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Klaus Teuber, Catan board game creator, dies at 70


Klaus Teuber has died. If you don't recognize the name, perhaps you remember his work. He was a board game designer whose make-believe island of Catan is known to millions.


The dental-technician-turned-game-creator spoke with NPR in 2020, and he recalled how a game that he was given sparked his imagination when he was just 11 and living in post-war Germany. It was called Romans vs. Carthaginians (ph).


KLAUS TEUBER: (Through interpreter) When I opened the box of the game, I liked the scent of the game. Ah, so wonderful. There's adventure in this box.

FADEL: That led him to create Settlers of Catan, a board game where players settle and develop new lands.

ERIK ARNESON: Catan was revolutionary, and its impact continues today.

FADEL: Erik Arnerson (ph) is the author of "How To Host A Game Night." He notes that although players race one another to build roads and cities along hexagonal tiles, they also have to work together.

ARNESON: Every player is involved throughout the whole game, when - even when it's other players' turns, you're not sitting around waiting. The games are always quite close. Nobody ever gets eliminated. It is just a remarkable achievement in game design.

MARTÍNEZ: At least 40 million Catan games have been sold, and it's been translated into nearly 50 languages. Teuber had a theory about its popularity.


TEUBER: (Through interpreter) First thing, it's variable. Every time, it's a new game. You cannot destroy someone's buildings. It's impossible. And you have to communicate.

MARTÍNEZ: Making it a good family game. Teuber still played the game with his family, although he admitted he rarely won.

FADEL: Catan Studios asks fans to honor Teuber's memory by being kind, pursuing their own creative passions and enjoying a game with loved ones. Klaus Teuber was 70.

(SOUNDBITE OF INON ZUR'S "HAWKE FAMILY THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.