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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.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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 is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.