Great family fun!
It’s not often that a game out of the box catches the attention of the entire family, but is universally enjoyed by all of us for the same reasons-fun, working together, and zero competition among players. Castle Panic by Fireside Games is that game. I knew something special sat on the floor when everyone sat down around it and I had not removed the plastic wrap. The bright yellowish box, Castle Panic splashed across the top, and the fanged monsters said FUN!
Since I was working on blogs I told them if they wanted to play they had to do the work. Usually everyone bails. The plastic wrap torn off all three of them dug into the box. Barb placed the board on the floor, the boy picked up the rules and started to read, and our girl got the counters and die ready. See what I mean?
Here is what you get: One board with a bulls eye design, three colored sectors with four outer rings and a bulls eye center. A bundle of castle cards. A pile of monster counters. Six cardboard walls and towers with plastic stands. Two fortified wall sections and a tar counter. One six sided die. Every piece looks great, fun designs that encourage you to pick the piece up. The rules are well written and edited. Each of us found them clear and easy to understand. Organization could be improved, but that is a minor quibble.
How does it play? The goal, defeat all of the monsters before your castle’s last tower is knocked down. The players work together to defend the castle. Each player has 5 cards (for a four person game-different numbers of players different numbers of cards). The cards are used to defeat the monsters, fortify walls, or rebuild walls. The board is divided into three colored wedges and four outer rings-forest, archers, knights, and swordsmen. Each ring corresponds to a type of card. Play archer cards to target monsters in the archer ring, provided the color of the archer matches up with the colored wedge the monster is in.
- Each turn a player draws up to their hand of cards.
- Discard a card to draw a new card (optional).
- Trade cards with another player (optional).
- Play their cards-a player can play as many cards as they have. Each card is played and resolved: such as red archer-when played, one creature in the red archer section takes one point of damage. When the last point of damage is done to a monster remove the monster from the board and set next to you.
- Move all monsters forward one ring closer to the castle. Monsters next to a castle wall, take one point of damage and remove the wall. Monsters next to a tower, take one point of damage and remove the tower.
- Finally, add new monsters. Roll a die, draw a monster token and place that token in the forest ring that matches that number.
There are some monster tokens that move the monsters, bring additional monsters into the game or have special effects such as the boulder which moves immediately smashing everything in its path until it hits a wall or tower which are removed or rolls off the opposite side of the board. All of this happens quickly each turn making for a game with little down time and if there is down time it is because players are planning trades.
Final Thoughts: As you can see from the photo we won, but barely. Castle Panic is surprisingly challenging and working together is key. Forgetting to make trades, hording cards, or forgetting to discard a useless card to draw another can lead to disaster-such as the turn where we lost two walls and a tower. I highly recommend Castle Panic for families or gaming groups looking for a co-op game to play.