Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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I really like the Castle Panic base game, but it has a few hangups that prevent me from playing it very often:
* I'm usually in the mood for something with a little more meat to it.
* The three main monster types just feel a bit on the generic side.
* It would often be very difficult to deal with a monster inside the castle ring, and occasionally one monster could take out your entire castle just because you haven't been drawing the special cards.

This expansion fixes all that, and adds a lot more.


Components

The Wizard's Tower consists of more monster tokens, a wizard's tower, more castle cards, wizard cards, fire tokens, and a monster bag to draw tiles from. All of the components are of the same quality or better than the original components.

One problem we've had with the base game is that the bases for the castle towers and walls have loosened up and tend to fall of the structures. Nothing a little dollop of glue couldn't fix, but I'd rather have better bases. The wizard's tower in this expansion is the same type of cardboard but has a much better base that is very snug, so score one point for recognizing the issue. I would have like to see replacement bases for all the structures, but oh well.

The monster tokens have a slightly different, more glossy back on them. It isn't real significant and is easy enough to ignore, but it's a nonissue because there's an awesome monster bag in the expansion. It's got the same cutesy monster artwork that the back of the monster tiles have on it, and it's a great addition.

The new cards are the same quality as the old cards.

The fire tokens have a slot in them so you can slip them onto burning walls and towers. The slot opening is wider than the inside tip, so you can get a real tight fit by pushing the token all the way down onto a structure. It's so tight in fact that we decided just to use the wider part of the slot and let the token be a little loose on the structure. I think they'll last longer that way.

Oh, and everything can fit in the original Castle Panic box.


Rules & Gameplay

The major changes to the game are the wizard's tower and cards, new monsters and cards, and fire. The artwork on the monsters and cards is great and matches the original. The game retains the "castle under siege" feel and adds a lot more Panic. The fantasy setting is even more pronounced with this expansion with all the different monster types and wizard abilities. It's a major improvement.

There are some crafty new monsters in this expansion, and they add a LOT to the game. Climbing Trolls go right over your walls and get into your castle ring. Goblin Cavalry move twice as fast as normal monsters. Flying monsters like the Gargoyle and the fire-breathing Phoenix can only be hit by Archers or the Trebuchet. The Trebuchet is like an airborne Giant Boulder; it takes out monsters int he air but not those on the ground, and it still damages your castle. There are new monsters that have immunity to certain types of attacks, but are more susceptible to other kinds of attacks. Some can be killed outright by archers, but are immune to swordsmen for example.

There are six mega-bosses, but the default rules have you only selecting three for each game. You never know exactly which monsters will show up. They can have "When Revealed" effects and special ways of attacking and generally wreaking havoc. The Chimera and Dragon reared their ugly heads in our first game, and everything was burning. Fire control became a very real part of our strategy. The new bosses are varied and very cool.

Fire is another completely new addition. There are monsters that breathe fire and Flaming Boulders to complement the old Giant Boulder. When a structure is set on fire it gets one fire token. If it gets three fire tokens, the structure falls. Structures on fire are weakened, and do NOT damage the monster that attacks them. Fire can spread between structures and monsters as well. The game is still pretty random; there will be games where Fire is a major issue, and others where it isn't a real big deal. It's a good addition that makes the "castle under siege" all that more exciting.

You'll need ways to deal with the fire and fire-breathing monsters, and you might even want to send out some fireballs yourself. You can put out a single fire token with a Mortar or Brick card, and you can fully extinguish a wall section with a Fortify card. You've got wizard spell cards that'll let you unleash your own fire blasts and fireballs into the monster horde, but you'll need to protect your wizard's tower if you want to use them. At the start of the game one normal tower is replaced with the wizard's tower, and you can only acquire wizard cards as long as the wizard's tower is in play. If the wizard's tower gets torn down by the ghoulish onslaught then you can't draw any more wizard cards (but you can play the ones you already have). Keeping the wizard's tower safe is going to be a key strategy point when using the expansion.

There are a lot of new castle cards in addition to the wizard cards, and you'll need them. Most of the new castle cards are special cards that help you deal with the new monsters and situations. They make for some more risky and strategic trading because just having enough swordsmen, knights, and archers isn't enough any more. If you aren't careful you could end up with a monster in the swordsmen ring that's *gasp* immune to swordsmen. There are more special cards that let you deal with monsters that have gotten into your castle ring, and it's a good thing, because you can end up facing some pretty serious monster hordes.

The last new things the expansion offers that I feel is worth mentioning are triggered events and a couple special monster types. Trigger events in the original game had actions like "Move Monsters 1 space Clockwise". There are more tokens with movement effects in the expansion and there are tokens that trigger monster effects. There's a Doppelganger in the monster bag, and he hangs out in the forest ring until another monster dies. The Doppelganger takes the form of the last defeated monster, so having him in play means you might want to let that mega-boss sling some more fire your way while you kill a lesser monster to replace the Doppelganger with. There are a lot of Imps in the game, which are usually triggered into play. Certain monster tokens will have you roll the die and put that number of Imps into play. Other monster tokens bring a number of Imps into play equal to the number of standing towers. If you drew both tiles while you had all your towers and then rolled a '6', you could be placing 12 Imps in the forest in one turn. They're only 1-hit monsters, but they've got power in numbers. There's a mega-boss called The Necromancer, and if you can't already guess he isn't there to resurrect your fallen soldiers.


Wrap-up

I really like the expansion. For me The Wizard's Tower turns Castle Panic into the game I always wanted it to be in the first place. It does up the complexity some, which needs to be considered if you play Castle Panic with younger children.

The expansion just makes the game much more interesting. In the base game there were often situations where you'd just waiting for a Blue Swordsmen, for example, but the new cards in the expansion mean that you have a lot more options for dealing with that monster than just a Blue Swordsmen card. The new monsters are great; they manage to add both difficulty and atmosphere to the base game. The Wizard's tower helps deal with the increased difficulty, but also affects your strategy by giving you a key point in need of defense.

Lastly, The Wizard's Tower rulebook has options for Less Panic, More Panic, and Overlord game modes. It should also be compatible with the bulk of the player-created addons for the base game.

Unless you're a real big Castle Panic fan the $25-or-so MSRP for the expansion seems a little bit high for what's in the box, but for the $16.49 I paid through an online retailer it's a great deal. In terms of smiles-per-dollar The Wizard's Tower is one of the better expansions I own.
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Mike McDrunk
United States
Austin
Texas
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Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
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This review convinces me to pick up the expansion. Thanks!
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S G
United States
Essex Junction
Vermont
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This was a must-buy because I enjoy Castle Panic so much with my 7-year-old; in fact, I bought it without really learning about it. Your review has me wishing it wasn't already under the tree so we could play it right now....thanks.
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Laura R
United States
Erie
Pennsylvania
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Thanks for the great review! My 7 year old loves this game but I am always a little hesitant to play for the same reasons you mention. It looks like this expansion will make the game much more enjoyable!
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Mark Nicosia
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Nice review, thanks.

One disappointment for me was the grab bag, however. While I agree it is an awesome idea.... this game needs to be played with a grab bag, instead of just having them all in a pile. BUT... the grab bag included is too small, imo. Even before adding the expansion tiles it just feels like they are packed in there. My hand barely fits in it, and am only able to pick up a tile off the top of the stack. I want to shove my whole hand in, mix and stir them up a bit, and grab one from the center. I'll be buying a bigger bag to replace the included one.

A nit pick, thought. Nice review. Great expansion.
 
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Troy H
Canada
Peterborough
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I'm sure this has been pointed out but swordsman can still hit monsters in the castle ring. you don't need 'special' cards (hero etc.)

Beyond that, good review
 
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Troy H
Canada
Peterborough
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I use a big beer mug to hold the monsters. shake it up and reach in to grab what you can. mixes them up nicely.
 
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Mark Nicosia
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Portland
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MergedLoki wrote:
swordsman can still hit monsters in the castle ring. you don't need 'special' cards (hero etc.)

Where do you get that? From the original rules (pg. 7), neither Swordsman nor Hero can hit monsters in the castle ring. Only Barbarian, Tar, and Drive Him Back! can affect Monsters once they are in the Castle ring.

Or is this an expansion rule I missed?
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Troy H
Canada
Peterborough
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Yea I realize now I'm dead wrong.

Was explained the rules incorrectly. I just read them over myself few minute ago.

So yea ignore my previous comment.
 
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Mark Nicosia
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heh... no problem. Actually, I can understand the thinking, intentional or not, by whoever explained the rules to you that way. The game would make more sense to me if Knights could attack the Knight ring plus everything closer than the knight ring. And swordsman should be able to attack the Swordsman ring + evrything closer (ie- the Castle ring.) And heros should be able to attack everything.

I mean, it makes sense not being able to attack things further than their range, but saying something is too close? Except for archers, this doesn't really make sense.

I'm sure they just did it for game balance reasons, but for logical reasons I would prefer they balanced the additional power this would give knightsm/swordsman/heroes a different way. Perhaps just remove a couple swordsman from the deck? Or add a monster or 3? Something like that.
 
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Troy H
Canada
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I've only played one solo game with the wizards tower but it seemed there were A LOT of spells that could hit creatures in the castle ring... So maybe with spells it'll self balance?

I'll have to see when I get a couple friends together for a quick game.
 
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