Catan Junior - A Family Review

Catan Junior is an easy game of dice rolling, resource gathering, and building for families with younger kids. As the little sibling to boardgame mainstay Catan, Catan Junior delivers a simplified experience playable in less than an hour.
Catan Junior - A Family Review

Ahoy there! This family game has been part of our tabletop armada for years, and the kids absolutely love it. If you have kids in the high single digits, this one is a must-have. It takes the vibe of the adult-focused Catan but reduces the complexity and adds fun elements for the kids, like a ghost pirate and a friendly parrot named Coco.

7yo: Getting lots of Coco cards was pretty awesome! I rocked the game with those birds.

The rules are pretty simple, and the gameplay is quick. You can easily get through an entire game in 45 minutes or less, depending on the focus of your group and how many sea shanties you throw in. Although there’s some light strategy, the game mostly relies on luck–which evens the playing field nicely between kids of different ages.

We found that our seven-year-old is just as likely to win as our older kids (or even adults), which makes the game much more fun for all players!

The box recommends 6+, and that hits the mark for us. When our kids were six to seven, they still needed some gentle support from an adult. They’d forget the goal of the game or get distracted playing with the game pieces. At eight years and up, our kids play independently, which is always a pleasant surprise when they’ve set it up themselves on a lazy afternoon.

Plus, our games have started having some real cutthroat, Survivor-style alliances.

11yo: I loved forming alliances and it was fun when dad back stabbed my brother.
9yo: I’ll never make an alliance again!It’s a competitive game, and there’s only one winner, but that doesn’t stop you from teaming up for a bit. Or for as long as it suits you!

If you’re looking for a great opening game that kids can grasp from almost the first roll of the dice, Catan Junior is a perfect pick. It’s tactile, nice to look at, easy to set up, and easy to clean up. Plus, the skills the kids pick up in this game will train them for bigger games down the road, if that’s important to you.

Helpful Hints

  • The Coco bird cards are very useful! Don’t forget to buy them with your resources
  • Once the kids learn the rules, there’s little to no reading required
  • The optional rules include trading resources between players like the adult version

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