By Scott Schweinfurth
Castle Panic is a cooperative, light strategy game for 1 to 6 players ages 10 and up. Players must work together to defend their castle, in the center of the board, from monsters that attack out of the forest at the edges of the board. Players trade cards, hit and slay monsters, and plan strategies together to keep their castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer. Players must balance the survival of the group with their own desire to win.
I remember walking into a game store, looking for a new game. I came across a game titled “Castle Panic” that already had a few expansions available and even a few different themes. It fit the type of game I was looking for in that it was a cooperative game, but I remember wondering how well a tower defense game would work as a board game. The answer was: Pretty well!
In Castle Panic, you and the other players (inhabitants of the tower, perhaps?) work together to slay the monsters emerging from the forest surrounding the tower in an effort to protect it. The tower and surrounding areas are split into six sections. Once all six sections of the tower have been destroyed, the players have lost. The fun of Castle Panic is coordinating with the other players and using the limited resources you have to make sure everyone has the thing they need at the moment they need it.
The first few times I played Castle Panic, the players were handed pretty hearty defeats. Things just kind of spiraled out of control and we were never really able to get things back on track. It was getting to the point where I was starting to look into the optional rules to make the game easier. However, after a few more plays I suddenly found we were winning on a pretty consistent basis, even to the point where there was plenty of towers left at the end of the game, and I would be lying if I gave you a reason why. Funnily enough, when I’ve shared this experience with other players they have said they experienced the same thing. I guess it’s best to say that Castle Panic has a bit of a learning curve, even if it’s not as overt as some other games.
I am still looking forward to getting the expansions for this game (especially “Wizard’s Tower”), but I still enjoy getting Castle Panic to the table.