Catan can really be credited with starting the modern gaming boom when it was published all the way back in 1995, and it is still going strong.
It contains many of the features that have gone on to become standard in modern gaming, and puts them all together in a way that is easy and fun to play.
It also has trading between players, which is always entertaining. Since Catan was released the hobby has moved on really fast, and many much more modern games are out there which are worth exploring.
So where should you go next if you want something similar to play and which is going to be fun to put in front of your friends when they get tired of the robber picking on them (although I know that he really always picks on me!)?
Here are our top 8 board games similar to Settlers of Catan:
Ticket To Ride - Connect Routes Like Roads In Catan
First up is this evergreen classic which really belongs in everybody's collection.
Although Ticket To Ride is about trains rather than unexplored islands it does share that route building thing with Catan, so if you are always building the longest road then you should look at this.
In Ticket To Ride you are trying to expand your rail network by claiming routes on the map that correspond with the destination cards in your hand – put them all together and you begin to rack up the points.
Best of all, the game is easy to learn and very similar to rummy, so anybody who knows how to collect cards of the same type will understand this straight away.
There are also many different versions, but the original is easy to find and play and works well with anywhere from two to five players, and although it does not have Catan's trading, if you like the idea of networks on a map then this is definitely worth thinking about.
Kingdom Builder - Build Settlements Like Catan
If what you like about Catan is the building up of your own network of settlements and roads then you should definitely check out Kingdom Builder.
Like Catan it has a variety of different terrains to play with, including mountains, fields and rivers, and the way that the board is set up means that Kingdom Builder's challenge will be different every time you play.
Best of all, the rules are really easy to learn, as you basically draw a card and then place three settlements on matching terrain – there are a couple of guidelines to follow, but really that's it.
However, the tricky bit comes later as you try to work out how to expand your settlements and maybe even block your competitors, so this is something that seems quite a simple design but actually offers loads of interesting choices.
The scoring criteria change from game to game as well as the map itself, and you can pick up bonuses as you go along, just as in Catan, and for something that seems really simple it can be quite a brain burner, especially when you are trying to eke out every last point.
It also looks great on the table at the end of the game!
7 Wonders - Build & Trade Like Catan
7 Wonders does something very rare in the world of gaming, as it can be played by up to seven players without adding significantly to the playing time.
Normally you would have to wait for more and more players to take their turns before the game swings around to you again, but 7 Wonders lets everybody take their turn at the same time, so you could have up to seven people playing without it taking hours.
Each person begins with their own civilisation and then gets to add cards to increase their culture, production and military power.
You also get to interact directly with the players next to you as you can buy goods from them, although this is done at a fixed price rather than with the negotiating that is part of Catan.
They can also have strong armies, so you need to keep up with them with your own soldiers to make sure that you are properly defended, else you will lose points.
All of this is done through something called card drafting, where you have a hand of cards, select one to play and then pass the remaining cards along to the next player.
This way you get to pick the card that is most useful to you, but you also need to think about what the next person might need – it is a clever way of making sure that the players are always thinking about what other people are up to.
Eventually there will no cards left, which means that a new round begins, and after three rounds it is all over.
It lacks the map, roads and dice of Catan, but it does provide that feeling of building something up from nothing and watching your civilisation grow and maybe building a wonder to stand the test of time.
Dominion - Balance Victory Points And Resources, Like Catan
No board gamer should go for too long without playing Dominion, one of the most popular designs of all time.
Like 7 Wonders this is a card game rather than a board game, but it still somehow feels like you are building up your own little civilisation, just as in Catan.
In Dominion you begin with a small hand of cards, which represents your dominion, of course, and then you gradually expand it by buying cards from a market to add to your deck.
In this way your fledgling empire gradually grows until you are able to add the territories to your deck that give you the points you need to win...although these then begin to clog up your spending power.
As you might have guessed, Dominion is a balancing act between points and cash, and the cleverest players will look at the market (which changes from game to game) and work out which combinations might work best.
There is no trading and only a modest amount of interaction, but Dominion is a great game which is quick and easy to play and yet will challenge you to get better every time you take it off the shelf, and it also represents great value for money.
Stone Age - Roll The Dice And Harvest Resources Like Catan
If you can't get enough of the dice rolling and resource gathering of Catan then Stone Age is a really great next step.
Here your small tribe will set out to hunt for resources, develop tools, build huts and boats and, erm, “expand” using the hut nicknamed the love shack.
Stone Age is a “worker placement” game, which involves sending your people (or “workers”) out onto the board to complete tasks, but there is always going to be competition for those spots.
You can follow different routes to victory, so there are always options open to you, but picking up those points can be a challenge sometimes, and Stone Age rewards people who can play the odds well, just like Catan.
Eventually you will have built up your tribe from something small into a decent group of hunter-gatherers, but you will need to remember to forage for enough food to be able to feed them or you will definitely feel the penalty.
Deus - Build A Civilisation Like Catan
Most of the games on this list have something in common with Catan, but Deus is the game that probably has most in common with it, even though it is the least well known.
However, this is a great little game that is really worth exploring if you like the civilisation building aspect of Catan and want to dig into something a little bit deeper that you can get your teeth into, and it is really easy to learn how to play.
Like Catan, Deus has a board that changes for every game, and it has settlements and resources (wood, stone, clay and wheat) and different terrains, so it will certainly feel familiar.
Where Deus stands out on its own is that it relies on a card system to take actions, one which is really clever.
Each card belongs to a different category and you build them up in columns, but the twist is that when you add a card to one of those columns then all of those cards activate.
This means that you can try to put together combinations of cards that work really well together and develop different areas of your civilisation, such as its temples or agriculture or military power.
There is definitely more to think about than in a regular game of Catan, but if you are looking for a game that has the same kind of feeling but which gives you oodles of stuff to explore then keep Deus in mind.
The Castles Of Burgundy - Territory Building Like Catan
The Castles Of Burgundy has just been released in a shiny new edition which is much more attractive than the washed out original, and is definitely worth thinking about playing, especially if you are only going to have two players at your table.
Like Catan it has a landscape with fields and farmland, but you build up your own territory rather than sharing, as well as trading your own goods with a central bank.
There are loads of different ways to rack up points, so you could build farms or buildings, and it means that games of Castles tend to be pretty close.
The best bit about Castles Of Burgundy is that the dice are used in a really novel way, so when you roll them they can be used for different actions, and you can even pay to adjust them, which means that you only rarely get stuck if you get the wrong result – I love it.
Agricola - Worker Placement Generates Resources Instead Of Hexes in Catan
Okay, so now we're talking about one of the greatest games ever designed, but this is certainly one that you should get eventually to if you like the resource building aspect of Catan, but it is the most complicated game on this list.
Agricola is a game about subsistence farming five hundred odd years ago – no, wait, it's much more exciting than it sounds!
You begin with a simple hut, some terrain, and maybe a special skill, and then you have to plough, plant and build until you have a fully functioning farm.
Like Stone Age, this is a worker placement game, but some of the actions only get revealed as the game goes on and they come out in a different order each time, so there is plenty to be thinking about.
You could go fishing, upgrade your hut, add fences to your fields, keep livestock, grow vegetables, expand your family – as long as you get to that space before your opponents do then there are many possibilities to explore.
Also like Stone Age, you need to remember to have enough food to hand to feed your family at the end of each harvest, else you will have to go begging.
Agricola is more predictable than Catan, not least because there are no dice, but the thrill of the game comes from the pressure of always needing to do just a little more than is possible, and from hoping that your opponents do not grab that resource that you need.
There is a Family Version of Agricola as well, but it lacks the randomness of its bigger brother, so when you feel you are ready it is definitely worth diving into the full version.
Just remember that there are some rules in Agricola that might feel fiddly, so this should possibly not be something you play straight after Catan, but maybe as the next step after that.
These games I have listed are all great fun to play, but while they share some similarities with Catan maybe what will really give you the sense of a game like it is so obvious that it is staring you in the face – yes, more Catan!
An expansion box like Catan: Seafarers brings in scenario based play as well as ships, and even a pirate – aaarr!
This does add a little bit of complexity to the rules of the base game, but it is certainly something to think about if you are looking for “more” rather than “different”, because an expansion will definitely expand what is already there – the clue is in the name!
When you start looking beyond Catan the number of choices can be really overwhelming, and you will probably get as many recommendations as people you ask, so hopefully these ideas will help you a bit, especially as I have played and enjoyed all of them, so can recommend them personally.
Whichever one you might end up choosing, I hope you enjoy your journey and that you remember to visit Catan from time to time – it's worth coming back to.
Ticket To Ride
Strategy, hand management
Strategy, worker placement
Strategy, area influence
Castles Of Burgundy