Castle Panic Review, Stay Calm!
Hoards of monsters continually make their way toward your keep, can you coordinate your archers, knights, and swordsman to stop them? The theme of this game is fantastic but how does the gameplay stack up? Keeping reading so see the full Castle Panic review!
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Castle Panic Overview
Castle Panic is a cooperative game (check out the list of best cooperative board games) that challenges players to defend their castle as waves of goblins, orcs and trolls approach the keep threatening to knock down the walls and destroy the castle. We love the tension this game creates. Castle Panic always feels tense, teetering on the edge of defeat. There’s never an easy win with Castle Panic.
- Manufacturer: Fireside Games
- Manufacturer Age Recommendation: 10+ (though I would say kids around 7 could pick up this game)
- Number of Players: 1-6
- Game Length: 60 mins
- Prerequisite Skills: Experience with simpler strategy games and cooperative games, reading is NOT required, but helpful
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Our first play through of Castle Panic the gameplay felt kind clunky. It felt like there was a lot of steps to remember each turn having the option to discard a card, trade a card, and having to remember to advance the monsters and add new monsters. However by the second play, this all felt second nature and the game flow felt smooth and natural. I think the 60 minutes game length they note is also pretty overstated. The first play probably took close to an hour, but every game since has been much quicker, closer to 30 minutes is typical if all players know the game.
I mentioned it above, but our favorite aspect has been the tension created when playing Castle Panic. Literally every game we’ve played of Castle Panic, at one point or another during the game I’ve thought to my self ‘Oh man we’re done for’. Sometimes we were in fact done for, but others, we would pull it out creating a feeling of euphoria that is unrivaled in most games we’ve played. There is nothing I hate more than a cooperative game where it feels like you’re always going to win, and Castle Panic has a perfect win/loss ratio.
Castle Panic doesn’t have a ton to teach from an academic perspective. Most of what it offers kids will have learned through other avenues, but don’t think there is nothing for your child to gain! Castle Panic offers a treasure trove of soft skills for kids to learn. Being a cooperative board game it teach all the awesome things that go along with cooperative board games,
Beyond that though, this game is great for kids to learn prioritization and planning, and how to deal with it when those plans are thrown on their head. During gameplay you can see where the monsters are coming and have to work with the other players to coordinate who will attack what monster when. Then, just when you have a solid plan in place an unexpected shift or advancement will have the monsters exactly where you didn’t expect them. This is great to help kids (and adults!) learn how to deal with frustrations and stay flexible.
What We Love
I won’t harp on it again after this (promise!), but our favorite thing about Castle Panic is the emotions it manages to elicit. During the game there is always tension and uncertainty (will we survive this?!). When the last monster is slain it feels like a REAL accomplishment! Beyond that I love the wide age range of kids that enjoy playing this game. My son started playing this when he was almost 7, but we also played with my 9 and 13 year old nieces. Everyone was engages and enjoyed it (and wanted to play again and again!). Also, if this is a game that you fall in love with, there are three different expansion packs to keep the game fresh after lots of play throughs: The Wizard’s Tower, The Dark Titan, and Engines of War.
What We’d Change
If you’ve read enough of my review, you know one thing I like to harp on is construction quality. When I buy a game I intend to put it through a lot of play and I want it to hold up well to that play. Most of the pieces are great, but I really would have like the castle pieces to be made of wood, or one solid plastic piece. The bases on our pieces have gotten a little loose and the cardboard has become frayed from going in and out of the base. It’s still perfectly playable, just a minor critique.
The other (again minor critique) is that every once in awhile (maybe one in 6 or 7 games) the monsters come out in a way that feels goofy. We tend to separate out monsters into 3 piles for beginning game, mid game, and endgame but I think this should have been laid out in the rules.
A reminder of our rating scale:
- 1 die = Skip this game, not worth your time!
- 2 dice = May be fun for a few plays, but we think there are better options out there.
- 3 dice = Great game that we really enjoyed and played a lot.
- 4 dice = One of our favorites for this age range, definitely check it out!
- 5 dice = In our opinion this is the best game for this age range, you have to try it!
So how does Castle Panic stack up? 4 dice! Our family has had a blast playing this, and I think yours will too, especially if you have a Medieval times lover in your crew.
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Comment and let us know what YOU thought of Castle Panic! If you like this game, I think you’ll love Dragonwood, check out the full Dragonwood review!
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