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Subject: Tic-Tac-Toe with Bamboo Castles? rss

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David Bryson
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Castella Review

Components
Castella is part of the bamboo children's game series from HaPe, meaning that the game components are made from bamboo – supposedly more environmentally friendly than wood. We own several games in this series, and the bamboo seems very sturdy, although lighter than similar wood pieces. The components in this game are simple, with two types of tower and one type of wall for each of the two colours (green and yellow). They are well made, though, and should last a long time under normal use by kids.


Rules
The rules are straightforward – you and your opponent alternate placing your castle walls at right angles to the end of a wall that has already been played, and in the process create a grid. Once an individual square is enclosed with walls, the player whose colour has a majority of the walls (3 or 4 of the walls) scores that square by placing one of their towers in the square. If both players each have two walls, the square is worthless. The winner is the player who places their 5th tower first. See the completed game example below:


Gameplay
Castella plays a bit like Tic-Tac-Toe, except that there is a bit more strategy involved. Generally, you want to complete squares using 3 of your walls (and one of your opponent’s), rather than having to use 4 of your walls (and potentially wasting a wall of yours). See the image above for an example of this. I’ve played it with my wife and my 4 year-old daughter, and it’s a very light game for adults, one that likely wouldn’t hold our interest for very long. For kids aged about 4 to 8, though, this should be an easy to learn game with some strategic options that will keep them interested in the game for a while.

The price we paid for Castella was a lot less than what we might pay for a Haba game of similar size. Although the Haba components are nicer overall, I think that this game offers good value for what you get.
 
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Why are there two types of towers?
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David Bryson
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Visual interest, I suppose. There's no gameplay difference between the two different types of towers.
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