The Classic Settlers Of Catan Board Game Beautifully Conquers Switch

Catan – Console Edition
Reviewed On
Nintendo Switch
Available For

Everyone’s favorite, well almost everyone’s favorite, board game has landed on the Nintendo Switch, and it falls to yours truly to look into it for this review. For those of you who do not know the history, the board game was created by Klaus Teuber and originally released in Germany in 1995. Today CATAN (formerly known as The Settlers of Catan) is a true classic and is available in more than 40 languages.

Review Notes

Alright, dirty confession time. I actually do not care for The Settlers of Catan. I’ve played a number of versions and even own the Star Trek expansion, and it’s never going to be my first choice in board games. I’ve done the obligatory giggle at exclaiming, “I have wood for sheep!” I appreciate the difficulty in mastering this board game, and I like the streamlined simplicity of the rules. None of that is going to convince me to dust off my copy sitting unloved on a shelf in my game room. That said, the Switch version of CATAN really is engaging. I’ve skipped right to the Review Notes because, well, it’s CATAN, and we all know there’s no plot.

The Switch version has recreated that much-loved hexagonal board beautifully, featuring either the traditional tiles or Nintendo-specific ones. Both are amazingly rendered and fun. The background music is gently pleasing and easily fades away from your awareness. You have the option to choose between different terrain types and to otherwise customize your gameplay, and you can play in different modes: campaign, scenario, and tutorial. Campaign and tutorial are pretty self-explanatory, though I do recommend playing through the tutorial even if you’re familiar with the board game. Some of the controls are a bit odd, so it’s useful to run through the tutorial to get them down.

Scenario play is really interesting because that mode grants you the opportunity to choose the terms of play. By that I mean you can select a version of the game in which ore is more common than sheep, for example, which adds a very distinct flavor to CATAN’s resource war. You can also determine how many victory points you’ll need to win, so if you don’t have time to play to a full ten, you can set the number at six. That’s a really nice feature. The designers of the Switch version have also taken pity on us all and included a timer that can drastically shorten the AI player’s turn. Admittedly, scenario mode works when you’ve unlocked a scenario in campaign mode, which is basically playing one scenario against these opponents before moving onto another scenario played against other opponents.

CATAN also offers a multiplayer option, but bear in mind, it’s not offline, meaning that everyone you’re playing with needs to have their own Switch. There’s a certain logic to this given that the point of the title is to conceal what resources you have as you use them to block your opponents’ attempts at conquering the island. It’s a decision that makes sense, but it does limit how you can play CATAN with your friends.

Regardless of mode, the title offers a randomized board for every game, so you aren’t replaying the same game no matter if you choose campaign mode or scenario mode. That choice means the Switch version offers the same endless replayability its physical counterpart offers. This is, of course, especially true with the addition of scenario play.

However, the Nintendo Switch version of CATAN is not without its flaws. Anyone who’s ever played the board game can tell you that trading resources is a major game mechanic. You can’t really do what you need to do without trading. The developers have carried that mechanic over, but it doesn’t work quite as well. The trading screen isn’t well laid out, and there’s not really a good way to target a player specifically for a trade. Any player knows that’s a big element of strategy in the board game. Some of the other controls are counter-intuitive, but you do eventually learn your way around. Also, the various gameplay screens are visually distinctive, so if you’re playing against several other people who are physically close enough to see glimpses of your screen, they’ll know more or less what you’ve got. Multiplayer really does work better completely online.


The Switch version of CATAN is a solid video game adaptation of a beloved classic board game. Slick graphics and familiar gameplay coupled with some fun Switch-specific additions make this an entertaining alternative for those nights when you have the itch but can’t get everyone together. While it will never replace the physical version, the Switch version of CATAN is definitely worth a look for fans of the original and new players alike.

CATAN retails for $19.99 on the Nintendo Store.

Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard

    1. The AI opponents come in three possible difficulties, and they can seem to work together as you move into higher levels. At the lowest, they’re…just odd.
    2. Apparently, the Switch version also includes content from the Seafarers expansion, which I’ve never played before.
    3. Other content, specifically the Cities and Knights expansion, is available as a DLC for purchase for Nintendo Switch.
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