Settlers of Catan portable edition


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my enthusiasm for the best-selling board game, Settlers of Catan. My family and I like Catan so much that we bought the portable edition to bring with us on our vacation to Hawaii last week.


The portable edition is much smaller than the standard edition. Above is a photo comparing the playing cards that come with the two editions.


The portable edition's board is also much smaller than the standard edition board.

One advantage of the portable edition is that the playing pieces snap into holes in the board so they won't become loose. This is great, because my 8-year-old daughter has a genetic predisposition to brush pieces off boards with a swipe of her arm at least three times per game. Also, setup is much quicker with the portable edition -- the standard edition requires piecing the gameboard together, and the flimsy cardboard pieces want to pop out of place. (They really should make the pieces out of wooden tiles!)

The disadvantage of the portable edition is that the numbers for the hexes can't be changed like they can with the Standard Edition (I know that some people have come up with neat workarounds for this, which is great). Another minor annoyance is that all the pieces fell out and got mixed up after each flight, even though the box has vacu-form plastic insert with bins to organize and hold the cards and parts.

We enjoyed using the portable edition once we arrived in Hawaii. But I didn't want to play it on the airplane, because I was certain we would lose some of the cards or the many small pieces required to play the game. The portable edition is so convenient that we will probably use it at home from now on, reserving the large addition for the Catan expansion packs that we will inevitably purchase.

Settlers of Catan portable edition


  1. How cute! The Island of Catanette, full of dwarf sheep and little pieces of timber.

    Mark: Hopefully by now you’ve seen some of the beautiful home-brewed Catan game components that players have made for themselves. Worth a MAKE article, maybe?

    I look forward to your reviews of the expansion sets. I bought the original game for my sister’s family and would like to know which of the expansions are worth going for.

  2. I recently bought this game and I’ve been playing with my fellow grad student friends. We’ve enjoyed it so much that last week we played it for 6 hours straight until 2am, and no alcohol was involved!

  3. I just put mine in a big ziplock bag. Which fits nicely flat in the outer pocket of my luggage.

  4. This looks great, definitely going on my “To Buy” list. I’ve found that travel edition games are really hit or miss. Some are extremely well thought out, and actually work great during actual travel. Others, just seem like shrunken down versions of the full size games.

    My two favorite travel edition games are Scrabble and Connect Four. Scrabble is very well designed. The pieces lock into the board, the tile racks hold tiles well and the whole game zips up into itself, forming a package about the size of a hardcover novel.

  5. Also cool is the Full Size edition, which consists of floating hexagonal islands with realistic terrain, and container loads of timber, sheep, ore and wheat rather than cards.

  6. The 15th anniversary edition of Catan has some really nice wooden tiles, but its pretty spendy but very nice!

  7. I’ve seen very few board games with wooden tiles, it’s a cost issue. Frankly I’m not sure it would fix the problem, which is very annoying. Originally there was an expansion that fixed the problem by locking in the tiles…… maybe you could make something? Anyway at leastcthe ipad version is better at something!

  8. First it’s Carcassonne, then it’s Settlers, then those Trans-America/Europa/etc train games, and pretty soon you’re playing Power Grid and going to Board Game Geek conventions. It’s all downhill from there, man….

  9. This is tempting, as I am the all-time World Champion Settlers of Catan player…in my household.

  10. I recently bought this game, well it was back in November, after glowing recommendations from users, and sadly our family played but once before dying tragically of boredom and then returning to haunt the internet through our electronic gadgets.

  11. Has Frauenfelder made the obligatory toe step into the deep end and tried Magic: The Gathering to review its accessibility to the average mutant?

    I find the “duel decks” to be a reasonably inexpensive fun activity for any two people with a bit of patience for learning rules, and it’s easy to expand from there to any size family. My wife was able to get a kick out of it, and English is her second language.

    I haven’t really played the game in awhile, but I’d be interested in how the core game appeals to families with no interest in collecting piles of cards and entering tournaments.

  12. There is a variant rule, that imho improves the game a lot.
    The thief, (or whatever the eglish name for him is, the black playpiece taht is moved with evry rolled “7”) is a little bit like Robin Hood also a “Giver”.
    This means when you place him on an field, and after the draw of the stolen card, every small or lagre town at that field pays out, as if his number was rolled. This makes the game more strategic.

    A scond variant rule is helpful for a game with less aggravation between player. The thief is not allowed to go back to the field he was directly before.

  13. I use this edition every week at my board/card games club in Prague – we often get two simultaneous games going, one for four on the portable and one for six on the expanded regular set. Catan geeks are we.
    Since I have to get myself and the games from my house to the cafe in a backpack, keeping the pieces and boxes in order is important – nothing will shake up those plastic pieces like madly running for a tram.
    For this box, you can do the following – take the cardboard sheet included in the box and use big rubber bands to fix it over the bins for the pieces in the plastic ‘bank’. Then use little rubber bands to fix the resource decks together. Finally, use big rubber bands to fix the instructions booklet over the board itself – this will keep the resource/harbor tiles from flying all over. Rubber bands are your friends.

  14. Mark–you can just put the game pieces and cards into little zip lock baggies. That’s how most people who play board games organize the pieces, and keep them from getting mixed up when moving them around. I don’t recommend using rubber bands. They will eventually dry out and gunk up whatever it is you are securing them with. I suppose if you don’t have hundreds of games, like some of us nerds, you can swap them out more regularly for fresh rubber bands. But after accumulating a few hundred games, that becomes pretty impractical.

  15. CATAN DICE! Nice quick game with easy rules that you still have to think about.

    The 2-player Catan Card game is also excellent, and a separate game all to itself, though with the expansions it gets difficult to maintain all the cards.

    Next try the Reinier Knizia Lost Cities.

  16. .
    would some friendly game geeks
    please offer recommendations
    for games that work well as:
    playable with a 6-year-old

    1. Hello!

      Our blog offers a great deal of resources for gaming with children. First, there is an article on how to teach games to kids:

      Second, here is a review of Settlers by my five year old daughter:

      So Settlers is playable with a six year old, as long as (s)he has the right temperament. The article on teaching games toi kids has some great tips on nurturing that, too.

  17. Wish you could have placed an unsharpened pencil in the photographs to help for scale. It’s been so long since I’ve played Catan, I can’t remember how big the game was.

  18. Is there an open source edition? Catan online demands bucks to download and play, but does eliminate the “friends” requirement — you can play against “strong computer opponents.” If the game is that great, it should have an Ubuntu version.

    1. Sorry, to answer my own question, Settler of Catan is in the Synaptic Package Manager under the monicker “pioneers.”

  19. The interesting thing about settlers is that once you place a piece, it never moves. Only the robber moves (this is not the case in seafarers with slightly movable boats, and in cities and knights with barbarians downgrading cities to settlements). With that in mind, it is possible to just play settlers on a printed-out paper board with markers.

    That’s how I play travel catan; I wrote a little java application a long time ago that generates an appropriate board (3/4, 5/6, seafarers setups), print out a bunch of them, and bring markers, cards and dice. Makes for a very nice way to play settlers whilst backpacking or the like.

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