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Subject: A snapshot review of Castle Panic rss

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Jay K
United Kingdom
West Malling
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I have written a few of these snapshot reviews now, and the intention remains the same. This is not an in depth review with pictures and a full explanation of the game that goes on for pages. It is intended to provide a brief overview and focus in on the pros and the cons to allow the reader to decide if this sort of game is for them.

So does this cooperative tower defence game really cut the mustard? My experience is that my young children love this game. It builds tension as, each turn, you select monsters to appear from the forest and they slowly make their way towards your tower. The board is a circle bisected into 3 colours blue, red and green with 5 circular regions starting with the forest, achers, knights, swordsmen and finally the castle region which contains your towers. So each monster generally passes through an archer, knight and swordswman section of one colour on their way to destroying your walls and towers. Should it be called "Tower Panic!"?

The players as defenders draw and play cards to knock hit points from the monsters eventually destroying them. The game is to survive until all the monster tokens have been drawn from the box and removed from the board. There are rules govern exchanging cards and the game really does allow for interaction with the other players as you discuss the tactics for removing threats from the castle. It is a great fast paced game that plays in 45 minutes to an hour and so holds the attention of the youngsters. Finally, it has a great selection of cards to draw from the simple green archer for example (who can reduce the hit points of a monster in the green archer zone by one), to heroes who can attack monsters in any zone, cards that let you drive a monster back to the forest, search the discard pile, build new walls or kill a monster with a single swipe.

But what about the cons? Well my biggest gripe is difficulty level which is effectively random. But why? Well there are monster tokens included that move certain colour monsters forward an extra space, boss monsters with special abilities like healing other monsters, and tokens which make you draw more monsters. If any of these is selected at the wrong time it can spell disaster for the defenders. This makes some games incredibly easy and others fiendishly difficult, but there is no way to scale this difficulty in the rules. I would say the game tends towards easy difficulty having won three of the last four games.

My two other minor gripes are connected, both to the difficulty level and each other. Once monsters make it into the castle area and start knocking down towers it is very difficult for the defenders to deal with them as there are very few cards that can be played in the castle zone. However, this is offset by the fact that monsters lose a hit point each time they destroy a castle wall or tower. Perhaps a better mechanic to allow a monster to destroy more of the castle combined with a few extra cards to stall their progress or attack them within the castle walls could have balanced the game and provided a method for ratcheting difficulty.

Overall, this hits the table often with my children, and it provides a fun distraction as we all work together to save our towers, it has strategy, there is no doubt about that, but it sometimes feels that your fate is more dependent on the monster draws than it is on your tactics.
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Chris Wood
United States
Wheaton
Illinois
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I've consistently found that any gripes about the base game have been solved with the expansion. The only problem is having to buy the expansion. If you look at the reviews on the wizard's tower, my opinion is very supported.
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I received a copy of CP as a gift. Fun game, but not too exciting imho I think this maybe due to only playing the base game and with 2 players (edit: only two of us total!).

I want to play CP again with more players. I am considering buying The wizard expansion based on many comments about how it enhances the gameplay.
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