Top 6 Best Catan Expansions in 2021

best catan expansions

The Settlers of Catan, also known simply as Catan, is a multiplayer board game developed by Klaus Teuber. It was first released in Germany under the German name “Die Siedler von Catan”. It got a wider relaunch the following year when it was introduced in the non-German speaking markets and it was termed as “The Settlers Of Catan”. In the last 25 years, it has managed to become extremely popular and has become one of the biggest success stories in the board/tabletop game space.

As the game has hosted numerous players across the globe and has been around for more than two decades, it was quite natural for designers to have come up with a large number of extensions, variants, expansions and spin-offs. The expansions offer the players add-ons to the game-pieces that they might have already bought and make them work towards enhancing the overall gaming experience. By using these expansions, you get a broader view of the world which Catan comprises.

With so many expansions available today, you might be a little confused as to which are the ones you should invest in for a better gaming experience. To make your search easier, we have picked 6 of the best Catan Expansions that you should buy in 2021.

Here Is The List Of The best Catan Expansions With Our Expert Review:

1

Catan Expansion: Traders & Barbarians

This expansion is known for the number of high-utility and well-designed variations it offers. It offers variants like “Catan for Two”, “Harbormaster” and “Catan Event Cards” which provide users enough scope to customize the game according to their preferences and needs. All of these are two-player variants that enable the player to run the Base Game and explore the different backdrops or premises in the game against one adversary.

Through a campaign that spreads across five different scenarios, the players are introduced to the story of how things and settlements developed in Catan after the first cities came into being. It is a very informative game that offers you a glimpse into the lesser-explored aspects of Catan. By being the “Fishermen of Catan”, the players discover how fishing not only helps to put food on the plate of the inhabitants but has several tactical possibilities as well.

In the second scenario which has been titled “The Rivers Of Catan”, we see the rivers emerging as the lifeline of the city and its inhabitants. You discover that if you build settlements and roads closer or around the areas which the rivers flow by, you can make a lot of money. At the same time, if there is a delay in your arrival, you might end up becoming impoverished and find it very difficult to improve your life and the conditions which you are in.

In the third scenario, we come across nomads who have made the oasis their home. Since they do not have grain and wool in sufficient quantities, they organize caravans to indulge in a barter system for their resources. Everybody wishes to make a quick buck by employing their “Caravans” but getting your caravans sent to your settlement is easier said than done.

All the wealth amassed in Catan does not stay away from the prying eyes of the invaders. It is a matter of time before the “Barbarian Attack” deigns upon the coasts of Catan. It is important for the Catanians to train the knights and close ranks. One does not need to put a lot of effort into convincing the knights to engage in the battle as each knight will be entitled to a victory point every time a barbarian is captured.

The final scenario is called “Traders and Barbarians”. Now that the barbarians have been driven away, one has to take the damage into account and work towards restoring normalcy. Soon enough, the roads and various other paths of Catan will mark the presence of baggage trains which will be engaged in the delivery of glass and marble to the castle. These baggage trains will also work towards delivering tools required in the marble quarry and sand in the glassworks. After delivery is declared successful, the player will be rewarded with gold and a victory point.

 

Pros

Multiple options to customize the game

Offers five different scenarios to explore

Good quality components

Cons

Box in the tray is too compact

 

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2

CATAN Seafarers Board Game EXPANSION | Family Board Game

If you are playing this game along with 2-3 of your friends, then this would be a good expansion to have. This is also a great expansion for those who wish to find an island that they can develop during the course of this game. It is an expansion that enables the players to develop their own islands and maneuver their way through high seas. This particular expansion has been in the market for a very long time and has undergone multiple changes which have contributed towards making it better.

The most prominent addition to this expansion is the ships. Ships almost work like roads and buildings at the corner of one water hex and one land hex or two water hexes. Ships become an integral constituent of your road network but a player can’t move directly from a road towards a ship. To get the bonus, you would be required to construct a settlement somewhere in between.

The fifth edition of the expansion comprises as many as nine scenarios for the player to explore. Each of the scenarios offers a higher victory point goal which is adjusted as per the scenario and consists of a few extra conditions to avail of bonus victory points. For instance, one particular scenario features a large island which is surrounded by three islands that are smaller in size. All the players start on the large island and win two extra victory points every time they build a new island. These extra points encourage the players to explore more areas while playing the game.

Another scenario features a “fog island” and two islands. The tiles are turned towards the player’s face on the fog island and the player remains oblivious to where he is heading towards before he reaches there with the help of a ship. When a ship touches upon a fog tile, the player moves it around and stakes his claim on some of the resources available.

One of the reasons why many players prefer Seafarer over other extensions is because it offers a lot of diversity. By offering multiple scenarios, better build options and several other features, Seafarer provides you with a good mix of different elements and makes the game a little more vibrant. Having said, it does not rob older users of the sense of familiarity they are used to. The older features remain intact and you get a wide number of new variants as well.

The extra victory conditions that a player has at his disposal also enable him to have more options as far as making strategies is concerned. With more options, the game becomes much more exciting and engaging. Like any other expansion, Seafarer also has some cons. At the end of the day, it is a dice game and therefore, whether things work in your favor or not largely depends on your luck. In this game, the dice decides your destiny.

The best part about Seafarer is the fact that it gives you the best of both worlds. Some features would keep the old war-horses happy and for the younger players, there are a bunch of exciting things that should keep them happy and give them the feeling of a new-age game.

 

Pros

High-quality components

Features nine scenarios

Suitable for both older and younger player

Cons

Certain elements might be confusing for some players

 

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3

A Game of Thrones CATAN Board Game

With ‘Game Of Thrones’ emerging as one of the most popular shows made in the history of television, one expected developers to come up with games inspired by it. And that’s exactly what happened. ‘A Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch’ is an expansion of Catan which, as the name suggests, has been modeled on the hugely popular franchise. As the Game Of Thrones franchise has a huge fanbase, one expects fans of both the series and Catan to buy it immediately after hearing its name. So, it is an interesting exercise to find out how similar this expansion is to elements synonymous with the franchise.

For starters, this expansion will appeal to those who are fans of Catan but do not fancy Game Of Thrones. The reason behind that is simple. It has everything that you would expect to find in a classic Catan board game setup. So, even if you are not a fan of Game Of Thrones or somebody who has not even seen an episode of the series, you will find yourself enjoying the game. Now, the question that arises is whether it offers all that a Game Of Thrones fan would expect out of it. The answer to this question is yes, it does.

As stated earlier, the expansion has been designed keeping Game Of Thrones in mind but care has been taken to ensure that it does not alienate the older fans of the board game who are familiar with more conventional versions of it. While it has a lot to offer to Game Of Thrones loyalists, it might leave a certain section of the fans feeling dejected. You do not come across Lannisters, Targaryens or Starks and if you are looking for political games, you would be disappointed too. While the TV show has raised the bar high, you would need to remember that this is a game and therefore, comes with certain limitations.

As is the case with any other Catan game, players will be able to do things like building roads and settlements, rolling the dice, put together resources, trade and use them when you need to put together more settlements. This particular version of Catan features cards that provide their players with highly specialized powers. The cards can be exchanged even after they are used several times. These cards are one of the primary attractions of this expansion as they give players the freedom to procure more resources and carry out trading activities in a more efficient manner. These kinds of features prove to be useful for many users especially for those who do not have adequate resources. That being said, the developers should have incorporated more features that would have justified it being called a ‘Game Of Thrones’ expansion.

One department in which the expansion scores high is its design. When you set up the whole thing on the gaming table, you get a visual that is delightful, to say the least. The ‘Wall’, in particular, evokes memories of watching all those gripping episodes of ‘Game Of Thrones’. When you see a mass of ice tower looming large over a large number of objects, it does evoke awe. Catan is a fairly straightforward game as far as the visuals are concerned but when this tower comes into the picture, it alters the overall visual dynamics of the game. For the better, of course.

 

Pros

Appeals to both Catan and Game Of Thrones fans

Well-designed components

The theme of the game comes across in a prominent manner

Cons

Some important components of Game Of Thrones are missing

The game is largely driven by luck

 

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4

CATAN Board Game EXTENSION allowing a total of 5 to 6 Players

If you are planning to call a bunch of friends home for a night out and play a game of Catan with them, then the ‘Catan Extension – 5-6 Player’ would be a good option for you. A lot of people are not comfortable using expansions as they feel it makes the game complicated and forces them to tread on unfamiliar terrain. Even if you are somebody who has such reservations, you will be quite comfortable opting for this expansion as an add-on to your board game. Its simplicity is one of the primary reasons why it appeals to a lot of people. By using this, you will enhance your gaming experience without having to follow any complicated procedures. The base game allows up to 4 players at a time. However, using this extension will enable you to add two extra players. This also means that two new colors can be added to the game.

You also get two wooden pieces colored in brown and green respectively. As there are extra players around, you would need extra cards and other resources as well. With this expansion, you are also provided with extra development cards, resources cards, terrains and ports. One of the most important changes which you will come across while using this expansion is the presence of an extended island.

When 5-6 players are involved in the game, you must ensure that the island is big enough and there is no chance of it being overcrowded. Expansions also bring in new rules into the game. Here, there is an added rule which gives players the freedom to exchange on-hand resources to be built by the time each player is done with his turn.

When you get a new expansion for a game, you expect it to come loaded with a large number of features. One of the most common criticisms against this particular expansion is that it does not provide you with a lot of add-on features. But, as stated earlier, the simplicity and ease of use which this expansion provides are some of the reasons why many people prefer it over others. It is a very accessible expansion that can be used even by those who are very new to the game.

Coming to the design of the expansion, it is quite difficult to put together a game that would cater to the needs and sensibilities of five or six different players. Players do face an issue when they put together multiple sets of cards when it is the turn of another player. There is a very high possibility of losing all the cards to a robber without the players getting the opportunity to do anything. This particular issue can be resolved by allowing players to build only after the other players finish their turn. Players do not always get the opportunity to build something they really want to because they do not have the option of indulging in trading. However, they can still get cards from their own hands.

It can get a little frustrating when you have to follow different rules for varied playing conditions. Had the markings been more prominent, one would not have to do that. The developers should take note of this and implement the necessary changes in the design in the upcoming version of the expansion so that players do not have to face this issue.

 

Pros

Can be played by 5-6 players

Players get extra development and resources cards

Aesthetically pleasing components

Cons

Limited add-on features

 

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5

Catan: Cities & Knights Expansion – 5th Edition

Cities & Knights features a bunch of components including extra cards, more number of wooden pieces, barbarian fleet tile and new flip-charts, all of which contribute towards making the game all the more exciting and thrilling. The components are of good quality and adhere to the quality standards set by Catan. The cardboard is thick and boasts a glossy finish. The quality of the wood is very good. The cards are shiny without being too showy. You also get a tuck box to put all the cards in. Every expansion offers certain components which makes it unique. The Cities & Knights Expansion provides you with a one-of-its-kind component called the flip-chart which happens to be a set tied up by wires and containing cardstock sheets. The various sections have multiple holes and it does not hold a lot of visual appeal. That being said, it is quite good and useful.

As is the case with most of the fifth-edition releases by Catan, this particular expansion boasts premium quality artwork. The design on the latest progress cards is striking. The flip-charts offer a good glimpse of all the buildings that you put together. The expansion primarily focuses on commodity cards which work as a good companion to the traditional resource cards. There are three such cards – paper, coin and cloth. Different types of terrain produce different variants of commodities. Forest, for instance, produces paper. The expansion has been designed to ease the process of placing new icons on already existing backgrounds. By doing this, you would be able to easily spot the resemblance and dissimilarities between the new commodities and older resources.

You can build up your society gradually by passing through five levels and three different segments of development – science, trade and politics. The flip-charts also guide you through the process of fitting different elements together. It also helps you estimate the expenses involved in expanding the buildings. The development buildings are connected to the three different decks of the progress cards by their individual colors. So, when you first have a look at this game, it might seem a little complex but once you start playing it, you will realize that is quite simple and engaging.

The Cities & Knights Expansion revolves around the theme of civilization growth. The theme comes across quite prominently in the game and is one of its highlights. The components are very attractive and designed well. It is, arguably, one of the best-designed and well-produced expansions for Catan. Before you start using this expansion, you need to get a few components removed from the basic Catan game. The development cards have to make way for the progress cards and building cost cards need to be substituted by the flip-charts.

The Cities & Knights Expansion has quite succeeded in its endeavor of making the Catan game a little more interesting by adding complexities to it. Serious gamers, who enjoy playing Catan, might like to give this expansion a shot.

 

Pros

Engaging theme

Well-organized levels or stages

Premium artwork

Cons

Not suitable for beginners

Some complex features

 

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6

CATAN Trade Build Settle

If you love nature, so much so that you want the game you are playing to take you through fields, forest, hills and the mountains, then CATAN Trade Build Settle is an expansion you might want to own. If you love the game in its classic avatar, this is exactly what you need to invest in. The board has nineteen interchangeable hexagon tiles. Each of the tiles symbolizes a different terrain. While a particular tile might represent a forest, the tile right next to it could stand for a mountain. Corresponding to these terrains is a resource. A resource could be wool, ore, lumber, brick or grain. These resources are what the players need to grow on their respective settlements.

There are also tiles like the desert tile which would not offer you any resource. On the corners of the board, you will find coastal frame pieces which represent the ocean. You will also get wooden tokens symbolizing different things like houses, roads and cities. You will be building your settlements using these wooden tokens. One of the most appealing things about this game is that all the components and elements you come across are aesthetically designed.

The rear side of each hexagonal tile has the kind of water design that you see in the coastal pieces. This particular design element enables the resource on the front end of every tile to remain concealed so that the tiles can be pulled or inserted at random places when you set up the board. The game is meant to be played by three or four players. If you have more friends who wish to participate, you can go for some of the extensions that facilitate the inclusion of more than four players.

The game comes to an end when a player wins ten points. Some people believe the game should be played until the last point remains to be won. But, at the end of the day, it is a game designed officially by the Catan team and has certain guidelines to which one must adhere to. Points can be earned in different ways like building cities or houses, being the owner of the largest army or the longest road and having point-bearing cards at your disposal. While the game is for all age groups, a lot of people feel it is only suitable for teens. That is a completely false notion because when adults try it out, keeping their pre-conceived notions aside, they find it as engaging as teens or children do.

 

Pros

The natural setting of the game is appealing

Suitable for all ages

Solid design

Cons

Need to spend some time to understand it

 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. After a Knight Card has been played, do individual players having more than seven Resource Cards have to do away with half of them?

A. No, this is applicable only when somebody rolls a ‘7’.

Q. How many Development Cards can a player buy on his turn?

A. A player can buy as many cards as he can afford to pay for. Per turn, a player is allowed to play only one Development Card. It is important to remember that a player cannot play a card during the same turn he acquired or bought it.

Q. Can a player play a Knight Card before he rolls the dice?

A. Yes, a player is allowed to play a Knight Card before rolling the dice.

Q. Is there a rule which states that the oldest player gets to build the first settlement?

A. No, there is no rule but a guideline that suggests the oldest player build the first settlement when the game is being played for the very first time. It is not mandatory to do so. Players who come with a lot of experience might go for some other method for determining who should get the opportunity to start the game.

Q. What is referred to as the Longest Road?

A. The Longest Road happens to be a continuous road that serves as the link between two intersections. It comprises a minimum of five standalone road pieces and does not get obstructed by game pieces that are owned by other players. The Longest Road usually has a larger number of road pieces than other kinds of connecting roads.

During the build phase, how many roads can a player build? 
During the build phase, a player can build as many roads as he can afford to pay for.

Q. Is it possible to remove an already built settlement and build a new one elsewhere?

A. No, that is not possible.

Q. What do the resource symbols on a few of the harbor hexes depict?

A. The special harbor axes point out the resource type of which you need to pay to be able to receive one commodity or a different resource.

Q. Is a player allowed to score points after he acquires the requisite number of victory points for a win?

A. In a private tournament, the scores accumulated from a variety of games are put together. Here, you can continue to score points even after acquiring as many victory points as you need to win. However, when it comes to official tournaments, a player wins the game after he has garnered the number of victory points he needs to win. Once that happens, the game comes to an end.

Q. Do players have the freedom of trading and exchanging Influence Cards and Gold Cards among themselves?

A. No, players receive Influence Cards and Gold Cards through the production roll. You might also get Gold Cards by paying for Influence Cards. A player is not allowed to exchange his cards with an opponent or the bank.

Q. In which phase is a player allowed to use the Merchant Guild?

A. According to the guidelines, a player is entitled to use the Merchant Guild at any phase or moment when his turn comes around. A player can also use it immediately after building a particular settlement.

About the author

ahmad Dirar

Ahmad Dirar is a website developer and SEO specialist. In his spare time, you'll catch him either reading books or attempting to write tutorials.

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