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?

  • 2
    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, 2012 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, 2012 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


On page 5 of the "Base Game Rules" downloadable from catan.com/gamerules.html (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!

  • 2
    Fair enough - seems a bit wussy to me, encouraging groups not to pick on others.
    – xorsyst
    Apr 24, 2012 at 16:29
  • Actually - if the robber is already on the desert, does this mean you can keep him there?
    – xorsyst
    Apr 24, 2012 at 16:30
  • 5
    @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... Apr 25, 2012 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? Sep 2, 2015 at 0:36
  • 2
    I could see one edge case where you might want to put it in the desert is if you share all the hexes with the player that has the resource you want to steal and he boarders the desert
    – Styxsksu
    Mar 11, 2019 at 19:34

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