Castle Panic

Castle Panic:  Fireside Games  (1-6 Players, 10 and up)

Castle Panic is a cooperative board game (mostly) where players try to prevent monsters from destroying the walls and wreaking havoc on the castle proper.  There are four rings of movement spaces around the walls forest, archer, knight, and swordsman and there are three different colored sections in each ring (red, blue, green).  The monsters consist of trolls, orcs, and goblins which are placed on the board each turn at the outer rim of the board (the forest) where they cannot be attacked.  From there, the monsters work their way closer to the castle walls  by moving one ring closer each turn.

Depending on the number of people,  players will have 4-6 cards in their hand each turn consisting of archers, swordsman, or knights (some colorless, and others only a specific color).  These soldiers can only attack monsters whose ring and color match that of the soldier.  For example, a blue swordsman can not attack a monster who is in the green section of the swordsman ring.  Everybody plays with their cards turned face up.  You try to kill as many monsters as you can on your turn by using the cards in your hand.  At the end of each turn,  players draw two more random monsters and place them in random forest spaces based on the roll of the dice (as it was meant to be).

On your turn, you may trade one card with one other player.  This is where some of the best strategies develop.

EXAMPLE:  Assume it’s my turn and there is a monster in the green archer ring of the board with two hit points.  I have a green knight who can only attack a monster in the green section of the knight ring, which is where this monster will be next turn (if it is alive).  You have a green archer in your hand and your turn is next.  Each of our soldiers can do one hit point of damage, but this monster has 2 HP.  If I trade my knight for your archer, then I can hit him for one HP on my turn and you can finish him off next turn, keeping our castle safe for the time being.

While I say this is a cooperative game, there is one catch.  There can be only one winner – the player who kills the most monsters.  Problem is, if the monsters destroy the castle, no one wins.  So, while there is incentive to win the game and possibly stab your opponents in the back, this has not surfaced in any of the dozen times we have played the game.  Even the rule book suggests that a purely cooperative game may be the way to go.  I agree.

Castle Panic is a game that you can play with other adults or with your kids.  It is not a hardcore game, but it doesn’t really pretend to be.  CP reminds me of a hand held or mobile video game that you can play on a board with real humans.  It takes about an hour to play and it is totally worth the $35 you would spend more than if you took your kids to a movie.  It will make them smarter and you’ll be happy you spent more time with them.  That’s a win for everybody.   4/5 stars.