor Tokens to return to the supply.  Drop it in the supply bag.  Shake the bag to shuffle the tokens, then draw a Favor Token from the opaque bag.  You may receive the same Favor Token that you placed in.  You may only exchange 1 Favor Token per turn, and only if you don’t redeem any other Favor Tokens during your turn.

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