Climate change in Catan? The new modern twist on a classic board game

Catan - New Energies introduces players to a 21st century problem as they strategize ways to settle, expand, and conquer an undeveloped land.
Catan - New Energies Board Game
Posted at 3:05 PM, Apr 23, 2024

The popular board game Settlers of Catan — or Catan for short — has been around for decades and challenges players to strategize as they compete to collect resources, barter, build, and expand their civilizations on an undeveloped plot of land. But a new version of the game is introducing a 21st century twist that players must now take into account: sustainability.

Catan - New Energies is set to be released in the United States sometime this summer, and what better time to introduce a real-world problem like the impacts of climate change into the game? While the game's text does not specifically mention the term "climate change," players will now have to choose between investing their resources in clean, renewable energy to help them expand, or opting for cheaper, less environmentally friendly fossil fuels.
Power plants that use fossil fuels may allow players to build and expand faster, which can prove beneficial earlier on in the game. But they also create more pollution, which in turn can cause catastrophes.

Catan - New Energies Board Game Pieces

This dilemma gives players an incentive to transition toward greener, more sustainable sources of power as the game progresses. Co-creator Benjamin Teuber said he and his late father, Klaus Teuber, came up with the idea for this new version of Catan as a way to introduce real-world challenges into the game.
"As we designed this game, my dad said, 'A game is an experience — not a lecture,'" Teuber said in a statement. "Therefore, we are not telling players how to act best; we're inviting them to learn and draw their own conclusions through play."

Catan - New Energies Cards

As with all other versions of Catan, there are various paths to victory, which doesn't necessarily mean the "greenest" player in New Energies will always win in the end. However, if fossil fuels are left unchecked, then rampant pollution could trigger an abrupt end to the game, in which the player with the most renewable energy emerges victorious.

The original Catan was designed by Klaus Teuber and first published in Germany in 1995. After winning the country's top gaming award that same year, it quickly grew in popularity and was subsequently published in dozens of other languages around the globe.
Catan is now widely regarded one of the most influential board games of the past few decades and has spawned numerous expansion packs, spinoffs, digital versions and other products related to the game. To date, more than 40 million copies of Catan have been sold worldwide, according to the company.