Classic Board Games for Kids – Carcassonne and Catan
When we talk about board games, for years people would assume you were getting friends together to play Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life, or something like that. Two games came onto the marketplace that have now entered that conversation, those being Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Both games have their intended audiences, and unfortunately that isn’t children. It wasn’t until development teams familiar with both titles decided to put together kids versions of these board game giants, and they both are magnificent. Let’s take a look at why these are must haves this holiday season!
Carcassonne isn’t in and of itself a difficult game to play, but it is a really hard game to strategically understand. Can anyone line up tiles side by side and connect them? Sure – but not everyone can make the necessary strategic moves to win. Kids, especially, wouldn’t have the capability to make those kinds of strategic maneuvers. So enters My First Carcassonne. In this kids version of the classic games, players work to complete roads – having a starting point and an ending point – and score their colour people. Once a player has used up all their Meeples, they win!
More often than not, roads will have multiple colours on it, which means many individuals vying to complete a specific road to score their coloured Meeples. This is about as deep as the strategy gets – when to complete a road and when to take it away from someone else. Yet even with my seven year old, understanding this one mechanism was simple enough, and since receiving the game a few weeks back, have played many games.
For kids under 5, this experience might still prove to be a bit tough. For those between 5 and 10, however, this is an experience that shouldn’t be missed!
When someone throws the name Junior on something, I’m generally pretty skeptical. And that was once again the case here. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how many mechanics from standard Catan carried over to the junior version. In terms of difficulty, this one is much more difficult than My First Carcassonne, but is also much more enjoyable for adults.
In Catan Junior, players work to place ships and pirate hideouts around the board. Place all your hideouts, and you win. Like in regular Catan, hideouts are placed at junction points between tiles, allowing players to collect resources – goats, swords, gold, lumber, and barrels – that they will use to purchase ships, hideouts, and parrot cards.
While still simplistic, there is more strategy required here than in My First Carcassonne, and it did take my kids a few games to fully understand the basics of what they needed to do. It didn’t take long, however, for my son to realize there was a good balance to be had between building ships and hideouts, and purchasing Parrot Cards that could give a sizeable advantage to players. Unlike Carcassonne, however, my wife and I actually enjoyed playing this one, and it was less of a chore to finish.
Whichever of these two titles you decide to pick up this holiday season, you likely have a winner. While Carcassonne is trending to the 5+ crowd, we would put Catan Junior in the 7+ crowd. Either way, both are enjoyable to a point, and provide the perfect opportunity for kids to play with parents!