Catan 3D Edition is the brand new special edition of designer Klaus Teuber’s iconic hexagon based dice rolling, network building and trading board game. Bringing the Catan island to 3D life, this 2021 release is similar to the 10th anniversary edition from 2005. Playing like the base game, with 3 – 4 players, each terrain type has its own unique 3D designed tile, alongside custom dice, 3D player pieces and card trays. However, is this a stand out edition for fans, collectors or sheep traders? Let’s find out!
For those that aren’t aware of Catan, it’s a board game that sees players rolling dice to produce resources, before trading and spending those resources to slowly build up roads, settlements and cities. This gameplay is unaffected, with Catan 3D Edition playing in the same way as the original game. For more details on the gameplay, check out our review of Catan 25th Anniversary Edition.
Starting with why people would buy this $/£300 RRP special edition are the glorious three dimensional tiles. Seen first through the clear plastic panel of the box, there is no comparison between the standard edition’s cardboard tiles and the 3D tiles in this set. The original had table presence from the colours of the hexagonal tiles. Despite using slightly more muted colours, Catan 3D Edition simply is still the more eye-catching of the two. Literally, popping up from the table, the tiles make playing even more of a pleasure.
Each individual tile is surprisingly light, with the Catan logo debossed on the base. Out of the tiles the mountains unsurprisingly give the most height, with a couple of trees on the side for added detail. The best tile though has to be the fields, with cute sheep roaming around, though the half farmed wheat fields are also something special. Around the edge the water tiles hold in the hexagon board. Unlike the base game these aren’t numbered, as the harbour locations come separately to be placed around the edge, being ships of sheep, wood and the generic goods.
Player pieces for 4 players are included in the same Red, Blue, Orange and White colours – though the white is slightly more of a light grey/beige than pure white. These add pops of colour to the board, standing out and making the board easily readable. The sculpts for each also make the city and settlements easily distinguishable, with some subtle details on both.
Somewhat hiding the stunning tiles are the number disks, giving each hexagon it’s resource producing number. In the tile designs each has a sort of dipped region to sit these disks, though they are a bit balanced for the clay tiles. This isn’t a huge issue, though when placing the 3D robber piece it can sometimes fall over. This is a couple of seconds of potentially laughing at a drunken robber as players stand the piece back up. My bigger issue with these plastic tokens is whilst being minutely transparent, they are yellow in colour. Clear plastic with simple white numbers would have been much more visually appealing.
Like the original “standard” version of Catan, this edition plays with 3 – 4 players. It’s a tight player count but to be fair it is the best player range the game works with – despite expansions to take it up to 6 players. There is that flexibility of expansions and extra content with the standard version though and this isn’t the case with Catan 3D Edition. The tiles from Seafarers would be just cardboard, perhaps Cities and Knights would work but they wouldn’t be the same style and quality pieces.
In 2005 Catan Studios released the 3D Collector’s Edition. It was similar to this 3D Edition, though it did include additional pieces. That edition can easily fetch double the $/£300 RRP of the new edition on the secondary market, though it came in a wooden box and included the Cities & Knights expansion. Having an old edition that is so similar just makes it more surprising that it’s purely the base game included this time around.
With all of these epic 3D tiles and components it’s important they are protected. The outside box with the clear plastic panel, to see into the box, is on the flimsy side. Thankfully, sliding it off players will find that there is a strong lid, with the box sat inside it. While that outside box might show wear and tear with the sturdy box inside the components should be very safe. Adding to this is a great box insert. It neatly stores the components into sections; with an area for tiles (two back to back at a time), cards, card trays, etc. all having enough room without being able to rattle around. On the topic of protecting components it’s slightly odd that card sleeves weren’t included, while they were in the 25th Anniversary Edition last year.
This review might sound negative on a few points, but this is more picking apart an amazing edition of Catan to give you details that may make it not perfect for you. They are little niggles and perhaps in a premium edition such as this they shouldn’t be there. Who is Catan 3D Edition made for? It’s made for dedicated fans and ones that can get the game to the table time and time again to justify the price tag. Not having the ability to use most expansions and not including the 5 – 6 player expansion certainly limits the game though. Still, a lot of fans will be more than happy to play with this set; simply it looks stunning on the table and stores away in a well designed and study box. Be it for your collection or a gift for that huge fan, Catan 3D Edition will be something special on any gaming shelf.
(Editor’s Note: Catan 3D Edition was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. It is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)