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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

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

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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I suggested a way to play with 2 players that hinges largely on a trading dynamic with the shared neutral player here

How do you make Settlers of Catan work well for 2 players? (Problems and play-tested solution described, alternatives requested)

The idea is that you trade 1 for 1, then 2 for 1, then 3 for 1, and so on, randomly drawing from the neutral hand, making it progressively more expensive to get what you want. The second key is that you can use this mechanic to stack the neutral player with resource power and force a win for him (thus a draw for the two human players). This creates an atmosphere of tension as you each keep trying to gain position but not too quickly in the eyes of your opponent until it's a clear shot to run away to victory (otherwise he will pile into the neutral player and force a draw).

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I've played two person Catan quite a few times. The best way I've found is to play with four players and each person controls two colors. The rules are that you can only trade 1:1 from hand to hand, but you can trade as much as you want with your opponent. Turns go back and forth between you and your opponent and between your hands. For example: you right hand, his left hand, you left hand, his right hand and then repeat. The final rule is you need a combined amount of 18 victory points between both hands.

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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.

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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

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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