How To Play Catan With 2 Players
As a single Dad gamer with daughter, over the years it’s been important for us to track down the very best 2 player board game options.
Out of the box, Settlers of Catan is intended for 3-6 players.
But, there’s a few options available if you’re looking to play Catan with just 2 players.
Among the several more obscure variations, my research pulled up these 3 as the most popular:
Option 1: House Rules for 2 player Settlers Of Catan
Nick Borko came up with a 2 player variant rule set that many report success with:
– One of each tile type is removed from the game
– Remaining lettered hexes are then laid out in a specific sequence and order
– 6 harbour tiles are used as a maximum
– Certain starting tiles are discarded and the robber does not enter play until a 7 is rolled
– Specific resources and cards are removed from play before beginning
– Play up to 10 victory points as normal
Whilst it can seem a bit finnicky to set up, this version actually works surprisingly well,
Here’s Nick’s original pdf to refer to: https://nick.borko.org/games/Catan2Players.pdf (Opens in New Window)
Option 2: Official 2 Player Variant Settlers Of Catan Rules:
This version adds extra (not included) chips into the game to help retain the trading element – crucial to the base game’s variety.
Crucially, on each turn, a player uses 2 separate rolls of 2 dice, instead of one roll.
Neutral building means that each time you build out a road or settlement, one of the 2 dummy players receives that same building also.
The additional chips can be used in various functions and extends the trading capacity of the game.
The official version can be found here and there’s a nice explanation of this version of the rules here if you prefer video format:
Option 3: Play The Separate 2 Player Catan Game: Rivals For Catan
A whole different game in it’s own right, it retains a few (and I mean…not a lot) of the mechanisms from the original game, but essentially this is a different beast.
Allocating resources, dice rolling etc are all there in the normal way, but there is no board, and only cards instead.
The cards of your province will be laid on the table as the game progresses, and cards are rotated anti-clockwise to increase resources with favourable dice rolls, and clockwise to reduce resources when spending/trading.
The play area expands outwards as you lay more and more cards out, to form your ‘Province’.
Roads and settlements are laid left to right and resources or new locations are laid top and bottom, above and below the roads and settlements.
Event cards can upset the gameplay or break the stride of your opponent if played at the right moment.
It’s clear to see what aspects of the original game they’re trying to port over to a 2 player version, but it’s not clear what the aim was, by turning it into 100% cards based – more portable? Not sure.
The base games plays fine, especially if your already familiar with Catan style of play, and some games we played of the base version can reach conclusion really fast if your partner is playing aggressively for Settlements > Cities right out the gate.
My Recommendation – Can you play settlers of catan with two players?
I’ve tried all the above variants and for us, to be honest, the main Catan game, with the 2 player official Catan Wiki variant played out best.
It retains much of the trading elements of the game which for me is central to the enjoyment of the game – but that’s a personal thing of course.
In playing out this version, it allows you to have a copy of the main game, an effective 2 player version, and still have the option to play 3-6 players for family occasions or bigger gaming group. You also have the option to switch out to another 2 player variant if you don’t like one.
For us, Rivals is an interesting slant on the original, but doesn’t hold us for the same amount of time and has lower replay value. Somehow it feels more like the designers were going for a portable version of the base game instead of a 2 player variant.
So going with the standard base game gets the GTNS seal of approval for this one.
Compare Settlers Of Catan 2 Player Options
|Version||Rules||Complexity||# Players||Play Time||Age Range||More|
|Catan||Official 2 player||Med||3-4||60-90min||10+||More Info|
|Rivals For Catan||–||Med||2||45-120min||10+||More Info|