Many people think games are a complete waste of time unless it is something athletic. We completely and passionately disagree!
Certain board games open up our doors of imagination and teach us to strategize effectively in difficult situations.
Besides, they are a great way to bond with other individuals with similar interests. As a result, we find new friendships along the way!
Among these games, Carcassonne and Catan are two of the most popular choices across the planet!
But how do they really work? Which one of them suits you best? Here we are to discuss those aspects and more by comparing Carcassonne vs Catan.
A Brief About Carcassonne
Even though this board game is named after the medieval fortified city in southern France, Carcassonne game is actually based in Germany!
The German designer Klaus-Jürgen Wrede came up with the concept and then published it with the help of Hans im Glück in 2000.
After its original German version became a raging success, Carcassonne was then developed for international audiences and adapted in the English language.
This edition was published by Rio Grande Games till 2012 and then Z-Man Games.
At present, this game is available in multiple languages including Russian, Swedish, Polish, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Greek and Finnish.
It was updated one more time in 2014 to suit the new wave of board game artwork and design trends.
Terms, Components and Setup
There are mainly two terms you need to be acquainted with before playing this board game –
- Features: Carcassonne consists of a medieval landscape where the players have to establish several infrastructures called features. These include roads, cities, fields and monasteries or cloisters. The rest of the land covered with green grass is divided into field tiles or terrain tiles.
- Followers: There will be 40 stick figures of five different colors in each board game set. These wooden figures are called followers which you can use to claim the features by placing them on the infrastructure.
To set up the board, you actually need to place just one piece at the center which has parts of both city and road. Then distribute the follower sets among the players and you are good to go!
This board game can be played with two to five players in one sitting. With its expanded edition, you can increase the number up to eight players.
Its gameplay centers around building infrastructures of a kingdom and establishing your ownership on as many of them as possible. The building part is ensured by placing the feature tiles next to each other.
Once you see an infrastructure that can be claimed, you must put one of your followers or meeples there to own it.
The general rules applicable to each Carcassonne sessions are:
- Each session starts by placing the tile which has parts of a city and a road.
- Each player is assigned up to eight followers or meeples to own structures.
- On every turn, a player draws a new tile and places it adjacent to one of the exposed tiles. It has to be done in a way that continuity of the existing structures is not harmed.
- If a feature is already owned or claimed by a player’s follower, any of the other players cannot place their followers on it.
- The session will come to an end when the last tile has been placed. Then the score of each player will be calculated within a total of 50 points.
Spinoff and Expansions
As of 2020, Carcassonne has a total of 10 expansions, 24 mini-expansions, 16 spinoffs and 9 compilations including 6 big boxes!
So if you ever get bored with the standard version, you will have plenty to look forward to and improve your current collection of board games.
Duration and Player Requirements
According to the publishers, anyone who is 8 years of age or older can enjoy a game of Carcassonne. However, many users believe kids of younger age groups like 6 years old are also able to play it.
In one session, 2-5 players can participate in the standard game and 6-8 in the expanded version. Once you have set up the board within five minutes, the game can go on anywhere between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours!
A Brief About Catan
Another multiplayer board game called Catan also has its roots in Germany. It first came out in 1995 with the designs of Klaus Teuber from the publication called Franckh-Kosmos Verlag.
Originally, it was called The Settlers of Catan, Settlers or Die Siedler von Catan.
When its popularity crossed borders, studios like Catan Studio, 999 Games, Devir, GP Inc. and Filosofia started publishing its international versions.
Currently, Catan is available throughout the world in 30 languages including Greek, English, French, Spanish and Japanese.
Terms, Components and Setup
- Hexes: These are the hexagonal tiles that
function as the ground or waterbody where you players can build or cultivate
resources. The types of hexes can be divided into the following groups:
- Land – hill, mountain, forest, field, pasture, oil field, gold field
- Waterbody – lake, river, ocean, iceberg, water ports
- Neutral – desert, oasis
- Resources: There are five types of resources in Catan board game which you can produce through their corresponding hexes. The resources of brick, wool, grain, lumber and ore are respectively produced by the hexes of hills, pastures, fields, forests and mountains.
- Building: You can build different structures here like settlements, cities and roads. You will need certain resources to build each of them and owning one will grant you one or more Victory Points.
- Development Cards: You will have 25 development cards including 14 knights, 2 road building cards, 2 monopolies, 2 years of plenty and 5 Victory Point cards. The knight cards allow you to move robber from his current hex and monopoly lets you claim all resource cards of a certain category.
To set up the game board, randomly place all the hexes adjacent to each other such that it forms a hexagonal shape in the end.
Then place the robber on the desert hex and then numbers on each of the other tiles. Arrange the resource cards in five stacks according to their type.
The main objective of every player involved in a Catan session is to reach 10 or more Victory Points before others.
The first person to do so earns the title of winner. There are some other rules applicable to this game like:
- When you have set up the board,
cards and other components of Catan, let the first player roll the two dices.
Add their value and use this sum to mark hexes on the board with the same
For instance, if the dices produce 5 and 3, you need to spot the hexes bearing the number 8.
- Now see if there is any building attached to these hexes. The players who own these attached buildings now have to produce the corresponding resources of those hexes. Each of the owner players will get one resource card for each attached settlement and two for each attached city.
- If the sum turns out to be 7, each
player with 8 or more cards needs to return half of their cards to the bank.
Then the robber should be moved to another hex by the player who rolled 7. He can now steal a random card from the player who owns any of the settlements attached to that hex. This tile cannot produce resources until the robber is moved somewhere else.
- The robber can also be moved by a player with the knight card. Players can trade resource cards between each other through mutual discussion to build settlements, roads or cities. For example, if someone needs a brick resource to build a wall, he can ask for it from another player.
- Each settlement is worth 1 point, each city is worth 2 and three categories of development cards carry 1 point each. You can earn additional points by building the largest army or the longest road.
Spinoff and Expansions
If you want more out of Catan, you can get any of the 6 spinoffs and 7 expansions including 4 large ones to make the game more enjoyable!
These will let you include more people in each session than the standard edition. Besides, there are more interesting components to play with in these extensions.
Duration and Player Requirements
It may take a while to set up the game board for Catan. After about 15 minutes of arranging the pieces and distributing cards, you can expect the game to last for an hour or two.
The number of players can vary from 2-4 for the standard edition, 2-6 for expansions and 5-12 for the movie versions.
The players should be old enough to negotiate with others for trading cards and strategize their moves.
So the recommended age range for playing Catan is 10 years or older.
Comparing Carcassonne vs Catan
Number Of Players
You can play Carcassonne with 2-5 players in the standard edition and up to 8 with the expansions.
Catan also allows a similar number by involving 2-4 players in the standard version and up to 6 for the expansions.
However, it provides a bigger opportunity to include up to 12 players in each session with their movie editions!
Carcassonne involves fewer tiles and always starts by placing just one piece at the center.
Their other component of followers is also easier to distribute among players since there are only eight figures assigned to each.
In contrast, Catan is a lot more elaborate with many hexagonal tiles, cards and structures involved.
As a result, it takes a much longer time to set up the Catan game board.
There are not many rules you have to keep in mind while playing Carcassonne. The simple setup and easily comprehensible guidelines make the gameplay quite easy to grasp.
Catan involves a lot of rules and components which can make the gameplay considerably more difficult to get used to for beginners.
If you are someone who prefers more versatility in storylines and components, Carcassonne can sweep you off your feet with over 50 variations of its original game!
On the other hand, Catan has only about 10 expansions and spinoffs to explore which can fall a little short compared to Carcassonne.
There used to be international tournaments of Carcassonne from 2003 to 2005. Then it upgraded to World Championships since 2006!
Every year this tournament takes place in its native country Germany where players from all around the world come to participate.
Catan also holds similar tournaments since 2008 under the title of Catan World Championship. There have been two special editions of this even named European Championship in 2009 and Americas Championship in 2019.
Carcassonne won three prestigious awards named the Meeples’ Choice Award, the Deutscher Spiele Preis and the Spiel des Jahres in its initial years. In contrast, Catan has won ten awards from 1995 to 2015.
So even though both of these are two of the most globally celebrated board games, Catan is slightly ahead.
Bottom Line – Which One is For You?
Carcassonne gives you more freedom in terms of storylines and imagination with its rich collection of expansions and spinoffs.
On the other hand, Catan allows more players to get involved in a single session with its movie editions.
Since both of these games have an equal appeal to many, comparing Catan vs Carcassonne can get pretty tricky.
However, even though they have their individual strengths to offer, Carcassonne wins for us in the end because of its easier gameplay and faster setup.
But you can still opt for Catan if you prefer more varieties in landscapes and bigger challenges!