clock menu more-arrow no yes

Best game if you need to get people to play with you: Catan

It’s a classic for a reason.

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Catan Amazon

Board Game Geek rating: 7.2/10.0 (293rd).

If you’ve only played one Euro game in your life, the odds are overwhelming that the game was Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan; it was renamed in 2015). It’s been the most popular Euro game in the US for at least a decade, and it’s spread quickly enough that some wonder if it’s going to become an institution along the lines of Monopoly or Risk. As of a few years ago, total world sales were nearing 25 million. It’s not my favorite game on this list by a wide margin, but it’s ubiquitous enough that anyone mildly interested in Euro games should know how to play. Chances are it’s going to be easier for you to find three or four people to play this than just about anything else here.

The basic idea is that players are colonists trying to settle the island of Catan. After getting two settlements and two roads to start out, players build more settlements, roads, and cities (which are upgraded settlements), gaining one victory point per settlement and two per city. Players also get victory points for building the longest continuous road and for various other achievements. Building roads and settlements cost resources, of course, which one acquires by building settlements near land representing a given good (wood, brick, wool, wheat, or metal ore); players roll dice to determine which of these land areas produce which resources in a given round.

A wide array of electronic ports are available, but I’d caution newbies away from them. Trading resource cards is a very important part of the game and in my experience the phone/computer/Xbox/online versions of trading games tend to implement that function very clunkily.

Buy at Amazon: Catan ($44.10); 5 & 6 player expansion ($17.99); Catan: Seafarers ($44.10); Seafarers 5 & 6 player expansion ($12.95); Catan: Cities and Knights ($39.20); Cities and Knights 5 & 6 player expansion ($18.49); Catan: Traders and Barbarians ($32.99); Traders and Barbarians 5 & 6 player expansion ($16.49); Catan: Explorers and Pirates ($28.49); Explorers and Pirates 5 & 6 player expansion ($17.95); The Rivals for Catan ($22.49); Rivals for Catan: Age of Darkness ($15.95); Catan Histories: Settlers of America, Trails to Rails ($158.74); Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe ($44.00); Struggle for Catan ($19.99); Catan: Junior ($24.49); The Kids of Catan ($119.99); Catan: Family Edition ($23.49); Catan: Gallery Edition ($79.99); Catan Dice Game ($8.72); Star Trek Catan ($224.99); Star Trek Federation Space ($25.16); Settlers of the Stone Age ($55.99); Candamir: The First Settlers ($54.81); Catan Adventures: Elasund - The First City ($39.95); Catan Geographies: West Virginia/Virginia/Maryland/Delaware ($26.08); Helpers of Catan ($7.37); Frenemies of Catan ($6.35); Catan: The Great River ($41.11);

Buy on iTunes: Catan Classic for iPhone/iPod Touch ($4.99); Catan Classic HD for iPad ($4.99).

Buy for Android: Catan for Android ($4.99).

Buy for Kindle: Catan for Kindle ($4.99).

Buy for Windows/OS X: Catan Universe ($4.99); Catan VR ($14.99).

Play online: CatanUniverse (free).