Catan (AKA Settlers of Catan, Settlers, That Game With the Sheep) is the game that introduced me to the world of hobby board games. Something about not jumping my piece from square to square, trading resources with other players, and this weird concept of victory points… to this day I have a nostalgic fondness for Catan. There are some great games to try if you love Catan that are similarly accessible:
If you want: a modern classic like Catan
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a less cutthroat game than Catan with a similar level of difficult while still establishing some of the great mechanics that make designer board games so interesting. Instead of dice, Ticket to Ride gameplay relies on collecting sets of cards. This can lead to less fragile experiences. The lack of trading also evens out the playing field a bit between new and experienced players.
If you like: the network-building in Catan
Catan has a surprisingly deep decision space when it comes to planning out your network. Many players even consider the initial placements of settlements to be the most important decision all game. Suburbia is a game all about deciding how and where pieces will best work together in a hex grid that evokes a similar feeling to Catan.
If you like: the fighting over territory in Catan
El Grande is a legendary area control game that is a great next-step from Catan if you crave a bit more conflict. While Catan takes a slightly passive-aggressive approach, El Grande turns up the mean-ness with more cutthroat actions and clever maneuvers.
If you like: planning your hex network
Samurai calls for players to carefully surround resources on the board with their hex tiles. Interestingly, your hexes have different power levels and are hidden by a screen. This allows for really surprising swings of power, like a big robber turn or sneaky development card.
If you like: the card trading in Catan
Pit is, admittedly, quite different from Catan. It’s more of a real-time party game rather than strategy game. However, if you like the feeling of trading your cards with others, it’s got quite a bit of trading per minute!