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.

  • 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

The new fourth edition has a few minor changes in appearance, and 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

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.

  • Two of the progress cards changed between 3rd and 4th edition: Saboteur in 3rd lets you turn an opponent's city on its side so it collects resources as a settlement. Saboteur in 4th makes everyone with more points than you discard half their hand. Commercial Harbor in 3rd makes the player choose a commodity, in 4th, it makes the victim choose a commodity. Subtle, but requires different strategy. – TheAmigo Apr 17 '16 at 4:32

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

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).


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.

  • I only know German versions with wood pieces. – Probably the earlier versions, if not the first. – Robert Siemer Jan 3 '15 at 22:52

According to Klaus Teuber (inventor of the game)after all players learn the basic rules of the game then the rules are whatever the players decide before the start of the game. It makes sense, especially when you start playing with expansions. It also makes the game more flexible and seasoned players can give a handicap to beginners or younger players. For instance, the pirate or robber could not be allowed on the property of whoever has least points.

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    Welcome to Board & Card Games! This does not really provide an answer to the question. We're a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. Please read the tour to familiarize yourself with how we work. – Glorfindel Jan 8 at 21:36
  • Do you have a source for Klaus Teuber saying that? I would be interested in the full context and this makes an interesting answer. – Pat Ludwig Jan 9 at 6:35
  • @PatLudwig an interesting answer to another question. This question specifically asks for the differences between the base game, not speculation about alternative rules. – Glorfindel Jan 14 at 13:26
  • @Glorfindel It's of for folks to have different opinions here. That's why we are all allowed to vote our personal preferences. – Pat Ludwig Jan 14 at 16:45

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