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Subject: How difficult/easy is the expansion? rss

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Genesyx
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As the title state, I'd like to know how much difficulty does the expansion add to the base game ? ( or more unlikely, does it make it easier? )

I'm asking this because this seems like an interesting co-op game that even non-gamers can get into, though what stopped me from taking the plunge back then was how many have stated on how easy the base game was. Not that it's a bad thing, but I'm looking for a co-op that'll provide to be a challenge for everyone no matter how experience you are.

It'll be good if you can give comparisons to other co-ops, such as pandemic, Yggdrasil, Ghost Stories, SH : DA etc etc, as that'll provide a clearer idea on what to expect. Thank you!
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Kevin B. Smith
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Whenever discussing co-ops, it's important to distinguish between "ease of play" and "ease of winning". I think you were asking about ease of winning, but I'm not sure, so I'll cover both, starting the issue that is more important to me: Ease/difficulty of play.

The expansion adds a fair amount of complexity to the game, as well as a number of decision points. The base game comes close to playing itself, with only occasional decisions about whether to play a powerful card now or save it for later. For me, it was fun, but after several games I traded it away because it wasn't that interesting.

I have now played the expansion a couple times, and I have traded to get the base game back.

With the base game, the most complicated monster is one that brings out additional tiles, or advances other monsters. In the base game, those abilities are among the simplest abilities of any monster, excluding the trolls, which remain in the game with no special abilities.

You now have monsters that can't be hit in certain rings, monsters that cause fire damage, monsters that move irregularly, monsters that can hop over walls, etc. While none of this is "complex" for a gamer, it is quite a bit more complex than the base game. For some gamers, complexity is good, so that would be a win right there. For me, complexity itself is neither good nor bad. It's the decision points that matter.

Where the base game had very occasional choices about whether to play a card or not, the expansions forces that decision frequently. First, every turn you have to decide whether to discard a plain card to draw a wizard card. You really want the wizard card, but you might have to give up a good basic card to get it. Then, it seems like just about every turn, you have to decide whether to play a card now for decent effects, or to try to save it to get the most out of it later.

Also, because different monsters have (very) different characteristics, it now matters which of two monsters in the archer ring you choose to hit. And a lot of wizard cards allow you to target monsters anywhere, so you have more choices there as well.

Then there is the question of whether the expansion makes the game more difficult to win or not. For me, a co-op doesn't have to be hard to win. I can win 90% of the time and still enjoy it, as long as there is enough tension during most games. I want to feel like we might or might not survive, and as long as I get that, it's less important whether we actually do or not. I know for a lot of people, if you win more than half the time, it's too easy and not much fun.

I have played with the expansion 3 times, and we got crushed once (poor decisions on our part in the first couple turns), and we won twice. But I usually (narrowly) won the base game too. And our tile draws with the expansion may have just been lucky so far. So I can't say whether the expansion makes the game easier or harder to win.
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Dean Petters
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We (10 year old, 14 year old and myself) never played the base game by itself, but have a blast with the expansion! That doesn't mean we win much.

As for complexity, I'm sure the expansion adds it, but how it changed the win-rate is unclear. We try not to rush in using the more powerful wizard cards, but that doesn't always work... About the time you think you've got it made, a boulder takes out the wizard tower...

Then again, we picked the game up at Origins over the summer and got some nifty "Monster Chow" ribbons, so losing is fun too!
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Genesyx
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peakhope wrote:
Whenever discussing co-ops, it's important to distinguish between "ease of play" and "ease of winning". I think you were asking about ease of winning, but I'm not sure, so I'll cover both, starting the issue that is more important to me: Ease/difficulty of play.

.....

You now have monsters that can't be hit in certain rings, monsters that cause fire damage, monsters that move irregularly, monsters that can hop over walls, etc. While none of this is "complex" for a gamer, it is quite a bit more complex than the base game. For some gamers, complexity is good, so that would be a win right there. For me, complexity itself is neither good nor bad. It's the decision points that matter.

Where the base game had very occasional choices about whether to play a card or not, the expansions forces that decision frequently. First, every turn you have to decide whether to discard a plain card to draw a wizard card. You really want the wizard card, but you might have to give up a good basic card to get it. Then, it seems like just about every turn, you have to decide whether to play a card now for decent effects, or to try to save it to get the most out of it later.

.......

Then there is the question of whether the expansion makes the game more difficult to win or not. For me, a co-op doesn't have to be hard to win. I can win 90% of the time and still enjoy it, as long as there is enough tension during most games. I want to feel like we might or might not survive, and as long as I get that, it's less important whether we actually do or not. I know for a lot of people, if you win more than half the time, it's too easy and not much fun.



Thanks for the detailed reply! And while I was initially looking for "ease of winning", but your reply got me interested and looking in the other category as well

And I agree, it's better for a game to give you a tense fight for the win than rather be bothered about whether you win or not. It also makes the wins more satisfying with nail biters, or leave you with a feeling of " lets play again!" if you lose (Though usually a tense fight usually means you'd on the verge of winning/losing as well)... and judging by your reply I'm sure the game's hit the right marks for you

As of right now you almost got me sold on the game, but there's still 1 issue that still lingers in my mind.. As far as the base game is concern, apart from a few cards, there's no reason to keep any cards in your hand if you have a target to play them at, since you'd be refilling back up to your hand size so it's always better to play as many as you can. There's also never a need to be afraid of which card you "waste" since the discard pile is reshuffled when the draw deck runs out.

Would you say this "issue" still exist when adding the expansion? Sure there's wizard cards that gives more choices, but do the new monsters make the old basic cards less "play everything you can without a problem" ?
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Kevin B. Smith
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genesyx wrote:
Would you say this "issue" still exist when adding the expansion? Sure there's wizard cards that gives more choices, but do the new monsters make the old basic cards less "play everything you can without a problem" ?

Keep in mind that I've only played the expansion 3 times, and one of those was a loss before I even got to take my turn (there were 6 of us).

I think you still want to play every "normal" card you have each turn. However, there were cases where we would choose to discard a "useful" card, such as brick or mortar, or a card that would hit something next turn, to draw a wizard card.

There were many cases where we chose not to play a wizard card, but that's kind of like the Barbarian in the base game. So think of that case, except you have that decision on most of your turns, instead of only a handful each game.

There will be more cases where your base cards can't hit a monster, even if it's in the right color and ring, due to immunity. So you play fewer cards for that reason. There may be times where you don't trade a basic hit card to the current player because it would only do one point of damage now, but would insta-slay a monster on the following player's turn, due to monster special abilities. But I can't remember a specific case of doing that.

So I think your concern, as you expressed it, still exists.

And I'm not convinced that the expansion has the right level of tension. Our two wins seemed easier than I remember our base game wins being. But really I don't have enough experience with it yet to judge that. The three games have been fun, and I want to play it more, if that helps.

I would be interested in hearing opinions from others on both of these topics.
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Genesyx
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Again, thanks for the detailed reply !

Though my main concern still exist, you've provided me with enough situations for me to believe that despite all the "play every basic card in your hand" scenario, there's also a lot of decisions to be made in the game.

I've also read a few more session reports, and the tension/difficulty of the game seems to be fairly open in sense that many variants (including official ones) could be implemented to make the game more brutal than it looks devil

So yeah I'm sold! Thanks for your help, though my wallet thinks otherwise

p/s: (It also helped that my FLGS just so happens to have a sale on other games that I want, free-ing up my budget to be a little more reckless in my purchase... but that's another story whistle )
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Wesley Jones
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I do not own the expansion (yet). But the base game was a bit easy to win. However, we're teenagers or adults playing it. But we would only narrowly win each time. This is the easiest coop game we own. We only own three others--Shadows over Camelot, Pandemic and Ghost Stories. I will rate my opinions from easy to win (1) to impossible to win (10)
Castle Panic base gamae (3)
Shadows Over Camelot (5.5)
Pandemic with 2 people (6)
Pandemic with 4 people (7.5)
Ghost Stories (9) (I think a lot of people ignore some of the rules in order to win--based on what I read at BGG)

I'm sure others have different opinions.
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Runcible Spoon
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luvmywife wrote:
I will rate my opinions from easy to win (1) to impossible to win (10)

Pandemic with 2 people (6)
Pandemic with 4 people (7.5)



Pandemic is an interesting case because the difficulty in pandemic is highly variable (you hint at this with your two different ratings).

I tend to think pandemic with 4 basic epidemics is very easy to win whereas pandemic with 7 virulent disease cards, and the purple mutation, (all from on the brink) is extremely difficult. The mix of occupations impacts the difficulty any given game of pandemic.

So keep in mind the difficulty of many of these games can be modified a lot. Play castle panic with a max hand limit with 1 less card than normal and the game is more difficult. Start the monsters not in the woods but in the archer ring and the game is more difficult. This is one of the beauties of table top games is that you can modify them easily to fit your needs.

As for the questions about castle panic wizards tower, I don't think the "is it easier or harder" question is as a very useful question because that dimension is easily modified as shown above.

Rather the better questions would revolve around considerations of interesting and dynamic game play which castle panic with the wizards tower expansion brings to the table.

I felt like castle panic without the wizards tower was missing something, with the wizards tower it is a very good game.



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Tony Carson
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I've played CP:TWT twice, once with 4 and once with 2, and both times we've gotten slaughtered. Maybe we just suck. At one point we had something like 15 monsters (including imps and all three boss monsters) out and I really don't know what we could have done differently. The only decision I'm second guessing was that early on I got, and discarded, the wizard card that sacrifices a tower, thinking it was 'too early' to consider using that. It was too early, but only by about two turns.

I enjoyed the base game, but I usually play with my 10 year old and other nongamers (my parents) but TWT definitely adds both a bit of complexity with the new monsters and more choice with the Wizard cards and new castle cards. I enjoy TWT as well but it is definitely more 'game'.
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Joshua R
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My fiancee and I played our first game with this expansion last night and it was a blast. We lost when we were simply unable to stop the VERY LAST monster from entering the Castle and destroying our last tower. It was our first loss in a game of Castle Panic ever.

After several runs through the base game, I decided that while it was fun, it was a bit like making sausage - turn the crank, sausage comes out. The simplicity of the base game means that only once in a while are you faced with a meaningful choice. Mostly, it's just "optimize your monster kills and you'll be fine."

Adding the Wizard's Tower changed all that, and it seemed like every turn, each of us was agonizing over how to best use the available cards, which monsters needed to die right away and which we could let approach the walls... It was much more engaging, I think.

Loved the base game - love it with the expansion even more!
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Jason Y
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The expansion is significantly more difficult and entertaining than the base game alone. I have never lost base game, I've been crushed quite a few times in the expansion. Much, much more fun.
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David Miller
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I played this 3 times this eve and was crushed every time. My friends thought that we weren't playing the game correctly it was so difficult. Next time we play we are not going to be using the expansion, because it was not fun to get crushed. I honestly have never played a harder coop game. I will be rereading the rules to make sure we were playing correctly.
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Kevin B. Smith
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The first time I played the WT, with 6p, we made a catastrophic strategic blunder and lost very quickly. (We ignored a climbing troll that was one of the initial monsters). I have played 2 WT games since then (one 6p, one 3p) have both were quite tense and close.

I suspect if you consistently win the WT easily, or if you consistently get crushed by it, you might have some rules wrong. The game can be swingy, but over multiple plays it usually balances out.
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David Miller
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So I reread the rules and there was nothing missed or done wrong. This was seriously so difficult we did not have fun at all. I think the most difficult is in the beginning you get swarmed by 6 monsters from different locations and in wizards tower expansion they are even more powerful.

I am considering removing 2 ogres and replacing them with trolls or orcs. And replacing one Phoenix and gargoyle with goblins. Maybe if we started the monsters in the forest ring. It would give us another round.
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Kevin B. Smith
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warpi9 wrote:
So I reread the rules and there was nothing missed or done wrong. This was seriously so difficult we did not have fun at all.

You are drawing a wizard card almost every turn, right?
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David Miller
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Nearly. Though some turns we like our hand and don't want to discard a card to draw a wizard card.
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David Miller
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So last night we played this again but with some slight modifications. We replaced the draw 4 and 3 tokens with 2 goblins. We replaced 1 gargoyle with an Orc. And we replaced 1 ogre with an Orc.

At first we thought it was way too easy, but that was because we weren't drawing any difficult monsters. Then the goblin king came out and all hell broke loose. We won with one tower remaining.
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Genesyx
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Sorry guys for being idle for so long. I thought I've subscribed to this thread, saw there's no notification and thought no one replied blush

Anyway I've picked up the expansion, and dived right in without playing the base game. Results? Tense all the way.

Maybe it was the luck of the draw, but I had games where we thought all were lost, only to be saved by a last draw of Wizard's quake... only to lose later.

There's also games where we thought the imps were harmless, and they were!.... until a bazillion of them, lead by the mighty hydra start pouring in and wiped us clean.

Either way I'm very please with this expansion. Up till now I've lost every game, but not one game have I felt doomed or had no chance of winning. It was that sense of "almost made it" that kept me coming for more laugh

Thanks everyone for the help and for those who's at the same dilemma as I was, no questions ask : BUY IT!
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the manatee
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dtcarson wrote:
I've played CP:TWT twice, once with 4 and once with 2, and both times we've gotten slaughtered. Maybe we just suck. At one point we had something like 15 monsters (including imps and all three boss monsters) out and I really don't know what we could have done differently. The only decision I'm second guessing was that early on I got, and discarded, the wizard card that sacrifices a tower, thinking it was 'too early' to consider using that. It was too early, but only by about two turns.

I enjoyed the base game, but I usually play with my 10 year old and other nongamers (my parents) but TWT definitely adds both a bit of complexity with the new monsters and more choice with the Wizard cards and new castle cards. I enjoy TWT as well but it is definitely more 'game'.


This.

My kids (11, 9, 7) and I would fairly routinely beat the base game. We've played only a handful of games so far with the expansion, but we get slaughtered every time--usually because we too have a dozen or more monsters on the board at one time.

Maybe we haven't figured out these new choices yet, but we're getting wiped out ridiculously quickly now.

ETA: just today, my nine year-old drew a "draw three monsters" chit and then promptly drew all three mega boss monsters; his other draw was the conjurer. The prior game, he drew a flaming boulder and then a boulder, taking out our wizard's tower on turn three. Worst. Luck. Ever.
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the manatee
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warpi9 wrote:
So I reread the rules and there was nothing missed or done wrong. This was seriously so difficult we did not have fun at all. I think the most difficult is in the beginning you get swarmed by 6 monsters from different locations and in wizards tower expansion they are even more powerful.

I am considering removing 2 ogres and replacing them with trolls or orcs. And replacing one Phoenix and gargoyle with goblins. Maybe if we started the monsters in the forest ring. It would give us another round.


Am I misreading this? You mean you DON'T start the monsters in the forest ring? No wonder you're getting creamed--they're supposed to start in the forest ring.

ETA: [Emily Litella voice] Never mind [/ELV]; I totally blanked on the whole "monsters start in the archer ring at initial set up" thing.
 
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Ivan Kidd
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Maybe I'm missing something. I purchased this expansion because my group had given up on castle panic but I didn't want to trade it in. We had played the base game about a dozen times and won every game (even with some of the official variants the last few games). Complaints were mostly about it being too easy, but also about the lack of strategy.

We have since played the expansion three times (which took some convincing in itself) and won each time still. Admittedly the game adds more decision making and strategy, but not a ton, and it still doesn't seem very challenging.

I might should add that we play purely cooperatively rather than the semi-coop that the rules suggest, and we have never lost the wizards tower (very careful to protect it). Our games tend to be three or four players. I've been back over the rules and can't find anything I may have screwed up.

I'm not certain if I can get this back to the table again, but is there a specific variant you guys would suggest to up the difficulty? I don't see how other people are already having a hard time unless we've just been really lucky.

Maybe I should give up and send it to a home where it is more appreciated.
 
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Daniel DuBois
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If you play semi-coop with hidden hands, where people have a selfishness-induced inefficiency, like "I don't want to trade this Red Archer to Bob to kill that, because I can kill it on my turn with the Red Knight", or where Sam will trade Bob but not with Fred, because Fred is ahead of Sam by a few points, then that alone should made the game a little bit harder.

You could also try the Overlord version.

Alternatively you could just start with no walls like the Base game manual suggests. Getting a wall up in front of the wizard tower becomes very urgent then, and the distraction of that priority might reduce the efficiency of trades and kills.
 
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