Struggle for Catan: cutthroat card game for family fun/fights

A couple of weeks ago my family started playing the card game Anomia. We are enjoying our gaming nights so much that we started playing a new card game called The Struggle for Catan. It's similar to the Settlers of Catan, except there's no board, and no pieces to accidentally knock around (which is my 9-year-old daughter's special skill). The goal of Struggle, like Settlers, is to collect 10 victory points, which you earn by trading in resources to acquire roads, cities, and knights.

There are a lot of rules to keep the interest level up throughout the game. The real fun begins when the game runs out of road and knight cards. When these precious possessions are exhausted, players can steal cards from other players. My wife's strategy is to pretend to be nice for the first part of the game, then steal cards from everyone in a blitz for a surprise victory. I swear I won't be fooled again.

It takes about 45 minutes to play Struggle for Catan, though I imagine we will be able to finish a game in a little over 30 minutes once we get the hang of the game mechanics.

It was easy to learn how to play. The instruction booklet includes a link to a website where you can watch a sample game being played by cartoon characters who explain what they are doing. It's a good way to learn how to play without reading the instructions.

The Struggle for Catan


Settlers of Catan: The Novel (with exclusive book trailer)

Settlers of Catan accessory to prevent board mishaps

Settlers of Catan portable edition


  1. If you want to break from the Catan universe with another card game, I would recommend Dominion.

    Also, if you have five or more people (up to a max of ten) pick up Resistance. This game will really get you fighting amongst yourselves!

    1. I second the vote for dominion! Though I will warn you, you’ll get addicted pretty quickly and need to purchase expansions. 

      I would also recommend Ticket to Ride for a similar strategy game but that is more individually competitive than either Settlers of Dominion.

      Also, we bought Anomia after your post and we (my husband and I) love it! Thanks!

    2. It should be noted that while an excellent game in its own right, Dominion isn’t actually using the same mechanics. Dominion is first and foremost a deck-building game, where Struggle for Catan is a hand management game. Not saying one is better than the other, just that you shouldn’t expect exactly the same experience.

      Oh, and a recommendation of my own: Race for the Galaxy. Less confrontational than Settlers or Struggle (or Dominion, depending on the cards you choose), but it has that “myriad paths to victory” feel to it that I so enjoy about both Settlers and Dominion.

  2. I bought this game on Boing Boing’s recommendation a couple years ago and my family and I played once. Once. Once. Just once.

  3. I want to make a Paleo Diet friendly version of Settlers with butter instead of wheat ;)

    Sounds fun, it’s nice to have a game that can be played easily anywhere because you don’t have to set up a board and deal with unexpected earthquakes.

  4. Sounds fun. Nice to have a game that’s a bit easier because you don’t have a board to deal with and accidental earthquakes.

    I want to make a paleo version of Settlers with butter instead of wheat! ;)

  5. I love the “fight” reference… Much like Risk, nothing brings a family to near-blows like Settlers.  All in the name of wholesome fun though :)

  6. There is an expansion set available for this game, called, “Enduring Freedom”. It only contains one card and the text says, “Everyone Loses”.

  7. I still haven’t gotten my copy of cities and knights to the table. The problem is we mostly bust out Catan when introducing someone to the wonderful world of boardgames. Since its a new player we don’t want to complicate things with expansions, but if we have all experienced gamers we go for something meatier than Catan at all. First world nerd problems! 

    1. Once you play Cities and Knights you’ll always want to play Cities and Knights instead of the base game. It just adds so much more that you can do and really makes the game play deeper. 

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