Searching for board games like Catan can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially if you’re new to the tabletop game scene. In fact, if you’re here reading this article, I’d wager that Catan was your gateway game into this hobby – as it was for millions of people – and now you’re ready to stretch your wings and try something new. First of all, a warm welcome to you!
Now, it can be pretty daunting to try and sift through the thousands of board games out there. I know I thought so when I first got into tabletop gaming. Well, don’t you worry, because we’re here to help you find some fresh game titles with familiar game mechanics. Here’s a list of 10 board games like Catan!
Top 3 Board Games Like Catan
Best Hex Tile Builder – Kingdom Builder
Kingdom Builder is like the chill, less overwhelming cousin of Catan. It features familiar hex tiles that are already grouped into large boards for each player, with each tile representing a certain terrain. The game starts with players building their settlements, which they may do only on certain types of terrain, with certain exceptions. Players may only build next to existing settlements, unless they have special abilities.
If you’re looking to try other games like Catan, Kingdom Builder is one that will certainly pique your fancy because not only does it look similar, it also has similar gameplay in that you’ll want to build the most advantageous layout of settlements. However, what differentiates this game from Catan are its goals, called “Kingdom Builder cards” – and each player’s set of goals are different per game because they are drawn at random at the beginning.
Examples of Kingdom Builder cards are: “Discoverers”, where you gain 1 extra gold for each horizontal line on the board that contains at least 1 of your own settlements; another is “Fishermen”, which grants you 1 gold for every settlement that you’ve built adjacent to water hexes. Players must have 3 Kingdom Builder cards each per game, and considering that you and your game night buddies will have a different combo of goals every single time you play, it’s guaranteed that no two games will ever be alike.
To win, you’ll want to earn the most gold, and you can do so by fulfilling your goals and by building next to existing castles on the board.
Why We Like It
- You can learn the rules in 5 minutes.
- Goals are different per player per game.
- The light strategy involved is perfect for newbies.
If you’re looking for a game that’s like the more relaxed, less intense version of Catan, then Kingdom Builder is a great choice because learning the rules is easy as pie and the different goals per player per game ensure a unique game each time.
Best Civilization Builder – 7 Wonders
If the idea of amassing buildings and resources is what makes you enjoy Catan, then you’ll be equally enthralled by 7 Wonders. In this game, your goal is to build the mightiest civilization, with the largest military, the most scientific progress, the most resources, and the most commercial structures – basically the most of everything! What about the namesake of the game, the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World? Well, you’re actually not obligated to complete your world wonder, but doing so will definitely give you advantages based on the wonder assigned to you.
The game is divided into 3 ages. During each age, you can amass resources, buy buildings, complete a stage of your wonder, or even trade a card for money. To win, you just need to earn victory points, which can be achieved in many ways, such as through military might, scientific progress, commerce, and even through the construction of your world wonder.
What makes 7 Wonders one of the best board games like Catan? In Catan, there’s a certain rush to be had when you’ve established all your settlements and cities and are then rolling in resources. It feels like you have unlimited power. The feeling is exactly the same in 7 Wonders – after acquiring all your valuable resources, building all your useful structures, and completing your world wonder… you feel invincible!
Why We Like It
- It’s exhilarating to build your empire from scratch.
- You can amass resources and construct powerful buildings.
- There are many avenues to victory.
- There’s no robber in 7 Wonders!
If the building of structures and the acquisition of numerous resources is what makes Catan one of your favorites, then 7 Wonders will scratch that itch – and will even give you more ways to achieve those hard-earned victory points!
Best City Builder – Machi Koro
Money makes the world go ‘round in this cute, well-loved classic. Just like Catan, Machi Koro is a game in which players have to construct buildings to multiply their earnings. However, unlike in Catan, where the settlements give you resources, Machi Koro is a bit more straightforward, because the buildings earn you cold, hard cash. Of course, the more money you have, the more buildings you can buy – and the more buildings you have, the more money you earn!
Each building in Machi Koro has a specific benefit that’s also triggered by the roll of the die, just like in Catan. However, the buildings give gold to different players. Blue cards give gold during anyone’s roll. Green cards give gold only if the number that appears is rolled by the owner of the green card. Now here’s the kicker – if you have a red card, you can steal gold from the other player who rolled the number on your red card. If you have a purple card, you can steal from everyone, but only when it’s your roll that matches the number on your purple card. Based on that, we can say that the red and purple cards take the place of the robber in Catan.
Winning is straightforward in Machi Koro. There are 4 buildings that you must construct, all of which are worth rather large amounts of gold. Now, the first to construct these 4 specific buildings is the winner – so get rich and get building!
Why We Like It
- The cute art makes gameplay more fun.
- Gameplay is a balance of strategy and luck.
- Strategy is simple: build to earn, earn to build!
- Stealing from other players is possible!
Among the list of board games like Catan, Machi Koro definitely makes it to the top three because just like Catan, you need to build to earn income, and then spend said income on more buildings – the first to build the 4 major buildings wins!
Other Board Games like Catan
Ticket to Ride
If the challenge of building the longest road in Catan is what piqued your fancy, then it’s worth playing Ticket to Ride, a game solely based on building train routes!
Ticket to Ride is fairly straightforward: city destinations have been marked all across the continent of North America, and you, the players, must connect them all with your trains. The longer your train, the better your chance at victory!
Why We Like It
- It’s an easy game to learn and play.
- Even kids aged 8+ can join your table.
- It’s also a good gateway game for newbies.
If the best part of Catan for you is seeing a long stretch of road, then Ticket to Ride will definitely give you that same thrill.
Trading can be cutthroat in Catan – and sometimes that’s what players like best. If you’re searching for games like Catan with an emphasis on trading, then Bohnanza will certainly hit the spot.
Bohnanza is a card game where players must plant bean fields. You may only have two fields at a time, and you have a hand with beans in them. Problem is, you can’t just choose from your hand; you have to plant the beans in the order that you drew them. What do you do when your two fields are occupied and you can’t plant what’s at the front of your hand? Why, trade your beans, of course – if other players will accept your offer!
Why We Like It
- Bohnanza can be a friendly or a brutal game depending on the players!
- The deck is easy to travel with.
If trading and haggling in Catan are what give you your adrenaline rush, consider Bohnanza, which will give you a triple dose of that!
Castles of Burgundy
The rules of Catan can be quite tough for newbies, but seasoned players know that once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s actually a breeze. For those Catan players who want something a little more challenging, Castles of Burgundy makes for a fun new adventure.
Castles of Burgundy is basically the meatier, more nuanced version of Catan. In this game, players are in charge of their own princedoms, and they can do a multitude of things, such as fill up their storage, construct useful buildings, sell goods, or gain workers. It may sound easy, but each option has many sub-options within it – so choose wisely!
Why We Like It
- Castles of Burgundy is for Catan lovers who want more.
- Its complex gameplay makes for hours of enjoyment.
- It’s ideal for those seeking a challenge.
Castles of Burgundy has long been hailed as one of the few board games similar to Catan, and it is definitely the perfect step up for Catan fans who want even more complexity and higher level strategy in creating their ideal civilizations.
Imagine a version of Catan where all your settlements are on wheels and are moving at each turn. However, they can only move back and forth on the roads that you’re given. That’s basically Istanbul.
Just like Catan, Istanbul is a board game where you must collect resources to buy what you need to achieve victory in the form of rubies. The person to buy 5 rubies first is the winner! Now,instead of receiving resources through the roll of the dice, in Istanbul, you can actually acquire them at the places that you stop. Try not to land on a spot where another merchant already is, though – you’ll then have to pay them money! Also take note of your string of workers – wherever you go, you’ll have to leave a trail of workers. Run out of workers and you’ll have to double back down your trail.
Why We Like It
- The colorful art makes for extra immersive gameplay.
- Players’ movement is limited by their trail of workers.
- Avoiding other players adds an element of fun.
If Catan has always had you wishing that you could pick which resources you receive, then look no further than Istanbul – however, watch out for those other merchants, who’ll be happy to rob you of 2 lira, just like the Robber of Catan!
If you’ve ever envisioned Catan in a post-war alternate past, with 100% more combat encounters and a more detailed engine-building game mechanic, then Scythe is the next step for you.
Scythe is set in an alternate 1920’s Europe that is still recovering from the Great War. Players control factions, which are all vying for power via military might, popularity, worker maximization, infrastructure, and other factors. As for resources, players can choose to produce and spend said resources and to build their engine, allowing them to gain momentum as the game progresses. To win, a player must have the most coins by the endgame, which is triggered by any player achieving 6out of 10 possible goals.
Why We Like It
- The setting makes for an immersive experience.
- Strategic decisions are the foundation of the game.
- There are plenty of nuanced ways to win.
If you’re looking for board games like Catan but with more combat and more detailed game mechanics, as well as more tracks to victory, then the post-war apocalyptic game Scythe is the natural choice.
Architects of the West Kingdom
The premise of Catan is all about constructing buildings to collect resources, which are then used to make construct even more buildings, and thus gain even more resources. If you’re looking for that mechanic, then Architects of the West Kingdom will certainly provide – but instead of buildings collecting resources, you have actual people.
Architects of the West Kingdom features the players as royal architects, looking to impress the monarchy by being the first to build a beautiful cathedral. Players must deploy their workers to gain resources to build said cathedral. And just like in real life, you can attain your goals by several means – some of which are shadier than others. You can deploy your workers the normal way, by sending them to work – or by sending them to the black market, where you can get more resources, but at the cost of your virtue!
Why We Like It
- This colorful game is a feast for the eyes.
- Gameplay is an exciting balancing act between virtue and vice.
- Victory points may be earned in multiple ways.
While Catan’s resource acquisition is based on building construction, Architects of the West Kingdom offers a fun alternative where players gain resources through worker placement, allowing them to do it the virtuous way… or the corrupt way.
Taj Mahal is a game of currying favor. Players score points by acquiring resources and by building routes to palaces. Sound familiar? That’s why Taj Mahal makes it to this list of board games like Catan, except unlike in Catan where you’re the boss, this time you’ll have to please the bosses.
To win a game of Taj Mahal, a player must earn the most “influence points” that were mentioned above. Players are dealt a hand of cards containing the superiors that they can appeal to, and once they’ve won that person’s support, players can then build a palace, either expanding their route and/or claiming a resource or an effect. Basically, the more advisors you can win over, the more you can build your routes and claim your goods.
Why We Like It
- The game features gorgeous tokens and art.
- Gaining influence adds a twist to construction.
- Roleplay can be added to make the game more fun.
Taj Mahal will most certainly appeal to lovers of Catan because of the unique “resource” needed to build palaces, which in this case is good old favor.