Game Review – Castle Panic

005My son was so excited to get the game Castle Panic for Christmas!

This is a collaborative game, where players work together to defend the castle from monsters. We’ve had a lot of fun playing it! Here is my review:

Number of players

This game can be played with 1 -6 players. We have played with 2-3 players. Wil Wheaton played with 4 people on Table Top. More people might make it more challenging, which could be good. We have yet to play a game we don’t defeat all the monsters before they destroy our castle, but it has been VERY close a few times. Next time we play, it might not be so close. Read on to find out why.

Clarity of Rules/Directions

Rather than bothering to read the directions, which came in a booklet, I just watched the Table Top episode to learn how to play. They do a really good job of explaining how to play, what strategies to use, etc. The only thing they didn’t explain, was how to initially set up the board. Luckily, this was very clear in the booklet of instructions.

The one downside of watching someone play in order to learn how, is that not every situation possible may arise in their game. After starting this post, I decided to read through the booklet, and found we were doing a couple of things wrong. I also found out that there are several variations possible on game play, which can make the game more or less challenging, depending on your desire (and, probably, the ages of the players). The nice thing about the rule book, is that it makes it very clear how to play. Kudos to the game makers for making such easy to follow directions!

013How to Play the Game

The board has a circle with three colored sections. Each color has two numbered areas (to correspond to a number on the die). Within the circle, there are four rings. Each ring can be attacked by a different type of battle/card (swordsman, knight, or archer), with the exception of the outer most ring, the forest; this ring is where the monsters come on to the board.

The board starts with 3 goblins, 2 orcs, and a troll in the archer ring of the circle. The first turn is the only one where monsters come on in this ring. We randomly put one monster in each of the numbered areas of the board to start. You could also roll the die for each monster to determine where it would start.

In the very center of the board, is the castle. There are 6 towers that go in the center of the board. One goes on in each numbered section to form a small circle. There are also 6 walls. Again, one goes in each numbered section to form an outer circle.

We determine who goes first by rolling the die, and whoever has the highest number goes first.

Each person is dealt the number of cards the directions say. This is dependent on how many players you have. We usually play with 2 people, which means each person get 6 cards. To add to the challenge, we have also played with each person only getting 5 cards.

The cards you get determine how you can attack the monsters. Each card has a different color, and a different type of attacker. For example, if you have a red archer card, you could attack either the monster in section 1 or 2 (the two numbers in the red section of the circle).

Step 1: In each turn, you may discard one card to draw a new one. You may also trade one card with one other player. This can be very helpful. The point of the game is to work together with everyone else playing, to determine the best strategy to defeat all the monsters while protecting your castle. Sometimes, you need to think several turns ahead to decide in what order you should attack the monsters.

Step 2: Play your cards to attack the monsters on the board. In addition to the fighter cards, there are a few special cards. There are brick and mortar cards, which can be played together to rebuild a castle wall. Other special cards include special abilities such as tarring a monster so it can not move, fortifying walls, cards to prevent new monsters from coming out, and special cards to defeat any one monster entirely.

Step 3: After you have played all the cards you can, all the monsters move forward one space. If there is a wall in the way, the monster loses 1 hit point (HP), and the wall is destroyed. The monster stays where it is, but after the next turn, if it is not destroyed, it goes in to the castle ring. Each time a tower is in the way, the monster takes 1 HP, and the tower is destroyed. The monster continues to move clockwise until it has no HP left. The highest possible is 3, but there is a special monster that heals others on the board. You DON’T want your walls and towers to all be destroyed, or the game is over, and your team loses.

Step 4: Once all the monster have been moved, you draw 2 new monsters. We put them all in a cup to draw from, but you can also use a baggie, or have them face down in a pile, and randomly draw 2. You then roll the die to see where they go, and place them on the board. There are some monster cards that have you draw more monsters, or that have other effects on your monsters. Also, watch for boulders, they can be helpful, as they roll down an area and take out all monsters in that area, but they can also be harmful, as they don’t stop until they hit a wall. Yikes!

Once you have defeated all the monsters, your team has won the game.

Age Range

The box says it’s for ages 10 and up.

My 8 year old is the one who has been asking for it for months. He is quickly learning how to strategize, and to think ahead to what might make the most sense over the next several moves. I think that is about the youngest that makes sense with Castle Panic.

My 11 year old step-son also seems to be really enjoying the game. He was the one who thought to play it with less cards to add to the challenge. Now that I know about the other options for game play, I’m sure he will especially enjoy the more challenging options. My 12 year old daughter and I enjoy the game equally as much as the boys have. This isn’t just a game to play with kids, we just as easily could have a group of adult friends over to play. I like when games can be played with almost any age!

It was totally worth the money we spent on the game. Thank you to the guys at Your Mom’s Basement ( a cool little gaming store/cafe near the dance and karate studios where we spend most of our time) for recommending Castle Panic!

Update 1/7/14: After playing it with the “right” rules. This game has definitely become more challenging! The kids seem to enjoy it even more than before!

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One thought on “Game Review – Castle Panic

  1. Kris says:

    Hi, Sarah!
    I’m so happy to hear that your family has been enjoying Castle Panic. I thought you might like to know that Castle Panic is turning 5 years old in September, and we’re having a party! Check out the information here: http://www.firesidegames.com/castlepanicbirthday. We have some fun, downloadable content at the bottom of that page, to help liven up game play.
    And in case your family is ready for a bigger challenge, we do have The Wizard’s Tower expansion to Castle Panic, which adds flying monsters, fire, and magic to the game! http://www.firesidegames.com/thewizardstower
    Thanks!
    Kris

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