Klaus Teuber, who created hugely popular Catan board game, dead at 70

He was a dental technician in the 1980s when he started designing board games in his basement and never thought his game, originally titled The Settlers of Catan, would be so successful.

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Klaus Teuber, a dental technician from Darmstadt, presenting his game The Settlers of Catan Sept. 29, 1995, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Klaus Teuber, a dental technician from Darmstadt, presenting his game The Settlers of Catan Sept. 29, 1995, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Bernd Kammerer / AP

Klaus Teuber, creator of the hugely popular Catan board game in which players compete to build settlements on a fictional island, has died after a brief illness, according to his family. He was 70.

The board game, originally called The Settlers of Catan when it was introduced in 1995, has sold tens of millions of copies in more than 40 languages and spawned dozens of spinoffs and new editions, including electronic versions, as well as products related to the game.

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the Teuber family announces their beloved husband and father Klaus Teuber passed away at the age of 70 on April 1, 2023, after a short and serious illness,” a statement posted on the German-language Catan website said.

Teuber, who was born in June 1952 in the German town of Rai-Breitenbach, never thought his game would be so successful.

He was a dental technician in the 1980s, working outside the industrial city of Darmstadt, when he started designing board games in his basement.

“I had many problems with the company and the profession,” he told The New Yorker magazine in 2014. “I developed games to escape. This was my own world I created.”

In the multi-player game, competitors use five resources to build colonies, or settlements: wool, grain, lumber, brick and ore.

Teuber finally left his dental technician job in 1998 “when I felt like Catan could feed me and my family,” he told the New Yorker.

The game became a family business.

In the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, sales of Catan skyrocketed as people played games in quarantine, the company told NPR.

The Catan studio team urged those mourning Teuber to “honor Klaus’ memory by being kind to one another, pursuing your creative passions fearlessly and enjoying a game with your loved ones.”

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