Next up in our A to Z game-shelf play-through was a game we’ve had for a long time – Catan Card Game.
Basic Info: Catan Card Game
Time: 90 Minutes
Artist: Tanja Donner, Pete Fenlon, Jason Hawkins, Matt Schwabel, Klaus Teuber, Franz Vohwinkel, Stephen Graham Walsh
Publisher: Mayfair Games
The Catan Card Game is a 2-player implementation of Settlers of Catan (aka simply “Catan”). In the game, each player is building up their province on a tableau in front of them. The goal is to be the first to 12 points. Points are gained by building villages, upgrading villages to cities, certain buildings attached to villages or cities, and gaining the knight (combat) or windmill (trade) tokens.
In addition to their starting tableau, players also get a hand of three cards that are either upgrades for their cities (buildings or knights) or attack cards. The upgrades can include victory points, trade icons (windmills), protections, and other benefits, such as adding a card to your hand-limit. The attack cards generally give the active player a benefit while hurting their opponent in some way.
At the corners of the village cards are resource cards, each with a die indicated at its center which will corresponds to the die-roll that increases that resource by one. These resource cards can hold a maximum of 3 resources and act as the means to purchase new cards. Villages can be upgraded to cities, and new villages can be built, as long as a road is built first from an existing village or city.
On each player’s turn, they start by rolling two 6-sided dice – one with the traditional 1-6 pips, the other is custom with six different symbols corresponding to events. The event is resolved first – it could be a brigand attack, a tournament with knights, something random from the event deck, or a couple of other things.
After the event is resolved, players all take resources corresponding to the numbered die. Then they can purchase cards, trade resources, or play attacks. When done playing cards, they draw back up to their card limit, and its the next player’s turn. The first player to 12 points wins.
We’ve had this game in our collection for a long time – close to 15 years, and we used to play it a lot. While it hasn’t come out as much since our game collection has ballooned, it is still a favorite.
Oddly enough, we played this game long before we ever played Catan itself. There’s some resemblance to the original game, but beyond that, they are very different games. There’s no map to build on and each player is essentially guaranteed at least one resource each turn (unless they’re maxed out on the rolled resource). In addition, the villages and cities themselves can be built up further with trading posts (fleets), garrisons, knights, or civic buildings like a library.
I really like this game, and, frankly, I like it better than Catan itself. Often in Catan I get about a third of the way into the game a realize there’s no way I can win, with no way to mitigate my terrible situation. In the card game, though, with resources always coming in, there’s usually something I can do to feel like I’m making progress.
There is some “take that” in the game – opportunities to attack your opponent – but those cards usually require a die roll, and on a roll of 6, the action actually hurts you rather than your opponent. This means there’s a little danger in playing them, so we think carefully before using these cards. (And in our game, Andrew tried to mess with me, but ended up giving me a resource instead!)
One draw-back is that this game was discontinued and reimplemented as Rivals for Catan, which is not strictly compatible with the original game. This means that the expansions are no longer available for our game, unless we seek them out on eBay or a trade on Board Game Geek.
How is it as a 2-player game? This is a great 2-player game – it’s a slick implementation of the road and city building in Catan, with the addition of city improvements reminiscent of 7 Wonders. Each player can focus on making their city as good as possible, while having just a little bit of “take that” for the other player. While it’s possible for one player to take a huge lead, neither player should feel completely desperate with resources always coming in.
How about the art and component quality? The art is good, though not something I’d buy the game for. The components are all good quality. We’ve had the game for a long time and played it a bunch, and the cards are all still in good shape. I also like the significant knight and windmill pieces (below with a bonus cat!).
Will this stay in my collection? Yes, a resounding yes. I really like this game and will always play this game if Andrew suggests it.