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Subject: I Want To Like This Game rss

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David Waybright

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I recently got my Kickstarter delivery of this game, and immediately read the rule book in prep for a weekly game night that I host. I quickly determined that I was not going to be able to introduce it. There is simply NO way to easily explain how to play CASTLES. The rule book, while having some details here and there, just doesn't bring everything together in any sort of coherent manner. So began and obsession I now have to understand it fully and potentially help explain it to the community.

My game night is with just two friends, so as we had pretty much finished for the night, I said, "Hey, let me try something out on you guys." I figured that I'd throw them to the fire, and just try to fumble our way through even though I still had little clue how to handle every mechanic of the game.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a train wreck. A hilarious train wreck, but a wreck none the less. It quickly turned into a play test to painfully discover the mechanics that we didn't fully grasp or understand--and there were more than a few.

Now we're pretty intelligent people, so I think I can safely say that this rule book is not what it needs to be. The art, concept, theme, and what I "think" the game will play like are all great, but we just haven't figured it out yet.

But I'm not here to gripe. I'm here to hopefully help this game find more success. If anyone involved with the game's creation is reading this, please address this problem. I may even try to put a gameplay/tutorial video together myself(better than the silent one that's already posted).

I want to like this game. There's just something about it that seems to deserve success. If only I could figure out how to play it.
 
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Dan H
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I absolutely agree with the sentiment that I want to like this game.

The cards and box are beautiful, and the basic structure of the game is elegant. The quick summary of the game and the artwork are what got me on the kickstarter. The mechanic in that players have no hand and simply draw a card to play or discard each turn had me worried, but I got my hopes up.

Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is monotonous and robotic. Much of the time it feels like a self-working game of solitaire. Often, I see both players with 30 power to block and upwards of 20 draws in a row are blocked; both players just flip cards right from the deck to the discard pile for extended periods. Waging war was equally unexciting. The most interesting plays were wizard abilities, but they were rarely needed or used.

And as disappointing as the gameplay turned out, it was made more so by how excruciating it was to figure it out. I had to read through the rulebook word for word three times, watch the gameplay video on the website, and read everything I could find online before I was able to weed out all the ambiguity. Finally concluding how simple gameplay really was (though full of conditions), it was then tough to bring myself to actually play it.

I'll probably still play it now and then, most likely with kids, and probably a rule against blocking every turn. I'll also remain hopeful that a new rules set is developed to make a better game of these cards while maintaining the kingdom building concept.
 
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David Waybright

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I actually did finally figure it out too, and ACTUALLY had some fun with it this afternoon. The key is to manage expectations down to a more complex and thematic game along the lines of WAR.

It would take a lot more play-testing, but I think the inclusion of some more types of individual cards with higher point values would help the blocking problem. I haven't quite thought it through, but I think that would help. Once either player gets a 35-40 block power, it's a long time until the other player gets to do anything.

I also ran into the same ending for every one of the three times I've played the game (correctly). I was hoping for an ARMS card so I could WAGE WAR, while my opponent was down to simply moving his LANDS, FRUITS, and SERFS into place. All three games ended that way.

I still think that there's a great little game buried somewhere within the currently flawed product (with painful learning curve). Maybe we can come up with some variant rules to make it better.
 
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Balázs Szarka
Hungary
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Update: The creator released an updated rulebook (the link can be found in the latest update on KS page)

Did you have a chance to check it?
 
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