Play Catan

Game review by
Chad Sansing, Common Sense Media
Play Catan Game Poster Image
Digital remake of brilliant board game best for Catan vets.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to perseverance, and use strategic and critical thinking as they figure out Catan's rules and try to win games. With help from parents, kids can discuss how people interact with their environments, how economies develop over time, and how the game might be different if the settlers also interacted with native peoples on the island of Catan. While the web-based version isn't the ideal platform, if kids stick with it they'll still experience some of the deep strategic thinking that's made it a beloved game.

Positive Messages

Kids learn how people and cultures are, in part, interdepedent, and they get a chance to help one another even while competing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are no characters.

Ease of Play

Play Catan's text-heavy tutorials lack some of the interactivity that's needed to teach the game, so beginners might be lost especially if playing against quick-paced, experienced players.


The host of an online game Play Catan can turn off chat, but parents shoud be mindful that chat is left on in some games.


The website that hosts Play Catan does feature ads for account upgrades and an online shop for purchasing more products in the Catan franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Play Catan is a somewhat complex online multiplayer video game based on the popular turn-based strategy board game Settlers of Catan. While the online version of the game lacks the same amount of socializing that happens around the board game (especially in single player mode), kids get access to tutorials, and can more easily find people to play with from around the world. Play Catan requires more strategic thinking than a typical board game and it calls for both cooperation and competition, which may leave new players frustrated as things turn more competitive near the end of the game and players hoard resources. The out of date matchmaking interface makes joining and hosting games confusing, and the in-game interface shows its age too. The iOS app is a better digital experience, but the board game remains the gold standard.

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What's it about?

In PLAY CATAN, players compete to govern a recently settled island by building up cities, roads, and settlements on the resource tiles that make up the game's map. Each newly built item adds to a player's total Victory Points, and the first player to 10 points wins. On each turn, a player rolls the dice. The number that gets rolled determines -- based on settled tiles -- which players receive resources. Players need to position themselves strategically on the board so they can get the most resources each turn, and must also trade with one another to try and gain an economic and strategic advantage.

Is it any good?

For fans of the original board game, Play Catan can be a fun, if dated, online experience, but it's difficult to learn how to play using the text-heavy and quick-paced online tutorials. A crowded matchmaking and game hosting interface makes it confusing to find the right game for kids and newbies. Consequently, it's better to learn how to play Settlers of Catan using the board game or iOS app. Once kids have a good handle on the game, it'll be fun to jump online and race other players to the top of the resource chain.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can explore the history of settlement in their regions.

  • Families can discuss how natural resources have aided settlers, colonists, and civilizations, and how resources have been used wisely and unwisely.

  • Families can explore different types of trade and exchange throughout history and across the world.

  • Families can discuss why Play Catan includes opportunities for cooperation and competition, and how/why players decide to help each other out or not.

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Thinking strategically

Themes & Topics

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