The Settlers Of Catan is one of the most widely recognized board games of all time, especially in terms of modern releases. The modular board of the base game already makes it so every time people play it’s a little bit different, but expansions bring that to a whole new level.
For people that already know they like Catan, expansions can take away the risk of buying a whole new game they may not like, instead adding to the formula they already love. With loads of them available, people might be wondering which are the best to start with. These ten are the perfect place to start!
Catan Scenarios: Catanimals
While the most die-hard Catan fans might recognize the more modern-day sprite-styled plushies, many may not remember the original Catanimals. They were released back in 2010 and originally came with instructions for scenarios with each (that players can still play with the newer plushies). Whichever player had the most houses adjacent to a specific resource gets the plush that matches it, which is worth a point.
While cute and silly, it does add a bit of a layer of strategy and forces players to trade more often or use ports to get the resources they need.
Catan Scenarios: Santa Claus
Many of the largest board games out there have miniature expansions involving the holidays or Santa and Catan follows suit in this regard. The Santa Claus scenario is not only Christmasy fun but also makes wool a bit more important which helps balance out the original game. With otherwise minor tweaks to gameplay, this is the perfect expansion for someone wanting to start modding their Catan experience.
Catan Scenarios: Crop Trust
Many people know of the famous Seed Vault in Norway where the seeds of countless plant varieties are kept safe in case of a global disaster of some kind. This Catan scenario places players into the position of someone running such a vault, forcing them to make tough decisions about what to plant and what to save.
The scenario was even crafted with the help of the Global Crop Diversity Trust so it serves as amazing educational material on the importance of crop diversity while still offering novel and fun gameplay.
Catan: Explorers & Pirates
Explorers & Pirates was the fourth major expansion released for Catan and it includes five new scenarios and three special missions. While it has some of the same ocean elements found in Seafarers, most fans are of the consensus that this is a weaker expansion (while still being a lot of fun in its own right). It’s certainly worth checking out, especially for anyone with a healthy obsession with pirates, for those scenarios alone.
Catan: Cities & Knights
Cities & Knights adds commodities to the game alongside the regular resources, which both increases the strategy required and increases the playtime of the game significantly which is a boon for some players. It also replaced the development cards to better fit in with these new commodities while rebalancing some of the cards that were a bit too powerful in the base game.
Catan: Traders & Barbarians
It’s hard to get more bang for your buck than with Traders & Barbarians. It not only comes with five separate scenarios but four miniature expansions as well including the special variant that allows two-player games. The Harbormaster card alone adds a lot of strategy to the game making building by ports a much more viable option.
Catan: Treasures, Dragons & Adventurers
Many players tracked down Treasure, Dragons, & Adventurers when it was still an exclusive German release due to just how much it had to offer. Thankfully, the game got an English version in July of 2021 so more players than ever before can try out all of its scenarios.
Fans of high fantasy will adore this expansion for the dragons alone but all of the scenarios are worth playing through at least once.
Taking Catan and adding smaller islands and ocean travel was one of the most brilliant ways to expand gameplay for the series possible. With ships requiring cloth from sheep as well, it helped balance out one of the biggest issues with the original game.
Not only does it have fun gameplay as a standalone experience, but it includes multiple scenarios for players to dig into as well.
The 5-6 Player Expansions
Every major expansion, as well as the base game, has an extension module to allow an extra two players to join in on the fun. Catan plays incredibly well with four, but it’s tough leaving out friends when bringing it out with larger groups of players and these fix that problem. It has a few minor tweaks to make the game work better with more players as well, with the more open trading options being particularly nice.
Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs
In a world with so many issues involving disasters caused by global warming, Oil Springs has become an even more relevant expansion than ever before. The expansion is one of the few where all players can essentially lose, as oil can slowly destroy the island they’re living on. If the destruction goes too far, the players can lose more than their cities and roads.
As oil is worth two of any resource however, it makes it incredibly tempting to use. Players do have the option of sequestering it away, which can grant a phyric victory in the case of the island being destroyed beyond repair, but if they choose to do so is a whole different story.