Rachel Naidich Project 1


I designed a game to teach people how to engage their brains and communicate while running outside, and it is a game that should be played with an even number of players (4-8 players). The game will include fun elements like teamwork, racing, challenge, and strategy. I want players to learn how to develop a love of running for fun and also develop a better understanding on how to strategize and navigate while exercising. After players play the game, they will be able to evaluate their performance by seeing how much they ran during the game if they were tracking their mileage and checking how many victory points they were able to win with their teammate. They should hopefully also think about new strategies on resource collection and teammate collaboration.

The inspiration for this game came from a lecture I have listened to multiple times by Dr. Anne Friedlander, an exercise physiology professor at Stanford. In her lecture, she explains that exercise is important for cognitive health, but it has increased benefits if people exercise while engaging their brain in some way. For example, people who run outside and have to use their brains to navigate the outdoors will experience better cognitive improvements from exercise than people who run indoors on the treadmill. I want people to learn about this importance and feel motivated to exercise in this way.
To accomplish my goal, I decided to base my game on Settlers of Catan because I felt like it was complicated enough to be a big challenge for the brain but also was simple enough that players could strategize in their heads while running away from the board. I aimed to make sure that the game would not be too short or too long and that players would do a substantial amount of running in one game.


Here is a link with the original Settlers of Catan rules: https://www.catan.com/sites/prod/files/2021-06/catan_base_rules_2020_200707.pdf

Set up the Settlers of Catan board somewhere where there is a lot of open space. For the board game setup, you can refer to pages 2-3 at the link above. The rest of the rules are as follows.

Game Setup

After setting up the board, the rest of the game is set up by placing the 5 resource boxes around 50 meters away from the board in different places. In each resource box, place the respective resource token pile inside. Each resource box should have a different colored resource token pile to represent each of the resources.

The game is played with at least 2 teams of 2 players and up to 4 teams of 2 players. One other person will have to sit out of the game and operate as the card dealer. Set the timer for 16 minutes. The gameplay starts when the card dealer starts the timer.

Resource Production

There are 5 types of resources: sheep, wood, wheat, stone, and brick. Every 2 minutes, the card dealer rolls both dice. Each team that has a settlement on an intersection Y that borders a terrain hex marked with the number rolled receives 1 resource card of the hex’s type. If you have more than 1 settlement bordering that hex, you receive 1 resource card for each settlement. You receive 2 resource cards for each city you own that borders that hex. If there are not enough of a given resource in the card supply to fulfill everyone’s production, then no one receives any of that resource for that dice roll.

Resource Collection

Another way to get resources is to collect them by running to a resource box, grabbing a resource token out of the box, and running back to the board. The player can exchange the resource token for a resource card after arriving back at the board. Players can only grab 1 resource token each time they run away from the board and come back. For example, a player cannot run to the sheep resource box, grab a sheep resource token, run to the wood resource box, grab a wood resource token, and run back to the board. Players on the same team will share their resources.


While at the board, players can trade 4:1 by putting 4 identical resource cards back in the stack and taking any 1 resource card of your choice for it. If you have a settlement or a city on a harbor, you can trade with the bank more favorably: at either a 3:1 ratio, or in certain harbors, at 2:1. Players can choose to trade without their team member being present at the board.


Now you can build. Through building, you can increase your victory points, expand your road network, improve your resource production, and/or buy useful development cards. To build, you must pay specific combinations of resource cards (see the Building Costs Card). Take the appropriate number of roads, settlements, and/or cities from your supply and place them on the game board. You cannot build more pieces than what is available in your pool – a maximum of 5 settlements, 4 cities, and 15 roads. Players can choose to build without their team member being present at the board.


Building a new road requires 1 brick and 1 wood, and it must always connect to 1 of your existing roads, settlements, or cities. Roads can only be placed at the edges of the terrain hexes, and only 1 road can be placed per edge. The first player to build a continuous road (not counting forks) of at least 5 road segments receives the special card “Longest Road,” which is worth 2 victory points. If another player succeeds in building a longer road than the one created by the current owner of the “Longest Road” card, they immediately take the special card (and its 2 victory points).


A new settlement requires 1 brick, 1 wood, 1 sheep, and 1 wheat, and settlements may only be placed at the corners of the terrain hexes – never along the edges. You can only build a settlement at an intersection if all 3 of the adjacent intersections are vacant (none are occupied by any settlements or cities – even yours.) Each of your settlements must connect to at least 1 of your own roads. When a terrain hex produces resources after a dice roll, you receive 1 resource card for each settlement you have adjacent to that terrain hex. Each settlement is worth 1 victory point.


A new city requires 3 stone and 2 wheat. You may only establish a city by upgrading one of your settlements. When you upgrade a settlement to a city, put the settlement piece back in your supply and replace it with a city piece. Cities produce twice as as many resources as settlements. When a terrain hex produces resources after a dice roll, you receive 2 resource cards for each city you have adjacent to that terrain hex. Each city is worth 2 victory points.

Development Card

Buying a development card requires 1 stone, 1 wool, and 1 wheat. When you buy a development card, draw the top card from the deck. There are 3 different kinds of these cards: knight, progress, and victory point. Each has a different effect. Development cards never go back into the supply, and you cannot buy development cards if the supply is empty. Keep your development cars hidden until you use them.

Rolling a 7

If the card dealer rolls a “7,” no one receives any resources. Instead, every team that has more than 7 resource cards will randomly have half (rounded down) of their resource cards taken away and returned to the stack in the bank.

Playing Development Cards

Knight Card

Players can play a Knight card at any point while at the board, even if their teammate is not present. Playing a knight card will allow a player to steal 1 card from the opposing team. Hold onto the card after playing it. The first team to play 3 knight cards receives the special card “Largest Army,” which is worth 2 victory points. If another team plays more knight cards than the current holder of the Largest Army card, they immediately take the special card and its 2 victory points.

Progress Card

Players can play a Progress card at any point while at the board, even if their teammate is not present. Follow the instructions on the card, and then remove it from the game (toss it in the box).

Victory Point Card

You must keep victory point cards hidden. Your team may only reveal them if time runs out on the timer or you are sure that you have 10 victory points (that is, to win the game). Of course, you can reveal them after the end of the game if someone else wins.

Ending the Game

If your team has 10 or more victory points before time runs out or has the most number of victory points when time runs out, your team is the winner!

Game Bits 

The 3 game bits in italic at the end are the additional game pieces that I added to the original Settlers of Catan pieces.
19 terrain hexes (tiles)
6 sea frame pieces
18 circular number tokens (chits)
95 Resource Cards
25 Development Cards (14 Knight/Soldier Cards
6 Progress Cards, 5 Victory Point Cards)
4 Building Costs Cards
2 Special Cards: Longest Road & Largest Army
16 cities (4 of each color shaped like churches)
20 settlements
60 roads (15 of each color shaped like bars)
2 dice (1 yellow, 1 red)
1 Timer
5 resource boxes (Use a sharpie to label them with sheep, wood, wheat, stone, or brick)
5 piles of different colored resource tokens (You can use stacks of different colored paper)

Example pictures of resource boxes next to their respective resource tokens


My assessment goals were to determine whether players got an effective workout, whether players were having to critically think/strategize and communicate while running, and whether players felt motivated to continue improving their strategy.
For determining whether players got an effective workout, I had one of my friends with a fitness tracker track how much he ran during the game. He ran 1.55 miles, which I think is a pretty good amount, especially considering that this friend usually only runs 1 mile at a maximum. I also asked everyone how they felt afterwards, and all of them said that they felt pretty exhausted. Just looking at them, I could tell that they were tired because they were panting heavily by the end. I think that this preliminarily shows that the game served as a pretty effective workout.

For the other two goals, I observed their behavior at the board and asked them questions about their game behaviors after the game ended. At the board, even though only one player was needed at the board to make decisions on behalf of the team like building or buying development cards, I often saw players stopping at the board to wait for their teammate to catch up to make decisions and to align on what building goals they wanted to work towards. I also saw players running past their teammates and letting them know which resource they were planning on grabbing. After the game, I asked the players about their strategy and communication, and they felt like the resource boxes were too far away from the board. They said that they spent most of their time running in silence, but had the resource boxes been closer to the board, they would have had to spend more of their running time communicating on strategy with their teammate. However, they also seemed excited by how they could have better managed their resource collection and spending to earn more victory points.


I was only able to test the game once because it was difficult to find at least 4 people who were willing to run outside at the same time. I was eventually able to find 4 friends who were available to test the game at Roble Field. All four are juniors at Stanford, three had played Settlers of Catan before, two were women, and two were men. When I tested the game, I had set the time cap at 15 minutes, set the dice roll frequency to once every minute, and placed the resource boxes about 100 meters away in the same general location.

In the current version that I am submitting, I ended up changing the placement of the resource boxes to be around 50 meters away in different locations. The reason I had originally placed them in the same general location was because we tested the game at around 1am, so I needed to put the boxes in a well-lit area. After testing the game, my friends seemed eager for an even greater mental challenge. Therefore, I think it would be a good idea to place the resource boxes in different places around the board so that players have to memorize where each resource box is. I also changed the distance of the resource boxes to be 50 meters because of the complaint that I got about how far away the boxes were. I ended up changing the dice roll frequency to once every two minutes instead of once every one minute because as the card dealer, it was overwhelming to have to figure out who to deal which cards to every minute. I think another good option would be to somehow digitize and automate the card dealer’s job. Lastly, I changed the time cap to 16 minutes because I wanted an even number considering that the dice roll frequency would be every two minutes.

Print at Home Version (PDF)

Playtest Videos/Pictures

About the author


  1. Nice motivation and idea! I like the idea of increasing the cognitive challenge by switching up the placement of the resource boxes. Because of the physical scale of this game, I almost feel like “life-sized” game bits would make it more engaging (though, I realize this is a lot to ask and probably out of scope 🙂 ). Also, I wonder if there’s concrete way to measure any cognitive benefits that exercise provides in this gameplay—are players more thoughtful about their strategies while navigating the physical challenges of this game?
    If you decide to focus on this for the final, try to clean up the documentation—several images in this writeup aren’t showing.
    Nice work overall!

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