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The Rivals for Catan

Welcome to "The Rivals for Catan," the card game for 2 players.

This short introduction is meant for all those who are familiar with the rules of “The Rivals of Catan” card game but would like to know how it works as an online game. However, if you don’t know the game at all, you should have watch the tutorial for the original game at

Interesting Downloads

  1. Quick Guide and and Interface Overview

  2. Listing of All Cards

  3. Listing of All Cards of the “Age of Darkness” Expansion

  4. Listing of All Cards of the “Age of Enlightenment” Expansion

  5. Game Rules
    Complete rules for the tabletop game.

  6. Playing Tips
    by Peter Gustav “Der Bär” Bartschat and Dr. Reiner Düren

Introduction and Special Preparation

Both you and your opponent start with a small principality that is composed of 2 settlements with a road in between. The regions around your two settlements produce resources. You use these resources to build more roads and settlements, to upgrade your settlements to cities, and to build buildings and heroes. Each settlement is worth one victory point, and each city is worth 2 victory points.

In the Introductory Game, the first player to reach 7 victory points wins. Only one of the two principalities is displayed on the screen. You may switch between the principalities by clicking on the arrow button on the right.

If you do not know the rules of the game, you should watch Prof.Easy's interactive tutorial first.

Introductory Game:

Click on one of the 4 draw stacks and draw 3 cards. The cards appear in your card window.

Theme Games and Duel:

You may choose your 3 starting cards from a stack. For this purpose, click on a stack. A menu will come up that shows all cards of the stack. Highlight exactly 3 cards by clicking on them and select "Confirm."

Roll the Dice: Production and Event

When it is your turn, the flag appears next to your name. Click on the die button. The production die and the event die are rolled.

Event Die: If a Brigand Attack is displayed on this die, each player who has more than 7 resources loses all his wool and gold supplies.
Production Die: In each of his regions marked with the number rolled, each player receives 1 resource of this region. Important: A region cannot accommodate more than 3 resources.

If no Brigand Attack was rolled, the event is next to follow:

Trade: If you have the trade advantage, you receive 1 resource of your choice from your opponent.
Celebration: If you have the most skill points, you alone receive 1 resource of your choice. Otherwise, each player receives 1 resource of his choice.
Plentiful Harvest: Each player receives 1 resource of his choice.
Event card: The player who rolled the dice draws the topmost event card and reads the event aloud. All players affected by the event resolve the event.

Build and Trade

You may build a road, settlement, or city from the general card supply, or you may build a settlement/city expansion (green text box) you have in your hand.

Building Costs:

If you let the mouse cursor hover over a card, a tooltip opens and the card's building costs are displayed. To build, click on a card in your card window or in your general display and pay the building costs.

Please note: A settlement allows you to place 2 settlement/city expansions: 1 above and 1 below the settlement. A city has 4 building sites: 2 below and 2 above the city.


Click on the trade button to open the trade menu. In the window depicting the green arrow, indicate the desired resource. In the window depicting the red arrow, indicate the 3 (or, if you have the matching trade ship, 2) resources you want to pay for it.

Play Action Cards

The area in the lower third of an action card is gray. If you have an action card in your card window and want to read the text on the card, open the tooltip (move your mouse cursor over the card). If you want to play the card, click on it. You may play any number of action cards during your turn. Please note that some cards of the Theme Sets can only be played if certain requirements are fulfilled.

Activate Cards

Some cards (such as the "Large Trade Ship") have special features, which can be activated manually after they are built. Those cards have an indicator in their upper left corner. If the indicator is green, the card can be activated and its feature be used. If it is red, it cannot be used at the moment, because one or more requirements are not met.

Points (Symbols)

Settlements, cities, and most city expansions of the Theme Sets have one or more victory points. You need victory points to win the game.
Some settlement/city expansions - for example, the Abbey - have a progress point. Each progress point allows you to have one more card in your hand.
Heroes and also some settlement/city expansions of the Theme Sets have one or more strength points. Strength points may give you the strength advantage (see "Strength Advantage" section).
Heroes also have skill points. If the heroes you placed have more skill points than those of your opponent, you alone receive one resource of your choice when the event "Celebration" occurs.
Some settlement/city expansions are marked with one or two trade points. Trade points may give you the trade advantage (see "Trade Advantage" section).
In the Theme Set "Era of Prosperity," stars are introduced. These points allow you to perform special actions.
Cannon points help you to fight against pirates in "The Era of Explorers" Theme Set.
Sail points increase the range of your explorer ships in "The Era of Explorers" Theme Set.
Owls allow you to perform special actions in "The Era of Sages" Theme Set.

Strength Advantage and Trade Advantage

Strength Advantage:

If you are the first player to place cards with a total of 3 strength points, you receive the strength advantage.
To denote the strength advantage, you receive the hero token. The hero token is worth 1 victory point. The strength advantage gives you advantages in the context of some events and actions.

Trade Advantage:

If you are the first player to place cards with a total of 3 trade points, you receive the trade advantage. To denote the trade advantage, you receive the trade token. The trade token is worth 1 victory point. If you have the trade advantage, you receive 1 resource of your choice from your opponent when the event "Trade" occurs.

If you no longer have the most trade points or strength points, you lose the corresponding token (and, thus, the victory point), and your opponent receives the token if he has the most points.

Replenish Your Hand / Exchange a Card

If you do not want to perform further actions during your action phase, click on "Next."

Replenish Your Hand:

If you didn't place a card with a progress point (e.g., an Abbey), you are allowed to have 3 cards in your card window (table game: in your hand). If you have fewer cards, you are prompted to draw the corresponding number of cards from the draw stacks.

If you have more than the allowed number of cards in your card window (for example, after removing the Abbey), you are prompted to discard cards. In this case, click on a card in your window and drag it to a stack.

Exchange a Card:

At the end of your turn, you are being asked whether you want to swap a card, and if so, whether you want to draw the new card from the top of a stack or choose it from a stack. If you want to exchange a card, click on the card in your card window and drag it to a stack. The card is returned to the bottom of that stack. Afterwards, choose a stack and draw a card or pay 2 resources (1 resource if you have a Parish Hall) and choose a card.

Theme Games

A Theme Game is played with the basic cards and the cards of one of the 9 Theme Sets ("The Era of Gold," "The Era of Turmoil," "The Era of Progress," The Era of Intrigue," "The Era of Barbarians," "The Era of Merchant Princes," "The Era of Prosperity," "The Era of Explorers," and "The Era of Sages"). In a Theme Game, the first player to reach 12 victory points wins (13 victory points in "The Era of Barbarians").

Face-up Expansion Card Stack:

The 2 draw stacks of the Theme Set (here: The Era of Gold) and the face-up expansion card stack (arrow) with the strategic cards of the Theme set (here: Merchant Guild) are placed next to the 3 draw stacks of the Basic Set. You do not draw a card from the face-up expansion stack but build the card directly by clicking on the stack.

Starting Cards:

Unlike in the Introductory Game, at the beginning of the game each player chooses his 3 starting cards from one of the three stacks on the left.

Particularities in “The Era of Explorers”

There are 3 different types of sea cards: islands, pirates, and shipwrecks. During the game, you must first discover the sea cards; afterwards, you can carry out missions to discovered islands and pirates, to obtain advantages in the game and earn victory points.

You need explorer ships to both discover sea cards and to go on missions to discovered sea cards. On each of your own turns, you may use your explorer ships at any point during your action phase. You may first use an explorer ship, then build something or play an action card, and then use the next explorer ship. However, each explorer ship may only be used once per turn. You thus have (normally) a maximum of 3 explorer ship actions per turn. You can build an explorer ship by clicking on the explorer harbor during your action phase and pay 1 lumber and 1 wool. Once you have built all 3 of your explorer ships, you can't build more. You may use a newly built explorer ship on the same turn. It is possible that you lose explorer ships during the game. You may rebuild lost explorer ships during a later turn.

There are two kinds of explorer ship actions: "discovery" and "mission. An action is considered a "discovery" if the target of the explorer ship action is an undiscovered sea card. An action is considered a "mission" if the target of the explorer card action is a discovered sea card. To be able to perform an explorer ship action with a particular sea card, this sea card must be "within range" ("green marking"). Important: You may only perform an action with a sea card on which no explorer ship has been placed yet. This means that on your turn you can normally only perform 1 action with each sea card.

The range of all your explorer ships is determined by the number of sail points depicted on the buildings of your principality. The sum of sail points yields the number of movement points you have available each turn for each of your explorer ships.

When fighting pirates, only the cannon points on the buildings in your principality count. Strength points are not taken into account. To determine the result of the fight, roll the production die and add the number of cannon points in your own principality to the roll result. If the sum is larger than the pirate's strength, you are victorious and receive the reward indicated on the card. In case of a tie, repeat the die roll. If the sum is smaller than the pirate's strength, your explorer ship is lost.

Particularities in “The Era of Sages”

The set introduces wisdom points in the form of "owls." To receive wisdom points, you first must place sages **in your principality. All sages are "region expansions.". The set contains a total of 8 sage cards - 1 sage for each region and 2 sages that can be placed adjacent to any region. If the number of the region adjacent to which you have placed a sage is rolled during production, this sage receives 1 owl. Production boosters (e.g., Grain Mill) do not generate additional owls. Owls are required for the players to be able to use certain expansion cards and action cards. For example, each time you want to use the Grove of Peace, you must pay 1 owl. To play an action card in "The Era of Sages," in most cases you have to **pay owls in addition to meeting the other requirements of the card. For example, if you want to play the Wise Compensation action card, you must pay 3 owls. Owls are also required to build certain buildings and units and to rotate the Manifesto of Humane Conduct to the next, higher level. Owls are not resources. You can't obtain them in exchange for resources, and they do not count when a Brigand Attack occurs.

Manifesto of Humane Conduct marker card: There are no building costs for the Manifesto. When you build your first city, you take the marker card and place it above or below any region of your choice. You can place the marker card adjacent to another region at any time. (The latter only makes sense if you need the region's building site.)

Particularities in “The Era of Prosperity”

The set introduces contentment points - in short, "stars." The degree of the population's contentment is recorded on the marker card, similar to the resources on the regions. The more content your people are with you, the more likely they are to serve you. Stars can be used to take advantage of the effects described on the Public Feeling card. Stars are also required to build some buildings and units. Stars are not resources. You can't obtain them in exchange for resources, and they do not count when a Brigand Attack occurs. However, once during your turn you may pay 2 stars and take any 1 resource of your choice (see Public Feeling card).

Duel of the Princes

The Duel is available in four variants, which can be choosen in the game options when setting up a game in the Tavern.

  1. 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."

  2. Choose: Every player chooses one set from all of the 9 Theme Sets. The third set will be chosen randomly.

  3. Random (All): All three decks are chosen randomly.

  4. Random (Ba + AD): All three decks are chosen randomly from the 6 sets only available in the Base Game and the 1st expansion.

In the Duel, the first player to reach 13 victory points wins the game.

The Stacks of the Theme Sets:

The 3 draw stacks of the Theme Sets (arrows) are placed next to the 3 draw stacks of the Basic Set. Each Theme Set was reduced by about half of its cards. If you download the Theme Games PDFs on our website, you can view all cards. In the Duel, the cards marked with a moon are set aside.

Event Card Stack:

The event card stack contains the standard cards Yule, Invention, Year of Plenty and Traveling Merchant as well as additional randomly determined cards that belong to the used sets so that in the end the stack contains 13 cards.

The Special Cards

Every year Klaus Teuber releases one new special card for his game "The Rivals for Catan" in a limited print run. 4 of these cards were also programmed for PlayCatan and can be activated in a game with the game option "Special Cards".

  • Gavin, the Polyglot (Era of Prosperity): 1x during your turn: You may trade 1 resource from a region where you have 3 resources for any 1 different resource of your choice.
  • Alexander and Sebastian, the Bookkeepers (Era of Gold): Your treasures have been recounted in your favor. If you are in the lead, immediately take any 1 resource of your choice, otherwise take any 2 resources of your choice. Requires: Prince or Princess.
  • Johannes, the Advocate (Era of Trade Masters): If you lose resources as a result of an action card played by your opponent, you may pay 1 gold and roll the die. 1-3: Demand 1 resource from your opponent; if he is in the lead, you may demand another 1 resource from him. 4,5: You get your gold back.
  • Axel, the Innovator (Base Game): Remove a building. Replace it with another building and pay as much gold as required to cover the excess cost of the new building as compared with the old building. Observe the building requirements!

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