10 Best Catan Expansion Reviews 2020

best catan expansion reviews

So, are you bored at home? Sitting on the couch, thinking of what to do? Suddenly, you feel like playing a board game. With a couple of hours at hand, there is one name that comes to your mind- Catan!

You get excited and pull the box out of the shelf and start setting it up, and call the entire family to play. But wait. You have had this game for over 6 months and have played it hundreds of times. So much so that now it feels the same every time. If you feel this way, then it’s time for an upgrade!

That’s right. You don’t need to switch to another board game when you can upgrade your Catan with the Catan expansions! And not just one. You get a lot of choices when it comes to Catan expansion packs.

We have come up with a list of 10 best Catan expansion that you can choose from and make your time at home super fun!

What is Catan?

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, the word ‘Catan’ has derived from the Japanese word ‘Katana’ that refers to a historical sword used by the Samurai and feudal of Japan.

But now, Catan is a strategy game. 3-4 players can play this game while playing the role of settlers on a remote island.

Our 10 Best Catan Expansion Reviews

1. Catan: Explorers & Pirates Expansion

Ahoy! The pirates are here! That’s right. This expansion lets you into the world of pirates. Being one of the biggest expansions for Catan, this one has a lot to offer, which includes a ton of fun and mystery. Here, you will be exploring the seas, discovering new islands for gold, spices, fishes, and of course, pirate’s layers. It begins with setting up a harbor and a ship along with it. You then make your way into the sea of the unknown. The two different sets of island tiles, sun tiles, and moon tiles, are laid among the sea tiles, flipped over. Every time your ship comes across a sun or a moon tile, you flip it to reveal what it holds. Now, this certainly adds a level of excitement to the game, because there could be anything on the tile, even just another blank sea tile. 

Besides, this expansion pack includes gold, which you earn as you reveal new island tiles. It also includes pirate ships as an upgrade to the robber from the base game. Each player gets one of these ships and can be placed anywhere on the sea tiles and can steal from any of the explorer’s ships that cross it. There are also tiles that hold resources. You get two gold for uncovering those, and with settlers, you can colonize that island and generate resources. There are five scenarios to the game and can be played one at a time. With so many cool elements, Explorers & Pirates became one of the top Catan expansions that worth trying..

Highlighted Features

  • Can be played with 2-4 players
  • Discover islands and cultures
  • Includes an element of mystery

2. Catan: Cities & Knights Expansion

Making its way to the list of the top Catan expansions is the Cities & knights pack. This one is probably the most fitting expansion pack for Catan. It is played on the base game, so it does not require any additional setup, but it comes with a lot of new exciting elements. Unlike the base game, it starts with one settlement and one city. In addition to the three primary resources, it includes three new commodities which are paper, coins, and cloth. There are a few new trades that can be done using all of these resources. The expansion pack comes with a new trading counter, which helps in understanding what kinds of trades can be done. There is a new city wall included in the elements which help protect the cities from getting attacked by robbers. The knights play a great part in this pack. 

There are three kinds of knights that can be upgraded in by trading resources. You can use the knights in different ways, like saving a spot for your settlements or even chasing the robber away. Another great addition is the metropolis. This can be added to your city as an upgrade, which can help you save your city from the barbarians. Yes, there are barbarians too. This is the reason we think Cities & Knights is an excellent Catan expansion.

Highlighted Features

  • New urban centers and metropolises
  • Intricate characters that can make or break one’s game
  • Additional trading options and resources
  • Can be played on the base game’s board setting

3. Catan: Seafarers Expansion

Seafarers is the first-ever expansion to Catan. And it is still played and preferred over some of the later released expansions. This pack may look a little similar to the Explorers & Pirates; it really isn’t. It has a comparatively smaller number of tiles to setup. The pack comes with an instruction manual that shows multiple interesting ways in which you can set up the tiles.

There are sea tiles among which you can set up the island tiles, which are already revealed. These tiles include different resources, such as gold, farms, and grasslands. To reach these regions, there are ships that you can set up between the tiles, just like you setup roads. What’s really cool is that the ships can also serve as extensions to the roads.

Since there are ships involved, you know what’s coming. Pirates! This pack includes robbers AND pirates, which makes it a lot more exciting. The robber can steal resources on the land, while the pirate does the same in the sea, so that’s a double attack. Even with these many elements, the Seafarers expansion is very easy to figure out.

Highlighted Features

  • Easy to set up and understand
  • Multiple scenarios to choose from for the board setup
  • Average playtime is only 60 minutes

4. Settlers of Catan

Presenting to you the original Settlers of Catan. Catan was originally called Settlers of Catan before the name was changed in 2015. This is not an expansion but the base game itself. And it is just as fun as the others. It comes with 19 hexagonal terrain tiles and six sea frames, which together make the board.

The mission of the game is simple- collect 10 points to win. 3 to 4 players can play at a time. Each player starts the game with 2 settlements and one road attached to each of the settlements. Each terrain tile is marked with a unique number that can be rolled on a dice. When any of those numbers appear on the dice, the players who had put their settlements around those tiles get one resource card matching that resource on the tile. The resources can then be traded to build roads, settlements, and cities. But it’s not that simple. 

There is a robber in the game, which comes on by rolling number 7 on the dice. With the robber, a player can steal on resource cards from the player whose settlements are around the tile on which the robber stands. An interesting element of the game is trading with other players. You can sure trade resources with the bank but on set terms. But while trading with other players, you get to set your own terms. Now that’s amazing!

Highlighted Features

  • Easy to set up play for all age groups
  • Trading with the players adds a level of excitement
  • Can be played in a blitz mode after getting used to it

5. Catan: Starfarers Expansion (2nd Edition)

We may be far from colonizing Mars, but not so far from doing so with a lot of other planets. The Starfarers expansion pack takes us to the middle of the 3rd millennium in search of more resources, in a planetary system far away in space. And you are in the presence of alien civilizations that can be your friend or your foe. Each player aims to score not 10, but 15 points to win the game. To gain the points, you will have to build up colonies on different planets.

The game progresses in three phases- Production, Trade & Build, and Flight phases. Throughout these phases, you will generate resources like ore and carbon, trade them either with the bank or with the aliens to build ships, pods, canons, and boosters. And then you move forward on the board to colonize more planets, discover new lifeforms and a celestial object like wormholes and new solar systems.

And meanwhile, you keep upgrading your ship to get a good position in the game. Then there are encounter cards, special tokens, and medals to acquire to gain points. This futuristic mind-boggler is the game if you want to test your fate in the universe. The rules of the game may seem a little bit complex at first, but they are so fun that you will not want to leave.

Highlighted Features

  • Highly engaging design and rules
  • A storyline which gets more intriguing as the game advances
  • New encounters cards for interesting twists in the game
  • Different tokens and elements than any other expansion pack

6. Catan: Traders & Barbarians Expansion

Imagine having several games in a single game. That’s what the Traders & Barbarians expansion is! It is probably the most character and elements rich Catan expansion. It includes five amazing scenarios.

The first is Fishermen of Catan, which revolves around fishing and using tactics to gather more and more fiches to gain points. Having more fishes also gives you more advantages, like developing settlements or drawing one of your opponent’s resources.

The second scenario is The Rivers of Catan. This scenario aims to collect gold, which will eventually make you a wealthy settler or a poor settler. A player with the highest gold at the end wins.
The third one is the Caravans scenario, where you need to build your caravan to get wool and grains. But mind you, setting up the camels is not in your hands but your opponents’.

The fourth scenario is the Barbarian Attack. This is an exciting battle between the barbarians and the knights. Get your knights to capture the barbarians, because they hold extra point to your victory. And the last scenario is the Traders and Barbarians. Since the barbarians are gone, the traders are back on the road to transport resources. Successful deliveries will win you points. But unfortunately, some barbarians are still out there to ruin the flow. This extraordinarily fantastic game can be played with even 2 players.

Highlighted Features

  • 5 exciting scenarios to choose from
  • All the scenarios can be set up on the baseboard
  • Can be even played with 2 players

7. Catan: Rise of The Inkas

Rise of The Inkas is a relatively new spin-off added to Catan, but it goes to the earliest of histories. This is a standalone game and does not require the base game for it to be played. The board is a beautiful setup of the Peruvian jungle environment. Here, in addition to the basic resources from the base game. You will also find three new resources, which are fish, feather, and leaves.

These new resources do not build any settlements but are only used for trading, to acquire the goods you need to build something. The aim of this game is not to collect points, but to build tribes. You will need to build settlements to build your tribe. The first player to build up three tribes wins the game. The settlements can also go in a decline, and other players can build upon their opponents’ settlements. And just like the base game, there is a robber here who can steal resources from the players. There’s no getting rid of the robber.

Highlighted Features

  • Interesting new gameplay
  • Can be played without the base game
  • Does not require much time the setup and understand
  • Newly added resources make it easy to trade for goods

8. Catan: Settlers of America

Behold. The great country is rising. The Settlers of America is yet another standalone spin-off of the base game. The board setup for this one depicts the map of America, but not what we see it as today. Since the game was set up in the 19th century, the only things to be seen on the board are raw resources and a few production units, which are a major part of the game. The goal of the game is to distribute the goods produced in your production units. Each player gets a number of these units and some goods that need to be delivered to the cities.

Just like the base game, you gather up the resources and then trade them out to build up cities or connect your cities through a railroad. With progression in the game, you can move the train on the railroad to deliver the goods. But the catch here is that you cannot deliver your goods to your cities. And also, you will need to unlock a goods cube to deliver it. This is done by building up new cities inside the map. Now there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the robber is gone! And, the bad news is that there is an outlaw that roams around. With the same purpose as the robber, the outlaw can stop the generation of resources and can also steal from the goods of the players.

Highlighted Features

  • An interesting spin-off that includes new elements such as railways and deliveries
  • Allows players to build up flexible strategies to advance
  • The game starts with more settlements which increase the challenge in terms of resources

9. Catan: The Board Game

Catan is the upgraded version of Settlers of Catan. Settlers, in 2015, was renamed to Catan, as we all know it today. Without any expansions, the original Catan is just as fun and engaging. All the players start with 2 settlements and one road connected to each of their settlements. To expand their roads and build new settlements, the players collect resources. The resources include brick, lumber, ore, grain, and wool. These resources can be generated by rolling the dice and then giving a resource card to the players on the hex tile matching the number on the dice. The resources can be traded off, which get you more settlements, or upgrade your existing settlements to cities. Each of these elements holds specific points. The first player to collect 10 points wins the game. 

But no game is played without a twist. In Catan, there is a robber on the loose. This robber comes up only when someone rolls a 7 on the dice. The player who rolled the number then gets to place the robber on any of the hex tiles he wishes. When the robber is placed on that tile, all the players surrounding that tile give one resource card, which is generated from that tile to the player who placed the robber. The robber moves every time someone rolls number 7 on the dice. Even if you have played some of the other top rated Catan expansions, the original Catan always seems fun!

Highlighted Features

  • Simple rules that re easy to understand and follow
  • Can be played with 3-4 players with a maximum 60 minutes of gameplay
  • Gameplay can be paused and resumed without losing track of the game

10. A Game of Thrones: Catan

Game of Thrones is one of the most-watched TV series worldwide. And similarly, Catan is one of the most played games. The world left in a frenzy both combined to create A Game of Thrones: Catan! Just looking at the names gets most of the players excited to play it.

This is not an expansion but a standalone game that doesn’t require the base game. Just like the base, players start off with two settlements and 2 roads attached to each of those settlements. There are five resources to gather from by rolling the dice. You then trade-off those resources to build a settlement or upgrade an existing one. There is a wall, just like the TV series, which needs to be protected from the wildlings, and stop them from entering the city. Different kinds of wildling have different impacts on the wall. Every time a player builds a settlement or upgrades an existing one, it unleashes a wildling, which then gets closer to the wall. If a wildling gets close enough and breaches the wall, it can steal from the resources of the players.

What is more dangerous is that if the wall is breached three times, the game ends there. To prevent this from happening, you can put guards on the wall. There is also a stealer in the game, but with wildlings in the play, it is less of a worry.

Highlighted Features

  • Amazing combination of the TV series and the base game
  • Interesting characters that add an element of excitement to the game
  • The storyline of the game keeps the players engaged

Best Catan Expansion Buying Guide

Why Play Settlers of Catan?

Settlers of Catan is a strategy game popularly played with family and friends. Unlike other board games, Catan games are never-ending. No matter how much you play and whatever tactics you apply, you will not be bored playing this game. And when you need diversification or want to taste something different, there are expansion packs available to satisfy you. That’s the reason we feel Catan is one of the best strategy games you can play home.

How to Choose the Best Catan Expansion

Catan has become a mainstream board game from an adventurous one because of its versatility, fun factor, and unbelievable expandability. Here are some tips by which you can select the perfect Catan expansion to try with your family and friends-

1. Know Your Purpose

There are different types of Catan expansions available for you. Some are for allowing you to play the game with more people and some changes the gameplay entirely giving you a different taste.
So, ask yourself- Why do you need Catan expansion and get the one that best fits your objective.

2. Complexity & Gaming Time

Another factor to consider before buying a Catan expansion is ‘time to play’. Most of the expansion packs make the game more complex and interesting thus requiring you to take more thoughtful strategies to win. Eventually, you end up spending more time on the game than earlier.
With added complexity, this can become harder to play for the beginners while satisfying experienced gamers. So, we recommend starting with the base game for beginners, and upgrading to the expansions when they get used to playing the base Catan.

3. Number of Players

Catan expansion and extensions are two different things as the first one increases the depth of the game while extensions allowing more players to play with you.

Catan base and expansion games are played among 3-4 players. But with the extensions, you will be able to accommodate two more players on the board.

4. Catan Expansion Game Rules

When purchasing Catan expansions, make sure to check whether the expansion comes with different rules of gameplay than the base game or not. New rules are for those who are experienced players want a different taste from the same Catan game. But for newbies, unchanged gameplay is what we recommend for getting the most fun out of the game.

How Can You Dominate in the Catan Game?

The easiest and most effective way to dominate the Catan game is to gather resources strategically. While you can use your tactics to win the game, here are some of the crucial tips to consider to dominate in Catan-
Building roads is an important thing to do for expanding your settlements. So, the first thing to do is collecting brick and timber as much as possible and using those to build the longest roads. Having said that, you should not only stick to building roads, rather you must diversify your resources so that you always remain one step ahead of your opponents in the hexagon.

The next tip is to upgrade the settlements to cities. Cities accommodate more resources than the settlements allowing you to gather more points.
And the final tip, when you are experienced in Catan, try to diversify your strategies to get a different taste every time you play it. If you stick to one basic strategy you’ll end up losing interest a lot earlier than expected.

Why Catan is the Best Board Game?

Catan is arguably one of the best board games you can play right now. Because of its straightforward set of rules, anyone can start dominating Catan within a week. While making it straightforward and easy to learn, this has been nicely curated for applying diversified strategies to cross the line.

You’ll start easily but start making things complicated and highly technical once you start trading resources for victory points.

How Do You Combine Catan Expansions?

Combining Catan expansions are not that hard when you know the rules of it. You will face difficulty for repeated colors, but once you sort things out by marking them, you can easily combine Catan expansions.

How Do Catan Expansions Work?

What is the Difference Between Catan Expansion and Extension?
In a word – Catan expansions change the way you play the game. These diversified and makes the game more interesting to play. So, expansions are rule changers.

On the other hand, Catan extensions allow you to add more friends to the game. So, you can enjoy the game with your whole family or more friends.

Expansions and base Catan games can be played by 4 people. But extensions allow 6 people to play the game.

Can You Play Catan Expansions without the base Game?

It depends on the expansion you are going to play. Some allow you to play the game without the base game while some require you to use the base game too. So, check the rules of the expansion for a detailed and clear idea about it.

Yes, in most cases. But make sure to check the expansion pack for details.

Can You Play Catan with Multiple Expansions?

Yes, as long as the expansion allows combining other expansions to it. If you know how to play and are enough experienced with the rules, you can play with multiple expansions after some small changes.

Can Two People Play Catan?

Yes, it is possible to play Catan with two people. But the recommended number of people for playing Catan and getting fun of it is 3-4 people. So, if you and a friend are available for play, we recommend adding another friend with you.

Which Catan Expansion has Fish?

Fisherman of Catan has fish in it.

Final Verdict

Catan is known to be one of the best board games and is played by a lot of people worldwide. With the expansions packs and standalone spin-offs, it becomes a lot more fun and exciting to play. To choose from this larger number is a tough task, but needs to be done. Out of all the amazing different versions, Catan: Seafarers is the best Catan expansion on the list. It includes a lot of new features while keeping the soul of the base game alive. If you are planning to buy an expansion for your game, you can get the Seafarers without a second thought.

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