Klaus Teuber (25 June 1952 – 1 April 2023) was a German board game designer best known as the creator of Catan. Originally working as a dental technician, he began designing games first as a hobby then as a full-time career.

Klaus Teuber
Teuber in 2017
Born(1952-06-25)25 June 1952[1]
Rai-Breitenbach [de],[2] Breuberg, West Germany
Died1 April 2023(2023-04-01) (aged 70)
Known forBoard game developer

Four of his games won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award: Barbarossa (1988), Adel Verpflichtet (1990), Drunter und Drüber (1991) and The Settlers of Catan (1995).[3] The last of these sold over 40 million copies, was translated into 40 languages and spawned a family of expansions and versions.[4] Teuber founded the games company Catan GmbH in 2002 and his sons now direct the family business.

Teuber was inducted into the Origin Awards Hall of Fame by the AAGAD (Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design) in 2004.[5] In 2010, he received a special As d'Or in recognition of his lifetime achievement at the Festival International des Jeux in France.[6]

Early life


Teuber was born in 1952 in the village of Rai-Breitenbach, West Germany, under the Breuberg castle.[2] As a child, he played games with model soldiers.[2] He later wrote that his favourite subject in school was geography – he enjoyed making maps – followed by history and chemistry.[7] Teuber returned to gaming as a young husband and father during his military service.[2]



Teuber worked as a dental technician for his business Teuber Dental-Labor near Darmstadt, but he was not happy in this work.[2][8] In the 1980s, he designed his first game, Barbarossa, inspired by the fantasy trilogy, The Riddle-Master, by Patricia A. McKillip.[2][1] In the game, players make sculptures out of modelling clay, and try to guess what the objects represent.[2] After working on the game for seven years, Teuber finally showed Barbarossa to a publisher; the game was awarded the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) in 1988.[2]

Teuber went on to win the award three more times, for the games Adel Verpflichtet (Hoity Toity) in 1990, Drunter und Drüber (Wacky Wacky West) in 1991, and Die Siedler von Catan (The Settlers of Catan) in 1995.[1][3]

The Settlers of Catan


In 1991, Teuber started designing The Settlers of Catan, inspired by the history of Viking settlers in Iceland.[9][1] He took four years to develop the island-settling game; his major breakthrough was when he introduced hexagonal tiles instead of using squares to represent wood, ore, brick, wool, and wheat.[2][7] Catan has been credited with launching a new more "social" era for board games, introducing bargaining and bartering among players as part of the strategy to win.[1]

The commercial success of Catan allowed Teuber to become a full-time game designer in 1998.[2] The family game business was incorporated as Catan GmbH in 2002 and his sons Benjamin and Guido are directors while his wife Claudia and his daughter also have roles as bookkeeper and tester.[2]

The popularity of Catan continued to grow, eventually translated into 40 languages, with multiple expansions, geographically themed versions, a card game, a version for young children, a video game, and online versions, as well as a novel and other spinoffs.[9][1] For the development of the video game adaptation of Catan, Teuber created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with "elaborate logic chains and probability matrices" so that the developers could determine the effects of each action on gameplay.[10]

In 2020, sales of Catan surged during the first five months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as board games became popular during the worldwide lockdown.[8] As of 2023, more than 40 million copies of Catan have been sold worldwide.[4]

Despite the success of Catan, Teuber was described as remaining down to earth. In 2023, Dan Zak wrote in The Washington Post, "Among hobbyists and gamers he was revered like a rock star, but he looked and acted and sounded like a man who tinkered with stuff in his basement...He was, at heart, a hobbyist."[7] When Teuber was asked why he thought Catan was so popular, he said it may have been due to a "good balance between strategy and luck".[11]



Teuber died on 1 April 2023 at age 70, after a brief illness.[12]


Catan game board

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f Neil Genzlinger (5 April 2023), "Klaus Teuber, Creator of the Board Game Catan, Dies at 70", The New York Times
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Raphel, Adrienne (12 February 2014), "The Man Who Built Catan", The New Yorker
  3. ^ a b Redaktion (4 April 2023). "Trauer um Klaus Teuber". Spiel des Jahres (in German). Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b Antoinette Radford (5 April 2023), Settlers of Catan: Creator of board game dies aged 70, BBC
  5. ^ "Hall of Fame". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  6. ^ "Klaus Teuber wird in Cannes für sein Lebenswerk geehrt". Catan.de (in German). 10 March 2010. Archived from the original on 7 May 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  7. ^ a b c Zak, Dan (7 April 2023). "Catan's maker built a road to peaceful games". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2023 – via EBSCOHost.
  8. ^ a b "Klaus Teuber, the former dental technician who created the Catan board game phenomenon in his basement, dies at 70". Fortune. 5 April 2023. Retrieved 11 April 2023 – via EBSCOHost.
  9. ^ a b Seaman, C. B.; Thuan Tran (May 2022). "Intellectual Property and Tabletop Games". Iowa Law Review. 107 (4): 1615–1683 – via EBSCOHost.
  10. ^ a b c "Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre". Wired. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Klaus Teuber, Creator of the Board Game Catan, Dies at 70". New York Times. 5 April 2023. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  12. ^ Brown, Andy (4 April 2023). "'Catan' creator Klaus Teuber has died". NME. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  13. ^ "Timberland". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Ludography: 1988–1990". catan.com.
  15. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 179. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  16. ^ "'Catan' Designer Tackles Wild West". ICv2. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Entdecker (1996)". BoardGameGeek.
  18. ^ "Löwenherz (1997)". BoardGameGeek.
  19. ^ "Pop Belly". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 6 April 2023.