I'm looking for ideas on how to make Settlers of Catan quicker to play between friends.

Whenever I play with friends they complain that you have to stop all the time to decide what are you going to do: trade, build, exchange at a port so the game doesn't flow as good as it should.

This could be because my friends (and me) don't play board games very much. No one seems to be able to make key decisions quickly.

Any ideas/suggestions on how to deal with this issue of slow decision-making?

  • 1
    Can you narrow this down? right now it is likely to be taken down because it is too broad and answers would be based on opinion. – Pow-Ian May 8 '14 at 11:29
  • Ok! I'll try to :) – xocasdashdash May 8 '14 at 12:49
  • 1
    How fast do you expect the game to go? Deciding your actions for the turn, negotiating with other players, and things like determining the best logistics for your currently held resources take time during your turn whether the other players like it or not. If you want to make the game quicker, make it shorter... perhaps an 8-point victory condition? Maybe a timer for a player's turn? – generalcrispy May 8 '14 at 13:00
  • Most of those decisions should be done before their turn even starts. Yeah, the resources obtained on your turn changes things, but usually not that much. – ikegami May 8 '14 at 19:23
  • Here is a similar question from another game: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/4251/… – Tom Au May 10 '14 at 19:46

One way to speed up the game is to increase resource production. There are two common approaches to this:

  1. During setup, each player's second placement is a city. This gives a boost to everyone's economy/engine from the start.
  2. Play a 3/4-player game with the map layout for 5/6 players. There will be many more spots, more valuable spots, and less blocking throughout the game.

Obviously, neither of these addresses the issues with turn length and trading. It sounds like your friends need to hurry up and make a decision!

  • I like the idea of the second placement being a city. I'll try it out – xocasdashdash May 9 '14 at 13:37

One option would be to play for less points. The first to 7 or 8 wins.

  • 1
    You should take out a city (and a settlement) if you do that. – ikegami May 8 '14 at 19:22

I agree with ikegami's comment that (strategic) decisions can mostly be made before one's turn actually starts (i.e. during other players' turns). There is some interaction that may influence one's decision (esp. if one rolls into a massive resource influx on one's turn that suddenly enables many different actions that weren't previously considered), but there are very few game events that drastically change the board state (unlike some other games, e.g. Innovation).


If you really wanted to add another dimention of play to this you could always add a timer. Like give each person 2 minutes or something for their turn. Should the timer run out, their turn is over - effective immediately.

  • // , Eh, a grace period is always nice, but yeah, we've done this. Just make sure it's with the right group, and everyone has agreed in advance that they want the game to happen in a shorter amount of time. – Nathan Basanese Jan 4 '17 at 7:02

In terms of speeding up the game - you could opt to reduce the cost of trading by 1 card universally (i.e. 3-1 directly with bank, 2-1 with a general port or 1-1 for a dedicated port).

Settlers of Catan is one of those games where there exists an initial learning curve. It is not a long learning curve but it does span 1-2 games to get a basic feel and a further 2-4 games to gain a degree of innate familiarity.

(It takes time to look blankly at a hand of resource cards, often looking towards the build card for your purchase/ build options - and not sure which options are going to give the best results)

As the innate familiarity sets in so too will the length of each player's turn become shorter - significantly improving the flow of the game. Players will hope for the resource cards they need to fit a planned course of action before their turn even comes.

Of course things get more lengthly if you introduce a variant like Cities and Knights. If you see that a variant is taking the fun out of the game by making it take too long then either play the variant less frequently or try any of the tricks already mentioned in the answers received.


You seem to have put your finger on the problem: "[We] don't play board and card games much."

The way to speed up decision-making is practice. You and your friends need to play the game more, get some experience, learn established patterns, etc., and your decision-making will speed up.

That said, you might be able to speed up your decision making in Catan just by learning to play OTHER games better.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.