Catan Junior for ages six and up

SeenOnTableTop reviews Catan Junior, a streamlined, simplified pirate-themed version of beloved Boing Boing favorite Settlers of Catan aimed at kids six and up. My daughter's just getting to the age where she's willing to play games with rules (without demanding that the rules be changed halfway through to ensure that she wins!), and this looks like a great, parent-friendly alternative to snoozefests like Candyland and its ilk, though it might be a year before she's quite ready for it.

This past week, at GenCon, I got the opportunity to try out Catan Junior and loved it. I has all of the mechanics of Settlers, while being simplified and streamlined for younger players. While my son was younger than their recommended age, I decided to take the chance and picked it up, anyway.

Last night, after our two day drive home, my son and I played our first game. I had to hold his hand a little bit as he learned the rules, but by the end, he was clear on what each turn consisted of, how to trade resources, and how to build his ships and lairs. On his final turn, he was even able to look at a mismatched pile of resources and spin them into a final, winning lair.

Catan Junior - For ages four and up! (via Beth Pratt)


  1. Re: Candyland, game design deity Greg Costikyan argues that it’s not a failed or poorly designed game, but a well-designed game for very young players. This is the target demographic for whom it makes sense when Teletubbies show a 2 or 3 minutes clip, then say “Again! Again!” and show the same dang thing. Fails for big kids, success for tiny kids.

    1.  Candyland is not a game — it’s a programmed activity where the “winner” or first play figure to cross the finish line is already pre-determined when the deck is shuffled and play begins.  There are no decisions to make, and “players” merely wait to see which of the play figures will draw the sequence of cards that moves it across the finish line first.

      1. I have not heard a definition of “game” that excludes pre-determined outcomes or lack of choices by players. Poker and a lot of card games allow players to maximize their winnings or minimize their losses based on decisions, but whether a person wins or loses an honest hand can still depend on how the cards are shuffled and dealt. Craps gives you a choice of whether to bet or not, how much to bet, but it’s won or lost by the outcome of the dice. (Again, assuming an honest game.)

        1. Lack of choice is key to a number of definitions. Wikipedia has a decent collection of possibilities to look through. I’m willing to accept the broader definition, as long as we attach some descriptives like “mind-numbingly boring and pointless please please kill me now rather than ask me to play again, dear 3-year-old, even though I love you so games”.

          1. When I personally dislike something, especially when it’s really obvious that it’s not meant for me, I don’t search for definitions that exclude it from its common categorization.

      2.  This conversation reminds me of Margaret Atwood trying to avoid the stigma of being labelled an author of science fiction by trying to distinguish between that and “speculative fiction.” When you read her extended definitions of the terms, it basically boils down to convincing sci-fi = “speculative fiction,” and unconvincing or bad sci-fi = “science fiction.”

        Why not just use the common term “science fiction”, and qualify it by saying good science fiction, bad science fiction, unconvincing science fiction? Why strive to make one’s personal opinion seem objectively true by massaging the definitions?

  2. And Catan Junior _is_ fun to play for kids, while quite tolerable for a hardcore boardgaming parent.

    Speaking from experience here.

  3. Oh hey! I was the artist for this game. I’ve been an avid BoingBoing reader for years, so it’s really exciting to see it reviewed here. Neat!

    1. dingdingding! I’ve heard of gamers who have their 6 year olds playing Power Grid and winning, no less. I’m sure Catan Junior is fine but my boy will be playing the real thing. 

  4. hey, the title says 6 and up, the link says 4 and up. which is it? we discovered the game thru boingboing when my daughter was 4, I can identify with the frustrations. facing the robber led to quite a few early-ending games and allegations of mean big brothers. but the game is just so dang fun, she kept coming back to it and now at 6 does ok.

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