"Catan - Traveler" is based on the same rules as "Catan - The Game," its "big brother." At the beginning of the game, you and your opponents each build 2 settlements on the island of Catan. If the numbers of the terrain hexes your settlements are adjacent to are rolled, you receive resources. You use these resources - ore, brick, grain, lumber, and wool - to build roads in order to reach new settlement sites, to upgrade your settlements to cities, or to buy development cards so you can, at the right moment, turn the tide in your favor. If you lack a particular resource type, you trade with your opponents. If you trade cleverly and have a little bit of luck, you have a good chance to win the game.
The most important differences between "Catan - Traveler" and the "Catan" base game:
All of the game components fit in a case that occupies half the space required to store the "Catan" base game.
The game pieces are stored in drawers. During play, you can take the pieces directly from there as needed, and you can put them back into the drawers after the game has ended.
Roads, settlements, and cities have small pegs that allow you to securely plug them into the holes in the game board. That way, gusts of wind or an accidental jostle won't jumble up the pieces you have placed on the game board.
The two dice are stored in a dice shaker with transparent cover, which is why they practically can't be lost. You can roll the dice everywhere - even if no flat surface is available or there isn't enough space to throw the dice with your hand.
It takes only a couple of seconds to set up the game board for "Catan - Traveler." Open the case and place the 6 double-sided game board pieces. Since you can randomly combine the board pieces, there are hundreds of different ways to set up the island. As with the "Catan" base game, besides completely balanced terrain hex distributions the compact version also allows for set-ups containing very few hexes of a particular terrain type, for example, mountains or hills.
People frequently travel in pairs. In order for you to settle Catan together with your partner, the compact version includes the tried and tested 2-player rules and the corresponding game components.