Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick Review - Castle Panic - The Wizard's Tower expansion

The Wizard's Tower
Designer: Justin De Witt
Publisher: Fireside Games
Quick Review - Castle Panic - The Wizard's Tower expansion

Wow, that was a MUCH better game!  I bought the Castle Panic- The Wizard's Tower expansion last night and we played it for the first time tonight.  I still have a few of the same gripes with the game (complex trades to set up players for good situations in the future are a bit above my sons' heads, and sometimes the trading phases are a bit tedious) and adds a few new gripes, but overall the game is MUCH improved.  We played the game outside by the campfire in the yard and turned on a camp lantern as it got darker, which all added to the mood.

Tonight's game definitely lived up to the name.  We won tonight, but only because of some very minor cheating =)  Very quickly into the game (about halfway through the monsters) we were down to only a single tower left.  And we panicked.  But we managed to hold off the monsters, and even rebuild a few walls.  But then I drew a boulder and rolled a 5, which would have wiped out our last remaining tower.  So I, ahem, quickly grabbed the die and re-rolled.  Luckily this went right through the gaping holes in our defenses, but unfortunately it also didn't take out any monsters (it did go under a flying Gargoyle).  We managed to hold out for quite a bit longer, drawing a few lucky cards (Scavenge, Barbarian, Drive Him Back, etc.) at very opportune times, but then we were faced with two monsters in the Castle ring, coming after our Castle.  We liberally interpreted the rules to allow some 'stacking' of cards when using a Stand Together card (we allowed using Special cards with that, so we also used a Double Strike and Enchanted card to wipe out a threatening monster).  And then we were faced with a whole horde of monsters in the Castle ring all coming for our last Tower.  There was absolutely no way for us to win since there were more monsters coming than there were useful Castle cards in the deck, so we fudged the rules once again.  This time we decided that if there was only one tower left in reality the defenders would try to build walls around the tower to slow the onslaught of monsters.  So we started building walls whenever possible to the counter-clockwise side of the tower.  Luckily we were able to do this enough to kill the imps and monsters that were approaching.  Finally there was only one monster (a Centaur with full strength) left and we had no wall.  But I happened to draw a Drive Him Back card, so I sent him back to the forest.  Then on my youngest son's next turn he was able to absolutely destroy the Centaur with his pick of cards - he had an Archer and Hero and Nice Hit card that let him kill the Centaur and then some.  And we won!  Well, sort of.  The game actually kicked out butts, but we still had a lot of fun even with the 'adjustments' we made to the rules.

However the game still isn't perfect.  Yes it was much more challenging and the variety of monsters made things much more interesting.  But with all the new monsters comes a whole slew of new rules.  This made things confusing a lot of the time.  It was sometimes difficult to keep straight which monsters moved differently, or could only be attacked by certain defenders, or what they did after getting killed, or how they behaved with fire...  I found myself consulting the rule book a LOT more tonight.  I'm sure that'll decrease as we play more (and we don't intend to play the game without the expansion any more), but there are a lot of exceptions and adjustments to the rules.

Anyway, with the expansion I think this will be a game that we play much more often now.  And there are a lot more monsters available now so we can tweak and adjust the numbers until we find something we are comfortable with.  After we play a few more times I'll do a full review, but this is definitely a huge improvement.  even the quality of the components is a slight step up (there is now a monster token draw bag and the clip for the Wizard's Tower fits more snugly than the default clips).  This is definitely worth getting if you already have Castle Panic.

Preliminary Rating: 6/10

Getting ready to try out the expansion!
Only one tower remains!
Here you can see some of the new tokens and cards.
My youngest son was the Master Slayer - take a look at all those monsters he slayed!
These are not the druids you are looking for...
My wife doesn't like her picture taken unless she's decked out in Storm Trooper garb =)

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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