Foyer – The Essential Details
Catan Junior is a game for 2-4 players ages 6 and up. It easily plays in 30 minutes. Please join us on a tour of this amazing game with your tour guide as he shares some basic information as well as his personal thoughts.
Kitchen – The Ingredients
For sake of this review we will assume that you are a parent, relative, or friend who has played Settlers of Catan and are looking for an option to play with younger children. Instead of the cards that classic Catan uses the resource are represented as five different shaped cardboard tiles, representing cutlasses, molasses barrels, goats, wood, and gold, and development cards have been replaced with Coco tiles. Instead of the hexagonal tiles to make the playing area you are given a two-sided board. One side is set up for two players while the other for 3-4. On one end of each side is a market and the starting locations are preset with each player’s color. Instead of roads you receive plastic pirate ships, and instead of settlements you receive plastic pirate lairs. The robber has also been replaced with a figure of a Ghost Captain and you’ll receive one die instead of two.
Parlor – The Gameplay Overview
This version faithfully converts the mechanics of the much loved version of Catan to an easier to understand version for young “swashbucklers.” As already stated each player is pre-assigned two starting locations for their pirate lairs and one for their first ship. You will also begin by placing one of each trade resource on the five spots at the end of the board. Players also receive one wood and one molasses each.
On a turn the player will roll the single die and any player with a lair on a resource with the number rolled receives one resource for each lair. If a six is rolled then the player moves the Ghost Pirate to a resource location and takes two of that resource from the general supply. Until the Ghost Pirate is removed that location will not produce resources. Next the player may choose to purchase a ship, lair, or coco tile as resources allow. They may trade one of their resources for one resource currently available in the market or at a ratio of 2:1 with the general supply. It might also be noted that if at any time there are five of one particular good located in the market, then it is replenished with one of each good instead.
Lairs only need to be connected by one ship and must be placed on the circles and ships are placed on the dashed lines. Coco cards give free resources, allow a player to move the Ghost Pirate, or allow that player to place a free ship or lair. Having the most Coco Cards also allows that player to place one of their lairs on the Spooky Island in the center of the board.
The game is won when a player places all of their lairs on the board.
Study – Additional Notes and Conclusion
This game faithfully portrays the basic mechanics of Catan for the next generation. The board and start locations may always be the same but the single die makes it much more likely that you will get a trade good on every location so the only bad locations are those that only touch two resource.
The trade mechanic is wonderfully simplified but really fits the theme. The plastic pieces add interest to an already colorful board. Personally I feel that the Coco card are a little unbalanced for the game, but when playing with kids they usually don’t care because they would rather place plastic pieces than buy a card with a Parrot on the back.
I would highly suggest this game to any parent, relative, or friend of a child. Literally, if you know a child, you should buy them this game. My five year old can already grasp the mechanics and enjoys playing with her big sister who is eight. My eight year old has been able to clearly communicate the rules of the game since she bought it for herself two years ago (I know. Nothing like suggesting you buy a game that I let me own child buy herself, right?).
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My sons are still too young to play this but I have it sitting in it's shrink wrap for when they are. I am not a big Catan fan myself but I saw this on sale I had to buy it. From everything I have read it looks like it would be a big hit with children and it's exciting to think I could be a playing a game of this level in only a few more years...
Thanks for the review.