Catan is far and away one of the best-selling games at Level One Game Shop. It’s moved from being a niche hobby import game into mainstream awareness. When people hear about Catan and give it a try, they fall in love with it. And of course, what’s the next step? Fortunately Catan does another thing that most mainstream games don’t – it’s expandable! Here, this Catan expansion buying guide will describe which of the many Catan expansions players should look into.
Playing with More Players
Naturally, new fans of Catan are eager to share their excitement with others. Catan plays up to 4 players out of the box, but with an expansion called the 5-6 Player Extension, the game can accommodate even more. The base game has a 5-6 Player Extension that, conveniently, comes in a red box just like the base game, but smaller. It has player pieces in two new colors, and more tiles and cards to make a bigger game map. With a copy of the Catan base game and a 5-6 Player Extension, players can play with even more friends at the same time.
Starting Off Easy
The main thing that board game expansions do is add pieces and rules to introduce new and interesting twists to the base game. Expansions can take a stale, played-out game and breath new life into them, or get players to look at a favorite game in a new light.
Catan has many content expansions, and each is unique and varies in complexity level. For most players, the recommended first expansion is Seafarers of Catan. It comes in a light blue box that includes new sea tiles and boats so players can colonize islands. The new rules that the game adds are straightforward and intuitive, making Seafarers easy to integrate with the base game. Seafarers is a natural first choice.
In addition, Seafarers can be played with 5-6 players too. Seafarers has its own 5-6 Player Extension that comes in a light blue box as well. In order to play Seafarers with 6 players, you’ll need four items: the Catan base game, the Catan 5-6 Player Extension, Seafarers of Catan, and the Seafarers 5-6 Player Extension.
Check out more about Catan Seafarers here!
Jumping Into the Deep End
The fourth major expansion for Catan, called Explorers & Pirates, is worth a special mention at this point. It’s an amazing expansion that radically changes how Catan is played. Explorers & Pirates introduces rules that change how cities and sea routes work, and removes the Robber and uses Pirates instead. Because Explorers & Pirates is such a thorough makeover, it’s not compatible any other Catan expansion. (Well, maybe some expansions are compatible, but with extensive rules changes. That information can be found here.)
Explorers & Pirates wouldn’t be the best recommendation for players who are new to the board game hobby, so we recommend Seafarers first. However, Explorers & Pirates upgrades Catan into a game that more resembles a full-featured empire-builder. Seasoned board game fans would really enjoy this version of Catan.
Naturally, Explorers & Pirates has a 5-6 Player Extension too!
Check out more about Explorers & Pirates here!
Beyond Seafarers of Catan, Catan has two more expansions to that can be bolted on. Each adds its own unique flavor to the base Catan. They can be paired with the base game in any combination. In other words, players don’t need any one expansion to play another. However the base game is still required to play any expansion. Of course, 5-6 Player Extensions are available for each of these expansions as well.
The second expansion for Catan adds a bit more complexity and substance than Seafarers. Cities & Knights adds three new resources and three new kinds of development cards, that expand the role of player-built cities. Soldiers and Knights also matter more, guarding roads from robbers and barbarians.
Check out more about Cities & Knights here!
The third expansion is actually a compilation of smaller expansions all rolled into one box. Players get to pick from 5 scenarios and 4 variants to add new twists to the Catan formula, including a full-on barbarian invasion.
Check out more about Traders & Barbarians here!
Your Guide to Expanding Your Catan Game
Once people have fallen in love with Catan, it’s a wonderful surprise to learn that there’s still more Catan to be had. There’s a wide variety of standalone Catan variants, as well, including the Histories series, Star Trek Catan, a Yahtzee-like dice version, a two-player version, even a Game of Thrones version. However, there’s still a lot more that the base game can offer when any of this exciting expansions are added. Using this Catan Expansions Buying Guide, you can figure out what the best next step for your Catan adventure.