Starfarers of Catan: Rules

Published by Kosmos
Designed by Klaus Teuber
English rules and cards translated by Peter Card 18th November 1999
[Translators Note: I have used "he" and "his" throughout, since there are no compact gender neutral equivalents. ]

Game Preparation

Set up the game following these instructions, so as to familiarise yourselves with the game components and their fucntions. The actual rules come afterwards. Consult the Glossary in the Almanac (Section 3), if questions arise during the course of the game.

First, unfold the gameboard.

There are 11 solar systems, each with 3 planets and 4 Alien Homeworlds. The 4 solar systems at the bottom of the board are called "Catanian Colonies" (planets marked with Greek letters). The players start here

Each player chooses a colour and takes his stock, consisting of:

Each player places 2 of his colonies and 1 of his spaceports on the circles (Colony Points) between the Catanian Colonies, as shown in the illustrated "Setup for beginners" A spaceport consists of a colony stuck together with a spaceport ring. (see illustration)

Attention: In the 3 player game the 2 colonies and the single spaceport of the 4th colour are placed as shown. However, they have no function except to act as an obstruction.

Each player takes one of his colonies from stock and attaches any one of his transports to the spire of the colony. A colony ship consists of a transport attached to a colony. Each player places his colony ship on the space-point adjacent to his spaceport, as shown in the illustrated "Setup for Beginners". New ships lift off from here to colonise new planets.

New colonies and spaceports, amongst other things, or required to reach 15 Victory Points and win the game. Each colony is worth 1VP, each spaceport is worth 2. This means that each player starts the game with 4 VPs. Each player places their VP marker on the "4" space of the VP track on the gameboard.

Building spaceships costs raw material cards. Only the colony ship you start the game with is free. You receive most of your raw materials from the production chits on planets you have colonised. Carefully remove the production chits from the sheet. (Translaters note: When first playing the game) Place the production chits marked with Greek letters on the reverse side on the Catanian colony planets, with the numbered sides are face up, as shown on the illustrated Setup.

The production chits marked with the coloured spots on the reverse are placed with the coloured spots showing and mixed. Each planet marked with a coloured spot is then covered with a production chit marked with a matching coloured spot. These chits will be turned face up when a player founds a colony on an adjacent colony spot. The production chits marked with a white spot are kept in reserve and placed with the numbered side face down near near the gameboard.

When the number of a production chit is thrown during the game, the owners of colonies and spaceports on the planet with the chit will receive the raw material for that planet.

Now take the raw material cards. There are 5 different types, one for each planetary type. Sort the raw material cards by type and put the 5 piles in the compartaments of the cardbox. The cardbox constitutes the raw material stock, and is best placed at one side of the gameboard.

Now each player takes a mothership and an endcap in their colour. Each player puts his mothership in front of him, (not on the board) Sort out the cargo rings, ship canons and drives, and put them in component box. Place the box beside the board. At the start of the game, the motherships have no upgrades. However, during the game the players can buy upgrades for their motherships. The illustration above shows where they are attached.

The function of the mothership is quite simple.The drives increase the speed of the player's ships on the gameboard, the ship canons increase their fighting ability and the cargo rings increase the trade capacity. Thus, the mothership shows the attributes of your spaceships on the board.

Colonies and spaceports are not enough to win.If you found trade bases at Alien homeworlds during the course of the game, you receive friendship cards and can gain friendship discs (2 victory points) Sort the friendship cards by type . Lay the 5 cards for each race next to the corresponding Alien homeworld. The cards are laid face up on the spaces with pictures of the Aliens. The Friendship discs are placed on top of the homworlds.

When moving your spaceships, you can experience unexpected events. Shuffle the 32 event cards and stack them face down near the gameboard.

Events can increase your fame. Fame is represented by fame discs, which are stored in the fourth tray of the component box. Each player takes one fame disc, and threads it on the spike of his mothership

Each player takes a quick reference card, which summarises the main points of play.

To complete the setup, lay out the dice and construct the raw-material supply deck. Take 12 cards from each of the 5 raw material piles, shuffle them together thoroughly, and put the supply deck so created next to the cardbox. Each player now takes 3 raw material cards from the supply deck.

Attention When you have played the game once or twice, you should found your initial colonies and spaceport according to the Setup for Experienced Players ( see the Almanac)

Winning the Game

The first player to reach 15 Victory Points in his own turn, wins the game.Victory Points are gained for building colonies and spaceports, among other things. A Victory Point summary is shown on each side of the gameboards

Setup for Experienced Players (from the Almanac)

After preparing the game, each player founds two colonies and one spaceport, and places a free colony ship next to the spaceport.

Attention: As soon as a player places his spaceport, in the first, second or third round, he also places a free colony or trade ship on an adjacent spaceport point.

General Sequence of Play

Whoever throws highest starts the game. A player's turn consists of three phases

Sequence of Play in Detail

The Production Phase

1. Dicing for Production

The player begins by throwing both the dice for this turn's production

Example: The illustration shows the situation where the Red player has thrown an "8". The yellow and blue players each receive carbon production

2.Taking Cards from the Supply Deck

If the player whose turn it is has fewer than 9 victory points, he receives a card from the supply deck ( even if a "7" was thrown) IMPORTANT:If a player has more than 8 victory point he doesn't get this entitlement. Should a player forget to take a card from the supply deck, he can still claim it in the Trade and Building Phase. As soon as he makes a mothership roll, he loses this right. If the supply deck is exhausated, a new deck is made up with 6 cards from each raw material deck.

Trade and Building Phase

After the production phase, the player can trade and build in any order


Trade with other players

If a player wants to trade with the other players he announces which raw materials he wants and which he is perpared to give in exchange. He can listen to offers from other players and make counter offers. The rate of exchange ( for instance, one food card in return for one, two or even two ore and one carbon ) is up to the players. IMPORTANT: All trades must be with the player whose turn it is. The other players cannot trade among themselves.

Trade with the Galactic Bank

The five raw material decks are known as the "Galactic Bank". Whoever wants to trade with the Galactic Bank in their turn returns three cards of one type to the deck and takes one card of another type.(Exchange rate is 3:1) IMPORTANT: The "Trade Goods" raw material is a special case. It is traded at 2:1 Whoever has a Friendship card from the Traders can improve the exchange rate with the Galactic Bank


If he wishes, a player can build as much as he likes in the Trade and Building Phase , as long as he has the necessary raw materials at his disposal and there are enough game components. The construction costs are listed on the quick reference card that each player has in front of him.

  1. Spaceships (Colony and Trading Ships)
  2. Spaceports
  3. Mothership Upgrades Each player can upgrade his mothership with cargo rings, drives and ship canons, if he has the necessary raw materials (See the construction costs on the quick reference cards) A player who has paid for an upgrade afixes it to his mothership in the appropriate place

Flight Phase

If a player has no spaceships in on the board, he does not get a Flight Phase, and the turn passes to the next player. If a player does have spaceships, he now performs a "Mothership Roll" to determine the speed. If he gets a black bead, an event occurs. Then he moves his ship[s] on the gameboard, according to the Flight Rules (See "Flight Rules" below), and can therby:

Speed Determination

First of all, the player determines the "Basic Speed" of his spaceships by his mothership roll. He shakes his mothership, holding it upside down, and then turns it the right way up again.Two beads will have fallen into the transparent cylinder at the base of the mothership. On the quick reference cards, each bead colour corresponds to a number.The sum of both numbers gives the "Basic Speed".There are two possibilities

  1. The black bead was not thrown

    Example: The yellow player has determined a speed of "4" for his spaceships. He picks up a spaceship on the board and moves it 4 space points (see illustration)

  2. The black bead was thrown This means that the player has an event before moving his ship.

    IMPORTANT: If a result mentions one of the player's spaceships, it is always the player's "first spaceship"on the gameboard that is effected (The transport with the fewest beads on its spike)

    ATTENTION: The instructions of the two event cards that start "Zahn der Zeit" (Wear and Tear) are followed one after another, and effect all the players

Exploring Planets

Founding Colonies

Each planetary system has three colony points. In the four player game, a colony can be founded on each colony point. However, in the three player game, only two colonies can be founded. One colony point (it doesn't matter which one) must always be left vacant.

Founding Trade Bases

IMPORTANT: A player player loses the friendship disc if another player has more trade bases at the homeworld of that race.If there is a tie, the player occupying the lowest numbered trade point gets the disc.

Pirates and Ice Planets

Colonies cannot be founded at colony points with a pirate's nest or ice planet on one of the neighnouring planets. However, if a player succeeds in defeating the pirates or making an ice planet habitable, the pirate's nest or the iceplanet production chit is swapped for a reserve chit(white spot on the reverse). he lays the pirates nest or ice planet in front of him. It is worth 1 victory point. A pirate's nest is defeated if the player moves one of his spaceships onto a space point or colony point adjacent to the planet, and the number of his ship canons (mothership + friendship cards) is at least as great as the number on the pirate's nest chit. An ice planet chit is removed if the player moves one of his spaceships onto a space point or colony point adjacent to the planet and his mothership has at least as many cargo rings as the the number on the ice planet chit.

Flight Rules

When a player moves his spaceships, there are some rules to observe.

Blockading is not allowed:

Tracking Victory Points

Each time that a player gains or loses victory points, he moves his victory point marker the corresponding number of spaces up or down the victory point track.

Game End

A player ends the game and wins if he reaches 15 victory points during his turn.


For a faster game, use the following rule.

Each player can take 2 cards from the supply deck in his turn, if he has less than 7 victory points.


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