Carcassonne vs Catan

In this article, we will compare two tabletop eurogames: Carcassonne vs Catan. Both games are quite famous, and there are many people who have tried and loved them. However, if you don’t have any experience with either of the two, you may be confused about which game that is better to buy. You can find the answer below!

Continue reading below to find out more about:
– What Carcassonne and Catan are all about
– How to play Carcassonne and Catan
– The recommended number of players and average game length
– The gameplay experience of Carcassonne vs Catan
– The replayability of each game
– Which tabletop eurogame that is generally better

Overview
Unlike american-style board games, which focus on conflicts and competition among the players, eurogames typically focus on cooperation. Eurogames like Carcassonne and Catan often require the players to work together in order to overcome a challenge or build something up – even though the players may act based on different motivations. See also: Kingdomino vs Queendomino.

Hence, eurogames like these often have great depth that strategic thinkers and roleplayers love very much. When talking about eurogames, Carcassonne and Catan are very popular titles. Both games have received numerous awards, and they even have their own tournaments.

Though, Carcassonne seems to be more widely played than Catan, as Carcassonne has an international championship that is held every year since 2006 with participants from all around the world. But Catan also has a world championship that is held every two years and a european championship that is held in the years between two world championships.

Both Carcassonne vs Catan are considered entry-level or gateway games. In other words, they are considered to be ideal for people who are new to the world of tabletop and strategy games. Carcassonne and Catan are supposedly simple and easy enough to access for newcomers, but we will see which game that is actually easier to pick up. Note that these two games have very different mechanics.

Carcassonne is a tile placement game. In this game, you have to build castles while trying to acquire as many points as possible from your meeples. It is almost as simple as it sounds, but it has decent depth that offers plenty of room for you to experiment with different strategies. Some say that it is easy to pick up yet difficult to master.

Catan is mostly a building and negotiation game. Here, you are running a small clan that has settled on an island, together with a few other players and their own clans. You need to trade and negotiate with the other clans in order to ensure your success.

Number of Players
One thing to consider when choosing between Carcassonne vs Catan is the recommended number of players. In general, both games are designed for a small group of people. If you have several friends or family members who are also tabletop game enthusiasts, you may want to pick something that can accommodate more players at once.

Carcassonne is better in this aspect because it is a little bit more flexible. It can be played by 2 – 5 players. So, you can pick this game up when you are only with your partner or a good friend without anything to do. When there are more people around, you can still play this game with up to five total players.

By the way, Carcassonne is recommended for players of at least 7 years old. It can be played by children just fine, as the concept is easy to grasp and the theme is family-friendly. The game is quite lengthy, as the average runtime is about 35 minutes.

Catan, on the other hand, is not as flexible. It needs to be played by 3 – 4 players. The game won’t be interesting or enjoyable if played by only two players. So, you will need to invite some friends to play it together or play it with the kids if you are a parent.

The recommended player age for Catan is 10 years old or over. This game is even more lengthy, as the average runtime is 60 minutes. So, this game is best played when you have an hour or two to spare.

How to Play
In Carcassonne, the game board features a medieval landscape. The game starts with a single random terrain tile that is placed face-up. The rest of the tiles are put face-down and shuffled. Then, the players take turns drawing a new terrain tile and placing it adjacent to the existing terrain. The new tile must extend a feature of the existing terrain; for example, fields should connect to fields, roads should connect to roads, and cities should connect to cities.

After placing a tile, a player may put a piece called a “meeple” to claim a feature on the terrain. However, you can’t claim a feature that is already claimed by another player. A terrain feature can only be “shared” when two separate tiles that have been claimed by different meeples get connected by another tile.

The game ends when all the tiles have been placed on the board. Now, the scoring is based on how many completed properties that each player owns. The player with the most points wins.

In Catan, the game board represents an island and consists of hexagonal tiles of different land types. The hexagonal tiles are put randomly at the start of each game. However, newer editions now include fixed layouts that are proven to be fair and even for all players and are recommended for beginners.

On your turn, you roll two six-sided dice. The result of the roll will determine which tiles that produce resources. Players whose settlements are adjacent to the producing tiles will get resource cards, with which you can build roads, settlements, cities, or development cards. You can trade with other players or with a non-player bank. However, there is a robber that can prevent a tile from producing resources and steal from the players.

You get one victory point for every settlement and two victory points for every city. You can also gain victory points from achievements, such as buying certain development cards or having the largest army. The first player to reach 10 victory points wins the game.

Gameplay Evaluation
In general, between Carcassonne vs Catan, the difference in terms of complexity is quite obvious. Carcassonne is significantly easier to pick up for new players. You only need a few minutes to understand the core concept and rules. Meanwhile, Catan requires at least fifteen minutes for new players to learn the flow and rules.

Both games have high interactivity. Interestingly, both Carcassonne and Catan have introduced more conflicts than typical eurogames nowadays, as the players compete against each other to win the game while also having to compromise and negotiate. Carcassonne may feel a bit dry when it is not your turn, whereas Catan will always keep you on your toes regardless of who runs the current turn.

However, Carcassonne definitely has more depth. Although there is some degree of randomness in the game, there is a lot of empty space that you need to fill with your own strategy in order to win the game. As mentioned above, this game is easy to pick up yet difficult to master. Strategic thinkers will love this game very much.

On the other hand, Catan also has some depth. It certainly requires some strategy and planning. You need to think ahead when negotiating with the other players. But the game doesn’t go as deep as Carcassonne. In Catan, you may go from newbie to medium and perhaps to high-end medium level of strategy, but it doesn’t go any further than that.

Replayability
Both Carcassonne and Catan have very high replayability. This is because both games have great dynamics. No two games will be completely the same. In Carcassonne, you will need to adapt and craft different strategies according to the situation. There are a lot of things to explore. In Catan, you also need to adapt with different plans from game to game. In short, these games won’t get boring for quite some time.

Both Carcassonne and Catan also have expansion packs. However, Carcassonne has a lot more expansions than Catan.

Carcassonne has full expansions and mini expansions. Most of them are compatible with each other and they can significantly increase the length of the game. Some of the latest expansions are:
– Inns and Cathedrals
– Traders and Builders
– The Princess and the Dragon
– The Tower
– Abbey and Mayor
– Count, King & Robber
– The Catapult

Catan has extensions that will allow you to increase the maximum number of players as well as larger expansions. Some of the expansions are:
– Seafarers of Catan
– Catan: Cities and Knights
– Catan: Traders & Barbarians
– Catan: Explorers & Pirates

Carcassonne vs Catan

BoardgameBoardgame
BrandCarcassonne Catan
Key features- Suitable for 2 – 5 players, 7 years old and over - 35 minutes average runtime - Generally easier to learn - Great depth that allows high levels of strategy - Currently has many more expansion packs - Suitable for 3 – 4 players, 10 years old and over - 60 minutes average runtime - Relatively more difficult to learn - Good depth, medium to high-end medium levels of strategy - Fewer expansion packs
Price

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Conclusion
Both are very good games that many people will enjoy, especially those who love strategy games. However, Carcassonne is generally better and more recommended. It can be played by 2 – 5 players, so it is a bit more flexible. It is easier to understand, while at the same time having more depth where you can play around different strategies. Furthermore, Carcassonne has more expansion packs that can enhance the game.

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