Catan 2 Player Variant

My partner and I love to play boardgames, and especially Catan, but for many years, there were only two of us in the household, and Catan — by its standard rules — is not well-suited to only two players. Through trial and error and experimentation with many different adjustments and variations, we came up with a really solid set of Catan 2 player rules. We’ve played this variant scores of times and it has proven to be a fair and fun gametype.

Board Setup

  • Lakes and bays: flip over 1 of each of the following hex tiles so they are water instead of resources: rock, wheat, sheep, wood, as well as the desert tile.
  • Water border: flip over the board border sections so they show only water and no ports.
  • Shuffle the resource and water tiles and lay out the board randomly as usual.
  • Number marker placement
    • Remove the P, Q, and R markers (3, 6, and 11).
    • Distribute the remaining number markers randomly on resource tiles, but
      • place the 2 and 12 markers on the same tile, and
      • do not place red markers on adjacent tiles.
  • Ports: distribute the port markers randomly and evenly around the board on any water border or water tile.
  • Building: remove 1 settlement and 1 city from each player’s inventory.
  • Development cards: remove 6 knights and 3 victory points from the deck.

General Gameplay

  • Robber hand limit is increased from 7 to 9 cards.
  • Trading: if players wish to play a “friendlier” game, they may still trade with each other.
  • Rando: if both players roll the same number in a row, each player must blindly draw a card from the other player’s hand after resource cards have been dealt from the dice roll.
  • Bridges can be built to cross water tiles (using road gameplay pieces). One bridge segment costs 1 wood + 1 rock. No settlements or cities can be built in the water.
  • Winning: play to 12 victory points.

Robber Handicap (“Robin Hood”)

  • Delayed robber: the robber remains off the board until one player has 4 points or more on the board.
    • If a 7 is rolled and nobody has 4 points or more, simply re-roll the dice.
  • Close game: once the robber is in play, if players are tied or only 1 point apart, the robber behaves normally.
  • Robin Hood handicap: If one player is ahead by 2 or more points:
    • regardless of who rolled a 7, the player who is behind controls the robber
    • hand limit (9 in this variant) affects the player who rolled the 7 regardless of whether they are ahead or behind
  • Note: Knights behave normally for everyone (robber handicap rules have no effect on Knights).