Fireside Games’ Castle Panic just celebrated it’s 5th birthday. They held a Google hangout and some game shops held celebrations of their own. The game deserves to be celebrated. Castle Panic is a cooperative tower defense game. All players win or all players lose. I love this. Most of my favorite games are co-op. I’m not a terribly competitive person, but also I just tend to lose a lot, so games like Castle Panic are great for me.
Castle Panic is for 1-6 players and, as I stated, is a cooperative tower defense game. There are six towers set in a circle with walls surrounding them in the middle of the board, which is divided into three colors with each color containing two segments. Instead of me getting too wordy about the board why don’t you take a look.
There you go. Way easier just to look, right?
Monsters are set in the “Archer” ring at the start of the game and then new monsters are placed in the “Forest” ring at the end of EACH PLAYER”S TURN! “Egads!” I can hear you exclaim. “How will I ever defend my castle!? I’m in a panic!” Worry not. Each player is given a hand of cards with which to dispatch the oncoming onslaught of orcs, goblins, trolls, and specialty boss monsters. “There is a goblin in the Red Archer segment!!!” you wail as you cower on the ground, clutching my leg for comfort. “Not to worry,” I say. “I have a Red Archer card.” I play it and dispatch the puny one point goblin with ease. “Oh no!! But there is an orc in the Green Knight segment!!!” you blubbber, tears of fear streaming down your sallow cheeks. “Bah! Tis nothing,” I say. I play a green knight card dealing one damage to the orc and I laugh triumphantly. “But, but,” you stutter, “It st-still has one p-point on it. It will advance to the Green Swordsman ring at the end of your t-turn.” And then I take a deep relaxing breath and let it out. I pull you up from the ground. I put my hand on your shoulder and look into your eyes. I am simply overflowing with faith and confidence. And then I point to your Green Swordsman card and say, “He’s all yours. It’s your turn to be the hero.”
That’s more or less it. At the end of each player’s turn monsters move in one space and new monsters are placed in the outer “Forest” ring. But that’s not quite all. Because you won’t just be battling monsters. Boulders will roll in from the forest only to stop once they have hit your wall or your tower and destroyed them. Oh no! But the boulder will also kill any monsters that were between it and your wall or tower. Yay! But wait. You’ve drawn a token that puts a plague on all archers and all of you must discard your archer cards. Oh no! But wait. There are no monsters in the archer ring anyway and now you get to draw up to your five card hand at the start of your turn. Yay!
There are a lot of ups and downs in Castle Panic. We have had games end fairly quickly because of bad card draws. We have had failures turned to victories by trading just the right card at the right time. Yes, you can trade cards! Or rather one card, with one player, once during your turn. And you are doing this all together. It’s all about the team. When we play we set all of our cards face up on the table so everyone is in on every decision.
“But, Brandon. I’ve played Castle Panic every day for the last six months.”
“Of course you have. It’s a great game.”
“Well, yes, but I feel like there should be more. After playing it every day for the last six months I mean.”
“Ah. Well, you’re in luck! There’s the Wizard’s Tower Expansion!”
I love this expansion. It replaces one of your towers with a super cool looking wizard’s tower. It adds new monsters and monster bosses. And, it adds a spell deck! Yes, a spell deck. You may discard one card from your hand and retrieve a spell card. Maybe you will get “Chain Lightning” which allows you to do 1 point of damage to all creatures in the same space. Or maybe you pull “Burning Blast” which lets you set monsters on fire. Yes! On fire! The fire does one damage to a monster at the end of each turn. Were you only able to do 2 points of damage to a 3 point creature, but you set it on fire? Awesome. Your turn is over and now it’s dead! Oh, and there are fire tokens. Did I mention that? Here they are. Take a look.
Burn, Hydra, burn!!!
The Wizard’s Tower Expansion also adds standard deck cards. One of my favorites is “Stand Together”(pictured above), which allows you to choose one player to immediately play one card on your turn.
So, there you have it a great cooperative game with a great theme and a fun expansion that doesn’t feel like filler or marketing evilness. And, Fireside Games announced plans for another expansion to come out next year that will introduce “The Dark Titan”!!! I recommend watching the Castle Panic birthday celebration to see all the juicy details and concept are for the next expansion. I’ve jumped the video to 36:38 for you here.
You should try this game if you haven’t already. For those of you who have, please share your tells of defeat and triumph. After all, we’re in this together!by