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I've tried playing two-player Settlers, where each player controls one set of pieces, and each time a player builds they need to play a piece of the same type for one of the two uncontrolled colors (so there are two non-player nations in play).

What I would like to add to this is for the uncontrolled nations to have resource cards and some mechanic for them to allow trading with the players in the game.

Are there any two-player rules that support this?

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Just to be clear, you want to play with two human players, and have a third and/or fourth neutral player to trade with? Or am I missing something here? –  LittleBobbyTables Oct 24 '10 at 13:54
    
Yes, Exactly right. –  Simon Withers Oct 24 '10 at 16:39
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4 Answers 4

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While I've never tried it out, there is a variant set of rules here that uses the white player as a neutral third party. It looks a little interesting, but the rules in the link only allow the neutral player to build roads, and nothing else. Building roads for the neutral player is determined by highest dice roll.

It does allow for trading with the neutral player using a special trading chart. The chart may or may not need to be tweaked to your liking.

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There is a two player option developed Nick Barko where players can only trade with the bank and played on a smaller board. You remove 2 roads, 1 settlement and 1 city from each player. You also reduce the size the development card deck by removing a few cards. There are six ports on the map in this variant, encouraging players to build ports.

Trading in Catan helps both players involved in a deal get the resources they need. Players who refuse to trade with the other players on the board often don't do as well I've noticed. Thus, each deal two players work out, can bring them closer to victory over the other players. With just two players, this effect is lost since they only have each other to trade with. If you use a proxy player, it's doesn't really act as a party with it's own self interest since it's controlled by the two other players.

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If you have two human players (A & B) and a neutral player X played by A & B. The solution is easy. If A wants to trade with X, let B handle the trading.

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"I cut and you choose." –  Tom Au Sep 14 '13 at 21:24
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There is an official 2 player Settlers version introduced in the Traders and Barbarians expansion. This has 2 neutral players placed, who build something whenever a player does which you can use to block in your opponents. You can use trade chips to force a 2 for 2 trade with your opponent, which costs 2 trade chips if you are in the lead, or 1 if you are behind. You can these chips from building on the desert, on a coast, disbanding a solider or from initial setup.

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/21616/error/expired/klaus2player-pdf

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