Choosing the Best Catan Expansion

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In March 2020, the popular board game Catan was searched around 60,500 times, according to Google Keyword Planner. It’s no secret that...

Choosing the Best Catan Expansion


In March 2020, the popular board game Catan was searched around 60,500 times, according to Google Keyword Planner. It’s no secret that more people are playing games while they’re staying home. If you’ve never played Settlers of Catan before, the basic game is a great starting point. But what if you’re already an expert and are looking for something more? That’s where the expansions come in.

Before Getting Another Catan Game

The base game that continues to be widely searched, according to a recent study by Betway, is only for three to four players, although you can successfully play it with two people with some rule modifications. If you want to add more, you’ll need to get the expansion. Each of the expansions is also for three to four people, so you’ll need to purchase extra if you want to add a fifth or sixth player. There are many editions of Catan. While you can mix and match them, remember the final setup might look odd. If you can, look for the most recent version of each one. That way, you’ll be more likely to find compatible versions.

Ocean-Themed Expansions

If you’ve never gotten a Catan expansion before, you’ll likely want to start with either Explorers and Pirates or Seafarers. Explorers and Pirates doesn’t work with other expansions like Seafarers does, but it offers a lot of value for the money. It adds extra rules and allows you to build multiple islands. Although it is not compatible with Seafarers, it is not as complicated as Cities and Knights. The expansion also reduces the number of unproductive turns while improving the variety and balance of the game. For a simpler version, you might want to go with Seafarers. It still adds islands, but the rules aren't quite as complicated. It is also compatible with a few other expansions, broadening your potential options.

Traders and Barbarians

This version adds additional resources, including marble and glass. The goal is to rebuild the island of Catan after an invasion. When you get gold in the castle, you’ll get points and gold. It offers four potential scenarios so you can keep the game interesting. They include:
  • The Fishermen of Catan
  • The Rivers of Catan
  • Barbarian Invasion
  • The Great Caravan
There are a few variations from the original game too. For example, for two players, you can force your opponent to trade with you. The dice are replaced with a deck of cards, which reduces the randomness. You can also get points for having the most harbors. Plus, if you have fewer than three points, the robber won’t affect you.

Cities and Knights

The two major changes in this version are knights that protect the island of Catan from barbarians and new city benefits. It makes the game longer while adding a layer of complexity. Besides your standard resources, it also has commodities, which include cloth, coins, and paper. Instead of getting two resources from a city, you’ll get one resource and one commodity.

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