oldschoolgamr
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I liked the idea of Castle Panic the minute I saw the concept. I dig Co-op and I wanted a laid back game to hook my wife on the hobby. Castle Panic is that game. If you add in the additional strategic mechanics of the expansion: Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower you end up with a really enjoyable game that has more depth than it may appear to at first glance.

Although I highly recommend the use of the low cost Wizard's Tower expansion (which I use for every game of Castle Panic I play - well, all but the vey first game...), I wanted to post this session report on the main game page to allow those considering an initial purchase of the base game an opportunity to check this out and perhaps encourage a closer look at the expansion (while you putting up shipping costs already - right?). I do have a session report that describes a handful of session over at the expansion's page - or just click here: Smiling From High Atop The Wizards Tower: Striking the Mega-Boss Balance.

So - we found a window of free time to get Castle Panic back to the table today (myself and my wife - playing the Co-op rules) and had such an enjoyable game I wanted to get it on the boards so folks could perhaps get some sense of why this is such a neat experience.

For this game we had decided to pare down the monster tiles according to the expansion rule variant "Monster Shortage". While using all the tiles is still my preferred way to play, we often need a shorter game time due to the widely varying moods of our special needs daughter.

Now, I figured this change would lower the difficulty and maybe need some further tweaking to keep the challenge up - boy was I wrong... Quite unexpectedly, the difficutlty shot up 10-fold! Which is a very, very, good thing.

The first six monster tokens draw were: Golem (3HP), Ogre (4HP), Goblin Calvery (2HP - Moves 2 Spaces), Centaur (3HP), Climbing Troll (3HP - Not Stopped by Walls), and Doppleganger (XHP - replaced with the first monster slayed, but doesn't move till then). Talk about a challenge. We were losing walls AND towers left and right! This was something, at least for us, that was really quite rare. I certainly liked this new attituge monster setup - the panic was mounting early on this one!

Mid-game there was a huge build up of monsters in the 6 and 3 arcs... which conveniently had no wall or towers separating them... And, as you can likely guess, to the rescue was none other than a good 'ole Giant Boulder. This tumbling terror takes out ALL monsters it rolls over and typically stops once it hit a castle structure (which is removes from the board). But since there were no castle strutures on this particular path, all I needed to do was roll a 6 or a 3 and the game would be turned heavily in our favor (for that moment at least...)

Rolled a 5... Shoot! (or other term of frustration depending on who you are playing the game with - I said something more colorful I am sure).

Just as we were about to recognize our low chances for the win (rare for our always Co-op games - at least before switching to the "shorter" [READ: more challenging!] tile set), my wife drew Wizard Quake (destroy a tower and all the monsters in that towers arc (i.e. the wedge emminating out from the center of the board). This could do the job that rolling boulder couldn't accomplish...!

But wait - I said there wasn't any towers there, right? Yes, I did - but luckily I had Mystical Manufacturing (Play a brick OR mortar card to rebuilt one tower) and promptly traded it to her. She was able to build a tower in the 6 arc then immediately destroy it to clear at least half of the 6/3 arc monsters - buying us significant time to regroup (nice job!)

A few turns later I snag another Giant Boulder and once again have a shot at clearing significant monsters from the 6/3 "alleyway". Rolled a 2 and instead took out the wall protecting our Wizard's Tower! We're down to two towers and two flaming (on fire - three fire tokens and its been burned down) walls, with the tile bag still feeling near half full... With on of the biggest issues being a Dragon (5HP, moves sporadically - via die roll and movement key - and breaths fire that catches your castle structures on fire frequently) that has yet to even move out of the Forest ring...

I can always count on the wife to buy us some breathing room. She discards and draws (a wizard card - of course): Hammer of Light (Slays one monster in the Forest ring..) and decimates the Dragon before it can utter another single flame. (Nice!)

Things are getting down to the nitty-gritty... Only two towers and two wall left standing. Some resonable monsters are approaching and I realize eventually I will have to use the Barbarian card (the only one in my hand) to rid the inner circle of a monster. My wife says just use it now to clear a monster that is further away - but I say wait to big the best target. Guess who should have been listened to...?

The last tile drawn after flooding the board with more monsters (grabbed a "Draw Four Monster Tokens" that needed resolving) was of course "Each Player Discard One Card" - Bye, Bye Barbarian...

The wife draws Wall of Force and sends the Troll Mage and an Ogre back to the Forest - they were knocking on the door of TWT (The Wizard's Tower)! Seriously, the Panic is crazy!... hence the name of the game...

Now down to two towers and one wall (yes, on fire)! We manage to juggle hit cards to weaken he remaining monsters with the goal to to keep TWT around as long as possible. I use Extingushing Wing and then Burning Blast to buy us some time.

Suddenly, My wife has drawn the needed hit card and Valado's Wave (four points of damage in one color...). These do the trick and the battle has been won...! The tension and difficulty with the more focused monster tiles was great - this will now be the default monster tile loadout we use going forward... [We ended the game with two walls and two towers (including TWT).]

The tension is well designed, the components are great (thick cardboard and strong cards), and the theme is quite appropriate and very well animated (animation work is done by the games designer - Justin De Witt). Grab the game and grab the expansion - especially if you are looking to game with a spouse/children who are relatively new to the whole "BGG-type" of boardgaming. And of course take a minute to survey the forest - you never know how the next tile pull is going to change the board and foil your best well laid plans... Time to regroup and hope for the impecable timing of the Giant Boulder. Of course if you can't roll a 5 or 3 when you need it, the rock won't do you much good.

Thanks for reading.

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Justin De Witt
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Great summary! I'm glad to read about how much you're enjoying the game and really getting into the spirit of it. I hope other players will take your advice and tweak the game rules to whatever works best for them. We designed Castle Panic to be flexible and let players adjust it however they wanted, and it sounds like you've dialed in a great game. We don't care what you do with the game, as long as you have fun with it!

I look forward to your next summary.
Justin
 
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oldschoolgamr
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jeston wrote:
Great summary! I'm glad to read about how much you're enjoying the game and really getting into the spirit of it. I hope other players will take your advice and tweak the game rules to whatever works best for them. We designed Castle Panic to be flexible and let players adjust it however they wanted, and it sounds like you've dialed in a great game. We don't care what you do with the game, as long as you have fun with it!

I look forward to your next summary.
Justin

Thanks Justin. It's great that you take the time to respond to your fans. It is amazing how simple the Castle Panic game seems on paper, yet the depth and complexity that is accessible to even the most novice player is amazing. I can see a lot of "hardcore" gamers overlooking this, but realizing how enjoyable it is when player. It is a great paced game and you can always count on every pull from the tile bag to be interesting. I am really hoping the upcoming PR pulls in some new players - as board games continue to grow in popularity I think Castle Panic can play a key roll in creating new "cardboard fans".

Now my shameless plug - When (I'll be optimistic) you consider a second expansion I would enjoy playtesting or proofing anything you come up with... Maybe the Forge Tower with a deck of arsenal cards (crossbows and catupults perhaps?) and some added Mega-Bosses?

Enjoy June - it should be an interesting and exciting month for Fireside Games!
 
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