When I get with my friends to play Catan (normal Settlers or Catan), we first roll the dice to decide who is going to put the settlement first.

The one that got the highest number goes first, the second highest number goes second and so on. When everyone finished their first settlements the order goes backward, which means the one with the smallest number puts the second settlement first and so on until the one with the highest number.

But at this point, everybody is already seated so we are not going to change seats to have the same order as we established our settlements, so what we do is, the one with the highest rolled number goes first and then the game continues to the right of that player.

I have 2 questions:

  1. Are we playing correctly according to the rules?
  2. If not (and this is a house rule), how does this procedure affect the game?
  • 2
    What’s with the downvotes? This site sure doesn’t want new contributors I guess
    – eLRuLL
    Dec 16, 2018 at 11:52
  • 4
    Having downvoted many a question in my day (but not this one), I would guess it's because this is not a useful question. What do the Catan rules say? Are you following those rules? Dec 16, 2018 at 14:54
  • 1
    I've also down voted many over time if I think its to broad or opinion based. The above question was asking about a specific issue to which an non opinion based answer could be given. I'm sure we've all misread or misinterpreted a rule at some point that theres no harm asking a question if things don't seem quite right. Dec 16, 2018 at 22:45
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    Welcome to the site; hope you aren't off-put by getting a couple of down-votes right away! I don't think there's an issue with the fact that the answer can be found in the rulebook... the vast majority of our rules questions are answered by quoting the rulebook. If I had to guess, I would say the downvotes are because you said "The one that got the highest number goes first, the second highest number goes second and so on" but did not give any explanation for where you got that idea from. It's never a good idea to do that system in any game that plays in order around the table.
    – GendoIkari
    Dec 17, 2018 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


I think you have got how you work out start player wrong.

You said "the second highest number goes second and so on." The rules do not state this.

Looking at rules here it says :-

Each player rolls both dice. The player who rolls highest is the starting player and begins. The starting player places a settlement on an open intersection of his choice. He places a road adjacent to this settlement. The other players then follow clockwise. Everyone places 1 settlement and 1 adjoining road.

So whoever rolls highest is the start player. All other dice rolls are irrelevant.

As an example for you imagine for players sat clockwise around a table A, B, C and D.

A rolls 11, B rolls 2, C rolls 8 and D rolls 4.

Player A rolled highest and placed the first settlement. Player B is next clockwise and places next. The fact Player B rolled the lowest number is irrelevant as the dice roll was for start player and not the turn order. The player C, the D. Then D again and back anticlockwise, C, B and finally A.

Settlers of Catan is not a game where the turn order changed during the game (such as say Caylus or Power Grid). So you only need to randomly select a start player. You do not need to randomly select the whole player order.

In my mind the point of selecting starting locations ABCDDCBA is to try and minimise disadvantage for selecting before other players by letter the player placing last get first pick of second settlement location. If they placed them ABCDABCD then player D would be at a huge disadvantage.


Part 1

You are not playing correctly according to the rules. You are supposed to go in order (followed by reverse order) of seating for setup, not dice rolls. Only the highest roller matters.

Part 2

Implementing this as a house rule would have a minimal effect on the game. The important thing about the setup is that you go in the reverse order for the second settlement, which you are still doing. This house rule doesn't change who goes first. So, the largest possible difference is that the person who goes last in setup can go second in the game.

Going last for setup can be very strong. In my experience, there are typically only 5 or 6 decent settlement spots on a random board (this is just anecdotal; I don't have hard data). Thus, the person who goes last has the advantage of getting decent spots for both starting settlements. The person who goes last in setup has the additional advantage of getting to coordinate their starting settlements with no intervening action by other players. Thus, they can take two spots that work well together, either in having a 2:1 port and solid production of the resources of that port, or having a solid diversity of resources and/or numbers.

We also need to analyze what going second vs fourth in the main game means in terms of advantage. Given each person gets resources from everyone's rolls, the only thing that really matters is when people have opportunity to build. This is much harder to analyze. Where this matters the most is if two players are fighting for a road spot right out of setup. In my opinion, that the person who went last in setup also goes last in play is by design, as it gives every other player a chance to challenge one of their double settlements on road placement. If the player who went last in setup went second in the main game, it would, in my opinion, only strengthen their advantage in setup.

In conclusion, I think this house rule can give a slight advantage to the player who goes last in setup. I believe this player is already at an advantage, but if that's not true in your experience, you may want to use this rule. I don't see any other interesting consequences of this change.

  • 1
    You did a much better job explaining my problem with this house rule.
    – Styxsksu
    Dec 21, 2018 at 1:01
  • Absolutely agree with this analysis. The last player to place settlements not only has the advantage of two decent spots and the knowledge of exactly which two spots they'll get, they also have the advantage of picking which of the two spots' starting resources they want. Last-to-place but second-to-go would indeed be better than last-to-place and last-to-go. Aug 13, 2020 at 18:07

If I understand your question correctly you are asking if using a different order to place settlements then turn order would affect the game any. I agree with the first answer that you are playing wrong according to the rules.
On the second question, it would could affect the placement of roads and settlements because if I place in the 4th position but play 2nd I might be able to set it up to cut off the road from another player first settlement. This would make that player either have to use the second settlement to claim that location or not have a chance of claiming that route without using there second placement.
So in conclusion I would start playing by the normal rules since they are actually very balance in how they do setup.

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