Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Castle Panic

by Randy

Hello, readers! Miss us? We've been away on a family vacation. It was great, but we're glad to be back, too. I hope your summer is also full of fun and adventure. Speaking of adventure... today I'm looking at a cooperative game called Castle Panic by Fireside Games. The great people at Fireside provided us with a copy to review, and we wanted to share our playing experience with you!

Castle PanicSo let's start off with what it looks like, shall we? The art is nice, and consistent throughout. Components-wise, we have a standard sized game board and and various cardstock bits. There are castle walls and towers in the center with standees, and loads of wedge-shaped monster and event tokens (more on that later). Additionally, there is a deck of cards mostly consisting of warrior types in red, green and blue. This game is certainly a good deal when looking at the price of the game versus the components.

The way the game plays is that monsters (trolls, orcs and goblins) are coming at the castle from all sides, seeking to tear down the walls and destroy the towers inside. The players are tasked with killing the monsters before they can accomplish this. The board is arrayed in a circle divided into three colored wedges, with each colored wedge containing two number sections (six total). There are concentric circles around the castle, named by the warrior cards required to attack  monsters in that ring. Players have hands of cards that are mostly warrior cards with a particular color, which they use to damage and kill the attacking hordes. The monsters are on wedge-shaped tiles, a clever design that has you rotate the creature to represent damage (for those that require multiple hits). At the end of each player's turn, more tiles are drawn and assigned randomly to a section, and move each turn.

What I like about Castle Panic is that this is a cooperative game that gets it right. What do I mean by that? A good cooperative game should have a good balance of tension, and a meaningful array of choices. The rate that monsters are added in the standard difficulty (and the difficulty does scale- bonus!) certainly will keep you on your toes. As far as choices... you may trade cards with other players. There is indeed a balance to keep in mind... since there is also a competitive aspect to it. You see, if the players win, the player with the most monster kills is declared the Master Slayer. So there is also the consideration of whether of not you want to give another player the cards he needs to slay beasties if you want to be in the running for that title. So there are competing priorities that make the game interesting.

While we're talking about positive aspects of the game, I want to note that it is also pretty kid-accessible. The age recommended on the box is 10 and up, but I would set that a little lower. Aside from the rules, there is very little reading involved. Some of the tiles do indeed have minor instructions, but I want to note that I played this a couple times with my five year old and had a blast. Granted, Katie is a bit advanced and needed help with the reading, but I wouldn't say she was exactly on a ten year old level with playing games. So long as an adult plays, I can easily see the under ten crowd having as good a time as my daughter, who absolutely loved it. With kids, I advise the "less panic" rules and a de-emphasis on the Monster Slayer title.

My family likes this game. We thoroughly enjoyed checking this one out, and it is certainly great to add another cooperative game to the top shelf. The simplicity of this game's play makes it easy to teach, and the tension level seems well balanced so that no game will seem like pushover. Worth checking out! We'd like to thank Fireside Games for providing a copy to us for review.

I hope you enjoyed the review! In the next couple days, tune in for our new logo! Our good friend Julian at Cool Factor 5 was kind enough to design a logo. He just relaunched his blog, and I think we can expect some great stuff in the near future over there. Check him out!

1 comment:

  1. We've been really enjoying this as a family since I bought it earlier this summer. My 3 year old daughter has been playing it and she has really picked up on the flow of the game, and even recognizes all the cards by name! When it's just the two of us we usually stick to the shorter version, but we always have a great time with it! I also read that an expansion was announced at Origins, which I'm sure we'll be picking up.