June 3, 2023

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Klaus Teuber, creator of the backgammon game Catan, has died at the age of 70

Klaus Teuber, who 28 years ago created The Settlers of Catan, an enduringly popular board game that has spawned intramural college teams and international tournaments, has been name-checked on South Park and Parks and Recreation, inspired a novel and has sold some 40 Million copies worldwide, she died on saturday. He was 70 years old.

Catan GmbH, which publishes and licenses the game, now known as Catan, Spread the news of his death on its website. She only said that he died after a short illness, and she did not mention where.

Mr. Tupper was running a dental lab, a job he found stressful, when he began designing toys as a way to relax.

“In the beginning, these games were just for me,” he told Forbes in 2016. “I always have stories in my head—I’d read a book, and if I liked it, I’d want to try it as a game.”

This was the origin of his first major success, a game called Barbarossa, which grew out of his admiration for the “Riddle-Master” trilogy, fantasy books written by Patricia A. McKillip in the 1970s.

“I was sorry to see it end,” he said he told the New Yorker in 2014, “So I tried to try this novel into a game.”

In 1988, that game won Germany’s Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), which is considered the most prestigious award in the world of board games, as Germany was particularly enthusiastic about board games. He won the award twice more, in 1990 (for My Tweety Identity) and in 1991 (for Wacky Wacky West), before achieving his biggest success with what was known in German as Die Siedler von Catan.

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In that game, players build settlements in a new land by collecting bricks, wood, wool, ore, and grain. Trading with other players is part of the strategy, which brings a social element to the gameplay. In 1995, the game won the Game of the Year Award and the German Deutscher Spiele Preis Game Award. It caught on, first in Germany and then, with editions in other languages ​​available, everywhere.

If the fantasy trilogy inspired Barbarossa, Catan owes its existence only to Mr. Teuber’s imagination and his longstanding interest in Viking history.

In it he said: “When I read about the Vikings, when they discovered Iceland” Go to Cardboard A 2012 documentary about board games, “I thought: ‘What would happen if some explorers came to an island where there was no one?'” What will they do?'”

Rather than being based on a novel, Mr. Teuber’s game inspired one: “The Settlers of Catan” by Rebecca Gable was published in 2011. The game has also been reimagined in various ways, including some video game and online incarnations.

2022 United States Catan Champion Eric Freeman said that during the coronavirus pandemic, he and many others have found the online version of the game to be an antidote to isolation. He and some friends started a virtual league which has grown to over 60 people.

“I’ve had incredible lifelong friendships — as well as professional relationships — as a result,” Mr. Freeman said via email. “During the dark and lonely days of early covid and quarantine, this board game has given us something to get excited about, a reason to connect beyond just ‘Zoom Happy Hour’, and a sense of belonging.”

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Mr. Teuber told Wired in 2009 that creating Catan was different from his other efforts.

“I felt like I was discovering something rather than inventing it,” he said.

The initial issue of 5,000 copies sold out so quickly, according to Wired, that Mr. Teuber didn’t even have a copy of the first issue. Within a few years, he was able to give up this stressful day job and devote himself to gaming full time.

Catan was widely hailed as challenging yet intuitive – for children to play – and credited with starting a new era of board games, which went beyond the established boundaries of Scrabble and Monopoly. Instead of sitting idly by while other players take their turns, as in Monopoly, Catan invites constant rolling and dealing.

“The secret of Catan is that you have to bargain and sometimes complain,” Mr. Tupper told Wired.

For Mr. Freeman, that’s what sets him above the old games.

“I really think Klaus created the greatest board game ever,” he said. “Intricate and easy to use, it combines skill, luck, strategy, and my favorite aspect: the power of persuasion. You can’t talk your way to winning a game of chess, but you certainly can at Catan.”

The social relationships the game required helped it take off. College students found out; At some universities, catan has become a team sport. And tournaments appeared, including international ones – according to the company’s website, the first world tournament involving players participating in tournaments outside of Germany was held in 2002.

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Mr. Tupper was born on June 25, 1952, in Broberg, southeast of Frankfurt am Main. No information was immediately available about the survivors.

After winning the US Championships last year in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Freeman traveled to Malta for the World Championships. There he met Mr. Teuber, and showed him a spreadsheet he and his friends had created to record more than 600 games they played during the pandemic, with detailed stats on the winners, how they won and more.

“Klaus turned to his son, and in a beautifully charming German accent, I think they play Katan more than we do,” Mr. Freeman recalled.

last year, at Interview with Nikki AsiaMr. Tupper is asked why he thinks Katan is so popular.

“Maybe there was a good balance between strategy and luck,” he said. “For example, roulette is just about luck, and chess is about strategies. However, if you win at Catan, you’ll think, ‘My strategy was good,’ and when you lose, you might think, ‘I just lost my luck.’ That’s the breath of life.” .