The 6 Best Catan Expansions

Updated June 18, 2018 by Richard Lynch

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If you and your fellow board game enthusiasts have already managed to settle the entire island of Catan 100 times, it may be time to try enhancing the experience with an expansion pack. These sets can be combined with the original Catan board and rules, adding new characters, new resources, new challenges, and plenty of excitement. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best catan expansion on Amazon.

6. 5-6 Player Extension

If you and your friends are still satisfied with the base game of Settlers yet you want to add more people into a round, the 5-6 Player Extension is all you need. Rather than introducing new concepts or game pieces, it simply adds more of the features you know.
  • adds 30 more wooden roads
  • no new rules to learn
  • poorer print quality than original
Brand Catan Studios
Model CN3072
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Traders & Barbarians

With Traders & Barbarians, your gameplay in Catan turns global in scope. The kit introduces bridges, camels, and wagons, making the process of connecting far-flung settlements and cities more convenient and fostering more active and impactful trade.
  • made in the united states
  • includes 24 wooden knights
  • 5 new scenarios
Brand Catan Studios
Model CN3079
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Explorers & Pirates

Introducing Explorers & Pirates to Catan brings both excitement and peril as your settlements and ships face the risk of raids. It also adds much more time to the average game, with some rounds taking as long as three hours to complete.
  • comes with 76 gold coins
  • expensive but enjoyable
  • many new rules to learn
Brand Catan Studios
Model CN3075
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Cities & Knights

The Cities & Knights expansion adds several exciting new characters to the world of Catan, including the Bishop and the Merchant. It also introduces coins, paper, and cloth as new commodities that can help you build not just settlements and cities, but a true metropolis.
  • compatible with other extensions
  • contains 6 victory point cards
  • average 90 minutes playing time
Brand Catan Studios
Model CN3077
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. 5th Edition Seafarers Game Expansion

This 5th Edition Seafarers Game Expansion is compatible with all 4th edition base games as well as those created later. The kit adds several new islands to the base landmass of The Settlers of Catan, and also introduces the use of boats to the mystical world.
  • features 11 terrain tiles
  • comes with a pirate ship
  • easy to learn rules
Brand Catan Studios
Model CN3073
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Legend of the Sea Robbers

Legend of the Sea Robbers requires the Seafarers expansion and adds a bit of story and lore to the experience. You'll find four linked scenarios that can be played one after the other, each with extra mechanics that allow you and your friends to develop new strategies.
  • features cooperative elements
  • victory point marker on the frame
  • more options for taking actions
Brand Fantasy Flight Games
Model CN3173
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Why Play Settlers of Catan?

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.

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.

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).

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Last updated on June 18, 2018 by Richard Lynch

Richard grew up in the part of New York state that doesn’t have any tall buildings. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time reading and playing video games. A massive fan all things sci-fi, he’ll happily talk with you for hours about everything from the deserts of Arrakis to the forests of Endor.

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