Scythe Vs Catan: Exploring the major differences

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In the world of board games, two standout titles have captured the hearts of players. Scythe, set in a unique version of 1920s Europe, draws players in with its complex rules, deep themes, and a captivating dystopian world. In contrast, Settlers of Catan, often just called Catan, has been a beloved game for years due to its straightforward gameplay focused on managing resources and expanding on an undiscovered island.

While these games each possess their unique qualities, they also share certain similarities. Given that, this post will bring you a detailed set of differences and similarities between the two providing valuable insights into the unique charms and challenges each title presents. It will provide a comprehensive understanding of what sets these games apart and where they find common ground.

Scythe and Catan: An overview

Scythe is a board game designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games. Set in an alternate history of 1920s Europe, players take on the roles of rival factions, each with their unique abilities and resources. The goal is to control territory, gather resources, and ultimately dominate the other factions through military, economic, or technological superiority making it ideal for engineering aspirants. Players must manage their resources and make strategic decisions to outmaneuver their opponents and secure victory.

Catan, on the other hand, is a classic board game designed by Klaus Teuber and published by Catan Studio. It’s a game of resource management and expansion, where players compete to build settlements, roads, and cities on a modular board made up of hexagonal tiles representing different resources. Players must gather resources, trade with each other, and strategically build their settlements to earn victory points. The first player to reach 10 victory points wins the game.

From settling to slaying: A gameplay comparison of Scythe and Catan

Scythe and Catan differ significantly in their gameplay mechanics. Here are some of the key differences:

scythe and catan

1. Resource Gathering: In Catan, players collect resources like wood, brick, wheat, sheep, and ore by placing settlements and cities on the board. 

In Scythe, players must gather resources by taking specific actions like producing food, metal, and oil, or by trading with other players.

2. Territory Control: Scythe involves a more direct territorial conflict, where players control areas on the board and must use their military might to defend or conquer territories. 

In contrast, Catan’s territorial control is more indirect, with players building settlements and roads to control access to resources.

3. Combat: Scythe includes a combat system, where players can engage in battles with each other’s units. 

In Catan, there is no direct combat between players, but players can block each other’s access to resources or strategically place their settlements and cities to restrict other players’ expansion.

4. Victory Conditions: The endgame in Scythe is triggered when a player achieves six achievements, which can be a combination of territorial control, resource production, and other milestones. 

In Catan, the game ends when a player reaches ten victory points, which are earned by building settlements and cities, holding the largest army, or having the longest road.

Exploring features of Scythe and Catan


  • Unique factions with their abilities and mechs (giant machines) that can be upgraded and customized.
  • Multiple paths to victory, including military conquest, economic domination, and technological advancement.
  • A modular board that allows for different setups and replayability.
  • A beautifully illustrated and immersive alternate history setting, with a rich backstory and characters.
  • A combat system that adds a level of risk and reward to the gameplay.


  • A modular board with random tile placement, allowing for a different setup and gameplay experience each time.
  • With separate robber rules and seafarer rules, these mechanics are easy to learn but challenging to master.
  • A focus on resource management, trading, and negotiation with other players.
  • A balance between luck and strategy, with the roll of the dice determining resource production each turn.
  • Multiple expansions and variations add new mechanics and challenges to the base game.

1. Scythe or Catan: Which has the bigger fanbase

Scythe has gained a significant following since its release in 2016, thanks to its intricate gameplay, unique setting, and stunning artwork. It has received numerous awards, including the Golden Geek Award for Best Board Game, and has consistently been ranked among the top games on BoardGameGeek, a popular board game review site. Scythe has also spawned several expansions and spinoffs, including a digital version of the game.

Catan, on the other hand, is a classic board game that has been around since 1995. It has become a household name and a gateway game for many new players. Catan has sold over 32 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 40 languages. It has won multiple awards, including the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 1995, and has consistently been ranked among the top board games on BoardGameGeek.

Both games have a dedicated fanbase, with players who love the depth and complexity of Scythe and the accessibility and social interaction of Catan. While Scythe is a newer game that has gained popularity in recent years, Catan remains a classic that has stood the test of time and continues to attract new players.

2. Scythe and Catan for everyone: Usability insights

Both Scythe and Catan have many social benefits which include various social gatherings and events, including parties, game nights, birthdays, and more. Here are some examples of where each game might be particularly well-suited:


  • Game nights with more experienced gamers who enjoy complex and strategic games.
  • Themed events, such as sci-fi or alternate history parties, where the game’s setting would be particularly fitting.
  • Competitive events or tournaments, where players can show off their skills and compete for prizes.


  • Family gatherings or parties, where the game’s accessible mechanics and social interaction can be enjoyed by players of all ages and experience levels.
  • Casual game nights with friends or coworkers, where the game’s simplicity and ease of play make it a fun and engaging experience.
  • Multiplayer events, such as game nights with 4-6 players, where Catan’s mechanics are designed to work well with larger groups.

3. Time at the table: Comparing game length

The game length for Scythe and Catan can vary depending on several factors, including the number of players, experience levels, and gameplay options selected. Here is a rough estimate of the average game length for each game:


  • 2-3 players: 60-90 minutes
  • 4-5 players: 90-120 minutes
  • 6-7 players: 120-150 minutes

Scythe’s game length tends to be longer than Catan’s due to the game’s more complex mechanics and multiple paths to victory. Additionally, the game’s setup and teardown can take longer due to the need to customize and upgrade each faction’s mechs.


  • 3-4 players: 60-90 minutes
  • 5-6 players: 90-120 minutes

Catan’s game length tends to be shorter than Scythe’s due to the game’s simpler mechanics and focus on resource management. The game can also be played with fewer players than Scythe, which can contribute to a faster gameplay experience.

It’s worth noting that these are just rough estimates, and game length can vary depending on several factors, including the players’ experience level, strategy, and luck. Additionally, both games have various expansion and variant options that can affect the game length, such as Catan’s Seafarers expansion or Scythe’s Rise of Fenris campaign.

4. Ease of understanding

Both Scythe and Catan have relatively simple rules and mechanics, but Scythe is generally considered to be more complex and may require a bit more effort to understand. Here’s a brief overview of the ease of understanding for each game:


  • Scythe has a relatively steep learning curve and may require a few playthroughs to fully understand the mechanics and different strategies available.
  • The game includes a lot of components, including player mats, faction boards, upgrade cards, and resource tokens, which can make the game feel overwhelming at first.
  • However, once the basic mechanics are understood, the game flows smoothly and becomes more intuitive over time.


  • Catan is generally considered to be one of the more accessible board games, with simple rules that can be learned quickly.
  • The game revolves around resource management, with players rolling dice to determine resource production and using those resources to build settlements and cities.
  • Catan also includes a trading and negotiation aspect, which can add a level of social interaction and engagement to the gameplay.

Is one better than the other?

It’s difficult to say whether Scythe or Catan is better, as both games offer unique gameplay experiences and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the better game will depend on personal preferences and what players are looking for in a board game.

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding between Scythe and Catan:

  • Complexity: If you enjoy complex and strategic games with multiple paths to victory, then Scythe may be the better choice for you. However, if you prefer simpler games with a focus on resource management and social interaction, then Catan may be more up your alley.
  • Theme: Scythe’s alternate history and sci-fi setting may appeal to players who enjoy immersive and thematic gameplay experiences, while Catan’s pastoral and colorful island setting may be more appealing to players who enjoy light and cheerful themes.
  • Player count: Scythe can accommodate up to 7 players, while Catan is best played with 3-4 players. If you’re looking for a game that can accommodate larger groups, then Scythe may be the better choice.
  • Game length: Scythe tends to have longer game sessions than Catan, so if you’re looking for a shorter game experience, then Catan may be the better option.


In conclusion, Scythe and Catan are two popular board games that offer unique gameplay experiences for players. While Scythe is a more complex and strategic game that offers a variety of paths to victory, Catan is simpler and emphasizes resource management and social interaction. Both games have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the better game will ultimately depend on individual preferences and gaming goals.

Regardless of which game you choose, both Scythe and Catan are great options for board game enthusiasts and offer hours of fun and engaging gameplay. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to the hobby, both games are worth exploring and can provide a rewarding gaming experience.

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