By Sarah Boyd
The Settlers of Catan has to be one of the most recognizable tabletop games in the gaming community. While I always enjoy playing it with a group of friends, I have grown to love the Rivals for Catan more than the original game. I know, of course, many people will argue that the first game is always superior, but I have some solid evidence that Rivals for Catan really does rival the original.
The first big difference between the two games is that the Settlers of Catan is a game for 3 or more players while Rivals for Catan is 2-player only. In a group setting, Settlers would make more sense, but on a day to day basis, I find it’s much easier to get one friend to play with you than to round up a group. The Rivals for Catan also sells for $25 on the Catan website while the Settlers of Catan comes in at about double the price at $49.
When it comes to game play, The Rivals for Catan is also the superior game. The Settlers of Catan is fun, but also quite simple. You use your resources to build roads, settlements and cities, and that’s really all there is to it. In The Rivals for Catan, while you still spend your resources on these city expansions, there is much more involved. Even when you are just playing the basic game of Rivals for Catan, there are many buildings you can acquire like Factories to produce more resources, Storehouses to hold more resources, Abbeys to have more cards, etc. Furthermore, there are heroes that give you a strength advantage over your opponent so you can intimidate them into giving you resources or making them discard their cards. You can also acquire a trade advantage over your opponent where you can steal resources from them when a certain event on the die is rolled.
The real fun comes in, however when you play a themed game. The Rivals for Catan has three themes – The Era of Gold, The Era of Turmoil and the Era of Progress. The best part is that these aren’t even expansions you have to pay for, they come with the game! In the Era of Gold, there are many more cards to increase your gold resources, while there are also pirate ships which make your opponent lose a resource trading ship. In the Era of Turmoil, there are Traitors, Archers and Arsonists that can destroy the progress of your opponent. In the Era of Progress, there are new buildings like Universities, Libraries and Town Halls but your cities can be overrun with plague unless you can protect them with Doctors, Pharmacies and Bath Houses. Once the three theme games are mastered, the two players are able to play the Duel of the Princes which encompasses all three themes, for a final duel to become victorious.
Overall, The Rivals for Catan is the better option, from price to game play. There is so much more involved in Rivals and your gaming experience changes drastically when you play the different themes. If you liked The Settlers of Catan, I guarantee you will love The Rivals for Catan!