Catan vs. Ticket to Ride: Which Board Game to Get?

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Today’s world is all about television, streaming, and video games, which might be fine for a short while, but let’s face it, those things often aren’t very educational or mentally engaging, plus most of them don’t really involve any quality family/friend time either.

Although board games might have been around for some time now, they have certainly not gone out of style. Two very popular ones, both of which have been in existence for many years, are (Settlers of) Catan and Ticket to Ride.

So, what are these games about, and which is better for you?

Catan vs. Ticket to Ride

Catan vs. Ticket to Ride: A Detailed Comparison

So that you can figure out whether Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride is better for you, we want to do a detailed comparison based on the most important factors, including things like the theme, objective of the game, and more.


Just to be clear, the name of the game is actually Settlers of Catan, not just Catan. That aside, this is a very fun and adventurous game that focuses on the settling of an island. As the name implies, the theme here is about building a colony or a civilization, as well as the settling of new land.

In theory, this game is a lot like older settlement/civilization building computer games, ones such as Age of Empires or Rise of Nations. If you like games that focus on building cities, creating infrastructure, and advancing technology, then Settlers of Catan could be a great game for you.

Ticket to Ride by contrast is very different. The one and only real theme of Ticket to Ride is trains. This game is particularly focused on building train routes with the aim of connecting various destinations. The theme of this game is railroad, yes, but it also incorporates elements of geography, and it can actually help teach kids about North American (or other depending on the variation you play) cities too.

Ticket to Ride

Objective of the Game

The objective of Settlers of Catan is to build cities, roads, settlements, and other amenities which cities have, along with tons of technological advancement. Each time a player builds settlements, upgrades them to cities, builds roads, and advances tech, they are awarded what is known as victory points.

Each type of construction or development awards players with a certain number of victory points, usually one or two. Settlers of Catan features a first past the post win structure, or in other words, the first person to accumulate ten victory points through the building of various items is declared the winner.

Ticket to Ride also features a first past the post win structure. The main objective of Ticket to Ride is to connect two of your destination cards. Each player is given these so-called destination cards, and the goal is to buy or claim the train routes that connect those points together. Each player gets 20 trains or routes, and once a player runs out of trains, the game is over for all players. The aim is of course to use those 20 trains to connect as many of the destinations on your ticket(s) as possible.

The player who finishes the game with the most points is the winner. Points are awarded for connecting the destinations on your tickets, for each train route that you have, and the player who has the longest consecutive route gets bonus points.

So, by contrast, whereas Settlers of Catan ends when the first player passes ten victory points and is declared the winner, Ticket to Ride ends when the first player runs out of trains or tickets, at which time points are then counted.


What needs to be said here is that Settlers of Catan, according to the box, is rated for ages eight and up. Now, the issue we have with this rating is that it’s too low, at least in our opinion. We think that this game should not be played by kids younger than ten years of age, if even.

The reason for this is because Settlers of Catan is a strategy-heavy game, quite so in fact. It involves a lot of strategic planning and important decision-making, and when it comes down to it, there is really not too much luck involved.

By all means, Settlers of Catan is not a very easy game to play, especially if you want to play it right and come out on top. However, just because it is hard doesn’t mean that it’s not fun. This game can get quite competitive and action-packed.

Ticket to Ride is also rated for ages eight and up, and here we think this should go in the other direction than Catan, because as far as we are concerned, Ticket to Ride is easy enough for five or six-year-olds to play, although we suppose it does depend on the child in question.

Sure, Ticket to Ride does involve a bit of strategy, as players have to make sure that the opponents don’t figure out what train routes are needed to score points. A bit of deception and bluffing is important here. However, Ticket to Ride involves a lot more luck and far less strategy than Settlers of Catan, as a lot of it depends on what cards you draw. Ticket to Ride is the far easier game.

Settlers of Catan

Number of Possible Players

Settlers of Catan is a bit special in the sense that you need either three or four players to play. However, there are some versions that only need two people, but they honestly aren’t nearly as good.

Ticket to Ride is more versatile in this sense, as it can be played by anywhere from two to five players. It is the only of these games (the original versions) that can be played by just two people, which we think is a pretty big deal.

Average Required Play Time

Although Settlers of Catan can be hard to learn, it really does not take long to finish a game. On average, expect a single game to last for about 30 minutes, give or take. You can expect experienced players to finish a game in 20 minutes, and newbies can take 40 minutes or more.

In terms of time spent playing, Ticket to Ride is fairly similar. Depending on the number of players, you can expect a single game of Ticket to Ride to last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.


Settlers of Catan is quite a diverse game with many variations. Including expansions, there are 33 different versions of Catan.

Including past and present versions, there are 27 variations of Ticket to Ride.

So, Settlers of Catan does have some more variety.

Ticket to Ride Europe

Which of the Two Games Should You Get?

When it comes down to it, themes and game objectives aside, we think that the one deciding factor here is the difficulty. Simply put, while Settlers of Catan is a super fun game to play with friends and other adults, it is quite hard. It really is not child-friendly, not to mention that you need three or four players.

Ticket to Ride on the other hand is a much more child-friendly game. It’s just much simpler, with a bit more luck and a lot less strategy involved. If you have kids or just don’t feel like thinking too much, then Ticket to Ride is the way to go. Both games are fun, but one is way more relaxed than the other.


Both of these board games are a lot of fun to play, but of course, they are not the same, not in the least.

If you want to have some competitive fun while also relaxing, go with Ticket to Ride, but if you want a real challenge, then you just cannot beat Catan.

Alternatively, you can also consider other board games like Catan of which there are many.