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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.


Using Oil

There are 2 ways to use oil:

  • During your turn, you can convert 1 oil into 2 of the same, non-oil resource of your choice. You cannot use maritime trade to obtain oil (i.e., a 4:1 trade or a harbor cannot give you oil). However, Year of Plenty and Monopoly development cards can be used for oil.
  • You can use 1 brick, 1 grain, 1 ore and 2 oil to upgrade one of your cities to a metropolis by placing a Metropolis token underneath. A metropolis produces 3 resources instead of 2, is worth 3 victory points, and is immune to coastal flooding.
  • Multiple oil can be used per turn for both of these two options. Oil used to build is returned to the general supply. However, the usage of oil results in pollution. After every 5 oil are used, a disaster is triggered. Keep track of this progression with Disaster Track marker on the Disaster Track—the token moves from 0 to 5.

    Sequestering Oil


Alternatively, during your turn, you may choose to forgo the usage of 1 oil, sacrificing some growth for increased environmental security and the prestige of being a sustainability leader. In this case, on your turn flip one of your oil upside down in front of you (1 maximum per turn).

This “sequesters” the oil, permanently removing it from the game. For every 3 oil you sequester, you gain 1 Victory Point. The first player to have sequestered 3 oil gains the “Champion of the Environment” token (worth 1 victory point). If another player sequesters more oil than the current Champion, he immediately takes the “Champion of the Environment” token.


Allow players to both use oil and sequester (1 maximum) oil each turn.

Environmental Effects from Oil Usage

For every five oil used (but not those that are sequestered or returned to the bank because of the robber), an environmental disaster results. This “disaster phase” is resolved after the turn has been completed but before the dice are passed to the next player.

Important Note: Similar to the limit on how many Favor Tokens you can redeem in a single turn, you can only use oil during a turn until a disaster is triggered. If the

Disaster Track marker on the Disaster Track is on the 4, only one oil can be used during that turn (sequestering oil is not “usage” and thus does not count toward this progression).

If the marker is on a 1, then four oil could be used during that turn. At the end of that turn if a disaster has been triggered, resolve the disaster, and then reset the marker to zero.

Example: At the beginning of Patricia’s turn, the Disaster Track marker on the Disaster Track is on 2. She uses 1 oil to get two grain and 1 oil to get two ore. The token is on 4. During this turn, Patricia can no longer build a metropolis as this goes beyond the limit of 5. However, she could still convert 1 more oil into resources. Since she already used oil, she can’t sequester oil during this turn.

The Disaster Phase

Each time the token on the disaster track reaches “5” (i.e., after the 5th, 10th, 15th, etc. oil is used), roll the two six-sided dice to determine where disaster strikes.

A “7” is Rolled

If a seven is rolled, a natural disaster triggered by climate change floods the coasts. Settlements bordering a sea hex are removed from the board (and returned to the affected player’s supply), and cities are reduced to settlements. Roads are not affected. A metropolis (because of its seawalls and other advanced design) is also not affected. Note: Destroyed settlements can later be rebuilt, either at their previous locations or elsewhere. Please note that other players can now also build a settlement there (if possible).

A “7” is Not Rolled

If any number other than 7 is rolled, industrial pollution has struck and a hex with that number will be affected (see text box on the right). If there is only 1 hex with the number rolled, that hex is affected. If more than 1 hex shares the same number, randomly select one to be affected. If the number rolled is no longer on any hex (because of previous disasters), nothing happens.

  • If the affected hex does not contain an oil spring, remove the production number token from the hex—that hex no longer produces resources. Place the removed number token on one of the open circles on the Disaster Track. If all spaces on the track are filled, the game ends.
  • If the affected hex contains an Oil Spring tile, remove 3 oil of the general supply from the game. These oil become part of the unrecoverable reserve—and thus are no longer accessible to the players.

Unlike hexes, Oil Spring tiles can continue to be hit by pollution throughout the game.

Note: If the general supply no longer contains oil and the only remaining oil is in players’ personal supplies, they discard one oil at a time, beginning with the player who caused the disaster and continuing clockwise around the board.

How to Randomly Choose a Hex

In these rules, we often instruct the players to “randomly choose” a hex. To do this for 2 hexes, assign the values 1-3 to one of the hexes and assign 4-6 to the other.

Then roll one of the dice and the die result will “choose” one of the hexes. Similarly, for 3 hexes, assign 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6. For 4 hexes, assign 1, 2, 3, and 4 to the 4 hexes and if a 5 or 6 is rolled, reroll.

Example: Alan has built a metropolis bringing him to 12 points. The 2 oil used for this build has triggered a disaster. Alan rolls a 7 during the Disaster Phase, resulting in coastal flooding. Alan’s coastal settlement is removed from the board, and his coastal city is reduced to a settlement, bringing him down to 10-points. The game therefore continues.


IMPORTANT NOTE: If, during this step, the Oil Springs Disaster Track Board is completely filled with Production Tokens (When playing with 3-4 players, five (5) Production Tokens on the Disaster Track are required to completely fill the Disaster Track Board.  When playing with 5-6 players, eight (8) Production Tokens on the Disaster Track are required to completely fill the Disaster Track Board.), the game immediately ends in a Pyrrhic Victory. The player who currently holds the "Champion of the Environment" token is the winner. For more information, refer to article 3.9.1, entitled "Pyrrhic Victory."

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