Mayfair will release a simplified Settlers of Catan game for non-hobby gamers in September.  It will sell for a lower price ($33 MSRP) than the regular Settlers of Catan ($42 MSRP), and is designed to reduce barriers to entry for new players. 


Among those lowered barriers are a reduced number of pieces.  There are 19 tiles in the regular Settlers of Catan game; those tiles will be converted into only six pieces in the simplified game, making it easier to assemble and helping to "reduce the fear factor," according to a Mayfair spokesperson.  The simpler game will utilize the smaller format European-style cards, and wood pieces will be replaced with plastic. 


Packaging will be designed to appeal to a broader audience.  While the current package art is "very oil painting-esque," the art for the simpler game will be midway between that oil painting style and a straight illustration.


The simplified Settlers will not be expandable with additional products, but Mayfair believes that about 5% of those that buy the simplified version will then convert to the full version.


In addition to the core hobby market, the simplified Settlers will be sold by Toys R Us and perhaps other mass merchants.  The regular Settlers will continue to be sold only by the core hobby channel and specialty retail stores such as Barnes & Noble. 


The core Settlers products were recently re-launched (see "Settlers of Catan Relaunch in November") to great response.  The first print run was 10% over-sold before the first piece was made, according to Mayfair, and 140,000 Settlers were shipped during November and December.