Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower
We named “Castle Panic” as our favorite cooperative board game in our 2013 DGA Awards and with good reason…it’s both easy and fun to play, without the need to worry about competitive players. Some of you may already be familiar with this little gem, though I’m willing to bet that most of you didn’t know that there was an expansion to the game. “Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower” is the official expansion to “Castle Panic” and it goes without saying that you’ll need the latter to play the former. What’s in this expansion? Fire, mega bosses, wizard cards…essentially all sorts of goodies to take your game to the next level. It’s worth noting that because this is an expansion, I’ll be switching up my usual review format with something a bit more informal.
First off, “Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower” features roughly one hundred components, give or take. There’s a wizard’s tower (which takes the place of a regular tower), some new castle cards, a whole new wizard deck, close to fifty monster tokens (six of which are mega bosses), flame tokens, reference cards, and a nifty monster token draw bag. Admittedly, it sounds like a lot…though I came to realize that it wasn’t as complicated as I originally thought. You see, the core gameplay mechanics don’t really deviate from the norm in that you still take turns doing the same things. The six phases to a players turn, for example, are generally the same. You’ll still draw up to your hand limit, discard and draw, trade cards, play cards, move monsters, and draw new monsters. The expansion simply adds to these phases, giving players more choices and abilities with which to work.
I won’t spend a lot of time explaining the game setup, but suffice it to say that you’ll be replacing one of your six towers with the new wizard’s tower. Tied to this tower is the new wizard deck, the cards of which are acquired by players during the discard and draw phase of a player’s turn (typically). If players lose the tower, then they’ll lose access to this deck. During game setup, you’ll also be seeding the bag with harbinger tokens that take the place of mega boss tokens. Mega boss tokens are easily identifiable by touch as they have more than three sides/points, hence why harbinger tokens take their place in the bag. You’ll also be removing some standard monster tokens…again, the manual lists which tokens to exclude.
I avoided going into detail because “Castle Panic”, as a whole, is easily modifiable to fit your group’s needs. Want an easier experience? Increase your hand limit or draw monsters every other turn. Want a harder experience? Spawn more monsters every turn or add more mega bosses to the bag. This is just a sampling of the possible ways players can adjust the rules. “Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower” is no different in that regard. Don’t want to exclude the tokens the manual says to? Pffft…don’t! Don’t want to include the mega bosses? Pffft…whatever! Seriously, this game lets YOU play how YOU want to play…that’s probably why this game appeals to our family the way it does.
With all of that being said, “Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower” does add a new learning curve and a higher level of difficulty, by default. While the game itself is simple to learn, this expansion includes more special effects and circumstances that players will need to learn to observe. Walls can catch fire, for example, and actually burn monsters who attack them. The dragon mega boss alone has a special set of movement rules that require a die roll to resolve. It’s like adding a bunch of new pieces to the game of “Chess”…these new mechanics will take some getting used to and might overwhelm casual players at first. If your group likes “Castle Panic” but is easily intimidated by more complex games, then I recommend introducing one or two elements of the expansion at a time until you become comfortable with what they do.
Overall, I think “Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower” is a must-buy, especially if you play a lot of “Castle Panic” but often crave more. The components are sound and are on par with the quality found in the core game. There are plenty of new cards and abilities to wrap your head around, offering much more in terms of strategic play. The expansion itself is going for about twenty-five bucks, but you can grab it on Amazon for cheaper from time to time. I think the price is a bit steep, considering that the core game retails for roughly ten to fifteen dollars more. All in all, a great addition to an already fantastic cooperative game!
Final Verdict: 8/10
For your convenience and viewing pleasure, I included a link to the rules below: