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Subject: A New Review of an Old Favorite rss

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Dennis FitzPatrick
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Denver
Colorado
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Castle » Forums » Reviews
A New Review of an Old Favorite
Back when this game first came out, I played it quite a bit. Even got my folks to play a few times. It was always a hit. That was before I found the BGG. I was surprised at the low ratings the game got. As time went on, new games came to the table and Castle was left behind...until Tom Vasel's list of top 100 games included this little gem. So I had to dig it out for some more play time.

On to the review...

The Bits
I think I paid about 15$ for this when it first came out. So it was a good deal back then. You get a nice, if oddly sized, deck of cards with attractive yet cartoonish artwork to fit the theme. You get a 4-piece cardboard frame that makes up the "gameboard". The 4-pieces fit together to form the castle walls. And you get 5 sets of different colored wooden disks with a bag to hold them. All of it fits neatly in the gamebox which was part of Alea's Bluebox series (Fantasy Business, Dragon's Gold and Democrazy are all the same series).

The Rules
Are simply laid out and quite intuitive with some simple examples to help you along. This is definitely on the "lighter" end of games and runs, 1/2 (with 2 players) to an hr with 5 players.

Gameplay
It's actually very simple. Each player starts with a hand of cards (varying based on the # of players) and a deck of cards to draw from. The goal is to be the first player to play all your cards from your hand and deck. There are a few cards leftover which are set face up to the side which makes up "The Exchange".

Players may do 2 of the following 3 things.
1. play a card
2. draw a card from their deck
3. exchange a card from their hand for one in "The Exchange"

That's it. The trick is how to best get rid of your cards while sticking cards in your opponents hands.

Many of the cards have "bounceback" abilities that force cards back into players hands.

There are 4 areas players can play cards to: The Courtyard (Inside the Castle walls consisiting of 16 "spaces" to play a card in), The Rampart (16 spaces, 4 along each wall), The Towers (4 corner towers) and the nebulous Outside which is anywhere outside the Castle walls.

The tokens are used when you play a card. You place one of your tokens on the card to show ownership of the card, which is important so other players know whose cards are whose to bounceback.

Theme
This has a loose-fantasy feel to it. Think along the lines of "The Princess Bride" to get yourself in the right mood for this game. The only other game that tries to capture the feel of courtly politics and the silliness of it is Succession by Your Move Games. The theme could have been anything but fantasy does work well for this mechanic. Everyone is represented from the Village Idiot, to the King's Mistress.

Is it fun?
Yes, this game's fun with 2 or fun with 5. I haven't found a bad mix of players yet. There are combos that aren't obvious at first and strategies to playing and passing cards or not playing cards. With 2 players, it's very strategic. With 5 players this has the classic Faduitti quality of controlled chaos. Often you can't plan for your turn and can only do what seems best at the moment.

What's bad about it? Well, there is leader bashing. But, I grew up learning to cope with leader bashing and it doesn't bother me. Everyone always knows how many cards are left in each person's hand and deck. No hiding allowed. So it requires some skillful hand management for the end game when everyone is trying to get that magic last card down. The game is almost always a close thing and everyone has a chance to win.

There is also very little risk of AP, because there isn't really a "perfect" play to look for.

I can't believe I was thinking of selling this at one point just because it was an older game in my collection. This is an absolute gem that deserves the same kind of appreciation Dragon's Gold gets from the Alea Bluebox series. (And I traded Dragon's Gold because I really didn't like that one, nor did my group at the time.)

Simply put, Castle is a Blast! Thanks Tom for rekindling this old flame of a game for me.

8.5/10

So much for my 2 cents.
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Steve Oliver
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Nice review! You're right, sometimes one of the older games needs to return to the table and you remember why you liked it so much.
 
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Stephanie Gill
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I picked up this game a couple weeks ago and haven't had a chance to play it. In my copy the cardboard pieces that make up the castle wall were warped. I was disappointed that the cardboard was so thin that this could happen. Now I've been looking for a heavier piece of board to clue these onto (and I haven't even played the game yet!)
 
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Steve Oliver
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How about stacking them under a few heavy books for a day or two?
 
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John Harley
Canada
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I have been looking for this game in toronto, but have not had much success. I guess it is out of print and the FLGS cant get it for me.

Anyone in TO looking to sell or trade theirs?

 
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Chuck Dudschus
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Logan
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Great review, this was one of the games that got me into board gaming I will get it out this weekend and give it a go!
 
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Flix
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Gearhead wrote:
All of it fits neatly in the gamebox which was part of Alea's Bluebox series (Fantasy Business, Dragon's Gold and Democrazy are all the same series)..


Quote:
This is an absolute gem that deserves the same kind of appreciation Dragon's Gold gets from the Alea Bluebox series.


The only Alea Bluebox I know is Louis XIV.
But maybe you were misled by the idea that "The Sun King" himself has built a quite attractive Castle:

 
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