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Before Starting a Game (the Game Manager)

The Game Manager allows you to find opponents for a game. It shows you all games currently in progress or waiting for players to join. If the game you want to play is currently not being offered, you can create a new entry for a game, i.e., open up a new game.

An entry for a game in the Game Manager consists of the following parts:

  • Icon denoting the type of game (e.g., Catan Seafarers)
  • Title of the game / scenario (e.g., Oceania)
  • After the title, the game options chosen (see below) are displayed in parentheses.
  • Below the game options, the names of the players present in the game are listed, including their individual language settings (English or German) and the numbers of their respective hometowns.
  • The icon next to the player name shows the number of stars that player owns at the moment. The better the ratio between started and finished games is, the more stars a player own.
Light green = Open games

Games that have been set up but haven't started yet are displayed in light green. You can join such a game if a space is still available.

Yellow = Games in progress

You can join these games as a spectator.

Dark green = Interrupted games

Here, a player is needed for the game to be continued. The remaining players can announce in the chat that they are looking for a substitute. A game in which no players are present (e.g., after server restart) can only be accessed by players who are listed in the entry for this game in the Game Manager.

Gray = Locked games (time-out)

Games displayed in gray are interrupted but temporarily locked. If only one player is missing, he has probably left the game due to technical issues and now has 2 minutes to return to the game. After the 2-minute time-out, the game's status switches to "free" (dark green), and a new player can join the game.

Important: If a player leaves a game at his own request (e.g., via the "Leave Game" menu) or is removed from the game by his opponents, the time-out doesnot take effect and the remaining players can immediately invite a substitute.

In a game played in the free area, the time-out is only activated twice per player. Afterwards, the game will immediately be open for substitute players. Needless to say that the original player is allowed to return, provided that none of the players present in the game has put him on his Ignore List. If a Free account user didn't actively leave the game via the "Leave Game" menu but had to restart the program, e.g., due to connectivity issues, after re-login he may jump directly into the game for a total of 5 times.

Please note: Out of consideration for other players, you should, as a matter of principle, always try to finish a game, even if sometimes the game isn't going so well and there is little chance to win. In this case, it is a matter of decency to finish the game regardless. After all, it's important to have fun playing the games, and you shouldn't deprive your opponents of that fun by simply dropping out. Furthermore, a potential substitute player receives the score for the game only if he wins. If the substitute loses, the original player receives the score. Therefore, you should never abandon a game, because then you no longer can influence its outcome, and if the substitute loses, you will get the bad score.

Setting up a Game

To set up a new game, click on "Open." However, before the game is displayed in the Game Manager, you can specify various options if available for the game chosen. As long as the game hasn’t been started yet, you can change the options even after setting up the game. In this case, each participating player has to reconfirm the start of the game and thus approve the changes. The options cannot be changed after the game has started.

Joining a Game

If a space is still available, you can join a game that hasn't started yet, provided that you are not on the Ignore List of any of the players already present (and vice versa). You can also join an already started game that is interrupted but not locked, provided that a space is available. In the Premium area, however, the players already present in the game can deny you entry. The rule that no player should be on the Ignore List of any of the other players present in a game also applies to interrupted games.

Starting a Game

After successfully joining a newly set-up (light green) game, you should click on the Start button. The game can only start after all participating players have confirmed the start, so you shouldn't keep your opponents waiting for too long.

Watching a Game

If a game has been declared "open" by its participants (the option "Invisible" is switched off), this status can be displayed via the "In progress" filter after the game has started. Via the "Watch" function, any other avatar can now join this game as a spectator. Inside the game, he then appears in the avatar bar and "looks over the shoulder" of one of the players. Of course, he cannot look into that player’s cards. He just sees the information that is visible to the other players.

Filter Settings

Various filters allow you to change which of the entries for games are displayed in the Game Manager.

Setting A: Visibility
  • Global
    All games are displayed when using this filter, no matter which city the game was set up in.

  • City
    This is the counterpart to "Global." Only games set up by players coming from the same city as you are displayed.

Setting B: Mode
  • Free Area
    This area is primarily for Free account users. However, Premium account users may also play in this area. Only "The Settlers of Catan" Base Bame and "The Rivals for Catan" Introductory Game are available here. Please note: In the free area, the Catan Base Game is equipped with a turn timer: each player has 2 minutes and 30 seconds to finish a turn. If need be, his opponents may extend this timespan. More information on this can be found here.

  • Premium Area
    This area is exclusively for Premium account users. All games offered in the Catan Online World can be played here. Free account users may only enter this area to watch a game.

  • Official Tournaments
    Games played during the official tournament days.

  • Community Tournaments
    Tournaments organized by the community.

Depending on the options selected under setting A and B, the corresponding chat channels are opened automatically. The default setting for Premium account users is "Global - Premium Area," chat channel "Global Premium." Free account users start in the "Global - Free Area," chat channel "Global." Only Premium account users can use the "Global Premium" chat channel.

Example: The citizens of a city can use the setting "City - Community Tournament" for tournaments they have organized. Games set up in this mode are not displayed among the "normal" games. For each city, a dedicated chat channel is available. For example, Port Niagara would have the channel "Port Niagara - Community Tournament."

Game Options

General Options
  • Turn Timer (only available for Catan board games in the Premium area - exception: Multicatan and Troy)
    If this option is activated, a time limit per turn can be set to 120, 150 or 180 seconds (default: 180). In the free area the turn-timer is always on and set to 150 seconds. If a player has not finished his turn within the given time limit, the other players vote whether to continue waiting or kick the player out. If the turn timer option is active, the remove-by-voting function is not available. (More information on this topic can be found in the chapter Game Administration.)

  • Draw Seat
    The seating plan is randomly determined. If this option is not used, the order in which the players entered the game applies.

  • Host
    Only the player who sets up the game can change the options.

  • Starting Player
    With this option, the starting player can be determined. If the option is not used, the starting player is determined randomly.

  • Invisible
    When this option is active, the players are not listed in the Game Manager after the game has started. That way, spectators cannot enter the game. This option thus allows the players to stay amongst themselves.

  • Players
    With this option, you can set a fixed number of players. The game can't be started until a sufficient number of players have joined. Also, players in excess of the fixed number you have set cannot join the game. This option is turned off by default.

  • Password
    If a password is entered in the input field below, only players who know this password can enter the game. This can be used, for example, in community tournaments if only certain players are allowed to participate in a game.

  • Stars
    Only player with a minimum number of stars may join the game, if this option is set. You can select between 3, 2 or 1 star. The better the ratio between started and finished games is, the more stars a player own.

  • Keyboard Chat
    If you want to use the keyboard to chat during the game, turn this option ON; otherwise, only the canned chat messages will be available. Most players will treat you in a friendly manner. If, however, if you are being harassed by an opponent, use the "Mute" option so he can't send you any more messages. You should also consider adding that player to your Ignore List.

  • No Score
    The game is not given a score (neither on the chart nor for the purpose of resource distribution). You may use this option to play games for learning or testing purposes, so you can abort the game without consequences.

Game-specific Options
  • Immediate Robber (only Cities & Knights)
    This option refers to an old rule variant. Normally, and when this option is deactivated, the robber is moved only after the first barbarian attack; that’s the official rule. With this option, however, the robber becomes active immediately.

  • Friendly Robber (only Catan scenarios without Cities & Knights)
    The robber may only be placed on terrain hexes adjacent to which no player with less than 3 victory points has a settlement. Consequently, the robber cannot be used to steal a resource from a player who has less than 3 victory points.

  • Card Stack (only Catan board games)
    Original: When you choose this option (cardstack), a virtual stack of 36 cards is used instead of 2 dice, as a result of which the random numbers are generated from a triangular distribution (2=1; 3=2; 4=3; 5=4; 6=5; 7=6; 8=5; 9=4; 10=3; 11=2; 12=1).

    To avoid predictability, 5 cards are randomly removed. If the stack is depleted, all cards are shuffled and 5 cards are removed again. This procedure corresponds to the procedure used for the "Catan Event Cards" stack in the "Traders & Barbarians" expansion (without considering the events, of course). This option is available for all Catan scenarios except Elasund. In Multicatan, the card stack is the default option.

    Please note: Because 5 cards are randomly removed, and because it rarely occurs that the card stack is entirely depleted during a game, even with this option a perfect distribution of numbers is not assured; however, the variance of the distribution is lower as compared with the two dice.

    Revised: In this variant of the original Card Stack option, 18 cards are randomly removed from two card decks containing 36 cards each; the remaining cards are put together. That way, the variance of the distribution is higher than in the original stack, although predictability is impossible.

  • Trade Limit (only Team Game variant)
    This option limits the number of resources each player may trade with his own team members to 3 per turn.

  • Desert Border (only Realm of the Desert Sons)
    If a card is placed adjacent to the border of the game area, the side of the card depicting desert must face the border. This rule change has the effect that the "scrounging strategy" – where a player moves his caravan along the border and single-handedly scoops up commodities and camels – loses much of its attractiveness. After setting the options, the game appears in the Game Manager, and other players can join in. Once all spaces are occupied, all players must confirm the start of the game by clicking on the Start button, and the game can begin.

  • Duel Mode (only Rivals for Catan - Duel)
    The "Rivals for Catan" Duel Mode comes in three versions. When setting up a game in the Tavern, you can choose the desired version from the following options:

    Classic: The Duel is played with the basic cards and the cards of the 3 Theme Sets "The Era of Gold," "The Era of Turmoil," and "The Era of Progress."
    Choose: Each player chooses one set from all of the 6 Theme Sets - "The Era of Gold," "The Era of Turmoil," "The Era of Progress," "The Era of Intrigue," "The Era of Barbarians," and "The Era of Merchant Princes." The third Theme Set is chosen randomly. This is the official variant from the first expansion, "Age of Darkness."
    *Random: *All three Theme Sets are chosen randomly from the 6 Theme Sets available.

  • Explorer (only Rivals for Catan - Tournament Game)
    The sea cards from "The Era of Explorers" are laid out in both principalities.

  • Harbormaster *
    The Harbormaster rewards building settlements and cities at harbor intersections. A settlement or city located at a harbor intersection is worth 1 and 2 harbor points, respectively. The first player to have 3 harbor points receives 2 special victory points for the "Harbormaster." A player loses the Harbormaster if another player has more harbor points. Each player's number of harbor points is indicated in his "harbor points" display; if he has the Harbormaster, the number in his display is red. The number of victory points required to win the game increases by 2 if this game option is used.

    (Only Catan Base Game and its expansions - not available in Multicatan, Enchanted Land, The Great Canal, and Troy. To play Harbormaster in combination with the Base Game, please choose the special Harbormaster scenario.)