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Catan Starfarers Duel Review

Settlers of Catan was a game I really loved back in the day, but have generally cooled on as more and more board games become available. I have a few issues with Settlers of Catan, but most of them revolve around either getting blocked by other players or just not getting the roles you need to win the game. Neither feels like something you can control, and when both happen at the same time, it can make for a really miserable game night.

I have really enjoyed some of the more recent Catan releases, including Settlers of Catan: Dawn of Humanity and Game of Thrones Catan. But it’s an old game in the franchise that has held my attention the most and the longest – the two player card game. When Asmodee Canada approached me about reviewing Catan Starfarers Duel, with no knowledge of the game I was expecting another card game – this is much different.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that this game isn’t what I thought it would be does not take away form how much fun it was to play. And this is so far removed from the standard Catan model that if it had a different title, you’d probably never expect it to be a Catan product. And trust me, I’m very much OK with that.

Out of the box, the game quality is phenomenal, although there is a defect in the included orange die that really shouldn’t be an issue to anyone. Putting all the dials onto the boards did take a bit of work, and there were moments when I thought I would break the dials. It’s worth noting here that if you plan to play this with a friend one evening, to make sure that you have pre-punched and assembled everything so that you can just play. Punching and assembling took me a good 20-30 minutes, so having tha done early is pretty important in my opinion.

In Catan Starfarers Duel, players are competing to earn 10 points, which is the most Catan thing about this game. Well, that isn’t necessarily true either. Players are flying their ships through space collecting resources, building colonies, and of course, rolling a die! Through the course of the game players will complete missions which will award them victory points. Through ship upgrades and resource management, this 75 minute game is probably more complex than standard Catan, and definitely longer.

There is so much fun to be had here, although I’d argue this is for more advanced board game players. While on the surface this is simply a job of trying to buy resources at low costs and sell at high costs, there is plenty of memorization required as well. Each deck of planet cards only has 8 or 9 cards total, and you will continually cycle through these decks. Remembering which decks contain which resources, and where cards you need more missions are is key to success. Without the ability to do that, your experience with Starfarers Duel might not be what you want.

That being said, once you get your engine moving, and have a steady stream of resources and money to work with, the really fun of this game begins – upgrades! The game allows you to upgrade various aspects of your ship, and each upgrade makes your ship and your game more efficient.

Buying and installing upgrades is incredibly satisfying – this sense of ship building is really neat, especially as you and your opponent choose and upgrade different things. I found that there isn’t really just one way to win this game, although there are things that reward you better than others. Still, how you upgrade your ship and what you choose to focus on will ultimately decide your path to glory. Stretch yourself too thin and you might have access to tons of points, but not at the rate you need to win. Focus too much, and you might be struggling to get those final few points. There is a delicate balance here of how you earn your points, and that was really enjoyable for me.


Not everything is fantastic, and it wouldn’t be a Catan game without a little dice rolling luck. How much this annoys people will depend, but it seemed to be a pretty big deal for some of the folks I played with. See, you can use your movement action points to flip cards on one of the 4 decks, and for the most part what’s in the deck is going to be beneficial to you in some way. However, there are also pirates in the deck, which is obviously included to add some risk to continually going through a specific deck. If you don’t defeat the pirates, which will come down to a die roll at some point, you lose all your action points for that turn; you could also lose parts of your ship.

Thematically, I get why it’s here, but a few bad dice rolls for one player coupled with some average rolling from the other could create a swing in the game that you don’t necessarily have a ton of control over. I wasn’t as annoyed by it as others, but it’s worth mentioning none the less.

Overall, however, I think that Catan Starfarers Duel is a really chunky two-player game. So often, 2-Player games are pretty simplistic in nature, but this is a long, lengthy experience that hardcore gamers are going to have a ton of fun with. From us here at, we recommend this for experienced couples or friends who have the time to run through a number of the games different scenarios. For those who find enough challenge in standard Catan, you might not want to apply for this galactic adventure.


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blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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