Settlers of Catan accessory to prevent board mishaps

I've reviewed the Settlers of Catan and the Settlers of Catan Portable Edition. The nice thing about the portable edition's board is that it's not wont to fall apart like the standard edition's is. SJ Brown is taking a different approach to the flimsy Catan board problem by creating a beautiful wooden gameboard accessory for Catan. His Kickstarter video pitch is very funny.

Catan Boardcrafting


  1. I wonder how he’s managed to swing the licensing for this.


    Yes, the game is currently in print.  Mayfair games.  They sell it in stores.

    “So why would this nice fellow with the laser cutter need to license it?”

    Oh, I don’t know.  I’m sure the lawyers will let him know.

    “But he’s added a disclaimer.  ‘This project is in no way affiliated or endorsed by the publishers or trademark holders of the Settlers of Catan board game.’  Isn’t that enough?”

    We’ll see.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. If he were just making a frame that you could snap the game into, I’d have fewer questions about it being an accessory, but adding in actual replacement game pieces makes it more questionable to me.

    2. “But he’s added a disclaimer.  ‘This project is in no way affiliated
      or endorsed by the publishers or trademark holders of the Settlers of
      Catan board game.’  Isn’t that enough?”

      Probably it is.  Games aren’t copyrightable.

      The name under which a game set is published, the tile art, the package design, typeface, colour scheme, the piece of writing that is the rulebook, all those are subject to copyright.  And he hasn’t copied those things.

      The rules themselves, and those physical elements of the design that need to be retained to be able to follow the rules, are fine to copy.

      Anyone remember Scrabblicious (or whatever it was called) on facebook?  They got in trouble because they retained copyrightable elements from Scrabble – the colours, typefaces, and a very similar name, notably.  They could have offered the same rules, gameplay, and board layout, under a different  name and with different graphic design, and they’d have been fine.

  2. It looks really cool, and a good functional design.  My only problem, at this point, is the lack of color.  The colors of the tiles really help with getting a feel for the situation, at a glance.

    Done properly, I think he could skip making the hex tiles, and just design his board so that the cardboard hex tiles from the original game either snap in, or slide in, somehow, into their spaces.  My original set’s hex tiles are all still flat enough, the only problems I have with the existing board are the border pieces, which were curved right out of the box, and the fact that there’s nothing holding the hex tiles together.

    Actually, I find the 3D printed tiles that were featured here on BB some months ago to be even sexier, and more functional than this laser-cut wooden board, except that I don’t know how tight the printed pieces hang together.  But even that’s a minor problem, all you need is a flat piece of plastic, wood, cardboard, whatever, to go underneath.

    1. Let me try to address your feedback.

      There is a frame-only reward for $60. Fits the Mayfair tiles quite nicely. Pics:

      Re: color, I’ve tried staining but I don’t think it looks as nice:

      And in my playtests, it takes people about 30-45 seconds to get familiar with what the tiles represent. Beginners have less trouble adapting because my tiles represent the resources, not terrain where such resources come from.

      1. I find the real tiles to not be very distinct. Replacing their graphics with vivid iconography makes them a lot more readable to me. With coloring them, there’s also the issue of picking hues that work for colorblind persons, so if they’re sold plain people can tint them as they like.

  3. Frames? Pah! Back in ye olden days, we didn’t even have any bloody frames! The harbours used to be on regular tiles! The ocean was just an amorpous mess! AND GET OFF MY LAWN!!

    But seriously, pahool is absolutely right. I’ve been playing Cities&Knights (is it called that in America, too? not sure) since… I dunno, 2000? and refused to play vanilla ever since. It just adds incredible ammounts of depth with relatively little changes.
    The seafaring-addition (again, not sure about the english name), otoh, isn’t a must for me. I’ll play it, but it adds to much luck-based elements for my taste.

  4. I’m loving the late-night-infomercial “There’s got to be a better way!” style touches of complete bumbling incompetence while dealing with the vanilla board.

    Also that board looks really, really nice.

  5. I dig the commercial – very funny. And this looks real nice. But I do have to say, I’ve really never had much trouble keeping Catan together during play. I’m pretty sure the earlier editions didn’t even have that frame piece (could be wrong) but I’ve certainly not played with it. That piece looks to cause more trouble that it solves. 

  6. I have been playing ‘Settlers’ for 11 years and I have never had the problems they are trying to solve. This  is completely unnecessary, your money is better spent on an expansion (Seafarers, city and knights, etc.) 

    1. Wow, you must have the world’s straightest board pieces then. We weigh all the pieces down with cell phones and coasters because our pieces are slightly bowed enough to keep it from fitting together properly. In the years we’ve been playing–and taught others who went on to purchase their own sets–I can’t recall anyone who didn’t need to put objects on their boards to keep them flat. 

  7. just read the article –  i only ever played “settlers” once or twice, but here’s an idea  ->

    “Settlers  of Satan” – a modern age expansion for “Settlers of Catan”

    * new asset: influence – it’s tradeable like grain or wood
    * lose your draw, your right to bargain or even your whole turn in exchange
       for influence
    * use influence to have the other players’ calvinist settlers build camouflaged casinos instead of sawmills, run hidden bordellos in mines and work in secret drug labs at their farms
    * gain a percentage of everything the targeted player produces
    * your victory condition: have  another settler “win” the game – if you receive more than 25% of his production/income, you are settler supreme 

  8. Before getting too concerned about the board, they may want to pay more attention to the rule book; I see some awfully close settlements in those wheat fields.

    “How often does distance rule FAIL happen to you?”

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