Skip to Content

What happens when you run out of settlements on Catan?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Are you confused about what to do when settlements run out while playing Catan? The board game starts with five settlement tokens per player, and one resource in every settlement adjacent to a resource hex.

The settlements enable the player to take resources cards from the resource hexes, and the players are required to only place them on an unoccupied intersection.

In addition, settlements upgrade to a city when the player uses two grain and three ore as the upgrade cost. The player may return the settlement to the player supply, which can reuse in a changed location.

What happens when you run out of settlements on Catan? During the Catan gameplay, it is possible to run out of settlements. When a player uses all five settlements provided at the beginning of the game, the player must upgrade one to a city before building up another settlement. 

In this case, the player will then have a free settlement in their supply for them to be in a position to build another. The supplies are finite in number. 

Therefore, if a player needs to have more settlement on the Catan game than the five provided, the player will be forced to upgrade one of the settlements into a city, which will cost the player two grains and three ore as the upgrade items. 

When settlement upgrades are finished, the settlement is returned to the supply, which a player will reuse again but in a different location instead of the original position.

The settlements are a resource that allows players to collect resource cards from adjacent resource hexes. However, resources and development cards can run out while playing Catan, which can lead to halt the game. 

In this article, we are going to learn about settlement rules and limitation of the special resource. Answered below are frequently asked questions about running out of settle meant cards in Catan and what to do next, so stay tuned!

Is there a limit to settlements in Catan?

No, there is no limit to settlements in Catan. In fact, a player can build as many settlements as possible if they have the resource cards to do so. The number of settlements is only limited by the resources available in their pool. 

At the start of the game, the player pool has a maximum of 5 settlements, with four cities and 15 roads. Under the early build rules of the game, a player couldn’t have built more items than they had in the pool. 

But under the new build rules in the almanac, a player can have as many items, provided the player has the resources to pay for them.

When the game begins, a player starts with five settlements, and the player’s objective is to build up unoccupied interceptions of two cities. 

Any time a player places a settlement, a player earns a resource from the resource hex. 

After the player finishes placing the fifth settlement in the interaction, and the player hasn’t built a city yet, a player can continue with the placing of settlement despite there being not more settlement from the pool. This is possible provided that the player has the resources it takes to do so. 

The upgrade from settlement to city costs the player two grains and three ore. The supplies are finite in number, and therefore a player cannot build more settlements than provided unless some are upgraded into cities. 

Once the settlement has been upgraded to a city, the settlement is returned to the player’s supply pool, and can be reused to build up another settlement in a different location. The rebuilding of the settlement will continue to provide the player with enough resources to upgrade further settlements to the city, and the alternative locations to rebuild these return settlements are unoccupied.

Can you bypass a settlement in Catan?

No, you can’t bypass a settlement in Catan. Bypassing a settlement can be viewed either in building a road past another player settlement or building a city without building a settlement first, which cannot happen.

For a player to build up a city, the player must upgrade a settlement by paying off two grains and three ore. A player can build up as many cities as they can, provided they have enough resources for the upgrade.

A player’s road cannot bypass another player’s settlement. When a player builds up a settlement in the opponent’s road provided the intersection where the settlement is unoccupied, the opponent’s road is broken. 

It is legal for a player to build up a settlement on the opponent’s road. A player can build a settlement anywhere on the game board provided the player can reach at that point either by road or ship, and that there’s a vacant spot on the interception in which the player wants to place the settlement.

A player road cannot build a road past another opponent’s settlement. The rule for building a road says that for a player to build a road, the new road must connect to their other roads, settlement, and cities without bypassing other opponent players’ settlements, cities, and roads.

Catan settlement rules 

In order to understand what to do when settlements run out during the game, it is important to learn the core rules of Catan settlements. Here are the official rules that govern the buildup of settlement in Catan:

  • Can only place one settlement on each intersection with only one path, provided the intersection is not occupied.
  • Follow the distance rule of the Catan game, which states that a player must place a settlement at least two intersections away from any other settlement or city. That means a player cannot build a settlement one space away from either another settlement or city.
  • Place a settlement on a space that is not occupied by another settlement.
  • Build anywhere by a player provided the space has not been built, and a player does not necessarily have to trace back the route from where the player began. 
  • Gain one resource from the adjacent hex from every settlement a player places on an empty intersection.
  • Built a new settlement using one lumber, one grain, one brick, and one wool.
What happens if you run out of settlements on Catan

Running Out of Settlements in Catan: Conclusion 

The Catan board game consists of building settlements to accomplish cities. However, players cannot build a settlement on any space that is less than two intersections away from another already build up settlement or city. 

The game starts with 5 settlements per player, therefore running out of settlements can happen. If this happens, the player cannot continue building settlements unless they upgrade some into cities using resources.

There are no limitation on how many settlements a player can own. Instead, the player can build as many settlements they can able to do using available resources at hand.

However, you cannot build through the opponents settlement. The player can only connect to their own roads, settlements or cities.

There you have it! When you run out of settlement cards in Catan, use the available resources to upgrade your settlements into cities to continue reusing the settlement cards available to you and increase the chance of winning.