This is the Catan vs Carcassonne game comparison showdown. Both of these games are absolute titans in the board game industry that came out of the 90s and came out of Europe. They have both won the most prestigious award in board games, the Spiel des Jahres. We dive deep into both. Learn a little about then games then check out our Catan vs Carcassonne notes and final verdict.
ABOUT THE GAMES
About Settlers of Catan (1995): You need to grow your empire. Each game is completely different because all the resource tiles and numbers on them are changed and randomized each game. These control everything. You need to build settlements and cities to gain resources that are going to let you build even more and ultimately lead to victory points for the win. Every turn starts with the roll of two dice and that number corresponds to one of five resource types on the board. If you have a presence on that tile (or tiles) you get that resource.
FOR MORE: Settlers of Catan Page | How To Play Settlers of Catan | Settlers of Catan Review | Games Like Settlers of Catan | Buy Settlers of Catan
About Carcassonne (2000): This may be one of the easiest games to learn and play which is probably why so many people use it as a gateway game (something you start with to get people into the hobby). The board starts with one tile and turn after turn players draw a tile and lay it somewhere on the map that makes sense. Then you choose whether or not to claim something you just started with you limited workers.
FOR MORE: Carcassonne Page | How To Play Carcassonne | Carcassonne Review | Games Like Carcassonne | Buy Carcassonne
CATAN VS CARCASSONNE ANALYSIS
Theme: Both games take place in a generic medieval land with generally no characters or generic ones like faceless knights if anything. Because Carcassonne is about laying many individual tiles instead of a single larger board, it forces it to have more going on. There are interesting castles, cathedrals and plenty of winding roads.
Gameplay: Both games fall into the light euro-strategy (many paths to victory, no about defeating others) category and are simple to play but impossible to master. Settlers of Catan is more building up a machine of resource generation so you can build bigger and better stuff. Carcassonne is about about managing your work force.
Mechanics: Catan uses a die to trigger the gaining of resources and then you need to use those to build settlements and cities that will get you more resources. Luck is controlled and you also need to master player to player trade in oder to reach the victory point total needed to win. In Carcassonne all you do is place a tile somewhere it makes sense and then choose to play one of your limited meeples there if it will get you big points. They have no mechanics in common in the slightest.
Time Commitment: Settlers of Catan runs a tad longer, but they are both around that 40 minute mark. Carcassonne can run really fast because there are not many decisions to make, but Catan can run slow because there are, but they both vary drastically.
Player Count: Carcassonne covers many more bases comfortably covering fun 2 – 5 players games while Catan is only for 3 – 4 (5 – 6 with expansion).
Cost: Catan costs more (around $40 versus $20) but in all fairness, there is not much to Carcassonne. It is several cardboard squares and a sack of wooden meeples versus much more that is far more durable in Catan.
Verdict For the Shelf: In the battle of Catan vs Carcassonne, the verdict is Catan (50% of the time) and Carcassonne (50% of the time). Very tough, both of these games are iconic classics that are basically triple platinum in the board game world. Catan gets a slight edge in gameplay, but Carcassonne gets an edge in player count versatility and you can easily pick up and play it anywhere. If you have 3 players consistently and need something to play over and over, it is probably more 75/25 Catan.
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