Playtesting cooperative CATAN was super fun, and I wanted to say a little something about that, here. If you’re looking for the free printable of the rules we came up with for Cooperative CATAN, you can find them here.
My wife and I have a travel version of CATAN which means the set up is a little quicker, everything is smaller and more contained, there are fewer pieces. It is advertised as all the fun of the fuller, larger game, just a lot more portable, and requiring less space to play. And while Emma has played the larger version of CATAN, I never have, nor have I played with expansion sets. So, if you’re playing with a different set, or an expansion set, your mileage may vary.
A huge difference in gameplay is also a huge improvement in my mind, because the part of the game I enjoyed the most was just toward the end of the standard game, when I finally had enough resources to build and make interesting choices and I could do that for about two turns, and then the game would end. Shifting the perspective to make the game more cooperative, and more cooperative not just between players, but more cooperative between the nascent western civilization that you’re building and their close first nations neighbors with their already built civilization in perfect working order, meant that scarcity is less of a mindset and resources are more abundant, earlier on in the game. Not perfectly abundant, but it did provoke several conversations about how the essence of economics changes when scarcity is not presumed as normal, but rather abundance is presumed.
Another difference in gameplay is that it takes longer to achieve the end of game requirements and that players can purposefully put it off, or shift the timing of it to ensure they are in the best position to win, which I really like because the length of time maximizes the fun, and the nuanced control of the end of the game makes for a little competitive flair that is rather like the frosting than the whole cake.