Thursday 15 April 2021

Castle Panic (and Wizard's Tower, Dark Titan and Engines of War)

Where boulders are missiles.

Your castle is under attack by goblins, orcs and trolls and it is up to six stalwart defenders to cooperatively fight them off by playing cards! The only way to lose is if all your inner keep towers are destroyed, and the only way to win is to defeat all the monsters.

A turn is pretty simple - first draw up to your maximum card limit, and replace one if you want. Then you can also opt to trade one with another player. Afterwards, play as many as you can then draw two new monsters - some of which aren't monsters at all. They could be plagues, bosses, extra monster moves, or simply MORE monsters than you initially thought.

Feels good to clear the field.

Definitely a lighter game thinking wise, but one that is still very fun and plays really fast. Easy to set up, easy to play, and easy to take down - each game will be around an hour. I give it three and boulders out of five. Note that playing with more players and more expansions (the three below) does add to everyone's downtime, which is a weakness of the game.

The other big weakness is quarter backing - though somewhat mitigated in that you don't show each other your cards, some card counting people with good memory (*cough* my mother *cough*) might push other players for an optimal move.

Insight: Always check if the next person to play has a good trade before players further on to lessen the chance of the monsters dodging you plans.

Castle Panic: Engines of War

This expansion adds a resource deck to the game and removes the random brick and mortar cards from the usual selection. Now you can order your engineer to build weapons, traps and repair walls. Functionally though, you will only want to build that catapult to fight against the new threat of enemy siege engines which are the highlight of this expansion. They are doubly nasty in that destroying one simply lets the two orcs hiding underneath pop out.

Definitely different from the other two expansions but one that seems mostly under utilized (outside the catapult) in our games - except in the instances where someone has a turn with no enemies in range.

Insight: Build the catapult as a priority.

Castle Panic: The Dark Titan

While this adds annoying elite monsters that require dice rolls to kill, it also brings the super handy support and cavalier tokens (friendlies) that make an awesome change to the steady swarm of enemies. The titular Dark Titan Agranok, an 8 hit point enemy, is awesome too as he comes with five levels of difficulty (so far we've beaten the first three). Of all the expansions this is my favorite as it can really pile on the difficulty but doesn't change much else in the game.

In fact if you only play with Dark Titan you don't need to do the extra setups at the start with the other two expansions: no extra decks to shuffle (new cards go in existing deck) and no extra enemies to keep outside the pile (other than six starters as per normal).

Insight: Try hold the barbarian and nice shot to deal with Agranok.

Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower

Having a friendly wizard in the castle is not only amazing, it is almost mandatory against the new enemies he brings - some of which breathe fire! This expansion includes a nice monster bag for tokens, some ok new enemies, and the super handy wizard deck which you can slowly draw cards from as long as the wizard's tower (which replaces one of your usual towers) remains standing.

While its definitely cool I feel it suffers from being "too cool" in that the only correct move is to draw wizard cards when you can - anything else being sub-optimal. Why pull a color limited, one point of damage archer when you could get something that deals one damage to everything on the board, or sets them on fire (1 damage every time they move) or simply insta kills everything in an arc (provided you sacrifice your own corresponding tower)?

Still fun when you want to see everything / most things wiped from the board in a single move.

Insight: As mentioned, always draw wizard cards when you can. Not all are winners - just most.

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