Tag Archives: Family Games

Catan Family Edition – A Written Review

Review #43

Catan Family Edition By Klaus Teuber – Art By Oliver Freudenreich – Published By Mayfair Games

The Island of Catan lies before your intrepid explorers. Your journey to settle Catan begins with 2 small buildings and ends when you become the most prolific master of Catan. Guide your brave settlers to victory by using clever trading and shrewd development. Use resources—grain, wool, ore, lumber, and brick—to build roads, settlements, cities and key cultural milestones. Trade, Build, Settle – But beware the robber! 

* * * * * * *

Catan Family Edition, is another installment in Mayfair Games, Fun Fair line which seeks to bring this great hobby to families and make games more approachable to the main stream. The gameplay is classic Catan in a more price friendly package that doesn’t sacrifice quality to reach that price point. Catan is a game of trading, resource gathering, and building on a changeable game board for 3-4 players’ ages 10+. Players will randomly produce resources based on the roll of a die and location of their settlements, trade resources, and then build settlements and roads across the Island of Catan in a bid to be the greatest settler in all of Catan! Of course the randomness of the die and the presence of the Robber will do their best to shake things up and block your supply lines insuring that no two games will ever play exactly alike.

 What’s In The Box 

Catan Family Edition comes in a more standard sized game box and while this does mean it has a lot of extra air inside the box it does make it stand out more on the shelf at big box stores. The box lacks an insert but it definitely will not be missed and Mayfair was kind enough to supply a couple thick plastic bags to store the cards and game pieces quite easily.


  • • 6 double-sided, interlocking game board (island) tiles
  • • 25 development cards
  • • 2 special bonus cards
  • • 93 resource cards
  • • 16 city pieces
  • • 60 road pieces
  • • 20 settlement pieces
  • • 1 robber piece
  • • 2 six-sided dice
  • • Simple rules

All of this Island exploration and settlement fun can be yours for  $30.00Of course with the help of the Professor, a coconut, two wood, and some sheep you can build a computer to research some savings.

Cardboard: Catan comes with some very high quality cardboard components, from the Building Costs player aids to the game board itself, the components are well made. The Building Costs player aids are double sided (which was unnecessary but nice), have full color images matching the game components discussed, and have a nice large and easily readable font for all the game text. The cards (they should be called tiles looking at their thickness) are designed simply enough for a 4 year old or anyone who is new to the gaming hobby to understand. The game board is also well designed using double sided tiles with an A or B side allowing players to design multiple game layouts and they do interlock! While players of the original Catan might miss the complete randomness of the individual tiles in the original game, these new tiles still offer variety in layout while slightly speeding game setup. The artwork on the board hexes is very colorful, detailed, and vibrant while still being very obvious as to which resource they produce. The numbers on the tiles are also very large making them easy to read and Mayfair also included probability symbols to the numbers to help newer and first time players know which numbers are the most likely to come up on any roll (memorize those symbols for the next time you hit up a Craps Table in Vegas).

Cards: Catan comes with what I like to refer to as “Leprechaun Sized Cards”. I will quickly admit that I am not a fan of these smaller Euro-sized cards yet I do understand they do save on production costs and these cards are actually pretty decently made. By their nature smaller cards feel a little more resilient to the bend test but I think they actually chose a decent cardstock for these cards. The artwork is colorful and matches the tiles on the board making it simple to tell which resource each card represents. The full color artwork on the Development cards is also nicely done and the text is a clean font but it might be slightly on the small side for older players. This smaller text isn’t too troubling since the card titles are actually in a large font across the top of the card and I think everyone who has played Catan can recite what a Knight card or Palace card is for (plus they are color coded to really make it easy). The Resource and Development cards also have a different image on the back which helps during cleanup to separate the cards back into their piles.

Rulebook and Overview Flyer: The rules for Catan are not too difficult and this folding flyer does an admirable job of breaking the basic rules down to about 2 and a half pages. The rules flyer comes with numerous full color game play images and detailed game play examples to explain the rules and make the game easy to understand. The second flyer contains gameplay hints, strategies, frequently asked questions, a game overview, and rules for a variable set up when players are ready to change up the game a little.

 Plastic Components: The Roads, Settlements, and Cities are made out of solid plastic (as opposed to hollowed out cheap plastic components). The pieces are not engraved or detailed but they are very serviceable and for $30.00 you would almost expect cheap cardboard in the box, thankfully that isn’t the case here. Engraved and detailed pieces would have raised the games price so I have to say Mayfair made a good choice here.

Dice: The included dice are your standard sized game dice with engraved blacked out pips. Nothing extravagant but not really anything that needs extravagance in this case they roll well and are more than functional.

Components and Presentation Verdict: 9.0/10 – While a die hard hobby gamer might mourn the loss of the wooden components, Mayfair is trying to make a mainstream version of this game with a main stream market price, and I think they succeeded admirably at this. For $30.00 you are getting some fantastic quality cardboard, durable quality plastic, and some nice artwork. Mayfair is now able to compete with Parker Bothers on price and quality yet trump them with better gameplay.

 How Does It Play? 

The basic gameplay of Catan involves resource gathering, shrewd trading, strategic Settlement placing, and effective blocking of your opponents preventing them from gathering the resources they need. On a player’s turn two six sided dice are rolled and added together to determine what resources will be generated that turn. Every player who has at least one Settlement next to the hex chosen by the roll of the dice will receive the one resource produced by that hex per Settlements they have next to the hex. Players will then trade resources with each other or the Supply Stack to purchase Roads, build Settlements, and research Developments to gain Victory Points (VP’s for short). The first player to 10 victory points is the winner and declared master of Catan. The gameplay would be pretty simple if that was all that was involved in the game though. A roll of “7” on the dice allows you to move the Robber to wreck your opponents’ plans and steal their resources. You can also build your roads and Settlements to block other players turning what could be a standard Euro Game into a fun little game full of player interaction and competition.

 Component Breakdown 

Bonus VP and Building Costs Tiles: Each player receives a Building Costs tile in their player color that breaks down the cost in resources for each action and possible VP’s gained for performing that action. For example Roads require 1 Lumber and 1 Brick to build and do not give any VP’s. While a City costs 3 Ore and 2 Grain but gives you 2 VP’s for building it. The 2 bonus tiles go to the player who satisfies their condition but are taken if another player surpasses the player who currently has the tile. For example the first player to have a Road 5 uninterrupted segments long gains the “Longest Road” achievement but loses it and the 2 VP’s it grants the moment another player creates a longer road and takes it from them.

 Development Cards: A player can spend 3 resources on their turn for a random draw from the Development deck. Developments cannot be played on the turn they are drawn unless they are VP cards and they would put you at 10 VP’s allowing you to instantly win the game. There are 3 types of Development cards you can draw, Knights allow you to manipulate the Robber, Progress cards allow you to build things for free, and Victory Point cards instantly grant VP’s once they are played to the table.

Catan Hexagonal Game Board: The greatest departure to the original game board is that the game now comes in 6 sections instead of over 20 individual hex tiles. This makes set up quicker but the possible number of game layouts becomes more restricted. Each hex produces the depicted resource and produces that resource whenever its number is rolled. Roads and Settlements are actually built along the edges of these hex’s (not directly on the hex’s) and any time a hex is rolled every player who has a City or Settlement bordering that hex gains resources for every City or Settlement adjacent to that hex. For example if Blue has a City and Settlement next to the #8 Lumber hex and Yellow has 1 City adjacent to the #8 Ore hex, any time an 8 is rolled Blue would gain 3 Lumber and Yellow would gain 2 Ore (Cities give double the resources). Players can also build Settlements and Cities at Harbors which give the controlling player a better trade rate with the “Supply Bank”. The robber starts in the center unnumbered desert tile and is moved any time a player roles a “7”. The important thing to remember is that everything is built along the borders of the hex’s, only 1 Road can be built on any given path, Settlements/Cities must have to have at least 1 hex corner between them, and all your Settlements/Cities have to be connected by a Road.

Player Pieces:  Each player starts with 15 roads, 5 Settlements, and 4 Cities. Settlements give 1 VP/Resource each and Cities give 2 VP’s/Resources each. Since each player starts with 2 Settlements in play, each player also starts with 2 VP’s (see you are 20% of the way to Victory already!). Players must connect their Settlements and Cities with Roads and no one is allowed to build a City or Settlement in a hex corner adjacent to another City or Settlement (even if they own it also). This mechanic does allow you to cut other players off from resources if strategically played. Settlements require 4 resources to build while Cities require 5 resources and a Settlement you control must already be built in the location you want to create a City at.

Resource Cards: Finally we have the 5 resource cards that are used to make all your purchases. Each player keeps their resource cards hidden from the other players making sure to only show cards that are spent or traded. Hording these cards can be dangerous though, if anyone ever rolls a “7”, all players who have 8 or more cards must discard half of their cards back to the bank. The Robber is then moved by the player who rolled the 7 and then he steals a card from a player who has a Settlement or City adjacent to the hex the Robber is moved to.


Setup is fairly quick and simple even if players use the variable board rules.

1: Set up the Island of Catan by connecting the board sections in the preset A or B side formation (visibly marked on the tiles for ease of setup) or randomly connect the 6 sections to form the board. Place the Robber in the center of the board.

2: Select a color and take all your pieces and Building Costs tile.

3: Each player places 2 Settlements and attaches 1 Road to each Settlement (Either using the preset locations or using the variance rules)

4: Place all the resource cards into 5 face-up piles then shuffle the Development cards and place them face down into a draw pile.

5: Each player receives 3 resources based on where they placed one of their starting Settlements.

The game is now ready to begin.

 Rulebook turn Summary.

The youngest player goes first, and for simplicities sake the terms Settlements and Cities will be pretty much interchangeably used. I imagine this won’t cause any confusion though.

On your turn do the following In The Order Listed:

Produce Resources: Roll the dice and add them together. All players with a Settlement next to the hex(s) rolled gains the resource listed on the hex for each adjacent Settlement. Settlements give 1 resource and Cities give 2 copies of the same Resource. If a 7 is rolled no resources are produced. Instead ALL players who have 8 or more cards in their hand must discard half of the cards of their choosing back to the Bank. The player who rolled the 7 moves the Robber to the hex of their choice. The player who controls the Robber then gets to randomly steal one card from one player if they have a Settlement or City next to the hex. Any hex with a Robber on it will NEVER produce a resource even if its number is rolled until the Robber is removed from that hex

Trade: You may trade with the other players for any resource cards (Developments cannot be traded). The caveat is that you cannot just give someone a resource (no wife favors allowed…) and only the active player can be traded with; the other players cannot trade amongst themselves. The active player may also trade with the bank at a 4 identical cards to 1 exchange ratio unless they control a Harbor that allows them to trade at a better rate.

Build: You may now trade Resources to the bank to create Roads, Settlements, Cities, and/or Developments. You may buy as many as you can afford simply by paying the cost in Resources back to the bank and then taking the built item(s) and placing them on the board (or into your hand for Developments). You are limited by the components included in the game so it is impossible to build more than 15 Roads, 5 Settlements, or 4 Cities.

Victory Points and Winning the Game: Players gain Victory Points for:

  • 1 VP for each Settlement in play
  • 2 VP’s for each City in play
  • 2 VP’s for the Longest Road tile
  • 2 VP’s for the Largest Army tile
  • 1 VP for each VP Development card
  • **Remember each player starts the game with 2 VP’s thanks to the 2 Settlements they have in play**

The first player to 10 Victory Points wins the game.

A sample game might look something like this:

It is Blues turn in a close 4 player game where Blue has 7 VPs, Orange has 7 VP’s, Red has 9 VP’s, and White has 7 VP’s. Blue rolls the dice and gets a “4” which means a Grain Hex and also a Wool hex will produce Resources this turn. Orange has a City next to the Wool hex so they gain two Wool resource cards. Red has 1 City next to the Grain hex giving them 2 Grain Resource cards. Blue has 2 Cities next to the Grain hex so they gain 4 Grain Resource cards to add to their hand. Blue looks at his hand of cards noticing he has a large assortment of Resources but ZERO Wool. The trade phase begins and after quite a bit of wheeling and dealing with the other players who are feeling stingy this close to the end of the game, some marginal trades are made but none include any Wool. Blue decides to use the Maritime Trade and access his Harbors. Fortunately Blue controls a harbor that allows Blue to trade for Wool at a 2 for 1 ratio. Blue has a plethora of grain and decides to trade the 4 Grain gained this turn for 2 Wool which are added to Blue’s hand of Resources.

The Build phase of the turn begins and Blue has a shrewd plan for victory. First they spend 2 Lumber and 2 Bricks to gain 2 Roads. Then Blue spends the 4 Resources (including the Wool they just received during the trade phase) to gain 1 Settlement. Blue then places the Settlement at the end of a 5 section Road they have gaining 1 VP bringing them up to 8 VP’s. Blue then plays the 2 Road segments, creates a 7 segment long Road, takes the Longest Road tile from the player who currently controls it with a 6 segment Road, and wins the game with 10 solid Victory Points!

Simplicity of the Rules: 9.25/10 – The rules for Catan are beautifully simplistic but allow for clever game play and strategy. There are very few rules exceptions and everything is laid out well on the player aids. Catan is one of those games that you can stick on your shelf for a year and still remember how to play it when you pull it off the shelf again. Except for the starting set-up diagram the rules flyer will probably never be looked at again once you learn how to play the game.

 Daddy Why’s This Guy Got A Sword In His Belly? 

As a father of 2 future board gamers, a large concern of mine is how secure am I in letting my eldest son play and or rummage through a game box. Granted, BGG and board games themselves very clearly tell you a minimum age, they don’t tell you exactly why that minimum age was chosen. My hope is to arbitrarily tell you why I think this age range was chosen for this game and then hopefully give a few ideas I might have for a game to make it easier on the young ones. Finally I will close with what seems to be the “sweet spot” for number of players and if the game has solo rules I’ll comment on those too. 

Catan Family Edition is an extremely family friendly game of trading, dice rolling, and hand management for 3-4 players ages 10+. What can I say it was aptly named! The artwork is well done and I wouldn’t have any problems with a toddler looking at the games components (although the pieces are a choking hazard). The basic game play is simple enough that a 6 or 7 year old can easily figure it out. Simply trade Resources to build stuff, to get points, to win the game. The challenge comes from being a shrewd trader and creating smart routes on the board that are advantageous for you while blocking off the other players. Judicious use of the Robber doesn’t hurt your strategy either, if an opponent seems to have capitalized on a hex and surrounded it with Cities, throw a Robber on the space to really ruin their day. Scoring can also be a slight challenge for younger players as they constantly have to be mindful of their current score by keeping track of Developments in hand and Buildings in play. It is quite possible for a younger player to get caught up in the moment and fail to realize they have indeed already won the game.

Overall I think a fairly bright 6 year old can play Catan Family Edition with a little help and an 8 year old could actually give you a run for your money.

Family Friendliness Verdict: 9.75/10 – Catan Family Edition is a great game for family game night. It is playable by up to 4 which is perfect for a family with 2 adults and 2 children/teenagers or 1 adult and 3 children/teenagers. It is simple enough for younger players to pick up but deep enough for the older siblings to play competitively and provide a good challenge.

Game length:

Catan plays in about 45-90 minutes depending on how competitive players are and how much haggling occurs during a players turn. Honestly the haggling part of the Trade phase is what will really affect the length of the game, if a player repeatedly insists on asking for absurd/chintzy trades on their turn and then slowly haggles up the game will go closer to its 90 minute (or longer) play time. Also players who have to minutely plan their build routes will extend the game play quite a bit. The game is designed for 3-4 players and is at its most fun with 4 players but I would not refuse a 3 player game. A Game with this much player interaction is always going to be more entertaining with more players (to a point) and Catan is really no different. Plus 4 players creates a more crowded board allowing for more route blocking but it adds to play time as players try to move around blocked routes.


* Great Social Board Game

* Great components at a fantastic price

* Adjustable game board adds to replay value

* Rewards strategy

* Great family game

* Easy to learn and teach

* Semi-hidden scoring


* The randomness of the dice can be very capricious at times

* The “wrong” play group can kill the enjoyment

* Only playable as a 3 or 4 player game

* Screw your neighbor aspects might turn off some players

But Is It Fun? 

There is a reason why Catan has been around for almost 20 years now. The game is easy to teach but yet rewards strategic play and allows direct player interaction through player bartering and blocking of other players’ routes. This is definitely a game that requires players interact with each other if they want to win. This new edition of the game brings the classic game to the mass market, at a mass market price, without sacrificing component quality. At this point if you do not own Catan there really isn’t a reason not to get it at this extremely reasonable price.

Mayfair simplified the layout of the game board with this edition but again I think this was done for mass market appeal. The board is simpler to set up now but it still offers some variety in the layout creating a happy medium and making this a great game to introduce people to the hobby with. I am loathe to use the term and comparison but Catan now feels like it is ready to go head to head with Monopoly for the mindshare of the consumer and… win!

While Catan is a fun strategic game, your enjoyment is going to hinge on your play group. Players who routinely refuse to barter with other players, hate the fickleness of the dice, and are frustrated when another player “Ruins their strategy” are going to make the game less enjoyable for everyone. Also a player who is prone to Analysis Paralysis and has to make the perfect move, the perfect trade, and the perfect build will bring this game to its knees. I think we have all played Catan with that one player who always starts each trade round asking everyone for trades that no one is going to accept until someone blurts out “Look, you have to give a little in your trades too or no one will trade with you!” I have also been victim to a group of players who refused to trade at all with the rest of the group. This led to a rather long and dare I say lousy game that couldn’t end soon enough.

Overall Final Game Verdict: 8.75/10 – Catan is a classic game that belongs in every family’s game collection especially at this price point. If you are not swayed by the fickleness of dice, want a great social game for 3-4 players, like strategy, enjoy lots of player interaction, then check out Catan Family Edition.



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User Review:
Rating: 4.4/5 (5 votes cast)

Catan Junior – A Written Review

Review #41 – For All Your Board Game News and Reviews Visit 2D6.org!

Catan Junior By Klaus Teuber – Art By Patricia Raubo – Published By Mayfair Games


 “Land ho!” screeches Coco the parrot. He is on the lookout, circling high above your ships. In front of you lie the islands of Catan: many small islands with lush forests, golden yellow sugar cane fields, and volcanic cliffs studded with mysterious caves—an ideal home for adventurous pirates! You immediately build your first pirates’ lairs and your first ship, and since the islands abound with goods and treasures, you soon are able to build more ships and pirates’ lairs.

As you explore the group of islands further, you discover a towering isle laden with fabulous gold treasures. And while everyone is busy trying to be the first to build a pirates’ lair on the gold island, Coco comes back from a reconnaissance flight. All agitated, he screeches: “Ghost Captain! Ghost Captain!”

What terrified Coco was the gloomy fortress on Spooky Island, built on a lonely rock surrounded by treacherous waters. Soon the Ghost Captain will notice that he is no longer the sole ruler of the islands of Catan. Then he will try to prevent you from advancing further, wherever he can. But who knows—if the Ghost Captain bothers you too much, maybe Coco, your loyal parrot, will come to the rescue …”

* * * * * * *

Catan Junior, is a children’s game of resource management (and barter with the advanced rules) for 2-4 players ages 6 and up. Players will manage resources, build sea lanes of trade, and try to be the first player to place all 7 Pirate Lairs onto the game board. It’s not as simple as it seems though the Dread Ghost Captain can block supply lines and other players can block your sea lanes making victory require some planning and adaptability. Resources are never guaranteed, the roll of the die will decide which resources are generated for each player at the beginning of each players turn. Fortunately you can trade resources with the marketplace at a 1 for 1 trade ratio, the stockpile at a 2 for 1 ratio, or even with other players if you use the advanced trade rules.

Can you manage your 5 resources, build ships to expand your network, explore the ring of tropical islands, and be the first to create your 7th Pirate Lair? Catan Junior simplifies without dumbing down the elegant mechanics of the classic Catan series to create a game for swashbucklers of all ages.

What’s In The Box

Catan Junior comes in a standard sized game box that includes a great molded box insert that separates the games components between 2 molded wells. The box is made out of thick durable cardboard and should survive the wrath of most 5 year olds for at least a little while.


106 Resource tiles

1 Double Sided Game Board

4 Building Cost Tiles

32 Plastic Ships In Four Colors

28 Pirate Lairs In Four Colors

1 Dread Ghost Captain

1 Die

1 Rulebook

All of this ill gotten booty can be yours for $30.00.  Of course some grand swashbuckling swordplay might save you a few Gold Doubloons!

Cardboard Tokens: Catan Junior comes with quite a few cardboard tokens that are large, thick, colorful, durable, double sided, and contain large icons instead of text that is very easy to understand. The larger resource tokens are great for slightly less dexterous younger fingers making them easy to pick up and manipulate. They are also easy to distinguish with an eye towards simplistic designs and while they may not perfectly logical – sheep help you build pirate ships… really? – I can understand the design choices that are trying to bridge the Catan game with symbols that will excite younger minds. My 4 year old son loves to use the cutlass resource token as a cutlass anytime he makes a grand move “Ah ha! Take that daddy!” and I am having trouble convincing him the Molasses barrel is anything but a large barrel of TNT explosives. Again they are not logical but they are obviously designed with an eye towards younger minds and shapes that will excite them.

Game Pieces: The game pieces are made out of hard molded plastic shaped like Pirate Ships and Pirate Lairs. The pieces are actually surprisingly detailed for a $30.00 younger children’s game. The Pirate ships have the Jolly Roger on the Mainsail and portholes are visible on closer examination. The Pirate Lairs look like a small fortress on a rocky cliff that sits above a cave that would be perfect for a ship to dock in, basically a pirates dream base of operations. The plastic is very hardy and durable reminiscent of some of the higher quality (and price) miniature games on the market today, one warning though, they are small enough to be a choking hazard. This isn’t a fisher price game so that shouldn’t dissuade your interest.

Game Board: The game board is double sided much in the same way as another classic board game “Small World” with one side depicting a smaller group of islands for 2 players and the reverse depicting the full sized map for 3-4 players. The game board is very colorful and thematic with extra artistic flourishes like carts where you place tradable resources, small visible farms on the islands, marine life swimming through the water, and even little pirate ships sailing around Spooky Island. The icons on the islands are very easy to read making it easy to discern which resources are gained and which die roll will select which island. Again everything seems to be designed with an eye towards younger players and making the game play simpler for them.

Rulebook: The foldout 6 page rulebook is very easy to read and contains numerous illustrations explaining the game play mechanics. Honestly though the game is very simple and besides for a very minor rule ambiguity that I can see being interpreted both ways if someone doesn’t pay close enough attention to the wording of the rules, the game is very easy to understand from the rules as written.

Components and Presentation Verdict: 10/10 The component quality is top notch especially for a $30.00 game. To be honest when I originally saw the price point I assumed I would be getting a box full of cardboard and was pleasantly surprised when I saw quality cardboard, 61 quality plastic game pieces, and a quality multicolored die. The game board is very pleasing to the eye and all the components seem to have foresight put into them from the size of components to the simplicity of everything, decisions were made in an effort to help younger children grasp the game.

How Does It Play?

Catan Junior is a resource management game with route building and some future planning skills being put into play. Players will gain resources on their turn based on a die roll and the location of Pirate Lairs. Players will then use those resources to barter for other resources and build their sea lane routes to connect and build Pirate Lairs. The victor will be the first player to place their 7th Pirate Lair on the board.

Component Breakdown

Building Costs Tile: Each player starts the game with a Building Costs Tile that acts as a reminder of the costs of game actions. Building a Pirate Lair requires a player to spend the 4 listed resources, Pirate Ships require the expenditure of the 2 listed resources, and finally purchasing a Coco Card requires spending the 3 listed resources.

Game Pieces: Each player starts with 7 Pirate Lairs and 8 Pirate Ships in their chosen color. 2 Pirate Lairs are placed on a preset location on the board at each of the 2 circles in the players color on the game board. Each player also places one Pirate Ship along the colored dotted line matching their chosen color leaving each player with 5 Pirate Lairs and 7 Pirate Ships. Players will build Ships and Lairs but the trick is they have to connect to each other to form a complete route AND they have to alternate Lair, Ship, Lair, Ship, etc. So a player cannot just build all 7 Lairs and win they game because each Lair needs to be connected to a Pirate Ship placed along one trade route dotted line. There is also the Pirate Ghost who is placed on the board if a player ever rolls a 6 on the die. Only the player who rolled the 6 gets to choose which island the Pirate Ghost will go to and that player gains 2 copies of the resource listed. The Ghost Captain also prevents the island he is on from producing the resource listed when the matching die result is rolled on the die. The Ghost Captain stays on the Island until a Coco Card or another roll of the die moves him again.

Coco Cards: The Coco Cards are placed face down and drawn randomly whenever a player pays the 3 resources to draw a Coco Card. Coco Cards can produce 4 resources (interestingly Gold is not one of them), allow a player to move the Ghost Captain, or allow a player to build a Pirate Ship or Lair free of charge. A Coco Card takes effect the moment it is drawn but is never discarded after being drawn. Normally Spooky Island doesn’t produce any resources but whichever player currently has the most Coco Cards is allowed to place a Pirate Lair on top of Spooky Island. This Pirate Lair on Spooky Island does count towards the victory condition of having all 7 Pirate Lairs on the board. The trick to Spooky Island is that as soon as you no longer have the most Coco Tiles you must remove your Pirate Lair from Spooky Island and place it back in your pile until you or another player again has the most Coco Cards in their possession.

Resource Tiles:  The 5 resources are Cutlass, Molasses, Gold, Wood, and Sheep. Pirate Lairs require Cutlass, Molasses, Sheep, and wood to build. Pirate Ships require Sheep and Wood to build. Gold is the more challenging resource to obtain due to its location on the Map but it is still obtainable through trading with the market and stockpiles and is used along with Cutlass and Molasses to gain Coco Cards. Trading with the Marketplace is at a 1 for 1 trade Ratio but trading with the stockpile requires 2 matching resources to be traded for 1 resource from the stockpile.


Setup is fairly quick and simple.

1 – Each player chooses a color.

2 – Place 2 Pirate Lairs and 1 Pirate Ship on the board in your chosen colors location.

3 – Place 1 of each resource in the marketplace.

4 – Shuffle Coco Tiles and place them face down.

5 – Place the Ghost Captain on Spooky Island

6 – Give each player 1 Wood and 1 Molasses

7 – Each player takes 1 building costs tile.

You are now ready to play

Rulebook Turn Summary.

Youngest player goes first.

– On a players turn –

Roll the die – This has to be a players first action. If the die roll is a 1-5 each player (even if it is not their turn) will get 1 resource for each Pirate Lair adjacent to the Island selected by the die roll. For example if a 4 is rolled each player who has a Pirate Lair next to the Island in the lower left hand corner of the map will receive 1 cutlass for each Pirate Lair they have next to that island. Additionally since there is another Island with a 4 on it each Pirate Lair next to that Island will gain that player 1 Molasses Resource. If a player rolls a 6 on the die then they may move the Ghost Captain to any island of their choice and gain 2 of that islands resources (only the player who rolled the 6 gets the 2 resources).

– Then in any order –

Build – On your turn, you can use resources to buy Coco tiles, build pirates’ lairs and/or ships. You may build and buy as long as you have the required resources to do so.

Trade – You may trade once per turn with the marketplace on a 1 for 1 ratio. Taking one resource from your own supply and trading it with any of the 5 resources in the marketplace. If at any time all 5 resources in the marketplace are exactly the same they are all discarded and replaced with 1 of each of the 5 resources.

Trade with the Stockpile – Take any one resource tile from the stockpile, but in exchange, you must replace it with two of your own resource tiles. Your two tiles must be a matched pair. Unlike the marketplace, you may trade with the stockpile as many times as you wish, or are able.


As soon as a player builds all 7 pirates’ lairs (A pirates lair on Spooky Island also counts) the game immedi­ately ends and that player wins.

A sample game might look something like this:

It is Red’s turn and they currently have 1 Cutlass and 2 Molasses. Red rolls the die getting a 6. Red places the Ghost Captain on the left gold producing island and gains 2 gold resources. Red purchases 1 Coco Tile by spending 1 Cutlass, 1 Molasses, and 1 of the just gained gold resources leaving them with 1 Gold and 1 Molasses. Red Draws a Coco card and gets a resource gaining Coco tiles that gives them 2 Sheep and 2 Cutlasses leaving them with 2 Sheep, 2 Cutlasses, 1 Molasses, and 1 Gold. Red Trades 1 Cutlass with Marketplace for 1 wood. Red finally trades 1 Sheep and 1 Wood to build a Pirate Ship and places it on the board. Red currently owns the most Coco Tiles so they also place 1 Pirate Lair on Spooky Island.

Red ends their turn and it is now the next players turn.

Simplicity of the Rules: 9.5/10 The rules are extremely simple to grasp involving simple trading of resources for other resources to make purchases and simple matching to make purchases. Simple enough that even a 4 year old can play.

Daddy Why’s This Guy Got A Sword In His Belly?

As a father of 2 future board gamers, a large concern of mine is how secure am I in letting my eldest son play and or rummage through a game box. Granted, BGG and board games themselves very clearly tell you a minimum age, they don’t tell you exactly why that minimum age was chosen. My hope is to arbitrarily tell you why I think this age range was chosen for this game and then hopefully give a few ideas I might have for a game to make it easier on the young ones. Finally I will close with what seems to be the “sweet spot” for number of players and if the game has solo rules I’ll comment on those too.

Catan Junior is a children’s game of dice rolling and resource management for 2 -4 players ages 6 and up. It requires matching of shapes, the ability to plan how to gain missing resources, and strategy including blocking other players from gaining resources with cleverly placed trade routes and judicious use of the Ghost Captain. The components are all extremely child friendly and the game can be played by pre-readers due to the use of shapes versus wording on the games components.

It is possible to “Pick on” another player by constantly placing the Ghost Captain on an island dominated by one player which might frustrate some very young players but that frustration minimizes quickly when they realize they can use this tactic to gang up on daddy. Very young children might need minor suggestions about prioritizing moves the first few times they play but after a few plays even my 4 year old son had zero problems playing and enjoying Catan Junior.

Family Friendliness Verdict: 9.5/10 Catan Junior is a fantastic children’s game with mechanics that are easy to grasp yet not mind numbing like some of the more mainstream Parker Brothers games. It easily plays with up to 4 allowing 2 parents and 2 children or 1 parent with 3 children to easily set up and play a quick game.

Catan Junior is a very quick playing game with a double sided board that helps balance the game for any player count. The 2 player board uses fewer islands so the game still plays quickly and allows players to block each others trade routes. The 4 player game is also well balanced and close knit keeping the player interaction up. A 3 player game can be ever so slightly biased towards the player who doesn’t have an opponent starting nearby but the difference is miniscule and is slightly mitigated by the location of each players secondary Pirate Lair. Catan Junior plays quickly ending in under 30 minutes once the game is set up no matter how many players are involved and it doesn’t feel like it is dragging on (unless someone is abusing the Coco cards – see comments below).


* Great thematic choice, who doesn’t like pirates?

* Simple yet elegant mechanics that a very young child can grasp.

* Kids game that isn’t a mind numbing “Roll and Move”.

* Fantastic quality of components especially for the price.

* Fun for multiple age ranges.

* Teaches resource management skills and prepares younger players for some of the more robust Euro-games.


* Coco cards are overpowered if allowed to be chain purchased in a single players turn.

* I would have liked to see a 5-6 player board, families with 5 children are fairly common these days.

 But Is It Fun?

Catan Junior serves as a fantastic introduction to some of the more advanced Euro games that I am sure many of us have in our game collections. It isn’t easy to go from Candyland to Catan but I can sure go from Catan Junior into Catan and eventually Eclipse (Soon… very soon!). I personally equate playing roll and move children games like Candyland, Cootie Bugs, and Chutes and Ladders to games that a 2-3 year old should play to learn very basic counting but beyond that they do not offer much in the way of strategy. That is why I am thankful for some of these fantastic Euro games made for younger children entering the gaming market. Kids of Carcassonne used to be my all time favorite children’s game but now I think it has an equal contender battling for family game time.

Catan Junior has numerous design choices directed at younger players but at the same time it remains enjoyable for adults to play. Children love pirates and the Pirate theme is prevalent but doesn’t interfere with the game play. The mechanics of the game are “Catan simplified” but as I stated I didn’t at any time feel like I was just playing a “dumbed down” cash crab based on a license. I can see all the decisions that were made in the pursuit of making this game very family friendly.

There are 2 minor negatives to the game though, one is fixable and the other… not so much! The Coco Tiles can be problematic and overpowered if you follow the rules. It is very easy for a player to purchase a Coco tile, use the resources gained from that Coco Tile, buy another Coco Tile, and simply repeat. Not only does this really slow down the game as a player micro manages how to get more Coco tiles it also allows players to create a easy way to gain more Pirate Lairs/Ships since that is a possible reward for Coco Tiles. Don’t forget having the most Coco Tiles also grants you a Pirate Lair on Spooky Island. The simple fix for this is limiting the purchase of Coco Tiles to no more than once per turn (like the Marketplace) this seemed to fix the imbalance issue. The other negative is that it is limited to only 4 players. Hopefully we will see a 5-6 player expansion with a new board released for this game sometime in the future. Heck it seemed to work with all the other Catan games (subtle hint and request here Mayfair Games!).

I like games teaching my children advanced skills that require them to reason through a dilemma, they know the victory condition; the challenge for them is getting to that condition. This is honestly something a basic roll and move game can never teach and why I think most children get bored with board games easily, they realize that they are at the mercy of a polyhedron and their decisions are irrelevant. I really hope more games like Catan Junior make their way into the gaming market because they are really popular with my 2 sons.

Overall Final Game Verdict: 9.25/10 Great price, great components, all in a great family game that doesn’t feel like it is insulting my intelligence. This is a great game for anyone looking for a family game to play with children ages 4 and up!




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Caveman Curling (A Video Review)

In Caveman Curling, each team attempts to “throw” or flick their rocks, one at a time, down the frozen lake. Special objects such as hammers, which allow the rocks to be moved after the throw, and totems, which protect a thrown rock from being moved, add an extra layer of strategy to the game. Play consists of rounds, at the end of which each team or player scores a point for each of their rocks closer to the center of the cave than any of their opponent’s rocks. The first team or player to score six points wins!

All the components of Caveman Curling are produced to our high quality standards. The board’s material is extremely durable, held in place by two sturdy magnetic slammers, ensuring that the board lays completely flat on the playing surface. All of the game pieces are made of wood. The “rocks” are 12mm (almost ½ inch) thick.

~ Gryphon Games

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Plaid Hat Games Announces Mice and Mystics

Living in the walls
Lurk things that aren’t nice,
That nobody knows of
Except for the mice.

Mice and Mystics

Plaid Hat Games

Plaid hat games has announced a new game that seems geared to people like me, a parent who loves to game with their children.

From the Plaid Hat Games website at http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/mice-and-mystics

“In Mice & Mystics players take on the roles of those still loyal to the king – but to escape the clutches of Vanestra, they have been turned into mice! Play as cunning field mice who must race through a castle now twenty times larger than before. The castle would be a dangerous place with Vanestra’s minions in control, but now countless other terrors also await heroes who are but the size of figs. Play as nimble Prince Colin and fence your way past your foes, or try Nez Bellows, the burly smith. Confound your foes as the wizened old mouse Maginos, or protect your companions as Tilda, the castle’s former healer. Every player will have a vital role in the quest to warn the king, and it will take careful planning to find Vanestra’s weakness and defeat her.

Mice & Mystics is a cooperative adventure game in which the players work together to save an imperiled kingdom. They will face countless adversaries such as rats, cockroaches, and spiders, and of course the greatest of all horrors: the castle’s housecat, Brodie. Mice & Mystics is a boldly innovative game that thrusts players into an ever-changing, interactive environment, and features a rich storyline that the players help create as they play the game. The Cheese System allows players to horde the crumbs of precious cheese they find on their journey, and use it to bolster their mice with grandiose new abilities and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

Mice & Mystics will provide any group of friends with an unforgettable adventure they will be talking about for years to come. Assuming they can all squeak by…”


Play Time: 60-90 Minutes
Number of Players: 1-4 Players (sometimes 1-6)
Ages: 7+
The miniatures look fantastic!
Hopefully we will see more of this game very soon!
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Travel Blog (A Video Review)

Some people love to travel. Others love to read about traveling. Project Boundless is an internet magazine designed to bring those people together. As a travelblogger for Project Boundless, your job is visit new places and write about them. To cover your costs, you receive a modest stipend – modest because the Project is still in the experimental stages, relying on government grants and tourist industry donations. Much of your stipend will be spent on travel, but whatever you can save is yours to keep. As a travelblogger, you won‘t get rich, but maybe if you save enough, you can finally go on the Trip of your Dreams.

~ Z-Man Games

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