Thursday, December 10, 2015

Castle Panic



A sense of impending doom isn't normally a good thing. But in cooperative games it is. Most of the best ones have it, anyway. Think of Pandemic: lose the game and the world is ravaged by disease. Or, Shadows Over Camelot: lose the game and the forces of evil take over the kingdom.

If this sense of doom is what cooperative game makers are aiming for, then the developers of Castle Panic got it right. Your castle sits in the middle of the board, surrounded by a forest, and from that forest issues hoards of monsters, trolls and ogres. They attack, your team works to gather enough swordsmen, knights and archers to fight them off. As you do, the monsters advance, the castle walls tumble and the subtitle of the game becomes true: panic.

I'm not sure why we game lovers subject ourselves to this kind of stress. Maybe it's the banding together to work for a cause that makes it enjoyable. Or its that when/if we win (not easy to do), we feel like we've accomplished something huge. In any case, Castle Panic is fun, in a nail-biting kind of way. There are expansions, too, for when the original game becomes too easy to beat.

The high quality game components add a lot to premise. The castle walls are sturdy cardboard on stands, so they can actually fall. The monsters are illustrated with varying degrees of fierce fighting faces, depending on their strengths. One thing to note: there is an element of competitiveness in this cooperative, as players attempt to become the master slayer. If you don't mind that, and you have some knight-loving, monster fighters in your family, this game would be perfect for you.


# Players . . . 1-6 (4 or more recommended)
Ages 10 and up (so says the box. Precocious younger ones would be fine)
Game time . . . . . . . . 60 minutes
Set up . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 minutes
Luck . . . . . . .5 . . . . Strategy
*Interplay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Visual Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Component Quality . .. . . . . 8
*Replayability . . . . . . . . . . . 7


*See "How we Rate" for a definition.

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