This is the Splendor vs Catan game comparison showdown. These two games are very different in mechanics, theme and flow but they are both big iconic strategy games that are not at all intense but very deep. Splendor is a pure engine building game about building up a gem trading empire in the Renaissance. Catan is about resource management, diplomatic relations, route building, luck hedging and just a touch of engine building. We dive deep into both. Learn a little about the games then check out our Splendor vs Catan notes and final verdict.


About Splendor (2014): You are a gem trader in the Renaissance starting with nothing in hopes to build up an amazing empire. You need to acquire different goods and services to do this in the form of cards you buy and in turn give you bonuses. There are five different types of gems and turns are very simple, you either take them or you spend them. Buying cards gives you higher gem counts which will let you buy bigger and better cards.

FOR MORE: Splendor Page | How To Play Splendor | Splendor Review | Games Like Splendor | Buy Splendor on Amazon

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 on Amazon


Theme: The two games represent two different periods of time though are pretty close. Catan takes you back to the Medieval period, 476 – 1453 AD, and Splendor take place during the Renaissance, about 1300 – 1600 AD. Splendor is just a necessary back drop and is what it is. Catan has more opportunities to get into theme but doesn’t really do anything special. Faceless knights are about as much as you will get there.

Gameplay: Splendor is very specifically one thing and it does it well. You have to have a plan, but there are only a few decisions to make. Catan requires many different types of decisions and longer term thinking. In Splendor vs Catan, Catan runs longer and is more intense which is all a good thing.

Mechanics: Engine building is a very broad concept and not a genre per se, it just touches and shapes many games in meaningful ways. It is the idea that by investing in things, they get better. Splendor is 100% that, you start with nothing and you try and build up an arsenal of resource generators to get bigger and better stuff. Catan has a little of this, you can build up settlements to generate better resources, but there is so much on top of that. You need to spread out over the board and make many more choices, but on top of that, there is trading and relations.

Time Commitment: Catan has longer to go so the games do run about 20 – 30% longer than Splendor. This is not bad, Splendor just happens to be build to run quickly. No one wins this in Splendor vs Catan, both are exactly what they should be.

Player Count: Catan is only for 3 or 4 players (more with expansion) very specifically because the trading and diplomacy are so important. If the game just had 2 players, there is no way you would be able to efficiently use these things. Splendor can cover those counts and is also very satisfying at 2 players.

Cost: In Splendor vs Catan everyone is a winner because you are getting a great product for what you pay. Catan is not cheap, it has stayed pretty consistently at the higher end of its spectrum, but still certainly ok. Splendor is a little more lightweight and has a price matching that.


Verdict For the Shelf: Splendor (40% of the time) and Catan (60% of the time). None of this is easy to say, both of these games are heavy hitters that belong on any game shelf. In Splendor vs Catan, the winner is you. That being said, both are different and give their own great fun but Catan gets the Edge. Catan is just as accessible as Splendor but there is more to it and with all the changing elements each game, it is much easier to play over and over again.

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