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Klaus Teuber, Designer of CATAN, Dies at Age 70

by W. Eric Martin

On April 1, 2023, designer Klaus Teuber passed away at age 70 following “a brief and severe illness”, according to

Teuber’s first published game, Barbarossa und die Rätselmeister (later renamed Barbarossa), won the Spiel des Jahres, Germany’s game of the year award, in 1988, and he quickly won two others for Adel Verpflichtet in 1990 and for Drunter & Drüber in 1991.

While those games are impressive on their own, they pale against the impact of 1995’s Die Siedler von Catan, which has since been rebranded as CATAN to increase international recognition of this historic game. To quote from the Spiel des Jahres’ memorial of Teuber:

Not only was he able to win the title “Game of the Year” for the fourth time, it also led to a hitherto unique global boom in the games industry and made the term “German Boardgame” a seal of quality. The Settlers of Catan is a classic of outstanding playful quality.

Spielbox echoes this sentiment in its memorial:

Teuber is one of the most internationally successful game designers. The Settlers of Catan, published by Kosmos in 1995 and also named Spiel des Jahres, is unanimously considered by experts to be a turning point for games in general; the development of board games is separated into the time before and after Catan. Catan was probably the game that managed like no other to bring people closer to board games and was for many also the entry into the hobby of gaming. With Catan, Teuber, most recently with his son Benjamin, with whom he also ran Catan GmbH, created a true universe. Worldwide, more than 40 million Catan games and expansions had been sold by the beginning of this year.

Teuber began his game design career as a refuge from his daytime work of running his father’s dental laboratory after his father fell ill. As Börsenblatt editor Sabrina Gab notes in her profile of Teuber, he was initially inspired by The Riddle-Master of Hed, a novel about sorcerers by Patricia A. McKillip:

“In McKillip’s story there are very special duels: one person has to create a puzzle, the other has to guess it,” explains Teuber. One day, when he stumbled across plasticine figures in his children’s room, the idea for the game Barbarossa und die Rätselmeister was born: the task here is to solve plasticine problems.

Once CATAN took off, Teuber became a full-time designer, enlarging his game universe year after year and inviting everyone else to play in it…

Klaus Teuber at SPIEL ’03 (image: Jon Power)


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