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I haven't played Settlers of Catan yet, but I've been considering asking my gaming group if they want to try it.

As I understand it, Settlers of Catan is now in its fourth major version. If I do get a Catan box, should I just get the current (fourth) edition, or is there some reason to look for used copies of earlier editions?

Edit: I forgot to mention, we will also be getting the 5-6 player extension.

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I can't answer this question with authority, as I don't own any edition of Settlers, but from the times I've played it, I definitely found some of the sets a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing than others, in terms of the quality and look of their components. I'd recommend making sure the latest version is a nice one, before being too quick to shell out the cash! –  thesunneversets Dec 3 '10 at 0:44
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5 Answers 5

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They new fourth edition has a few minor changes is appearance, but the biggest change is a new set of border pieces that surround the hexagon tiles to keep them together.

The most important thing to know is that they do not mix and match very well: if you have the 3rd edition of Settlers, you should buy the 3rd edition of the expansions. If you have the 4th edition of the base game, you should buy the 4th edition expansions. So if you're just getting into it, I would suggest buying the new edition, since the corresponding expansions will be easier to find.

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We will, at the very least, be getting the 5-6 player extension. –  Powerlord Dec 3 '10 at 15:19
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There was a huge (and stupid) rule addition with the later editions, where if you run out of resource cards during a production phase, no one gets anything. In the old rules (1999, Mayfair) there was no rule on it, so our group always played where you parcel out that resource starting at the die roller, and going clockwise.

The new rules also allow you to move the robber to a desert hex, which was not allowed before.

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Two other changes I'm aware of: in 4th edition, unlike earlier editions, you are allowed to move the robber back to the desert; and in 4th edition, the rules recommend a combined trading/building phase for experienced players, whereas my 3rd edition copy keeps the two phases strictly separate. The latter is a major change as it allows a player to trade using a harbour on the same turn he obtains it. Of course none of these changes requires different components so you can freely use/ignore the rule changes when playing with any edition of the game. –  Nefrubyr Aug 17 '11 at 10:12
    
@Lance_Roberts in my edition the rules state if you run out of resources you issue them in order of quantity produced. IE someone gets 4 ore before someone else gets 2 ore. –  Nick Jun 7 '12 at 10:48
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My 24 year old Kosmos edition with German cards and separately printed English translation of the rules has the 'noone gets any if there's not enough for everyone' rule... –  Chris Dodd Apr 1 '13 at 23:28
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I also own the German version. In this version there is no harbor tiles and the harbors are part of the sea frame pieces (you can't change their location thou).

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I own the German version (Die Siedler von Catan), and it has different (plastic) pieces for roads, etc. The board pieces are a slightly different size, as well as the resource cards. Therefore, if you plan on getting the expansions, make sure that you stick with the US versions.

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In Cities & Knights, there changed what some of the progress cards are. The card that lets you disable an opponents city has been removed in the 4th edition. I'm not sure what additions it was in, but one of my friends complained quite loudly when he realized they had removed the card.

I would get the 4th edition, since it's easier to find, and the expansions will be easier to get. Most of the changes have been minor and make game play easier. My only complaint about the quality of the 4th edition is that I wish the frame pieces were sturdier.

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