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J Davis
United States
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So, you’ve found yourself in a drafty castle with a few of your best pals. Your treasure loving, Slime fighting Ninja/Wizard/Thief/Cleric pals. Each of you have a particular treasure that you want, but only one of you can escape with the treasure you seek. What now?

Well…your goal is to discover/unlock rooms that make a path to your designated treasure, acquire it and find a path back out of the castle. And do it before anyone else.

So… how do you play? Well, first everyone chooses a character, or deal them out at random. Give everyone their starting Heart tokens and Character tokens. Randomly put the treasures on the four spots on the board. Then everyone gets a treasure card and picks a starting location. (To make it more random and less completely straightforward you should assign treasure cards after you pick your starting location.). Now we’re ready to play, but what’s the deal anyway?

On each players turn they will draw 3 keys from the Key bag. Keys come in 3 varieties: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Keys can do many things but they mostly are used to discover rooms and unlock chests. You can also use them to rotate rooms (an easily overlooked skill), unlock a previously locked room, or to visit the Wander Inn (a shop where you can exchange things for other things). Bronze keys unlock and discover Bronze doors and chests. Silver keys do the same for Silver doors and chests, and Gold for Gold. So, it’s easy right? You just use your keys and make a path and viola! Win. Not quite.

You see there are also creatures to fight – Slime Creatures, in fact. Anytime you choose to discover a door with one of your keys, you have a chance of discovering a Puppy Slime or Bunny Slime or a Slime Dragon. Well…great, now you have to fight.

Also, the rooms aren’t necessarily stable either. See, they can lock themselves or vanish completely, but only if they are unoccupied.
If someone is in them, they are fine…but…all the rooms surrounding them lock or vanish instead.

Oh, and those chests I mentioned…they can be traps too.
So, the map is always changing, your path is not stable, and there are creatures to fight. A lot going on, right? You would think, but really, it’s very simple.

First you pick keys from the key bag. Then either choose a room token to play, rotate a room, or visit the Wander Inn.

If you choose a room, you can get an Item, some Gems, an Event, a Crystal Key, a Chest, a Slime Creature, or just a room (Tricky or normal). Chests require a further matching Key to unlock, then roll the Die matching your Chest (Bronze, Silver or Gold) and you get what shows.

Discovered a Slime Creature?Roll any 2 dice and if your roll equals or beats the Creatures level you win and get the reward. Lose and you lose the listed number of hearts.

Ooooh, you found a Slime Chest. Well, that’s special. It takes a Crystal Key to open that one. Roll all 3 Dice and get everything that you roll.
Rather not choose a door? Why not visit the Wander Inn. Have an excess of Gems to exchange? Why not visit the Wander Inn? Feeling run down and need some Healing? Wander Inn. Really need that last Crystal Key? Wander Inn. The exchange rate is pretty good and you get to do up to 2 of the exchanges for the price of 1 of your keys.

Made it to your Treasure? Cool, just exchange those 3 Crystal Keys and you get the Treasure. Now find a way out of this castle!
Overall, it is very, very simple. It really only takes maybe 1 or 2 turns and you understand the whole game.

So…Is it fun? Basically…Yes. It is loads of fun.

Let’s start with the artwork. The cartoon art is a lot of fun, especially the cutesy/vicious Character cards (aside from a Barbarian elephant who might need a tad more clothing). The icons are all clear and very fun looking as well. Everything really ties in well with the gameplay and the light feel of the game. Some of the artwork is not final, especially on the Dice, but from what I’ve seen, it’s only going to be better.

So, the gameplay?

It’s great. There are a lot of interesting choices in this game for it being so simple and feeling so lightweight. You have to decide if it’s time to discover more doors, or Heal up, or trade in your Gems for Crystal Keys. How close are the other players to getting their Treasure? Should you use one of your items to slow them down? There are a lot of different things to consider. The doors are interesting choices too.The rewards in the Silver and Gold doors are better, but the dangers are greater as well, so more risk there. Pulling the keys from the bag each turn also directly effects your choices, and the dice rolling comes into play often, so there’s quite a bit a luck involved as well. Not to mention the Events, which can cause huge changes to everything.

But for all the Luck and Randomness, there is also quite a bit of balance as well. Each Character has a special ability, which allows you to customize your gameplay. Plus there are the Take That features like the Events and Items that allow you to slow your opponents down. Also, after you collect your Treasure, you only get to draw 2 Keys from the Key bag for the rest of the game. If you lose all your Hearts and are KO’d, you come back next turn minus a few of your supplies but not out yet. All of these features allow you to stage a comeback even when you think you are completely out of the game, which I really enjoyed (Cobra Cleric for the win!)

The number of Characters available (currently at 9 for a 4 player game) allows for real replayability. Plus since the locations and Treasure that you are questing for is random, each game takes on a life of its own. The game says 30-60 minutes and that is really very accurate, even the first time someone is playing. I had one game that lasted about an hour because we kept messing up each other’s paths, and one that was so straightforward that I thought it was only going to take 10 minutes.

Paws and Padlocks is easy enough to play with your kids, but also keeps the interest of lighthearted adults. If you are a seriously hard core Heavy gamer, this one is not for you, but if you like to have fun, check it out.

On this one, I stand by my initial verdict:

Lots of fun! Easy to learn, lots of replayability, quick and light but with real choices.
Ninja Approved!

Puppy Slime Games sent Paws and Padlocks to us as part of the Everything Board Games Network in exchange for an honest review, which is exactly what we provided.
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