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Catan Two Player Review (Not Rivals)

Important Note:

All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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Catan is considered a modern classic, and one of the most-sold board games of all time.  How well does it hold up almost 20 years later, and how well does it work with just two players?  Let’s just say that a two-player game of Catan sometimes feels like trading a sheep and a wheat for wheat and a sheep!

We know, we know. The box doesn’t list 2 players, but we know there are still some of you lonely gaming duos out there trying to figure out how well it works with this player count, so here we are to provide said Catan Two Player Review!

Catan Board Game Review

4 out of 10

Is it Good For Two Players? : No, definitely a game to play at its intended player count.

Catan is a much different game when played with only two compared to higher player counts.  It is very much intended to be a social game with lots of discussion, trading, and negotiating, but when you only play with two, all these aspects just don’t work! This makes it less exciting strategically, less socially engaging, and very dependent on luck. Overall, it offers a very subpar experience compared to playing with more players. The aspects that make Catan unique and great are missing at this player count.

Theme: 7/10
Replayability: 7/10
Components: 7/10
Conflict: 6/10
Fun: 3/10

Husband’s Rating
4 out of 10
Wife’s Rating
4 out of 10

Pros

Simple and easy to play and learn

A good gateway game for new players

Modern Classic

Lots of expansions to mix and match how you like

Cons

Very luck dependent

Does not work great with two players, Catan is a different game at this player count

Gameplay Experience:

Catan Two Player Game Review

In our past life, when we actually had friends and a social life we played many games of the famous Catan.  We can recall many fun nights of tense negotiations, banter, and talking around the table.  At some point in time though, Catan faded away and my wife and I were a year or two into our board game hobby when I looked at our shelf and said, “Wait, we don’t have Catan!”

A game that is probably the most famous board game of all time and one we have enjoyed in the past had not crossed my mind to add to our collection.  It stayed that way, every time it popped up in my recommended products, I looked longingly at Catan and then at my wife, but ultimately we always decided to pass.

I just could not justify getting a game that I knew in my heart would not be the same experience for two players as it was with more.  Eventually, though, I cracked and couldn’t pass up the easily found deals on one of the most popular and famous board games of all time!

So Catan made its way onto our shelf (in shrink wrap), I know I know, shame on us, and that’s where it stayed for quite some time.  With so many new and enticing games in our collection, the urge to pull that red box out never was strong enough to justify doing so.

It was time though, my wife and I finally brought Catan to the table, ripped off the shrink, punched out the pieces, and refreshed ourselves on the rules and setup for our first two player game of Catan in a long long time.  An experience we had been dreading and one we had been avoiding.  “I looked into my wife’s eyes and with despair said, “We have to, it’s for the review”.

But, you know what, it wasn’t that bad.  It definitely wasn’t great, but not as terrible as we had been falsely envisioning in our heads for the past however long.  All the aspects that made Catan great like the trading and negotiating were gone, but it was a welcome step back from the complex and intricate board games of the present.  

It was nice to just play something so casual, nostalgic, and familiar for the first time in a while.  As we played, memories of all the fun and not-so-fun nights of Catan came back, and we reminisced on what a great game Catan was.

What a great game Catan was… and that is exactly how we felt about it.  It was a great game for us at that time in our lives but in a way, we have moved on and outgrown it, just like so many others have.  That doesn’t mean it’s still not one of the greatest games of all time, it’s just not for us anymore, especially with two players.

Catan has done more for the modern board gaming community than almost any other game and it didn’t do so by being mediocre.  It is modern board gaming’s Monopoly and a great game for those just starting on their board gaming journey and an excellent one to keep around for introducing friends or family to the hobby or to play with those who are already familiar with it.

As for us though, Catan will be put back on our shelf where it will stay in anticipation of those memorable nights filled with dice rolling, conversations, and trades among friends (friends as in more than just my wife and I).

Catan Board Game Rules Summary:

In Catan, players have a few different ways to pursue victory but their main goal is to reach 10 victory points first.

Catan consists of a modular hexagonal tile board that is randomized each game.  Once the board is set up each player will place two settlements and roads on the board and receive resources for each tile surrounding their starting settlement.

Catan Setup

Now the game begins.  On their turn, each player rolls the dice to decide which resources are produced which is determined by the tile that matches the number rolled.  All players will receive resources for each of their settlements and cities that are adjacent to the tile that was rolled.  

Catan resources

If a 7 is rolled then the robber activates, who begins the game on the 7th tile.  The player who rolled the 7 moves the robber to a new tile and steals a resource from a player with a settlement or city adjacent to that tile.  When a 7 is rolled no player receives resources and players who have more than 7 cards in hand must also discard down to half!

Players can then trade resources with the bank (Maritime Trade) for a 4-1 trade or with another player through negotiations.  If a player builds a settlement or city on a harbor space, they can trade more favorably at a 3-1 ratio.  You can then build roads, settlements, cities and purchase development cards and play one development card.  

To build, players will need to have the appropriate resources for whatever they are trying to construct. None of a player’s constructions can pass through another player’s constructions though. The following are all things players can construct during a game of Catan.

  • Road: Cost 1 brick and 1 wood; Roads are used to connect your settlements and expand your territory.
  • Settlement: Cost 1 brick, 1 wood, 1 sheep, and 1 wheat; Settlements are placed on open intersections.  Worth 1 Victory Point
  • City: Cost 3 ore and 2 wheat; This upgrades one of your settlements to a city, increasing any production it may get. Worth 2 Victory Points
  • Development Card: Cost 1 ore, 1 sheep, and 1 wheat; lets players draw one random development card from the deck which gives players some extra benefits.
Catan Building Costs

The following are development cards that players could potentially draw.

  • Knight Cards: Only one knight card can be played per turn and if a player plays 3 of them they get the Largest Army bonus, granting them 2 victory points.
  • Monopoly Card: Players who use this card announce a single resource and all other players must give them all of their cards of that type.
  • Road Building: Allows the player to build 2 roads on any open space.
  • Year of Plenty: Allows players to take any two resources from the bank.
  • Victory Point: Grant the player a victory point.

That’s all there is to playing Catan.  It is very much a social game and all about trading and negotiating with a little bit of important worker placement in the background.

Catan Two Player Rules

There are some unofficial and official rule variants that can be used to make Catan work a little better for two players. You can find more about these by heading to our page here: How to Play Catan With Two Players: Variants and House Rules that goes over this modifications in more detail and discusses how well they work.

Conclusion:

You’d be hard pressed to find a single person in the board gaming community who doesn’t know about Catan, and that says a lot about the game.  It is one of the most successful modern board games to date because of its use of game mechanics found in other classic games making it very accessible to new players.  

It’s considered to be “the” gateway game and modern board gaming wouldn’t be where it is today without it.  Catan has brought more players into the hobby than any other game, no question about it.  It is the perfect stepping stone from games like Monopoly to some of the more complex and complicated games that are popular today.

All this is very indicative that Catan is an excellent and well designed game that achieved what it was intended to.  Many people in the hobby may appear snobby when rating or reviewing this game but in our opinion, they are likely comparing apples to oranges.  Catan isn’t supposed to be a super strategic and serious battle of wits between players, it’s supposed to be a casual, fun, and interactive game between fellow friends.

Many may “outgrow” Catan after a while, but it’s a game that has its place on almost every gamer’s shelf.  Even if it’s just out of respect for what it has done for the hobby, or to introduce friends to board games, we believe everybody should own a copy of this modern board gaming marvel. 

Is Catan Good For 2 Players?

Catan Meme Two Player

Catan is a dramatically different game when played with only two compared to higher player counts.  It is very much intended to be a social game with lots of discussion, trading, and negotiating, but when you only play with two, all these aspects just don’t work!

Trading with two players in Catan is a zero-sum game, the only thing they might help with is speeding up the game.  So players are really not motivated to trade and there is still a risk of making a bad trade benefiting your opponent more than yourself, so it really is non-existent at this player count.

This lack of trading also creates a few more problems with playing Catan with only two players.  The game can drag out because you can no longer trade for resources to progress further in the game.  This issue can be exaggerated even more due to the random board setup making it even harder for players to get all the resources they need depending on how the tiles get laid.

Even though getting the resources you need can be a little tough, at the same time competition for everything else is reduced.  There’s more space on the board for players to move around and build roads, settlements, and cities, so this is another area where player interaction is dramatically reduced in two-player games.

All of this comes together to create a game that plays you, as opposed to a game you play. Catan with only two players is less exciting strategically, less socially engaging, and very dependent on luck. Overall, it offers a subpar experience compared to playing with more players. In our opinion, the great aspects that make Catan unique are missing at this player count.

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to play and learn
  • A good gateway game for new players
  • Modern Classic
  • Lots of expansions to mix and match how you like

Cons:

  • Very luck dependent
  • Does not work great with two players, Catan is almost a different game at this player count

Catan (Base Game) Adventure Board Game for Adults and Family | Ages 10+ | for 3 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 60 Minutes | Made by Catan Studio
Catan (Base Game) Adventure Board Game for Adults and Family | Ages 10+ | for 3 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 60 Minutes | Made by Catan Studio
Catan (Base Game) Adventure Board Game for Adults and Family | Ages 10+ | for 3 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 60 Minutes | Made by Catan Studio

We hope this Catan two player review has helped you.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site's costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


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