Posting this before I forget. It’s a set of adaptations to the rules of Settlers of Catan to accommodate two-players.

Settlers is a table-top strategy games akin to 4X video games. Three or four players race to colonize a continent while gaining relative advantage over one another.

The dynamic nature of the game, and the necessity of trading resources with other players, causes the typical strategies to break down with only two players. A quick Google search will reveal a handful of two-player variants, but my friend and I eventually settled (ahaha!) on this one from baumfamily, making a few of our own modifications along the way.

I’ll summarize the rules changes for you:

  • Players roll two (differently colored) pairs of dice. One color is designated as always being resolved first. Both pairs are resolved in order, and the rolling player moves the robber if a seven is rolled.

  • Discard half your hand (rounded down) if you have ten or more cards in hand (instead of the usual eight).

  • No trades between players (why would you trade with your single mortal enemy?)

  • Game ends when one player reaches 12 points or when one player’s score exceeds the other player’s score by six or more points. (One-sided games are no fun to play through to the end, especially since it becomes very hard to catch up in a two-player game).

With these rules, the robber (or rather, chasing away the robber) becomes very important. This is a perfectly fine way to play, if you don’t mind spending all of your available resources on development cards. But sometimes, even with both players pursuing an arms race of knight cards, a very unequal distribution of sevens can make the game an exercise in not gouging your own eyes out.

In order to correct for this, baumfamily suggests that the player with the lower score move the robber whenever a seven is rolled. But my friend and I are way too cutthroat for a rule like that to fly! So we make a final rule change:

  • The robber returns to the desert two rolls (ie, four total dice resolutions) after being placed.

With this final rule, the robber is still very annoying, but collecting knights is not nearly as critical. Which is good, since they already give you the Largest Army bonus. Under these rules, you can pursue a strategy of ninjaing that bonus (just like in the standard three/four player game) instead of the bonus just giving two extra points to whichever player is already coming out on top.

We’ve played a few games under these rules. They’re short, fast-paced, and fun.