Friday, November 11, 2011

Settlers of Catan Rules in Open Source Games (aka Clones, Remakes, Implementations)

Settlers of Catan is a popular board game. In today's terms it can be described as very 'social' thanks to its trade mechanic, which can lead to exploitation, corruption, deception... all that fun stuff.

There are a few open source implementations of the game rules, some of which I mentioned years ago and with two of them being updated recently, I decided to revisit them.

First, a few fun facts in comparable table form, further below you'll find screenshots, impressions and feature lists. Enjoy! If you're looking for somebody to play against, why not try the #freegamer IRC channel? :)

Thanks for hiponboy's (of SumWars fame) help at testing games and collecting data!

GamePlatformActivity© Infringement™ InfringementCompilable?
C, GTK+activeHex-tiles look suspiciousNone foundYes (./configure && make)
Java Settlers of Catan
JavaactiveYes ("Gorillaz" character portrait file in resources)Yes ("Settlers of Catan")Yes (ant)
Cities3DC/C++, openGL6 months agoNone foundNone foundNo (./configure error)
Solitaire Settlers of Catan
Java3 years agoYes (original Catan card images)Yes ("Settlers of Catan")No (ant error)
jCatanoJava5 years agoNone foundPossibly ("Catan")Yes (ant)
GL CatanC/C++, openGL5 years agoYes (original Catan card images)Possibly ("Catan")No (source not found)
Java Settlers of Catan
Java6 years agoNone foundYes ("Settlers of Catan")No (instructions missing)
Nettlers of Catan
C/C++7 years agoNone foundPossibly ("_ettlers of Catan")No (not ported to Linux)

In the table I pointed out copyright and trademark infringement, which according to this article created problems for SoC clones in the past.

I encourage project maintainers to check whether all assets are openly licensed, credited and legal and distance themselves from the Settlers of Catan trademark to avoid confusion.


Pioneers is feature-loaded and is configurable in content (maps), look (theme) and gameplay (rules).

Features: Various boards, Seafarers mode available, network multiplayer or single-player, one AI level, map editor, complex trade (not sure if it's possible to trade multiple vs multiple resources though), few custom rules, themes

Java Settlers of Catan (JSettlers2)

JSettlers2 nice to play with complex trade, although offers can be confusing and widgets can't be resized individually.

Another drawback is the apparently forced slowness of the AI. On the other hand the AI sometimes offers trade, which makes it stand out from the trade-passive AI of the other games.

Features: Board for 4/6 players, network multiplayer or single-player, one AI level, complex trade, few custom rules

My suggestion for a hopefully non-infringing name change: "Builders of Javatan"

By the way, I was inspired to create a little tile set for JSettlers2.


Cities3D looks great and feels great but needs a developer/maintainer.

Unfortunately FMOD is used for sound, which renders the game non-free.

Features: Various boards, Seafarers mode available, network multiplayer only, complex trade, polished UI, sounds

Solitaire Settlers of Catan

Solitaire Settlers of Catan has a nice look and a clear trade interface (although unfortunately only simple trade is possible).

Features: Board for 4/6 players, single-player only, different AI levels, simple trade, additional Volcano scenario


jCatano has a non-intuitive interface and is a bit of a pain to play with for example no resource icons and impossible action buttons not being grayed out.

Features: Board for 4 players only, network multiplayer only, no harbors, no trade between players, unpolished UI

GL Catan

As long as source code is missing, GL Catan can be considered proprietary software.

Features: Custom board size, single-player only, different AI levels, savegames, map editor, no trade with AI, points to win can be set

Java Settlers of Catan (javasettlers)

Javasettlers is not playable.

Features: Javasettlers is a techdemo of board rendering and building placement.

Nettlers of Catan (nettlers)

Nettlers' advantage is its shortcut-driven interface and minimal UI.

Features: Custom board size, Seafarers mode only, multi-player only, complex trade, shortcut-driven interface

Note about features: "complex trade" means that "I will trade 2 wool and 1 wood against 1 iron" is possible with other players, "simple trade" means only "1 resource for 1" resource trade is possible.

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