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Klaus Teuber, creator of ‘Settlers of Catan,’ dies at 70

A Shabbat afternoon staple in many Jewish homes, the board game’s name was shortened to “Catan,” reportedly in part due to associations with Israeli settlers.

A game of “Settlers of Catan.” Credit: Yongho Kim via Wikipedia.
A game of “Settlers of Catan.” Credit: Yongho Kim via Wikipedia.

Klaus Teuber, the German dental technician-turned-game designer who created “Settlers of Catan,” died on April 1. He was 70 years old.

Since the game debuted in 1995, it has sold tens of millions of copies in more than 40 languages, reported the Associated Press.

“I developed games to escape,” he told The New Yorker. “This was my own world I created.”

In the game, which was rebranded as “Catan” in 2015, players compete to construct settlements using brick, grain, wood, ore and wool.

A staple in many observant Jewish homes on Shabbat and holiday afternoons, when electronics are prohibited, the game is reportedly popular in Israel.

Writing on the site YeahThatsKosher last year, Dani Klein listed “Settlers of Catan” first among the “Top 9 Board Games for Shabbat & Yom Tov.”

“This may be the greatest game of all time. It mixes the right amount of strategy, luck and interpersonal play that makes this game one that you can play thousands of times and not get bored,” Klein wrote. “Has great expansion sets for multiple versions and added players.”

Jews and Israel may have made a different mark on the game as well. Part of the reason that the company reportedly shortened the game’s name came from complaints that it evoked Israeli settlers.

After this article published, Kelsey Megard, a spokeswoman for Catan Studios, told JNS “The decision to change the name was not due to negative associations with the term ‘settlers.'”

“The reason behind the name change was to create a consistent and recognizable brand for a global audience. ‘CATAN’ is the same in all languages, while the previous name was ‘Die Siedler von Catan’ in German and ‘Settlers of Catan’ in English, which created inconsistencies across different languages,” Megard said. “The intent of the name change was to create a unified brand that could be recognized globally.”

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