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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.


Boat (should it be renamed to “ship?”, and “ship” renamed to Barge?”)


You cannot satisfy your hunger to expand with roads alone!  The boat pieces in this game do not represent individual sailing vessels, as the ships do (see Step 8 below).  Instead, the boat pieces represent an established “trade route.”

To build a boat, expend 1 wool resource (resource card or resource token) to make sail, and 1 lumber resource (resource card or resource token) to build hulls and masts.

Like roads, boats can only be placed on the boundary (hex side) between two hexes.   Unlike roads, boats cannot be placed between two land hexes.  You may build boats between two sea hexes (forming an aquatic route) or between a sea hex and a land hex (a coastal route).  You may not build a boat along a coast route if there is already a road along that hex side (and vice versa).  You may not build a boat along a sea route if there is already a boat along that hex side. You may not build a boat across a river (marked with a dashed line).

When you build a new boat, you must place it adjacent to any building you have already built on the coast (see Illustrations A below).

OR—you may place your new boat adjacent to any of your other boats that are already on the board (see the paths marked “YES” in Illustration B below).  When you place boats, any amount of branching is allowed, just like when you build roads.  Keep in mind, however, that branches are not counted at the end of your turn when determining which player has the “Longest Trade Route.”

Since the boats represent established sea routes, they may not be connected directly to roads, nor can roads connect directly to boats (see Illustration C below).

You may only connect a land network of roads to a sea network of shipping routes if you first build a building where they come together.  Boats and roads can be built towards each other; but even if they both reach the same intersection, they are not considered “connected” until you build a building there.  Unconnected networks do not count toward the “Longest Trade Route” Award (see Step 11).

Boats and Roads may not be built along the same coastline.  There can only be one boat OR one road along any given coastal hex side (see the rules on building roads).

Starting with a Boat

Some players will wish to get a jump on the opposition by first exploring the oceans around Catan.  These foresighted leaders may elect to place either or both of their starting buildings on the coastline.  If you do so, you have the option of placing a boat, instead of a road, adjacent to that building.  This is an especially sound strategy if you are planning rapid maritime expansion.

The Purpose of Boats

Boats act as roads across water (or along the coast).  You build and place boats in much the same way as roads.  They connect two adjacent intersections.  A chain of connected boats of the same color form a “trade route.”  Trade routes act the same way as roads for expanding your principality.  You can build new pieces anywhere that is connected to your network of roads and boats.  Count boats when you calculate the “Longest Trade Route” Award.

If your boat reaches a coastline, you can then build a new settlement on that coast, even if it is a new island.  Of course, you must still obey the “distance rule,” even if you are building on a new island.  Once you build a settlement on a new island, you can use it as a base for further expansion, building new roads and boats (see Illustration D below).

If your trade route of boats reaches a “foreign” island, you receive a Victory Point for the discovery, as explained below:

Homeland and Foreign Land

  • The tribes of Catan quickly develop into experience seafarers. One day, they reach the islands to the ____.  Here, too, fertile fields, lush pastures, and productive mines lure the intrepid Catanians.  New settlements are quickly built.  But soon the Catanians’ curiosity spurs them on: what will they find on the other islands?  Since every tribe wants to see all the islands, an exciting race for the few settlement sites begins!
  • Whichever island a player begins on, that island (or those islands, if a player starts on two separate islands) are considered his “homeland”. Each island (including smaller islands that are discovered later) that is not a player’s homeland, is considered a “foreign island”.
  • Some islands are not “fully defined” (surrounded by water) for some time, because the hex-discovery mechanism rewards players who uncover a previously unexplored hex with two gold (2 small coins). Therefore, a landmass that is not fully defined (may or may not be a new island/may or may not be connected to an existing landmass) cannot be considered an island yet.
  • The first time a player builds a settlement on a fully-defined foreign island, that player will earn special Victory Points! When you build your first settlement on a foreign island, you may take an additional Victory Point Chit (see Victory Point Chit Rules) for that settlement. That additional Victory Point Chit is essentially a bonus victory point, making that settlement worth 2 VP.  Additional buildings on that island do not earn special victory points (just the normal ones), because that island has now become “home.”
  • It does not matter if a player is the first to settle a fully-defined foreign island, if another player has already built a settlement on the island, or even if it is another player’s home island! Each time you settle a fully-defined foreign island that you have never settled before (was foreign to you), you gain 1 special VP.
  • Players who build a settlement on an undefined landmass (that may or may not be connected to another landmass) do not immediately receive a Victory Point Chit. Instead, a Victory Point Chit (representing a VP) is placed underneath the new settlement. If the landmass is later revealed to be a fully-defined foreign island, all players with buildings on that landmass that have a Victory Point Chit underneath them may claim those Victory Point Chits and count them toward their Victory Point total.

Example: A player has built his two buildings on the island on the lower left.  Now, his ships reach the island on the lower right.  He builds a settlement on this island, and obtains 2 Victory Point Chits, which he places under the settlement, because the island has not been fully defined.  From this settlement, he then reaches the island on the upper right, builds his first settlement there, and obtains 2 additional Victory Point Chits for it (he immediately place these in front of him, because the third island is fully defined).

Moving Boats

The biggest difference between boats and roads is the ability of boats to sail from one location to another after they have been placed on the board.  Unlike road pieces (which require special powers to be relocated), boats may be moved.  However, there are limits to how boats may be moved.  You must obey these restrictions when you move your boats:

  • You may only move 1 boat per turn, and only during your Trade/Purchase phase (see Isa Friend Card for exception).
  • You may not move a boat on the same turn that you originally built it.
  • You may not move a boat during the Special Buying Phase.
  • When you move a boat, you must obey all of the usual rules for placing a new boat.
  • You may only move a boat on the end of an “open” trade route. This occurs where one of the boat’s two ends is not adjacent to any of your other pieces.  In Illustration D above, the ships outlined in white can move.  So, none of the orange boats can move.  Three of the red boats, and only one of the blue boats can move.

Example: (See Illustration E below) Here are 2 open red trade routes.  The red boats outlined in white are the ends of their respective routes.  In either case, you may move the boat outlined in white (as long as your didn’t buy the boat this turn).  You may move the boat pointed to by the arrow to any of the edges marked “YES.”

Friend of Catan: Isa

Move a Boat or Build it Cheaper: When you use this card’s ability, you immediately receive 1 of the following benefits: When you build a boat, you may alter the resources required to build that boat.  Instead of the usual 1 lumber plus 1 wool, you may pay only 1 lumber or 1 wool.  Or, you may move a second “open” boat to an available location on your network.

  • You may only use this card’s ability on your own turn (not during other player’s turns or any Special Purchase Phase).
  • You may use this card’s ability more than once per turn. In other words, you may use this card’s ability twice in the same turn.
  • This card’s ability does not apply to bridges or roads. You may not use this card’s ability to move an open road or build a road with fewer resources.
  • After using this card’s ability once, flip the card over to its “B” side. After using this card’s ability a second time, place the card in the discard pile.

Helper of Catan: Louis

Louis is a respectable Catanian craftsman. He is very irritable and tends to have choleric fits. Only if he leads the field, he can be quite charming sometimes. This is when he generously lectures his game partners with expressions from the craftsman milieu and tells his adventures as a young master craftsman in France. But the moment he falls a little bit behind, he seems to only have snotty answers ready. Then his favorite line is: “There’s no law and order anymore on this island!”


Being a craftsman with high quality standards, he abhors customer complaints and incomplete products. If you have a complaint about a product, want to replace a missing game piece, or have a problem with a game rule – Louis is there for you in the “Contacts” area. When he closes his eyes, however, he often imagines worlds far beyond the Catanian islands, somewhere out there in the depths of space... no wonder then that he can’t wait to present you Catan in Space!

Move a Road: Use this advantage only 1 time during your turn.  You may remove 1 of your roads from the board and rebuild it for free at any legal location.  Louis can only move a road where 1 of its 2 ends is not connected to any of your other pieces (ignore opponents’ pieces when you are checking connections).  If one of your roads is connected at 1 end to one of your boats (as long as this boat was built from the other direction), this road may also be removed and rebuilt.  This road and this boat are only considered “connected” when your own building is between them.  In other words, you may not move a bridge or boat.  You may only move a road that is at a free end of one of your “open” trade routes.

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