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In Settlers of Catan, we've always played that you cannot put the robber back in the desert. But watching tabletop this week, they did exactly that, and in the youtube comments people have said that the 4th edition rules don't say you can't.

Is there a definitive ruling for this in the latest ruleset?

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I think that is a change to the rules, as I'm pretty sure last time I played Catan you couldn't. – aslum Apr 23 '12 at 15:31
Yes, it's a rules change. Frankly, I'm not sure why that restriction was there in the first place. – warbaker Apr 23 '12 at 21:21
up vote 23 down vote accepted

On page 5 of the "Base Game Rules" downloadable from (describing what happens when you roll a 7, or use a knight card):

(1) You must move the robber immediately to the number token of any other terrain hex or to the desert hex.

(Emphasis mine.) This page was last updated in January 2012, so I would assume it's a pretty current version of the rules almanac!

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Fair enough - seems a bit wussy to me, encouraging groups not to pick on others. – xorsyst Apr 24 '12 at 16:29
Actually - if the robber is already on the desert, does this mean you can keep him there? – xorsyst Apr 24 '12 at 16:30
@xorsyst "The robber must be moved. You may not choose to leave the robber in the same hex." So even the most non-confrontational group is unlikely to be able to be polite to each other for the whole game. Though I guess you could shuttle the robber back and forth from the desert to the 2 and/or the 12... – thesunneversets Apr 25 '12 at 10:06
It is a change. One reason for it was that you could usually find an unoccupied 2 or 12 to park it on any way, so why not allow the desert if that's what works for the person moving it? – Kate Gregory Sep 2 '15 at 0:36

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