Published by: Fireside Games
Design: Justin De Vitt
Game Length: Not Specified (usually takes us 45minutes)
Castle Panic is a cooperative tower defence game based around a central castle which you have built in a forest. You are surrounded by lots of monsters including the Goblins, Orcs and Trolls who live there and have been watching you as you build. Now you have trained your soldiers they have gathered an army of their own to attack.
The objective of the game is to work together to defeat the monsters and protect the castle.
After setting up the board and starting monsters, players take turns using their cards to attack and hopefully defeat the constantly advancing hoarde.
On a players turn they start with 6 cards, one of these can be discarded for a new card and another traded with another player (as long as they are holding a card to trade). This allows players to think several moves in advance and hopefully prepare and work together to mount an effective defence. After trading the active player uses cards from their hand to wound monsters, rebuild or fortify walls, or use some other effects written on the cards. After this all monsters on the board advance on the castle and then it’s time for the next wave. The active player draws 2 monster tokens, rolls a d6 for each one and places it on the corresponding space. Of course not all monster tokens are the same, some have effects like killing one type of soldier, making you draw yet more tokens or frustratingly moving all of the monsters one extra step closer to the castle. After this play continues to the next player and so on.
At the beginning of each players turn they draw cards to refill their hand to 6. This is important because if you have played all of your cards you will have nothing to trade with others players. The game continues until either your castle is completely destroyed or you are able to defeat every monster on the board.
Thematic Ties: This game has strong if somewhat generic thematic ties to a fantasy kingdom. That said part of it’s charm is that it doesn’t try too hard. Castle Panic utilises this theme well through it’s gameplay and design.
Score Rachel 9/10 James 7/10
Box, Castle Panic box gives a clear picture of the theme of the game, it is eye catching, often being one of the first games customers in our games cafe look at. The box shows it has won several awards without crowding the overall design.
Components, the main board for the game is well made and lays flat when unfolded. The 6 monster zones (or arcs) are clearly visible over the simple but colourful background design. There are player crib sheets on the board which cover all of the useful information you might need during a game. This made the turn order cards somewhat redundant. The games cards are full sized and feature the castle panic logo on the back. The information on the front is clear and simple to follow.
Cardboard, The 49 ,monster tokens are made from thick tough card stock with nicely rendered monsters. It 2ould be nice to see some variety in the images however as all the monsters are identical. Keeping track of the monsters health points is a simple matter of rotating the token clockwise. The walls and castle pieces are made of the same thick card stock as the tokens and are printed with a simple brick design. Additional fortifications tokens fit nicely over the wall pieces. The only slight complaint James has is the plastic stands are flimsy and become loose quickly.
Score Rachel 8/10 James 7/10
We have played this game several times and find that because we are randomly drawing tiles the game plays differently each time. Castle panic plays well with 2 players but we have found it gets progressively more difficult with more players although more trading is allowed in a 6 player game which mitigates this a little. We haven’t played this game with 1 player but imagine it would be a challenge (the rule book confirms this). The rulebook also contains several variations on the main rules which we will definitely be trying out soon.
Score Rachel 9/10 James 9/10
Our average game lengths have been about 30-45 minutes which has always felt like about the right amount of time for this game. Although we haven’t always defeated the monsters the end of the game has never felt too soon and win or lose it usually comes down to the last few tokens.
Score Rachel 9/10 James 8/10
Ease of Play:
Castle Panic is a quick to learn game with a simple, accessible mechanic. Having the turn order visible help new players run through their actions without needing to constantly refer to the rulebook. Due to the simplicity of the gameplay this is a game we find quick and simple to teach to customers, even those new to gaming. The majority of people who have played it have enjoyed it.
Score: Rachel 8/10 James 9/10
Tactics and Strategy:
This game relies heavily on luck as you will be drawing random cards and tokens which have a big impact on the game board. This is mitigated to some extent by the ability to plan ahead and trade cards with other players. That said random tokens can always show up and instantly ruin those plans.
Score Rachel 5/10 James 3/10
If its grand strategy you are looking for, this isn’t it. But if you are looking for a simple, fun but challenging game and don’t mind the luck element. This is definitely one we would recommend.
Rats to Riches
A review by Bake Battle and Roll
Published by: Accentuate games
Game length: 15-45 minutes
Rats too riches is the latest release from Accentuate games, designed by Eugene Lim. It has recently been awarded gold in the independent toy awards Best board game category.
Rats to riches is a bright and colourful card collecting game which sees players take the role of rats scheming to be ‘The big cheese To do this you have to invest in swindle (the in game currency) and cheeses to grow your sewer empire. Be the first to 100 swindle to be crowned the Biggest cheese.
Players start the game with three cheeses and some swindle, on a players turn they can visit the open sewer and spend cheeses on cards to improve their empire. As the game progresses the cards in the open sewer become more expensive and more effective to help with creating the best underground empire fit for the big cheese.
To end a turn players can pay swindle into the slush fund to buy new cheese ready for their next turn. Some cards allow players to take on the role of the cheese bosses which means they collect the swindle for the cheese.
At the end of the round the player with the most swindle takes the Big cheese marker and gains an extra 2 swindle income.
From start to finish this game really sticks to its theme from the sewer pipes on the board to the creative place names like the cesspit, The rat pack and the cheese bank this game really is all about filthy scheming rats.
James: 10/10 Rachel 10/10
We love how the bottom of this colourful cheesy box opens out into a nicely themed board with clearly defined areas for all components. The characters have clearly been specially designed for the game and show how much time and detail has gone into the design process. The big bosses are sat at their desks and the very attractive big cheese piece is made from metal giving it a sense of importance.
The cheese triangles are a cute addition to this game and provide lots of additional colour to the board. The only thing that might improve the aesthetics of the game would be if the cards were a slightly better quality.
James 8/10 Rachel 9/10
After playing this game at the UK games expo we couldn’t wait to find out when it was being released because we really wanted a copy for the cafe as we knew our customers would love it.
This is definitely a game that we will be introducing to a lot of people and we feel that because of the variety of cards making each game different that this is not a game we will get bored of quickly.
James 8/10 Rachel 9/10
The suggested game length on the box is 15-45 minutes and this makes sense as the game plays much quicker with fewer players. We have played it as a 2 player game which took us just over 15 minutes and that felt like a good time, not making the game feel too short.
Ease of play:
The instruction book is very simply designed and game set up is very easy to follow with a picture of the complete set up on the back of the board and a smaller picture of the card set up in the book. All of the different card types are shown in the instructions as well as a clearly written description of how to take your turn. The only thing we found a little unclear is the instructions on awarding the big cheese token at the end of the round to the player with the most swindle.
The game is easy to learn and we are excited to show it to many of our customers in the next few weeks.
James 7/10 Rachel 8/10
Tactics and strategy:
Rats to riches is a surprisingly tactical game as there are a number of ways to earn big swindle quickly and choosing the right time to do this can make a big difference to your chances of being crowned ‘The big cheese’.
Some of the cards allow you to take swindle from others, remove cards and send them to the cesspit or collect pipes which you can trade in for big money rewards.
James 7/10 Rachel 7/10
We are really pleased to have a copy of this in the cafe and feel sure that it will be a game that is played regularly here due to its fun and colourful design, great gameplay and simple to learn rules.
James 8/10 Rachel 9/10