Monopoly vs. Catan: Which Board Game to Get?

Home Rec World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Although video games are becoming more and more popular, board games have not gone out of style just yet, and in fact, have resurged in popularity over the last few years. However, there are hundreds, if not thousands of board games out there, which makes choosing one quite hard.

Two very popular one include Monopoly and Catan, but which is better for you?

Monopoly vs. Catan: A Detailed Comparison

Right now, we want to do a detailed comparison of Monopoly and Catan, based on various important considerations such as the theme, the objective, the difficulty of the game, and more. Let’s jump right in.

1. Theme

Starting with Monopoly, the theme of this game, in its most basic form, is real estate. This game is centered around the buying, selling, and trading of various pieces of real estate, with a certain societal element involved, such as paying taxes, going to jail, and earning money from community works. This game is all about capitalism too, which could also be the main theme, depending on how you look at it. The free market definitely plays a large role in this game.

Catan by comparison has a totally different theme, and for those of you who don’t know, the actual name of the game is Settlers of Catan, which should give you a good idea of what the game is about. As the name indicates, the theme of Catan is to settle a specific area, which in this case is the island of Catan. This game is all about empire and city building, exploration, and rapid cultural development and advancement.

2. Objective of the Game

The objective of Monopoly, quite simply, is to be the last person standing. Monopoly involves rolling dice to land on various squares, each of which contains a property or is an action space. The aim is to buy properties, to make full matching property sets (color-coded), and then to build houses on those properties, followed by hotels.

Whenever people land on your properties, they have to pay you a certain amount of money. The objective here is to own as much property as possible, with the aim of completely bankrupting all opponents. If you run out of money, you lose, and if you are the last person left with money, then you win.

In theory, Catan is quite similar in terms of how you win the game, although instead of a last-man-standing approach, this game features a first-past-the-post approach. The objective of the Settlers of Catan is to build settlements, roads, cities, and other amenities which developed civilizations have.

The building of various settlements, cities, and amenities provides players with so-called victory points, with each type of construction providing a certain number of these points, usually one or two. The winner of Catan is the first person to accumulate ten of these victory points.

Monopoly vs. Catan

3. Difficulty

Both Monopoly and Catan incorporate a fair amount of strategy into the gameplay, with Catan probably having just a little bit more. Now, both Catan and Monopoly are rated for ages eight and up, although we honestly do not agree with this assessment.

While Monopoly does incorporate strategic elements, there is also a good deal of luck involved, plus the rules are not overly complex or numerous. We would say that fast-learning and bright seven or even a six-year-old child could play Monopoly. That said, there are also easier versions available for younger children.

Catan on the other hand does appear to be quite a bit heavier in terms of the strategic aspect, plus there is really not too much luck involved either. Moreover, the rules in Catan are both more numerous and more complex. Although the packaging states that the game is ideal for ages eight and up, we personally would push this number to ten or even eleven years of age. The bottom line is that Catan is harder to learn and to play than Monopoly.

4. Number of Players

Monopoly requires at least two people to play the game, but there are technically enough game pieces provided for up to eight players. Although you could make your own game pieces for even more players, there might not be enough Monopoly money.

In terms of Catan, the base game can be played by either three or four people. However, there are some special versions and expansions that can be played by as few as two players, or as many as six.

5. Average Play Time

Monopoly can vary greatly in terms of how long it takes to finish a game. Depending on how many players there are, and depending on a good deal of luck, a single game can take anywhere from twenty minutes to three hours to play. In other words, get ready to play for quite some time depending on how things pan out.

Catan on the other hand is a much quicker-paced game, especially if everybody already knows how to play. An average game of Catan generally takes no more than 30 minutes, maybe 40 for inexperienced players, and roughly 20 minutes if everyone already knows how to play.

6. Variations

Monopoly is of course the most prolific and variant-rich board game out there, with there currently being 1,144 versions of it.

In terms of Settlers of Catan, at this time, including expansion and variations, there are just over 30 of them.

Catan Expansion

Which of the Two Games Should You Get?

Seeing as Monopoly is a bit simpler than Catan, if we were to recommend one for a family game night, especially when young kids are involved, it would have to be Monopoly. Catan is a family game, but not for young kids. Monopoly is a bit more laid back and relaxed, due to a good deal of luck and chance involved, whereas Catan is much more strategic. Catan is definitely oriented more towards adults than children, although there are versions for children available.

The bottom line here is that if you want to have fun, you want to be relaxed, and you want to play a relatively simple game with elements of both chance and strategy, a game that can take hours to play, then Monopoly is the game for you. However, if you want to play a much more competitive, strategic, and fast-paced game, one that requires a lot of thought and planning, then Catan is the better option.



Both Monopoly and Catan are truly fantastic games, and when it comes down to it, we recommend trying both of them, as each is great in its own right.

For more board games to choose from, check my list of Monopoly alternatives.