Updated On: June 9, 2020

Settlers of Catan

Art & Design

Design

Children & Teenagers
Read: Read the How Stuff Works article about German-style board games. Synopsis: “They have easy-to-understand rules, feature indirect competition between the players and are played with physical markers that move along a board – though not with the roll of dice, which introduces a random quality that German-style games don’t have. Not only are the games themselves fairly short, the time between turns is also short, so players aren’t sitting around waiting for each other to wrap up play. And players interact with one another during their turns, again minimizing downtime throughout the games.”

Children & Teenagers
Teach & Create a Game: Klaus Teuber’s process of designing Settlers of Catan included some of the same steps taken by designers of all kinds of products. He iterated through several scrappy prototypes using cheap materials. What was more important in the beginning was to establish the mechanics of the game. In the process of testing his prototypes with his family members he was able to hone in the right game. The aesthetic qualities of the game pieces were taken care of last. See this in the 4-minute video The Man Who Created Settlers of Catan. Klaus Teuber’s first game, Barbarossa, was made in his early 30s and then he designed multiple games more before Catan. This iterative process produced one of the best selling games of all time. What kind of games have you considered making? See what you can do with the same process Klaus took.

Language & Thinking

Learning to Read

Children
Read: Select parts of the game instructions to ask your young reader to read aloud. Have them do so when they have questions about how the game is played.

Leadership & Entrepreneurism

All Ages
Teach: The creation story of Settlers of Catan as shown in this short video illustrates how even anyone can be leader. Klaus Teuber is a dental laboratory technician with a board game hobby who was able to use his craftsmanship to create little game pieces and design games in his spare time.

Math

Fractions, Decimals, & Percentages

Children
Use the Socratic Method: Teach your learners how to think about their playing strategy by understanding the probabilities they’re operating with in the game.

  • Number pieces: What do the dots mean on the number pieces? Is it possible to roll a 1 if you’re adding the dots of two dice? Is it possible to roll a number higher than 12? How many different combinations of dice rolls are there for rolling the number 2? 3? … and 12? What does this say about building your settlement on a piece with a 2 or 12 piece on it? And a 6 or 8?
  • Settlement location: How many rolls of the 36 possible outcomes when rolling two dice will a settlement earn a resource card in this corner? How about that corner? Just add the three (or two or one) resource tiles surrounding the corner to figure that out.
  • Robber placement: How likely is it that the robber will take away a resource card from someone when placed on this tile? How about that tile? How many resource cards would it steal if the dice rolled this number?
  • Resource supply: How many of the resource tiles on the map represent each resource type? Add up the number tiles associated with each resource? Which resources will be in greater and lesser abundance for this game? What is your strategy for getting each resource you’ll need?

Play

Children & Teenagers
Play: Settlers is one of the better games for family gatherings because, in a way, everyone wins in the end. Everyone has constructed something, even those who hadn’t earned 10 points (the number necessary to win).

Social Sciences

Economics

Children & Teenagers
Research: Reference the following Wikipedia articles to get insight into today’s international trade of sheep, wheat, iron ore, and wood. What are the geological factors of these exporting countries that suit them to compete in these markets?

Geography

Children & Teenagers
Watch: Playing a German-style tabletop game created in Germany where it saw its initial business success due to the notoriously strong demand Germans have for games introduces an opportunity to learn about the country. Watch Geography Now’s 15-minute overview video of the country, its history, and culture.

History

Children & Teenagers
Research: Thinking about how Vikings developed their society in Iceland inspired the creation of Catan. Learn about the Vikings’ settlement of Iceland on YouTube, Wikipedia, or elsewhere

Philosophy & Logic

Children
Ask: Ben Teuber, Klaus’s son who is regarded by his family members to be the best player, says to always act like you’re not doing well, even if you are. Why?
 
Children & Teenagers
Explain: Klaus Teuber says never to build the longest road in the beginning. What’s the rationale behind this?

Psychology

Children & Teenagers
Illustrate & Watch: Use paper with sufficient transparency to trace table pieces and see how the lines of the pencil or pen used can still be recognized for the landscapes they represent. How does the brain recognize what those lines add up to? The explanation can be found learning about Gestalt Psychology. Here’s a 2-minute video introducing how great design utilizes principles of Gestalt Psychology.

World Cultures

Children & Teenagers
Teach: Germans’ interest in table top games in more pronounced than other countries. They have been measured to have the highest per-capita sales of table top games. (What does ‘per-capita’ mean?)

How else might important subject matter be learned from this interest topic? Comment below! Half-baked ideas are more than welcome, too.