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Subject: From the Mouth of Jormi - Castle rss

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Michael Jordal
United States
Austin
Minnesota
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Ike Clanton painted by me for Wild West Exodus
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I saw Castle when I was running around E-bay one day. I researched it on BGG and decided I should probably add it to my collection. Soon after it arrived at my door and I desperately wanted to play. I was able to convince my wife to play and I got in a couple of two player games before I tried some multiplayer games. To my surprise and joy, my wife actually kind of liked this one and it played well with two players and more.

Gameplay- The game is basically a tile laying game using cards that form a hand and a deck for each player, as well as a face up exchange.

The goal of the game is to be the first player to play all of his or her cards from both their hand and deck. This sounds easy enough, but at the castle fills the intrigue and fighting begins.

Play involves performing 2 actions each turn. A player can perform the same action twice or choose to perform 2 different actions. There are 3 actions to choose from. One is for the player to draw a card from the top of his or her deck. Two is to play a card from hand to the respective space on the board and place his or her colored token on the placed card. Three is to exchange a card from one’s hand with any card in the exchange.

Where the game gets interesting is that each card has an area of the castle (courtyard, ramparts, towers or outside the castle) that it must be played to and some sort of game text that applies when it is played. Additionally some cards have a more specific place they must be played to, such as The Lady in Waiting who is not only confined to the courtyard, but she must also be placed adjacent to the Queen or the Princess.

A fair amount of cards send back cards to your opponent’s hand. This is how one can work to win the game. Playing the right card at the right time is the key strategy to this game.

The game plays pretty strategically with just two people. There is a lot of back and forth and strategizing about which cards to play first. In a two player game once a player has drawn through his or her draw deck he or she will know what cards are in his or her opponent’s hand, which will help him or her decide what the most strategic plays are. I think there is a fair amount of luck involved in the two player game though, as the cards your have in your hand are very important. If they are unplayable, it will take you extra actions to exchange them for something that is playable.

Playing this game multiplayer is a whole different beast. The game is a lot more chaotic, but still a lot of fun. One must pay attention to which players are getting close to going out, so as to try and prevent them from doing so.

The game says on the box that is it for age 14+, which I thought was kind of an odd age to pick. I have played with only one player under 14 so far and he was able to grasp the mechanics easily enough, but I do believe that the decision making was a bit too complex for him. His turns took much longer than the average turns, and he often made plays that were not the most beneficial.

There is also a free expansion one can print out from the designer’s Web-site. It looks to be a lot of fun, and it is a shame that they couldn’t get it published. I guess I will be happy enough if I can find another copy of Castle at a good price, and then I can just cannibalize it for the expansion.

Castle possesses the very good trait of being a game that plays well with 2-6. Other games will claim to play from 2-6 or 8, but very rarely is the game good on both ends of the spectrum. However, Castle does make this happen.

I feel that the gameplay deserves 8 out of 10 soldiers.

Look and Feel- The look and feel of this game is very good barring one unfortunate component.

The cards are square and on good card stock with beautiful art. Some of the cards are semi-cartoonish, but most are rendered in a high fantasy style. Both types of art work well and seamlessly fit together on the board. I really have a very good time looking at the art each time I play this game.

The tokens are nicely painted and wooden. They perform their function well, and look nice while they do it.

The box is nice with the same great art one will find on the game cards. It is also a good size; it is large enough to house the components comfortably, and not overly large to be a big billboard on the gaming shelves. It could have been a hair smaller though.

The game also comes with a black drawstring bag. It is nice, however it isn’t used in the game at all, and the wooden tokens already came in a nice plastic zip lock bag. I decided to put my cards in it. I think it will help ease the wear and tear on them from being stored and carried around.

Now it is time for the one bad component in the game. The board that one lays out to simulate the walls of the castle is printed on some sort of flimsy cardboard stock, like what a cereal box is made of. There is also no way to lock these pieces together. If they would have just made this a bit thicker and given it puzzle piece corners, this game would have almost perfect components.

I would have to say the games theme is fairly integral and not just pasted on. The cards really make sense as to what they do, and the game feels like sneaky political intrigue and brute force colliding in a castle. A couple examples are the Assassin, when he is played he may remove a card from the game, and the Ghost must be played to an occupied tower, which sends back the previous card to the owner’s hand. Both cards behave in a way that one would expect. All the cards have simple actions like that, which make sense for the type of character that they are.

The look and feel of this game earns Caste 8 out of 10 soldiers.

Overall Score- 8 soldiers out of 10

Final word- If you are looking for a tile laying game that can be played effectively with 2-5 players I would suggest you pick this one up. It isn’t too often I find a game that my wife will play with me two player, and I will still have fun playing with 3, 4 or 5 players.
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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nice review, so how does this one hold up 3 years later? Are you still playing it once in while?
 
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Michael Jordal
United States
Austin
Minnesota
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Ike Clanton painted by me for Wild West Exodus
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It has been a while since it has hit the table, maybe I should remedy that.
 
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