Get limited edition Mythic Kingdoms fantasy-themed playing cards while supplies last.
Catan Junior - Board Game Box Shot

Catan Junior

| Published: 2012
80 8 6

The Catan Junior edition takes families with children ages 6 and up to a place quite different from Catan as we know it. There are no “settlers” around here. Instead, the players represent pirates who build their hideouts - called pirates' lairs - all over the island and set sail to find new places and build more pirates' lairs there.

Catan experts will easily recognize that many essential elements of the “big” Settlers of Catan game are included in the Junior edition, which - in accordance with the theme - have different names now. Pirates' lairs are built adjacent to islands; by means of these lairs, the players receive resource tiles. These tiles are used to build ships and more pirates' lairs or to buy development cards (which here are called “Coco tiles”). And if you want to build a pirates' lair, besides a lumber tile and a wool tile you also need a cutlass tile and a molasses tile.

Although in the Junior edition some rules were simplified, so that also 6-year olds have no trouble keeping up, it is still unmistakably a “Settlers of Catan” game. Catan Junior is not just a game for kids but a genuine family game, to be enjoyed by both adults and younger children.

Catan Junior game in play
images © Mayfair Games

User Reviews (8)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
Video Game Fan
Comic Book Fan
100 of 107 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“The Best Way to Discover Catan...Even for Grown-ups? A Full Review”

Being a fan of the classic game The Settlers of Catan (SOC), I couldn’t wait to someday introduce that world to my young daughters (ages 5 & 8) and my students in my kids board gaming group. However, I didn’t think they were quite ready for the complexity of SOC and would probably get confused by the rules and strategy or fatigued by its running time. Enter CATAN JUNIOR by Mayfair Games, a Catan game designed just for younger players…OR IS IT?!?!

Let me just start off by saying that both my wife and I have played a fair share of SOC with expansions, but after playing Catan Junior (CJ), we immediately both agreed that CJ would be an excellent way to introduce ANYONE of any age (particularly casual gamers) to the world of Catan!

Since many gamers are probably already familiar with how SOC gameplay works, I’ll make lots of comparisons to CJ that way. CJ is basically a streamlined SOC. The theme of CJ is pirates! Yay! Who doesn’t love pirates? Your goal is to be the first pirate to build seven Pirate Lairs before your opponents do. Pirate Lairs are the equivalent to settlements in SOC (there are no pirate cities….). In CJ, there isn’t one large island that generates many resources, but many hex-shaped islands that each generate a single resource, with water lanes separating the islands. The placement of these islands on the board and rolled number needed to generate resources have already been preselected. This makes setup A LOT FASTER than in SOC!

Depending on which color you choose, the game board has pre-marked where your first two starting pirate lairs are placed as well as one pirate ship. The pirate ship is the equivalent to a road in SOC. Rules for building more ships and lairs in CJ is similar to SOC in that you must have a certain amount of resources to build them, and the ships must be built next to your lairs and vice versa. A difference is that you don’t have to be two intersections away from another lair to build your next one. This makes it easier for younger players. There is still strategy on choosing the direction to build your ships on the map to help you gather resources.

Another similarity to SOC is that, instead of a Robber, there is a Ghost Pirate! Ooooooo! He works basically the same the robber, but looks cooler! When a player moves the ghost pirate to an island, they collect 2 of that island’s resource from “the bank” and island now won’t generate resources for anyone until the pirate is moved again.

CJ is played with only a SINGLE six sided die. Like SOC, you roll the die at the start of your turn. There are five resources that can be collected for players who have a lair built next to the generating islands determined by the die roll. A roll of 1-5 will produce Goats, Molasses, Cutlasses, Wood, and Gold for players with Lairs in right places. (A roll of 6 allows the player to move the Ghost Pirate.)

One of the biggest differences/additions to CJ is the The Marketplace, which replaces the trading-resources-with-other-players mechanic. Printed on the side of the board (on the shore) are carts which, at the beginning of the game, will hold one of each resource. On their turn, a player may freely trade 1-for-1 with the marketplace to get a resource they need. Because of that, what the marketplace has to offer is always changing. I like the marketplace idea because it helps prevent arguments/hurt feelings with kids if no one will trade with them. (The rules state that the trading mechanic can easily be put back into the game if you’d like however!) There are no ports in CJ, but a player can always trade 2-1 with the bank to get a resource they need.

Lastly, players can opt to buy a Coco the Parrot token, which is the equivalent in SOC to a development card and doubles as the same as getting the Longest Road title. Coco tokens will net the player either additional resources, a free ship/lair, or a move of the ghost pirate. The player who has the most Coco tokens at any time also gets to build a free lair on Spooky Island (the home of the Ghost Pirate.)

So check out updated images on sites like BGG or around the net.

The components are excellent! Resources are NOT cards but thick cardboard tokens. In fact there are no cards in this game at all. Everything is either thick quality cardboard (resources, Coco tokens, building menus) or plastic (lairs, ships, ghost pirate). My only gripe is that I prefer wood to plastic, but the detail with the plastic looks cool so… All the pieces are durably made with kids in mind, but I like them as well!

The board is two sided and very colorful and exciting to look at. One side is the 2-player board and the other is the layout for 3-4 players. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to play with more than 4 players.

Catan purists may bristle at this, but I truly feel CJ is the best way to introduce both casual and family gamers to the Catan world. Explaining the gameplay and the setup of the game is much quicker than SOC. Games will last anywhere from only 30m to 1h depending on the players, which makes for a easier choice to play it when time is a factor (especially if you’re trying to squeeze a game in with the kids before bedtime.)

What I really like is all the concepts and strategies (planning your route on the board, resource management, etc) you learn in CJ will carry over to SOC. I feel confident that when I do introduce SOC to my daughters and students, they will grasp the basic gameplay quickly because of their CJ experience, allowing me to just focus on teaching them the deeper gameplay changes that SOC brings, and they won’t feel quite as lost as if I were to have started them out with SOC. That goes for adults as well! My wife said she wished she would have learned CJ first as it would have made SOC a lot easier to quickly grasp.

I rate this game a 10 for Kids and Family Gamers with kids ages say age 9 and under. For other gamer types, your milage will vary, keeping in mind it is designed for a younger audience. I do feel it really is worth considering as a better “gateway” into Catan (and designer games in general) than the full SOC game. It not only is fun to play, but fun to teach. It’s wonderful watching kids figure out the strategies that you know, as an avid gamer, will serve them well as they mature and learn more challenging, complex games.

If you have kids (or maybe even if you don’t), you will be VERY HAPPY with this purchase! It’s a quality, well designed game a family or a group of kids will really enjoy together. And it has lots of replayability, (especially if you add in house rules of your own!)

Player Avatar
AEG fan
Amateur Reviewer
55 of 62 gamers found this helpful

Since this be a pirate game, I’ll be obliged to offer a pirate review…aargh! This be a game that gets two thumbs (er…at least a thumb and a hook) up from this salty captain. Since bringin’ it to me cabin and requesting parlay with me crew, it has been played at least once a day.

Overview With a similar set up, this game offers far less complexity than the original Settlers of Catan. Furthermore with streamlined trading and building rules it moves much faster for the younger crowd. This is exactly what I expected from a “Junior” game. What I didn’t expect was that this game is how much the adults who play enjoy it too! For once there is a kids game I don’t mind playing a few times in a row!

Materials This is a game build to last! The cardboard from the tokens to the box are of high quality that will definitely withstand heavier than normal wear and tear. The plastic feels a bit thin, but the molding ensures that they won’t smash if stepped on. This is a well-built game.

Conclusion Family gamers rejoice, this is truly a family game. For my “crew” there are older kids who are just able to play the game and younger kids who are far too young to try. The great thing is that once the older kids outgrow it, they will still play with the young ones. To take this a step further, Casual/Avid Gamers rejoice as well. This is a very easy game to teach and would be a great intro to Settlers for the game-wary!

Be ye captain or crew, I highly recommend ye find yerself a copy of this Tot-targeted Treasure. Get a map and plot a course to yer Friendly Local Game Store (where all the greatest of treasure lies)!

Player Avatar
Baseball Fan
Book Lover
Plaid Hat Games fan
Comic Book Fan
55 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“Want to teach children Catan?”

…teach them Catan.

While a few of the mechanics are the same between Catan and Catan Jr, the latter is a pretty huge leap from the former. They don’t feel anything like each other.

But this doesn’t mean Catan Jr is not an entertaining game to play with children 5 and older. My daughter loved it at age 5. Having said that, this is not something she hauls out on her own (she’s now 8) and plays with friends. Not sure if that’s because she associates the game with me or if it really is a little messy to set up.

As I’ve noted, a good game to play with kids, but if your wee ones veer toward shorter attention spans, I found it hard to keep all engaged. Those little cardboard sabres are just too much fun to play with.

Great family game and appropriate for kids 5 and older.
Lovely and sturdy components and board
Pirate theme is an interesting approach to Catan
Decent enough gateway game into the world of more complex games

A bit of strategy, lots of luck
Not overly Catan-ish – assuming this is what you’re looking for
For younger children, can feel a bit drawn out and the goal a touch meaningless.

Want your young’uns to love board-gaming as much as you? This is a good start.

Player Avatar
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
76 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“A great family game with youngish kids”

Getting a great game for kids can be tough. Often you either get something that is so trivial that it is so dumbed-down that it is mind-numbingly tedious for adults to play, or you get a game that works out too complicated and you need to either house rule or do a lot of hand-holding.

With that introduction I’ll get straight to my conclusion before going into some details: I reckon Catan Junior is pure gold. It just hits a great middle ground and is perfect for what it is.

What it is is a light weight, fast playing game based on its elder sibling, the Settlers of Catan. As with Settlers, Catan Junior has a die roll on each player’s turn which can provide goods, even for players who are not on turn. These goods can be traded (either with the bank or, once per turn, at a better rate with the marketplace) for other goods, which can then be cashed in to build pirate lairs or ships, or buy parrot tiles which give bonuses. Ships are needed to connect lairs, and the lairs give you more opportunities to earn goods. The first person to use up all their lairs is the winner. All very simple.

The components in the game are great, with the ships and lairs being nice plastic models, and the goods represented by chunky, shaped tiles that look great and are satisfying to handle. The board art is good too, and the board itself has different maps on each side to use depending on whether you have two or more players. I very much like this.

Strategies are not very varied, it must be said, but that is not the point. What is the point is that this is a well thought out modern boardgame which kids seem to lap up and most adults are happy to play once in a while. My six-year-old daughter has played a wide variety of games from my collection and this is definitely high on her list of favourites, and even introduced a friend of hers from school to it during a visit. The friend took to the game right away despite not being a regular gamer.

All in all, this would be a great addition to a family games cupboard for a family with relatively young kids, say 5 to 8 years old would be perfect. For older families, maybe.

Player Avatar
Military Service
56 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Not good for hardcore game groups.”

Of course it isn’t- this is a kids game, do you think I’m that dumb?

But seriously, it isn’t good for gamer adults.

My 6 year old son likes this game. My three year old son doesn’t. That means I get to play it. I am not good at this game. The game is a little slow paced for kids.

I enjoy playing games with my kids, but I don’t know if I really enjoy this game. This isn’t his first choice, he would rather play Forbidden Island, Dixit, or King of Tokyo, but this is a good game when you need a break from those. Also this one is alright to play with just 3 players, Dixit is a little more difficult unless you make up your own rules.

Overall the game is playable, and the art is neat. The components are cardboard and wimpy but that’s okay. Kids ruin things. Well, mine do.

Player Avatar
Rated 5 Games
56 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“Lost my six-year-old, but I liked it.”

I tried this out with my six year old son at one of the gaming rooms at Comic-Con last year (2013). The level of distractions at CC might have something to do with my boys lack of interest – he jumped ship within 4 rounds, but I found it quite enjoyable.

For those seeking an intro to Catan, or something less resource intensive than the adult game, I recommend a run at Catan Jr.

I also won a stuffed sheep!

Player Avatar
Smash Up: Dinosaur Faction Fan
76 of 93 gamers found this helpful
“Good for the 4 foot set. ”

My family has really gotten into gaming in the last couple of years now that my son can understand following rules and such. Settlers is a bit above his concentration and understanding. Catan Junior has been great for him. He gets the strategy and can win on his own.


This is similar to Settlers in a couple of ways. It’s a resource management game. Try to collect to by ships, pirate coves, or cards. The major differences are, the board is pre-set, there is only one d6 so there is equal chance of getting any resource, and the board trades are simpler.

The strategy is basically the same. The end game is a bit quicker. Get 6 or 7 pirate coves out and you win.

It plays in about 30 minutes, which can be a stretch for some of the little ones out there.

It’s Catan at its roots
The components are really nice
Quick (for the little ones this is a must)

If there are any, it can be too simple at times. (There isn’t a good in-between for this and Settlers)


If you are playing with a little one between about 4 and 6 this is a great introduction to resource management. If you don’t have any that young you won’t like it. It’s fast and easy, but starts to give kids an idea of strategy. I do really enjoy this version.

Player Avatar
Miniature Painter
Intermediate Reviewer
Master Grader
78 of 138 gamers found this helpful
“A more kid friendly version of the classic”

I didn’t enjoy the game nearly as much Catan and would not recommend it to fans of the originaln. It seems too watered down and I enjoy the original much more.

That said, this version is PERFECT for kids or for quick games. I don’t need a time-saver version or a “jostle-proof” version, so it wasn’t for me, but I can easily see how it is good for an entry-level version.

All in all, not bad, just not for me!


Add a Review for "Catan Junior"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile