I know it’s not cool to like Settlers of Catan…excuse me, just Catan. It’s become so popular that the hipsters have turned on it for being too trendy.
But Catan’s combination of mass market availability, easy to teach rules, non-threatening theme, and overall solid game mechanics make it an ideal gateway game that gets new gamers away from Monopoly and into more modern gaming. Besides, Catan really is a fine game.
Alas, I also understand where the hipsters are coming from. My friends and I rarely plan Catan anymore. Sure, it was our gateway just like it was for many others, but we’ve now evolved to a higher plane of gaming existence.
With that in mind, you might be familiar with Catan but are likewise looking for some logical next steps toward a deeper dive into modern board gaming. If so, we’ve got you.
7 Great Board Games to Replace Settlers of Catan
If you love the trading aspect of Catan… try Bohnanza. Trading wood for sheep jokes have simply became a part of our cultural lexicon at this point. And with good reason because, you know, there are some funny jokes in there.
But that shouldn’t diminish the fact that the trading in Catan is actually pretty fun and provides a nice sense of non-threatening player interaction. If that’s your cup of tea, consider Bohnanza, another game with a trading aspect to it.
Bohnanza is a game about trading legumes (beans). Boy, that sounds scintillating, doesn’t it? It may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. It’s a solid game. We did a full review on Bohnanza, so I’ll send you there.
Ticket to Ride
If you love the planning routes aspect of Catan…go with Ticket to Ride. Sure, I just recommended another board game that feels nearly as saturated as Catan, but the reason these games are so popular is because they are overall really good games.
Ticket to Ride is a game where players have “tickets” that direct them to attempt to race with other players to create rail lines.
The game has that ye old timey charm that is associated with trains and this aspect really helps it be a hit with everyone. Your nephew on up to your grandpa will enjoy it.
Ticket to Ride is a solid game that takes a similar route planning aspect that is available in Catan, but turns it into the core mechanism of the game.
If you love laying tiles out in different configurations….try Suburbia. I like setting up Catan and placing the hex tiles down in the random configuration that gives the game some replayability.
But what if you took that tile laying, modernized it, then really made it player directed and the central aspect of the game?
Suburbia is a tile-laying game in which each player plans, builds, and develops a small town into a major metropolis. Players lay hex-shaped building tiles to add residential and commercial, as well as special points of interest to grow your town.
We did a full review of Suburbia, so I’ll send you there.
If you love the settlement building aspect of Catan…try Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small. Scratch that. All Creatures has been frequently out-of-print, so try Viticulture.
Viticulture is a game about making wine. It has a wonderful aspect where you build up your vineyard to both increase quality and production, while also making your vineyard be a place that visitors would want to tour.
If you love dice used non-combatively…try Stone Age. Catan doesn’t use dice ala Candyland to pick up and move a marker across squares, nor does it use dice combatively like in D&D.
Instead, the dice rolls in Catan allow some randomness and variability in collecting resources. Stone Age uses dice in a similar way.
Stone Age has players in the roles of Stone Age era hunters, collectors, farmers, and tool makers. During three phases, players use dice to add tools to their culture, increase their population, gather resources, or feed their people.
Stone Age works great. It’s clear and streamlined, while also giving a nice depth to strategy. The dice rolls don’t feel caprecious, in other words.
If you love that it is easy to teach...give Dominion a try. Catan is so popular in part because it’s not hard to pick up. After only a few minutes a new player can muddle through some sample rounds and get their feet under them. Dominion is very similar in that regard.
Dominion is a deck-builder, a very different kind of game than Catan, but it is very much like Catan in that it can be a nice gateway game for players new to board gaming.
Players start with a hand of cards. As turns progress, players use their cards to “purchase” better and better cards from the card decks in the center of the table. As the cards get better, players’ hands get more powerful and efficient, allowing them to parley their purchasing power into points.
My wife and I play Dominion all the time. It’s so low key that it provides an easy ‘yes’ if you only have a little time in the evening and you aren’t interested in the thought of an intense game.
Century Spice Road
If you are simply looking for a next step board game recommendation...try Century Spice Road.
This is a newer game (2017) on this list and it is wonderful. With Century Spice Road, I’m not trying to recommend an analogue of a particular aspect of Catan, as much as I am simply recommending a great game.
Players of Century Spice Road are spice traders from centuries ago. Players begin with a few simple cards that allow them to purchase spice cubes or upgrade their cards, becoming more powerful in their purchasing power.
Turns play quick, but not because it’s a frantic game. It’s a wholly relaxing game that plays quickly because it’s so darned elegant and smooth. It’s a wonderful game that could very easily become that game you break out every game night because literally everyone would enjoy it.
Hey, if you’re still kicking it with Catan, then keep having fun! But if you are looking for something a bit more, the above might be nice replacements for Catan in your collection.