The Settlers of Catan
~ Lord Byron on Settlers of Catan“A marvelous game.”
~ Oscar Wilde on Settlers of Catan
The City-State of Catan was established in 1607, off the coast of southern Germany. It served as an important trade route until modern times, when it began to stagnate and fall behind the rest of the world.
The Discovery of Catan
In 1606 Captain Klaus Teuber set sail in the Mayflower, bound for the newly discovered America. The Mayflower departed from southern Germany, loaded with settlers and provisions. Captain Teuber was bound and determined to start a new colony in the new world, and set sail even with dire predictions of a furious storm heading his way. Half-way across the Atlantic Ocean, he ran into that terrible storm, and fought to save his ship. For over two weeks he battled wind, rain, and stormy seas, finally spotting land ahead. Finding a sheltered cove he beached his ship, and began exploring this new-found land.
The Settlement of Catan
The island which Captain Teuber found was small, yet it contained an amazing amount of natural resources. There were fields of golden grain, herds of wild sheep (just waiting to be harvested), great old-growth forests, iron-rich mountains and dark clay hills. Deciding that their best bet would be to focus on several fertile or mineral rich areas, the settlers aboard the Mayflower split up into three groups.
Blue-Group would set up camp on the edge of the ocean, on rich forest which bordered some sparse fields of grain. Their hopes were that they would be able to leverage any future sea-trade, as well as capitalize on what little grain was produced nearby. A Captain at heart, Teuber himself settled here, letting his First and Second Mates take control of the other two settlements.
Orange-Group moved inland, and made a small settlement on the edge of the best farming land of the whole island. In addition to this vast field of grain, they also located near some of the wild sheep herds, as well as some light forest. Composed of true settlers, they felt that with ample wheat, sheep, and wood they would be able to survive the coming winter.
Red-Group was not so survival-minded, and instead sought to profit as much as possible. They moved near the center of the island, and made a settlement at the base of the richest mountain they found. Nestled in the hills overlooking a sparse field of grain, Red Group hunkered down for the long winter.
The Expansion of Catan
While the first few years were hard, the settlements soon began to prosper. Blue Group began cutting their near-endless forest, and produced copious amounts of lumber. Working with Red Group who had found great clay deposits, they began to construct a series of roads to connect the various settlements. Orange Group also prospered, trading their grain stocks for lumber, bricks and mortar as well.
But while Catan was initially settled by a unified group of people, this harmony did not last. Blue Group began hoarding resources, and without telling the others, created a second settlement on the richest clay hill on the whole island. Now no longer needing Red Group's bricks and mortar, trade fell off, and Red Group began struggling. Orange group, still solid trade partners with Blue Group, leveraged their sheep and grain to acquire enough lumber for their own second settlement. In order to ensure their stranglehold on wheat, they created a fortified town on the edge of the other major wheat field on the island.
While Orange and Blue groups traded and flourished, Red group began to fall into disarray. However, it was at this time that a mysterious group of bandits began harassing the outlying towns. Moving from area to area, they were never captured, but managed to disrupt farming or mining wherever they set up camp. After one particularly vicious raid on Blue Group's second settlement, they decided to form a militia to combat the bandits. A year later the militia were ready, and moving out in force, they chased the bandits from the hills.
Bypassing the squalid towns and fields of Red Group, the bandits instead took up residence in the great grain fields of Orange Group. Lacking the manpower to form a militia of their own, Orange Group suffered terribly at their hands. After a particularly hard winter, both Blue and Orange groups began to fall into disarray.
Red Group, un-harassed by the bandits, had stockpiled a great store of goods over the winter. As spring came, they set up another small settlement on the edge of some nice forest, bordered by sheep pasture and fields of grain. While they hoped that this would allow them to be free from the economic pressures of the other two groups, it was not to be. Alas, not more than two years after their second settlement was established, the bandits changed focus, and began harassing their mining operations. Red Group was destined to fall into economic chaos.
Somehow 'monopoly' then a cult-board game, found it's way onto the island. In 1663, Captain Teuber 'played monopoly' with the other groups red and orange. forthwith losers', this was an insult Captain Teuber put on all letters to Red and Orange group; whose abbreviation interestingly 'rofl', came into misuse on the internet centuries later.
The Modernization of Catan
As the settlements on Catan spread out and began to flourish (except for Red Group), the governors began to discuss the creation of cities. Brought up in the twisted chaos of non-planned European cities, the governors decided that planned cities were their best bet. Blue Group began stockpiling great quantities of resources, and established the first successful trade route with the mainland.
While Captain Teuber was disappointed to find out he was only 120 nautical miles from mainland Germany, where he set out from, the trade opportunities made him a rich man. Exporting loads of brick from his clay-rich hills, Teuber was able to profit immensely, and built the first city in his rich hills. Soon after Orange Group did the same, exporting ships filled with grain and flour.
With these two cities established, Orange and Blue groups saw their populations double. More settlers poured in from the mainland, and in a few short years both had multiple additional settlements under their control. Teuber also formed a group of knights to help patrol his roads, and keep the bandits off his land. Finding that one squad was not enough, he formed a second for additional patrols.
Although it seemed that Red Group was destined for absorption into one of the other settlements, after a particularly good run of ore, they managed to also create a small city. While not as well-planned as the others, they lacked the resources to create their own militia, and this would spell doom for them.
The Sacking of Catan
In the year 1667, all the wealth of Catan was nearly lost. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the island, a massive flotilla of barbarian invaders was on its way. In the fall of this year they landed, and spread chaos throughout the island. Captain Teuber pulled his knights back from their patrols, and used them to defend his cities and settlements. While this saved him, the other two groups were not so lucky. Both Orange and Red groups had their cities burned to the ground, and their trade economy heavily damaged. Teuber managed to drive the barbarians off with little loss to himself, but the other two groups were doomed.
With the loss of their cities, many of the settlers from the mainland went home, leaving Red and Orange groups short on manpower. Blue group, howver, continued to prosper economically.
The Longest Road
Primarily a red-and-white-group endeavour, these roads were initially built with the intent to then construct settlements at the end of said roads. However in 1668 due to the migration of road builders from neighbouring British-Burmese prisoners of war, and after white group's roads reached longer than 'five hexagon sides' (the odd measurement for distance on the island, due to the bizarre shape of each perfectly determined resource area), white group began to boast at the ports and in letters back home to Germany "we have the longest road". Despite the sacking of catan, or because of it, Red and orange group then sought to regain their glory. Throughout the winter of 1668/69 they proceeded to waste their brick and wood on pointless roads which zig-zagged throughout the land. By this point in history, roads were no longer being built simply to have settlements on the end, rather to achieve the glory of "the longest road". Any traveler to the island would do better than to ask "who has the longest road"; as the issue was a constant point of contention amongst the island population.
The Lord of all Catan
In 1675, at the age of 89, Captain Teuber was named the Lord of all Catan. While initially he had separated the settlers in order to focus their energies on different resources, in the end, Teuber proved best at managing his settlements. Recognizing that his management was near-flawless, the First and Second mates which had founded Red and Orange groups ceded control of these groups to their former captain. Now an old man, Captain Teuber united the island of Catan under his rule, and was praised and heralded by all.