We’re moving on from Pandemic to look at something a little more simple, but still a lot of fun. Castle Panic is a tower defense kind of game with a cooperative theme. Players take turns playing cards trying to slay monsters that are advancing on their castle. Let’s take a closer look at the how the game is played.
The castle that players are tasked with protecting lies in the center of the board in the form of tower pieces. Surrounding the towers are walls, which provide a limited form of defense. The board is divided into six sections, two of which belong to a certain color. Two sections are in red, two sections are in green, and two sections are in blue. The sections are represented by the numbers one thru six in the outermost forest ring…this is where monsters spawn. During the spawn monsters phase, the player rolls a die and places a new monster on that numbered section of the board…more on that in a minute.
Order of Play
On a player’s turn, the following occurs:
1. That player draws up to their maximum hand size. (The maximum hand size depends on the number of players)
2. That player can choose to discard a set number of cards and draw new cards. (The number that can be exchanged depends on the number of players)
3. That player can choose to trade cards with another player. (The number that can be traded depends on the number of players)
4. That player plays as many cards as they want.
5. Monsters advance one “ring”.
6. Spawn two new monsters. The player rolls a die and whichever number comes up is the section where the monster spawns. This is done for each monster, separately.
The cards players receive will be key to defeating the monsters that are advancing on their castle. Most cards represent a particular color along with a particular ring which can be played to attack a monster on that particular space. The green archer card, for example, does one point of damage to a monster in the green section of the archer ring. The green archer card can’t be used to attack a monster in the blue archer ring, nor could it attack a monster in the green swordsman ring. This forces players to coordinate and cooperate in trading cards that would be the most useful to players on their turn. If you had a green swordsman card for example, but a monster is currently too far out to use it, you could trade it to another player who could use it since the monster will advance between now and then.
Other cards support your castle like the brick and mortar cards, which when played, rebuilds a fallen wall. The nice shot card, when combined with an attack card, will one-shot any monster no matter how many hit points it has.
What do I think of Castle Panic? I think it’s great for when you don’t have a lot of time to play something and are in the mood for something cooperative. This game doesn’t take long to play and the game is fairly balanced. Monster types spawn at random and the cards you receive are random so sometimes bad luck can cause you to lose despite doing everything perfectly. Still, the cooperative element helps players bond and work together towards a common goal. Sometimes families and households need a break from games where they blow each other up…Castle Panic fits the bill nicely.
Vinnie, the eleven year old, said that he enjoyed working together to kill the monsters. He praised the strategy element since we did a lot of trading, trying to figure out who to give cards to based on the progression of the monsters.
Anthony, the sixteen year old, simply said it was “fun.” He was actively engaged and wanted to play it again, even though we lost by the skin of our teeth.
Castle Panic is easy to learn and easy to play. I’d recommend it for family fun nights or as a quick filler during parties to play in between longer games.
Final Verdict: 8/10