This is the Catan vs Risk game comparison showdown. These games may be 40 years apart, and not at all the same game, but they are both pioneers and have plenty to look at side by side. Risk is about area control and combat strategy while Catan is about resource diversification, making investments and diplomacy. The main unifier is that the outcome is determined by dice. We dive deep into both. Learn a little about the games then check out our Catan vs Risk 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.
About Risk (1959): You are looking at a map of the world split up into many countries and continents. You start with many of these and get to split up your army of soldiers across them. During the game, you start by getting new reinforcements, then you place them and then you attack other territories with dice rolling to take them over. The key is to take every territory over while managing your troops and making sure your opponent doesn’t do the same first.
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CATAN VS RISK ANALYSIS
Theme: Risk takes place in a generic realistic war time. Nothing says anything about the time but given your units are cavalry, cannons and soldiers who like their matching outfits are the biggest thing going on, it is probably around the revolutionary war (1775-ish). Catan on the other hand is from a fantasy world far away. There is nothing weird going on, it is just no Earth, because there is no island of Catan here. Both are pretty nondescript and grounded in reality but thats about it.
Gameplay: These are not at all similar besides being at the whim of the dice and both at a light to medium intensity. Catan you start with nothing and need to build in the quest for points. In Risk everyone starts with something and you need to tear down others before they do the same to you. It is hard to compare gameplay in Catan vs Risk because they are so different in how they must be approached.
Mechanics: Risk is very pure, it is one thing and one thing only, a collection of dice roll showdowns. It does it very well, but it is very simple. The key is to use big troop numbers to control the luck as well as knowing when to stay and when to go. Catan has much more going on than this. Where it is the same is that dice rolls determine everything and there are actions you can take to cut down on the luck coming from that. Catan has route building (expanding and cutting off others), engine building (grow settlements and make investments) and so many paths to victory.
Time Commitment: Risk will run around 3 – 8x times longer than a game of Catan. Catan you can get it done under an hour every time. A huge time difference in Catan vs Risk. This is because Catan is about hitting a point total that is going to happen regardless. Risk is about completing a task that is hard to do and keeps pingponging.
Player Count: The only make Risk games for 5 these days but did you know that you can play with 8 people. This is how classic Risk came, with 8 armies. They stopped this because it made games last 10 hours or so but also probably component costs. It is not satisfying with 2 players because you would just trade troops back and forth and would have no opportunity to implement any strategy. So 3 – 5 for Risk and 3 – 4 for Catan, pretty similar.
Cost: Catan is a bit more high end that a game of Risk in terms of quality of packaging and components so you are going to pay for that. You should wait for as close to $30 as possible on Catan down from $40 but Risk is always around $30.
Verdict For the Shelf: Catan (90% of the time) and Risk (10% of the time). This is going to anger people, but Risk is kind of just a novelty at this point, an iconic relic of the past with nostalgia value. If you think it is the best combat strategy game out there, you are not right, but it is ok if you like it for what it is. Catan, on the other hand, is the best at what it does and will give you a top-notch experience like no other. Risk is also though to play over and over again while Catan was built for it.
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