What is the best Catan game and how many stars do the other ones get?
I recently saw some rankings for the Catan games in relation to eachother on the internet. So I thought it would be good for viewers of my site to get my opinion of the Catan games.
The "best Catan games" I saw included 5-6 player expansions, but I have not played with all of these so I will stick to the main games. Also there are a couple of non-Klaus Teuber Catan games that I am not including, but I'll do my best with what I know, which some people say, "ain't much!"
No. 1: Settlers of Catan.
Yeah, yeah, I know I've said countless times on this site that Starfarers is my personal favorite, and at times it is, but in terms of games for the average citizen, this takes the German Chocoloate Cake. Honestly, where would we be without this game. If this game did not work as well as it did, games like Starfarers and Settlers of the Stonage would not have had a format to follow. This is truly a great game for anyone, friends, family, enemies, whatever...
No. 2: Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights.
Not as common as the regular game, because it's an expansion, but this truly takes Catan to one of the highest levels of gameplay possible. It's a little more complex, but a lot more fun. The best part is that there are more build options and victory points fluctuate more. The ability to control this fluctuation is critical for any Catan game. The only downside is that with this expansion, or any for that matter, the game takes twice as long to set up. There is a certain randomness that is retained in this game moreso than Seafarers, which I will talk about later.
No. 3: Starfarers of Catan.
My personal favorite. I really would like to play this game with the 5-6 player expansion and see how it changes. This is truly an underrated game partly because it falls under the shadow of its great predecessor. The only unfortunate part is that the pieces are cheap and the game costs 60 bucks, but I assure you that it is worth it. There is even larger fluctuation in victory points than Cities and Knights, which makes the game concepts harder to grasp for first-time players, which tends to turn them off at first. If you play this games as much as I do, you know that it is a great game involving much more strategy.
No. 4: Starship Catan.
A clever little 2 player game. It is basically a card game, but there is a certain board game aspect as well. There is still strategy in this game, however it is a completely different type. The gameplay of most Catan games has similarities, but there are very few of those similarities in Starship Catan. This is a great alternative to any Catan game when there are only two Cataners around (how sad, at least that's better than 1!).
No. 5: Settlers of Catan Card Game
Although this is No. 5 on my list, it is still a good game, because well...look what I'm comparing it against. I wouldn't think of this as the two player version of Settlers of Catan as much as I think of it as the two player version of Cities and Knights. But if you are looking for a good 2 player alternative to Settlers of Catan, your best chance is to try playing Settlers of Catan with 2 players.
No. 6: Seafarers of Catan
I would be careful in describing this as a viable expansion to Settlers of Catan, because it just does not work the way I wish it did. It is entirely possible to win the game without building any ships or settlements on other islands at all. Also, with playing some of the scenarios with the Cities and Knights expansion, the player that expands to the ocean rather than building knights and metropolises generally loses. If you want to know what this game is truly good for, it's best for making your own scenarios/maps, using your own creativity, which I actually find very appealing, but I haven't found a good way of incorporating this into the game yet. Also, some of the rules are ambiguous and not well expalained.
No. 7: Settlers of Catan Card Game Expansions
These are not as terrible as I first thought. I would definitely recommend that if you choose to use them not to try to play a regular game where you include a theme set, but try to make your own tournament decks instead. This would take a lot more playing and dedication and since I do not know anyone else with a set, I have chosen not to pursue this game more.
No. 8: Settlers of the Stone Age
Alas for the cavemen! This game was not what I was expecting. It's not a bad game, and it does differ from Settlers somewhat to make it its own game, but it could moreso. I think that there is potentially even less strategy in this game than the original Settlers game in addition to being slightly more complex. That's not a preferable combination. The main reason for the high luck factor is that with only 4 types of resources, the build options are more limited. It is also harder to sneak around and hide your strategy. So this game hits the bottom of the list.
The games not assessed in this listed were: The 5-6 player expansions, as I have not played with the cities and knights or seafarer 5-6 player expansions, The Settlers of Canaan, The Settlers of Zarahelma, and The Settlers of Nuremburg, which I have not yet played.