The 10 Best Catan Expansions

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This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in January of 2017. Catan has been beloved by many for decades, in part because of its replay value. But even the best board game can get old after a while. So if you're looking to add a new twist to this classic, consider getting one of these expansions, which work with the base game to create a new experience. These sets add characters, resources, and rules that are fun for newcomers and long-time fans alike. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. 5th Edition Seafarers

2. Traders & Barbarians

3. Legend of the Sea Robbers

Editor's Notes

October 25, 2020:

Removed Cities & Knights and Age of Enlightenment due to availability concerns. Added the Legend of the Conquerors scenario, an especially long and challenging expansion for players who already own both the original game and Cities & Knights. We also added Age of Darkness, an expansion for the two-player Rivals for Catan that offers three separate scenarios with a wide variety of gameplay mechanics.

October 22, 2019:

Added several expansions that work with non-standard versions of Catan, like Age of Enlightenment, which brings more depth to the two-player card game Rivals for Catan; Federation Space, a two-map expansion for Star Trek Catan; and Brotherhood of the Watch, which allows up to six players to play the popular Game of Thrones version of the game. Also added the Santa Claus Scenario, a simple expansion that makes for a fun addition to the game around Christmas time.

When looking for an expansion, always pay attention to the prerequisites before you buy. For example, while standard expansions like Cities & Knights only need the base game, Legend of the Sea Robbers requires both Catan and Seafarers in order to be played.

It's also important to know what the group you play with is up for. Explorers & Pirates can be a lot of fun if you're playing with hardcore board game enthusiasts who enjoy complex rules and long sessions, but can be intimidating to casual gamers. If you're looking for something that brings a few new elements to the table without changing the game too much, 5th Edition Seafarers is a good choice.

4. Brotherhood of the Watch

5. Explorers & Pirates

6. Federation Space

7. Age of Darkness

8. 5-6 Player Extension

9. Legend of the Conquerors

10. Santa Claus Scenario

Why Play Settlers of Catan?

This is because the game limits the amount of actions a player can take, but not so much that the play becomes monotonous.

You might be surprised to discover that a mega-popular game that was made in Germany doesn't feature world-domination, but The Settlers of Catan is all about establishing economic superiority. Despite — or maybe because of — this, it's quickly become one of the top-sellers on the board game market.

One of the biggest advantages the game has is that it's easy to learn, while still managing to be consistently challenging. This is because the game limits the amount of actions a player can take, but not so much that the play becomes monotonous. Each session is completely randomized and fresh, as well, so you can play again and again.

It also utilizes equal parts luck and strategy, so no player can get so good as to take all of the fun out of playing with them. It's rare that any one participant will get so far ahead (or fall so far behind) that they lose interest in the proceedings, and many rolls create payouts for multiple players, ensuring that everyone stays engaged (and no one flips over the board in a white-hot rage).

Even better, games only take an hour or so, allowing you to wrap up a session in a manageable time. This helps contrast it with similar games like Risk, which simulates battles that often last longer than actual wars, so you won't have to sacrifice an entire weekend just to learn that you wasted a hot dice streak on a board game when you could've been shooting craps.

If you want to get really hoity-toity about it, though, a big selling point is that it brings real-world skills and issues into perspective. You'll learn about the importance of skillfully managing limited resources, as well as how to use trade and cooperation to achieve your goals.

Choosing The Right Expansion Pack

The great thing about Settlers is how each game is fresh and new, regardless of whether it's your first time playing or you're in the middle of a marathon session.

That being said, however, everything gets old after a while.

Luckily, there are a variety of expansion packs on the market that can help keep the game fresh and entertaining. Of course, if you like Settlers, it's probably because you enjoy picking from a limited number of options, so trying to choose the right pack can feel overwhelming.

Your answer will go a long way towards making the decision for you.

As you might expect, the most important consideration is what, exactly, you're hoping to accomplish with your new addition. Do you just want a new setting for the game, or are you hoping to change the gameplay up entirely? Are you looking to accommodate more players, or would you prefer to take the game on the road, no board required? Your answer will go a long way towards making the decision for you.

Most expansion packs add complexity to the proceedings, which generally extends the play time accordingly. As a result, beginners are likely better off sticking with the original until they get the hang of it, but experienced players will find that the add-ons bring multiple new dimensions to the game.

Some create new risks besides the robber, such as pirates and barbarians, while others come with new scenarios and commodities. Also, there are some that are simply card games, which are great for road trips but may not add much to your weekly get-togethers.

There's no real wrong answer to any of this, as all of the expansions are enjoyable in their own right. However, if you feel that the game is fun enough that you don't actually need to augment it, these accessories are far from required.

After all, the most important thing in any board game is the ability to lord your victory over friends and families, and that's still free.

Tips For Dominating Your Next Game

The most important thing to keep in mind when playing any board game is that it provides the opportunity to treasure the company of people you love.

That said, below are a few tips that can really help you to crush those people's spirits while forcing them to recognize your complete and utter superiority over them.

Your brick and wood should go to those roads early on, so you can get a leg up on your adversaries when it comes to colony-building.

The first thing you should do is focus on settlements. Of course, this means building roads, as each new city requires a path between it an another. Your brick and wood should go to those roads early on, so you can get a leg up on your adversaries when it comes to colony-building. This can also get you points for longest road when it's time to tally up scores.

Try to plan out the placement of your first outposts well, which means finding a spot that will provide ample resource production. This usually entails avoiding water at first, as that hems you in on one side. You can always move to the coast later on, after becoming well-established inland (see, I told you this game was realistic!).

Beyond that, try to focus on undermining the opposition. Are they building a mega-road? Oops, looks like you plopped a settlement down in the middle of it! Is someone else about to win the game? Cut them off at the negotiating table. If you take nothing else from this guide, please learn this: causing your friends to lose is almost as much fun as winning yourself.

Because Settlers is such a flexible game, these tips are all general guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. You'll need to think on your feet, and adapt to the fluidity of the situation as it happens. With these tips, however, you should have a leg up on the competition (and if not, you can use that leg to kick the board over when you lose).

Luke Perrotta
Last updated by Luke Perrotta

Luke is a writer, director, and illustrator living in Massachusetts. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Literary Arts from Brown University, where he honed his skills as a writer and editor working for various campus newspapers, festivals, and film organizations. Upon graduating he traveled the world, eating scorpions in Thailand and hitchhiking across New Zealand before settling down in New England to write prose fiction. An autodidact and media sponge, he’s well-versed in topics such as literature, nonfiction, textbooks, film, television, recording equipment, video games, and art supplies. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, boxing, playing the piano, and translating complex subjects into plain language.

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