Castle Panic: Goblins, Orcs and Trolls…Oh, My!

castle panic looks at a cooperative monster game from Fireside Games.

We had read good things about a game called “Castle Panic,” and we just had to get a copy and take a look for ourselves. “Castle Panic” is a cooperative game suggested for 1-6 players ages 10 years old and up. The game basically pits a group of players defending their castle against attacking monsters who have them completely surrounded. The object of the game is for the players to work together and play through/defeat all 49 monster tokens, before the monsters overwhelm them and destroy all of their castle towers.

The game contents include 49 castle cards, which are used by the players to defend the castle and attack the monsters, 49 monster tokens, which are used to attack the players, and include some special effects tokens as well, 6 walls to defend the castle towers, 6 towers which form the heart of the castle, 1 tar token used to slow down a monster, 2 fortify wall tokens to help defend the walls, one 6-sided die, 6 player aid cards and a game board measuring 20″ x 20″.

castle panic 2The game board is made up of a series of rings starting with a forest on the outer ring, then an archer ring, a knight ring, a swordsman ring, which is closest to the castle and finally the castle ring itself. Each ring is split into 3 colored arcs, red, green and blue. There are also 6 starting monster attack spaces numbered 1 through 6 all in the outer forest ring. To set up the game, the 6 walls and towers are placed in circular defense positions in or around the castle ring. Next, 3 goblin tokens, 2 orc tokens and 1 troll token are placed in each of the archer arcs (2 in each color). Each player is given a player aid card, and players are dealt from 4-6 castle cards, depending on the number of players in the game. The remaining castle cards and monster tokens are placed face down near the game board. The tar and fortify tokens are also kept handy.

To begin play, players alternate turns with 6 phases making up each turn:

1. Draw enough castle cards to return your hand to the number of cards originally dealt.

2. Discard any one castle card, and draw another (optional).

3. Trade castle cards with other players (1 or 2 cards only depending on the number of players…also optional).

4. Play cards (Play as many as desired).

5. Move monsters (move the monsters in play down to the next ring, one step closer to the castle).

6. Draw 2 new monster tokens and resolve them (there are special monster tokens, special effects tokens and just regular monsters…..players must follow the instructions on the token resolving one at a time).

The game ends immediately if all 49 monster tokens have been played and all monsters on the board have been slain (victory to the players). However, if the last tower is destroyed by the monsters, the players lose, and the players may want to try again.

castle panic 3Because each of the castle cards and monster tokens are so unique, here is a sample scenario of a typical pair of turns so you can get an idea how the game flows. Let us assume it is a basic two-player game, so both players, working together, will receive 6 castle cards to begin the game. Player A currently has 4 castle cards in his hand and Player B has only 1 castle card in his hand. We are also in the middle of this game, and so far all of the walls and towers are intact. The monsters currently have 4 monsters in play, a troll (in the blue swordsman ring) with 3 points of damage remaining, an orc (in the green knight ring) with 2 points of damage remaining and 2 goblins (both in the red archer ring) each with 1 point of damage remaining. The amount of damage a monster can absorb depends on the monster. Each hit taken reduces their strength and takes away 1 point of damage. When the damage reaches 0, the monster is slain.

It is Player A’s turn and he first draws 2 castle cards to bring his hand back up to 6 castle cards. He decides to not discard any of his cards.  However, Player B shows his only card is a green knight card, which can deal 1 point of damage to any monster in the green knight ring. Since Player A also has that same card in his hand, and there is an orc (with 2 points of damage remaining) lurking in the green knight ring, he trades a green archer card (not needed now) to Player B for his green knight card. Now Player A has two green knight cards and plays them both which slays the orc and takes the monster token out of the game. But player A is not done. He also has a red archer card and slays one of the goblins, who could only take one hit. But, he does not have any blue cards of any kind in his hand and no more red cards either, so he cannot slow down the troll or slay the other goblin. Since the troll is in the swordsman ring, he can now move ahead and destroy the wall in front of him. He takes 1 point of damage in doing so, but cannot move again until the next turn. The wall is removed from the game board. The goblin moves up one ring and is now positioned in the red knight ring. Two new goblin monster tokens were drawn and after throwing the die twice (a 3 and a 4), they are positioned on the number 3 and 4 green zones in the forest. That is the end of Player A’s turn.

castle panic 4Now Player B is ready to go. He only has one card in his hand (the green archer card traded to him by Player A), so he draws 5 cards and after looking them over does not seem very happy. He decides to discard one of his lesser cards, and draw a new card. He has really lucked out, as he has drawn the barbarian card, one of the most powerful castle cards in the deck. He decides not to trade with Player A, as he is anxious to play his barbarian card. The barbarian card can slay any monster anywhere on the board except in the forest, so Player B slams down his barbarian card and wipes out the troll who was on the verge of attacking a castle tower. He and Player A give each other a high five. Player B also decides to play four more of his cards before his turn ends. He plays the tar card on the goblin in the red knight ring, and places the tar token on top of the goblin. This slows the goblin (no damage) so that the goblin cannot move this turn. Next Player B plays a brick card and a mortar card and rebuilds the wall that had been taken out and just to play it even safer, he plays a fortify wall card, placing a special token on the new wall, making it more difficult for the monsters to take out that wall. He next moves the two goblins from the forest to the green archer ring. There are no other monsters to move right now, since the goblin in the red knight ring is stuck in the tar. Lastly, two 2 new monster tokens are drawn, the die is rolled for each and both monsters are positioned in the proper forest spaces, ready to move forward on the next turn. That is the end of Player B’s turn.

Hopefully, the example provided a realistic feel for the sheer excitement of the game play. “Castle Panic” is a very clever game indeed, and it certainly lived up to the hype. We congratulate the game developers at Fireside Games for creating a very new game experience that will be front and center on the Toys Bulletin game shelf. “Castle Panic” retails for $35.00 and can be purchased at the Fireside Games website.

–RJ Cullen

Posted in Board Games