Move Over Candyland, Catan: Junior is Coming in April

Unfortunately, Timmy didn't put the spyglass down in time to realize Mr. Squawkers was armed

I'm only a few words into this announcement and I've already thrown Candyland under the bus, but it's hard not to. If you look at games as either a test of skill or a series of interesting decision, most titles on toy store shelves fail to meet either of those criteria. Mayfair Games is aiming to change that with Catan: Junior. Inspired by the mega-hit board game The Settlers of Catan, Catan: Junior will be released this April as part of Mayfair's new Fun Fair line of children's games.

Sure, there was 2003's The Kids of Catan, but since that game wasn't particularly very good, we'll just forget about it. What game? I'm not sure what you're talking about. In any case, Catan: Junior actually looks quite good, and should be a perfect introduction to Euro-style board games. Before you know it, your kids will be pushing around wooden cubes with the best of them.

In order to develop a kid-friendly game, designer Klaus Teuber (the same man behind the original The Settlers of Catan) added an appealing theme. Catan: Junior has replaced the settlers with pirates, and the five resources with wood, wool, rum, sabers and gold. Roads have become ships, settlements have become pirate warehouses, and lastly, the dreaded ghost pirate will show up in place of Catan's usual robber.

Originally published by Kosmos in Germany as Die Siedler von Catan Junior (pictured above), the North American version from Mayfair Games should look pretty much the same.

Mechanically, the game has been simplified a bit to suit its younger target audience. A single six-sided die is used rather than a pair, and the concept of upgrading settlements to cities has been eliminated. To provide an escape valve in case the kids can't agree on trades, a marketplace has been established that holds one of each resource type. Once per turn, a player can exchange one card from their hand with a card stored at the market. These all seem to be positive changes for a kid-focused Catan game, so hopefully this title is given the attention it deserves from major retailers.

After you've got your preschooler hooked on Catan, there's only one thing left to do: lock in that love of resource trading and hobby gaming with a set of five plush Catanimals. Now where did all that rum go?