Having originally entered into the world of Catan about a year ago through the board game’s official iOS app, I was very interested in another iteration of the franchise releasing onto the proving ground of the App Store. Rivals for Catan, which I had never played before, wins my recognition of it as a fun game that I might pick up in physical form down the road. However, porting a game into mobile format places the app under a different set of scrutinizing eyes. The game is fun, sure, but does it hold up on the iPhone?
For those new to Rivals, perhaps expecting a nice tutorial to get you on your feet, think again. The tutorial does manage to cover some important gameplay rules, but other rules were left completely unmentioned, and since the “Help” section of the game is anything but, I ended up visiting catan.com and reading the rulebook. For those veterans to Rivals who already know the rules, this will not be a hindrance, but for newcomers to the card game, like me, it’s irritating to have to look outside of the game itself for a tutorial.
Once you grasp the basics, however you manage to do so, you’ll begin the game in earnest. Rivals offers two player “passive-combat” that stays true to the core Catan setup. You’ll gather resources and attempt to increase the size and value of your territory, while trying to hinder your opponent from doing the same. Rivals for Catan is different enough from its predecessor to keep an air of familiarity, while offering enough variation in content to keep veterans interested.
Oh, and I should mention: Rivals for Catan, as a game, is fun. This mobile version of the game has two main modes, Singleplayer and Multiplayer. Both are self-explanatory. Single player pits you against a computer-controlled opponent of your choice, using various rulesets, and Multiplayer sets you against another human opponent. Simple, to be sure, but in my experience, Catan succeeds in its simplicity.
With such small content, there’s not much to criticize. Rivals for Catan offers just enough content to keep players engaged in its gameplay, and that’s really all it needs to do. And the touch controls, which really should be the biggest focus of critique, work fine.
However, bugs messed with the game during my playtime. Not enough to ruin the game, but enough to become an irritating hindrance. Matches that were automatically saved would sometimes crash upon my attempts to reload them, and occasionally, my side of the game board would remain “greyed out”, and would not allow me to select any of my tiles in play.
If you want a way to play Rivals for Catan on the go, you might as well pick this one up. However, those new to this spinoff may want to be cautious. The game is not particularly accommodating to newcomers. And even for those who adore this mobile port, glitches may still provide enough irritation to warrant some extra consideration before a purchase.