Critical Review - Catan Junior

If you are familiar at all with the Settlers of Catan from Mayfair games (and let's be honest, who isn't anymore?), then you may have heard about Catan Junior.  Catan Junior is a "lighter" version of Settlers of Catan, with a focus on enjoyment for younger players!  How young?  Well, as young as 6 and up in this case.  But, does it deliver a good experience for them, and one that won't leave parents pining for more?


First, if you are looking for a deeply strategic game, this is not it, nor, is that this game's goal.  This game is designed with enough strategy to make you think, but not so much it takes several minutes each turn.  Rather, this is something that can be played with 2 to 4 players in roughly 30 minutes or less.  Even in 4 player games, we have found that 30 minutes is about the average, with some going as long as 45, but rarely.


Let's look at the video review and then we'll add more text after the jump:

4 Player Catan Junior in full motion!
4 Player Catan Junior in full motion!

Catan Junior is something that piqued NinjaZach's interest the moment he saw it.  As a young man of 6 and one who loves all things pirates, how could it not?  The colorful box promises adventure, excitement, and even ghosts!


Those familiar with Settlers of Catan in any form will quickly and easily find themselves at home, er, or , at port here.  The goal of the game is simple.  Each player starts with 7 Pirate Lairs and 8 Pirate Ships of the same color, and the winner is thr first scallywag to build all their lairs!


Each player starts with a Wood and Molasses resource and 2 Pirate Lairs on the board.  From there, as those familiar know, you roll a die each turn, with the resul matching, in this case, an island on the board, and you obtain resources where you border the number rolled.  


Similar to Settlers, you can then build something, in this case, Pirate ships that "launch" or "make birth" from your Lairs and then Lairs after you have "launhed" said ships, connecting them in chains.


If a player rolls a 6, the Ghost Pirate moves from Skull Island and hauns the island of the roller's choice.  This will provide that Pirate 2 of the resource of which the island produces where the Ghost Pirate was placed and also stops the further production of the island, shutting down anyone adjacent to it if the number is rolled again.


Additionally, players can trade with a market (1:1 ratio of trade), with the stockpile (2:1) or another player (whatever:whatever they work out).  


Finally, there are Coco Cards, of which, NinjaZach is coo-coo for!

NinjaZach winning again!
NinjaZach winning again!

You can purchase a Coco card during your build phase in lieu of building a Pirate Lair or Ship.  These are cards that sta in front of you and offer a one time benefit.  They could provide anything from random resources, to allowing you to builda Lair or Ship for free to moving the Ghost Pirate.  An additional and powerful benefit from Coco cards is that the player who has the most is able to place a free Lair on Skull Island!  Yes, this means the player who buys the first one gets a free Lair on Skull Island as they will have 1 Coco card and all other players will 0.  


NinjaZach employs a major Coco card strategy, and honestly, it works quite well for him.  While it doesn't always mean victory, investing in these never has a negative benefit overall.


But, is this all fun?  Or, is it more work explaining things to your little ones?


While perhaps not the best thing to cross the table at an adult game night, yes, overall, Catan Junior is a lot of fun! If you have young children, I highly recommend giving this a look.  There is enough strategy to get them thinking, but not too much to confuse them or get them lost on a path to victory.  And, at times, this can be a good game to share with other adults who have kids, to get them into designer board games as well.


Sully up your boot straps, grab yer barnacles and polish up your peg leg, because Catan Junior is a high seas adventure that provides a lot of fun for Pirates of all ages and one we recommend to check out!


NinjaZach's Final Score (Crit, Hit, or Miss):

NinjaZach likes:

  • Ghost Pirate and the Pirate Theme
  • Buying Coco cards that give immeidate benefit
  • Talking like a Pirate when playing


Tox's Dinal Score (Crit, Hit or Miss):

Tox Likes:

  • Easy to learn rules for any age and a great rulebook that's included
  • Enough Strategy to keep everyone interested
  • Also talking like a Pirate when playing!

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Comments: 2
  • #1

    Aristophanes (Friday, 08 March 2013 10:20)

    Thanks for this review. very helpful.

  • #2

    critshappen (Friday, 08 March 2013 13:18)

    Thanks Aristophanes, glad you liked it! We've enjoyed this game very much!

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