Picture of Globefarers of Catan
Finished 48.jpg
Front page 3 small.jpg
Finished 47.jpg
Front page 2 small.jpg
Gameplay 3.jpg
Welcome to the Catanosphere!  

Do you want to make a great centerpiece for your board game sessions? Do you ever look at the surface of your game table and think it's a little plane? Do you love Settlers of Catan, but sometimes wish it could be a bit less Euclidean? Then wrap your head around this...

This Instructable will show you how to make your very own Catanosphere, so you can have mind-bending battles of territorial expansion over a whole new environment. It's designed to work with a standard Settlers of Catan game set, and you won't have to sacrifice any of your pieces to make it. You will, however, need to attach a few magnets to the pieces. OK, actually a few hundred magnets, but I think it's worth it.

I'll provide plans for how to cut out and assemble all the cardboard globe pieces you'll need, as well as software that will let you customize the specific dimensions (e.g. road width, tile size, hole depth, material thickness) of your Catanosphere, then output it as a printable or laser-cuttable file. Want to make your own yurt-sized version out of wood? No problem!

Once I've talked you through how to build your Catanosphere, I'll briefly discuss some suggestions for gameplay and then narrowly avoid going off on a tangent about surface geometry (see what I did there?).

I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to seeing all your Catanospheres soon!

Features of Globefarers of Catan (a.k.a. Settlers of Riemann)
  • 31 playable tiles!
  • No edges of the map!
  • Befuddling upside-down gameplay!
  • Convenient magnetic storage of all your game pieces!
  • Looks like something people would play in a '90s sci-fi TV series!
Disclaimer: This is in no way intended as a replacement for or an official expansion of Settlers of Catan. It was made for fun rather than for profit and is meant only as a fond tribute to the amazing games of Klaus Teuber. If Hr Teuber does see this project, I sincerely hope that he views it only as a new surface on which to play his games rather than an attempt to infringe on his intellectual property.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Getting started

Picture of Getting started
Finished 37.jpg
The Catanosphere is a modified truncated icosahedron, much like a soccer ball. It has 32 panels (12 pentagons and 20 hexagons), 60 vertices and 90 edges. Each of these requires its own magnet.

Each edge and vertex of the Catanosphere is also flattened so that roads, ships, settlements and cities can be attached without leaning at ugly angles. Also, the faces have recessed areas for inserting Catan tiles. All in all, this makes for some quite fiddly geometry. Don't worry, I'll go through it all slowly...

To make a Catanosphere you will need:
  • Settlers and/or Seafarers of Catan
  • Thick card (I used three A1 sheets).
  • About 400 small magnets (at least 380, but I used closer to 500).
  • Two A4 adhesive magnetic sheets.
  • Plastic tubing or dowel for the axle.
  • Hot glue and a glue gun.
  • Super glue.
  • Non-metallic tools, such as chopsticks, for moving magnets around.
  • A laser cutter and/or craft knife.
  • A sheepload of patience.
If you want to use the same design I used, carry on to Step 2.

If you'd rather play around with designing your own Catanosphere, skip ahead to Step 3.

Step 2: The best laid plans

Picture of The best laid plans
Globefarers JPG.jpg
Globefarers JPG Simplified.jpg
If you want your Catanosphere to look exactly like the one in all the pictures, then here are the plans to use. The schematic here shows how many of which piece to cut. Red lines are for cutting; blue lines are for scoring to create folds.

I used the file "Globefarers Card Layout.eps" to laser-cut a Catanosphere out of three A1 sheets of 1.4 mm mountboard. I chose Daley Rowner Studland double-sided black mountboard with a black core, so that the cut edges would match the flat surfaces. The blackness also concealed any laser scorch marks.

The pattern was cut at the Little Big Laser Cutting Studio in London, which is run by an extremely helpful man by the name of Chris. I highly recommend his service.

If you're masochistic enough to cut this design out by hand, you can also use these JPG or SVG files. I've included simplified versions, which will make an identical Catanosphere, but without any recesses to hold the tiles. You'll find them easier to cut and assemble, but you'll need to hold all the game tiles in place with magnets.

Step 3: Customizing your Catanosphere

Picture of Customizing your Catanosphere
If you're the kind of person who likes to tinker with all of the parameters of something before they press "print", you've come to the right place.

Here is a .zip file containing the software I wrote to design my Catanosphere. To run it, you'll need to install Processing on your computer, which is a fairly painless process. Unzip the file into a folder called BuckyBallShaver, then open the file BuckyBallShaver.pde in Processing. Stop snickering; I called it that because it shaves the edges off bucky-balls. It sounded a lot less dirty in my head.

Within the setup method, set the parameters you want for your final globe (I've included comments explaining what each one does). Please don't judge me on the basis of the abominable code in the "Doohickeys" and "Gubbins" sections. It's ugly as sin, but it gets the job done.

When you press the play button, you should see a preview of all your Catanosphere pieces, and a new SVG file will appear in the BuckyBallShaver folder. To cut it out, scale it up to the size marked in the lower right corner, then cut all the red lines and partially cut all the blue lines. You'll need to cut multiples of some of the pieces, as shown in the schematic.

Warning: This is not thoroughly tested software. That doesn't mean that it's dangerous in any way; it just means that there's a chance I made a silly mistake somewhere that could lead to inaccuracies in the output. I'm deeply sorry if you have any problems with it. So far it has worked absolutely fine for me, but I can't promise that will always be the case. Please don't let that discourage you from using it! Just double check that everything looks like it will fit together before you start cutting. If you find any major problems, please let me know.

Step 4: Make the first incision

Picture of Make the first incision
Finished 02.jpg
Finished 03.jpg
It's time to get cutting! Whether you're using a laser or a craft knife, cut and score all the pieces you'll need for the rest of the project.

Step 5: Start assembling the panels

Picture of Start assembling the panels
Finished 05.jpg
Piece 3.jpg
Finished 06.jpg
Finished 07.jpg
Wow, just look at all that stark black angular geometry. It feels like we're building a stealth fighter. I bet Batman would play board games on a set like this, if he had time for board games. Or friends*.

Carefully rummage through your pile of delicately sliced pieces and pick out the fragile webs of connected pentagons and hexagons. Did I mention that they break easily? These webs will form all of the roads that interconnect the tiles on your Catanosphere, as well as the triangular vertices for cities and settlements to sit on.

You'll also want to find and fold all the individual pentagons and hexagons with rectangular flaps on their sides. These will form the recesses on the faces of your Catanosphere, where your tiles will sit.

Get your glue gun ready.

*If anyone out there wants to make a really litigation-worthy Instructable, I dare you to make "Settlers of DC Comics". The five resources would be NikeFuel, iPads, ewoks, thetans and Metallica mp3s. I will send the first person to make this a cake with a file baked into it.

Step 6: Attach the recessed panels

Picture of Attach the recessed panels
Finished 09.jpg
Finished 10.jpg
Glue the tabs of the pentagons and hexagons onto the tabs of the thin web. Try to keep the glue away from the faces that will be on the outside of the finished Catanosphere. The idea from here on in is to make as much mess as you want on the inside of the structure, but keep the outside pristine.

You should end up with a series of neat panels, each capable of holding a game tile (at least some of which you will have to make yourself). If you accidentally cut where you were supposed to score, don't worry. Glue will fix everything.

One pentagonal web section should be missing its flaps. Don't glue a panel to this, as you'll be attaching a bearing here later.

Step 7: Glue on magnets and fold together

Picture of Glue on magnets and fold together
Finished 12.jpg
Finished 13.jpg
Finished 14.jpg
Finished 16.jpg
Finished 17.jpg
Attach a magnet to the underside of each possible road section. You'll need 90 magnets for the roads. I used 5 x 10 mm rectangular adhesive neodymium magnets. Just in case the adhesive failed, I added a big dollop of hot glue to the top of each magnet. As I said before, the inside is allowed to be messy.

Now attach a magnet to each triangular panel intersection, where the settlements and cities will sit. You'll need 60 of these. I used 5 x 5 mm circular neodymium magnets, but I ended up adding another 5 x 10 mm rectangular magnet to each one, just to increase the pull.

IMPORTANT: Check the polarity of your magnets. Make sure that all of your magnets pull the same way, or you'll make something repulsive. This is much easier with adhesive magnets, as long as they all have their glue on the same pole. I recommend attaching a magnet to the underside of a playing piece (I used the Settlers robber), then using this to guide the magnets into place from the other side of the card. This way, they'll all be be aligned.

Next, fold the panels together and glue their inside edges with a lot of hot glue. Repeat this for all of your webbed sections. You'll probably want to queue up a few good podcasts first, as this will take a while.

Step 8: Make the base panels

Picture of Make the base panels
Piece 2.jpg
Finished 19.jpg
Finished 20.jpg
Finished 21.jpg
Much as you did for the hexagonal and pentagonal panels, now glue the recesses onto the six large trapezoidal base panels. Don't worry about the extra flaps at the edge of each panel yet.

Step 9: Assemble the base

Picture of Assemble the base
Finished 23.jpg
Finished 24.jpg
Piece 4.jpg
Finished 25.jpg
Glued each of the six base sections? Splendid. Now glue the flaps at the edge of each panel onto the edge of another one, until they're all assembled in a ring. Glue one of the holey hexagons into the center to keep them all together. This is where your axle will sit.

Step 10: Make the pentagonal axle holders

Picture of Make the pentagonal axle holders
Piece 1.jpg
Finished 27.jpg
Finished 28.jpg
Finished 29.jpg
Finished 30.jpg
You're now going to make the two bearings that will attach to the inside of your Catanosphere and keep it upright. Fold and glue the star-shaped piece to make a box with an axle-sized hole running through it. Push this box into the one pentagonal hole left in your web, then glue it in place. You've just made your South Pole!

Assemble the other bearing in the same way, and glue it to the inside of the pentagonal panel that will be at your North Pole. Check that your axle fits through both bearings before you go any further.

Note: the bearings should have flat ends, unlike the ones shown here. Cap them off with the bearing covers (see earlier schematic) to hold them together.

Step 11: Keep on gluin'

Picture of Keep on gluin'
Finished 32.jpg
Finished 33.jpg
If you haven't already, finish assembling all of the paneled sections, making sure that all of the magnets are in place.

Step 12: Attractors, assemble!

Picture of Attractors, assemble!
Finished 35.jpg
Finished 36.jpg
Finished 37.jpg
Before you seal up your Catanosphere entirely, glue a magnet to the center of each tile, as shown. These will hold your number markers and ports in place, as well as any loose tiles that aren't a tight fit. Glue all of your panel sections together until you almost have a ball.

Now, imagining you're placing Darth Vader's mask over his face, fit the last section into position. Unless you are small enough to climb through the axle hole, you're going to have difficulty hot gluing this panel from the inside. Instead, use super glue, a thin nozzle and a steady hand to glue it edge-to-edge with the surrounding pieces.

You're not quite finished yet, but take a few minutes to play with your lovely truncated icosahedron.

Step 13: Magnetize the base

Picture of Magnetize the base
Finished 39.jpg
Finished 40.jpg
Cut out trapezoidal sections of magnet adhesive sheet and glue them into each of the recesses in the base. Now you have a place to store all of your playing pieces.

Step 14: Complete the base

Picture of Complete the base
Finished 41.jpg
Piece 5.jpg
Find the large (i.e. base-sized) hexagon. Assemble a single hexagonal bearing and glue it into the center of the large hexagon. This will provide support for the axle.

Glue the rest of the base on top, then insert the axle. I used a length of 25 mm plastic tubing. How long you want the axle to be will depend on the height of your table and how much you like banging your head against the table while you try to peer at the South Pole mid-game.

Step 15: Other bits and pieces

Picture of Other bits and pieces
Finished 50.jpg
Finished 51.jpg
Finished 45.jpg
Finished 43.jpg
Attach magnets to all of your number discs, settlements, cities, roads, ships and port tiles. As before, make sure they have the correct polarity for each magnet. You don't need to attach magnets to the resources tiles, but it might come in handy if they keep falling out of their slots later. I found that they could be held in place by the number discs or ports, so didn't need their own magnets.

If you find your ports keep spinning away from where you want them to point, put a couple of drops of hot glue on their corners for a little extra friction.

You may have noticed that you have eleven slots for pentagonal tiles (the South Pole is automatically a desert). You may also have noticed that regular Catan tiles are hexagonal. You'll need to make some substitute tiles. I'll leave it up to you to find a way to do this. Hint: a scanner/digital camera, some adhesive printer paper and a lot of card could be handy.

Step 16: Play!

Picture of Play!
Gameplay 2.jpg
Gameplay 3.jpg
Finished 49.jpg
Congratulations! You've completed your Catanosphere and you're ready to play Globefarers of Catan!

Get a gang of friends, a few drinks and a whole load of snacks, then spend an evening exploring the globe. In terms of rules, it's exactly the same as Seafarers or, if you don't use any sea tiles, Settlers of Catan. I'll leave it up to you to decide what ratio of land to sea you want. We found having a single irregular landmass was a lot of fun, as it meant people could expand their colonies by road or take shortcuts across water to get to the same destination. Experiment and give me feedback!


  • You still can't build closer than 2 roads/ships apart from another settlement, so pentagons fill up fast!
  • From any one point on the globe to its opposite point, there is no one shortest route. Instead there are six different shortest routes. Plan well ahead!
  • Don't put any 6 or 8 tiles next to each other.
  • Resist the urge to add dozens of sea tiles. You will probably want fewer than twelve.
  • Increase the winning number of victory points to at least twelve.
  • For a bit of adventure, leave half of the Catanosphere untiled, then add tiles as you explore.
  • Add a 2-point bonus if anyone manages to create a great circle. This should be a loop that goes all the way around the globe, touching 6 pentagons and using at least 18 roads or ships.
  • If any of the tiles get stuck, use the edge of a craft knife to ease them out of their slots.
  • For what it's worth: This looks like a 3D game, but this is not a 3D game. This game is still entirely two-dimensional. Globefarers works exactly the same way as regular Settlers of Catan, it's just played in a world with spherical rather than Euclidean geometry. Make of that what you will.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or if you find any setups that are particularly successful or disastrous, so I can make a list of recommended rules and game maps.

Safety warning: At some point during a game of Globefarers, one of your players will get elbowed in the eye while trying to peer around the Catanosphere. This is regrettable, but ultimately unavoidable. Sorry.
1-40 of 71Next »
SparkySolar1 month ago

Thank you for your Instructable

Nice job.


BrainLobster9 months ago

Wow, this is great. I recently made a game for a game design class that utilized a similar spherical design with magnets etc. It's definitely influenced by settlers, and features space stuff like satellites and asteroids.

I really like how your magnetic frame design lends itself to different tile arrangements. Great job overall, man.

Just took a look at it. That game looks awesome!

Great instructable! Will share some photo's when I'm done.

Word of warning for anyone doing this without a laser takes frikin' ages!

That was wayyyy more effort than I was expecting...but it's finished! Haven't played yet but am chomping at the bit. Thanks for the instructable!

dgateley9 months ago

I'll buy a frame kit should you decide to sell them. I want to populate it with small woofers and tweeters so would love it if scale could be specified within some limits.

PenfoldPlant (author)  dgateley9 months ago

I'm not sure I can legally sell these, but you can always make your own! I'm sure you could find someone with a laser cutter (or a scalpel and a lot of free time) who could help you make the parts. That way you'd be able to do all the size customization yourself using the Processing script I included above :)

I do like the idea of a booming Catan disco ball, though...

I've bought kits from creators on Instructables before. It is strictly a private buyer/seller relationship like any other that two people work out. Since you are in a different country than the U.S. that could complicate it, though, at least for me.

Where I am I don't have the ability to farm the laser cutting fab out locally and there are probably others in the same boat. I consider that pretty much mandatory for fit and finish reasons. So if you don't have the fab capabilities or just plain don't think it worth your while, do you know of any mail or internet order shops that could do the job from your data or a scaled version thereof?

For many, many, years I've wanted to lay a 2-way speaker system on a truncated icosahedron but the frame fab always put me off. Yours is far and away the best solution I've seen. I've got no idea how a pair of virtual point sources sound in a room but I want to find out.

In my mind's eye it would be bass ported through the tube that comprises the stand. The optimum length and diameter of that port would be easy to determine by measuring resonances and calculating the Theile-Small parameters used to calculate ports. I'd probably want to bi-amplify and use an active Linkwitz-Riley crossover.

Ultimately I'd like to put the crossover in DSP on a Raspberry Pi with convolutional equalization to compensate any irregularities in the global frequency response. That's stuff I know how to do. For me the hard part is the physical. Not sure where I'd find a fully reflective echogenic room for diffuse field measurement to base equalization on but I'll be that could be located. I've got everything else needed.

If you want to consider it, I'd make you a pair too for the cost of the hardware. Making four isn't that much harder than making two. :-)
PenfoldPlant (author)  dgateley9 months ago

I'd happily help you tailor this design into something suitable for a speaker system. I don't quite follow your idea, but I'm keen to help. Do you plan to make the icosahedron into a point source by having speakers on each face? Or are you hoping the material and shape will act to diffuse a single speaker's sound in all directions?

If you send me a private message, we can discuss the details of how to design what you want. In terms of actually producing it, I might be able to help but you'd probably be better off using an online laser cutting service. I highly recommend if you're in the USA. They can cut out of many different materials and send you the pieces by mail.

I'm excited to see where this goes...

I tried uploading the swg files that you provided to the ponoko site but it's giving this error:

You need to use a finer nib!
The cutting lines and/or vector engraving lines in your .eps file are thicker than we can handle. Please reduce all cutting and/or vector engraving lines to a thickness of 0.01mm then try again.

Would you be able to provide a new swg file that fits the requirements? I am completely unfamiliar with the process of creating these swg files for laser cutting.

kuraisen kuraisen9 months ago

I tried making some more adjustments when I realized the buckyball program can be used for editing but ponoko keeps complaining about one thing or another being wrong with the file. Would you be able to upload a ponoko friendly svg file? It also seems there's other people selling settlers cutouts and whatnot. It would be cool if you can talk with Ponoko and have your design available for print. I agree, a pre-cut laser board kit, maybe even with the magnets, would be a cool kit worth offering which it would make it easier for people to build the board you've designed. I'd be interested in it.

Yes, I would put small high excursion speakers on the hexagons for the low end, smaller high frequency drivers on the pentagons for the top end and use the stand tube as a bass port. 40 years ago, when I first began thinking about this design, an analysis program I wrote starting with the acoustic wave equation showed the compliance of the enclosed space to be far too low to be efficient at radiating bass but developments since then have trivialized the design of tuned ports which ameliorate that.

(As an aside, solving the acoustic wave equation for any general source configuration is a horrible problem generally requiring supercomputer simulation but for a spherical source it is closed form analytic and almost trivial.)

As well being an effective point source due to the merging of the radiation patterns, multi-element systems always sound considerably better than single element systems. It has to do with averaging driver characteristics to somewhat cancel any individual variances from nominal. The problem with multi-element systems has been the radiation pattern, they tend to beam, and this configuration solves that nicely.

Thanks for the pointer to Ponoko. I'll drop you private message when I figure out how.

I won't be able to jump on this immediately because I am finishing a project using DSP that can make any 'phone or speaker I can measure (in a proprietary way) sound like any other I can measure. The application of that to what I'm describing here should be obvious. The intrinsic frequency response of the construction doesn't matter because I can transform it to anything else including absolutely ideal so long as it has the bandwidth and has no really, really deep nulls in its response.

The really big question is a listener's psychoacoustic satisfaction with point source drivers in a room. I want to answer that with idealized sources.


You could (probably) get away with selling just the completed globe and have people put in the tiles themselves. It would still be somewhat of a kit but would save people a lot of work.

It occurs to me that perhaps you thought I was asking about the whole game. I understand there could be a problem with that. I was asking about just the black frame.

kuraisen9 months ago

Hi! I'm very interested in making one of these. I was looking at the prices for the magnets and they seem pretty expensive. Would you be able to post a recommended site where you get your magnets or a cheaper alternative to the magnets that you use?

oofnivlak59 months ago

Would like to make this, what size magnets did you use and where did you get them from?

legomensa9 months ago

would it be possible for you to put this into a dwg file? i would love to look at this in AutoCAD.

PenfoldPlant (author)  legomensa9 months ago

Here you go! I don't have AutoCAD installed at the moment, so I'm not sure how these turned out. I hope they help.

awesome. i'll take a look at it.


zertifikat6789 months ago

Hey =)
Looks really good what you did there.
I had a similar Idea, but i made mine out of an actual globe.
I dont have my own game so i made houses and everything myself.
Doesnt look as good as your.
But on the other hand i tried to make it so that i could play more than one game. If i find the time im going to make a small world "addon" for it ;P
btw, you are german ?
where are you from exactly?

ps: i just read the comment beneath me. mine does rotate around 2 axis' =P
plus it glows. but it really is just too big and fopr just seddlers i really like your globe because its also stylish

etopsirhc9 months ago

the only way this could get better it adding some mode of rotation to it, like mounting it in a gimbal, or making it levitate.

PenfoldPlant (author)  etopsirhc9 months ago

It does rotate! That's what the bearings in Step 10 are for.

i was talking about along all 3 axies.

Regiux 9 months ago
simply awesome!
PenfoldPlant (author)  Regiux 9 months ago

Thank you very much :)

Lord_of_Sofa9 months ago

Finally a new project for my 3d printer. Maybe I will skip some of the magnets and use my own tiles and a space elevator instead of harbors.

noel0leon9 months ago

This thing is so much win i bet Charlie Sheen will get one

PenfoldPlant (author)  noel0leon9 months ago

Hopefully he'll build one himself :)

Peterdog259 months ago

"Do you ever look at the surface of your game table and think it's a little plane?"

:) I see what you did there...

PenfoldPlant (author)  Peterdog259 months ago

Thanks, I was worried that joke would fall flat.

bsquared339 months ago

I'm seriously considering doing this as I have friends who would lose their minds over it, and I have access to to a laser cutter & 3D printer, but no excuse to use it.

How do you feel about magnetic paint? Perhaps only for the roads. As you've stated the stronger pull is important when tiles are stacked. But it could save a ton of time and magnets. I've read good things and seen it work well for large posters. Rare earth magnets are touted as the best to use with the paint.

And I don't know my metric so well, could you clarify what thickness of card stock & other materials you used?

PenfoldPlant (author)  bsquared339 months ago


I don't have any experience using magnetic paint myself, but I've heard very mixed things about it. Some people swear by it, while others struggled to stick anything to it at all. If you do try it, please let me know how it goes. It's just as useful to know what doesn't work as to know what does work!

The card stock I used was 1.4mm thick. In American units, that's almost exactly two dozen hogsheads per acre. Or, if you prefer, just under 1/16 inch.

The axle diameter was 25mm, which is about an inch.

brycrbnsn9 months ago

How thick was the card stock you used?

PenfoldPlant (author)  brycrbnsn9 months ago

I used 1.4mm thick mountboard as my card stock.

bsquared339 months ago

I'm seriously considering doing this as I have friends who would lose their minds over it, and I have access to to a laser cutter & 3D printer, but no excuse to use it.

How do you feel about magnetic paint? Perhaps only for the roads. As you've stated the stronger pull is important when tiles are stacked. But it could save a ton of time and magnets. I've read good things and seen it work well for large posters. Rare earth magnets are touted as the best to use with the paint.

And I don't know my metric so well, could you clarify what thickness of card stock & other materials you used?

AJMansfield9 months ago

You should seriously consider getting a better postscript conversion tool. The postscript files should be at most 10kB, not 5MB. Adobe Illustrator is really not very good when it comes to postscript output, as it includes miles and miles of extra unnecessary preamble and definitions, which nobody ever even uses anyway, and then sticks the actual details of the file's contents in an ugly binary blob at the end.

loachridge9 months ago

Oh, by the way, YOU can sell whatever you build as a "board frame". Its not the game. Its just another unique way to frame it.

loachridge9 months ago

I havent seen the comment I want to make. Hope I dont step on any toes.


So, many ways to use your concept. I wish you worked for me.

PenfoldPlant (author)  loachridge9 months ago

I'm intrigued - what other ways do you have in mind? Maybe a multi-planet system, with interplanetary shuttles routes being built out of sheep? Lots and lots of sheep.

I was thinking lanes made with fish, but thats a whole other story.

I did some math and now have a plot that will handle the 91 hexes necessary for putting 2 expansions and extensions one half sphere 1 pentagon. And a plot capable of handling all 91 hexes on 1 sphere. NO Dysan needed. Its just those 12 pentagons that bug me. Now I need to make the time to prototype. Thanks for the motivation!

1-40 of 71Next »