This Castle Panic review was made after playing the game eight times.
What is Castle Panic?
Castle Panic is a cooperative castle defense game created by Justin De Witt and published by Fireside Games. You and your teammates have just finished building your castle in the woods, surrounded by fire, water and forest. Once you have completed your castle, goblins, trolls and orcs begin attacking. The goal of Castle Panic: Defend the castle from the bad guys and save as much of the castle as possible!
Castle Panic Gameplay
The area around your castle is divided into three arcs. The arcs each have three zones that can be targeted by your archers, knights or swordsmen.
Each turn, the active player chooses which areas to defend. The players must draw and trade cards in order to make sure that the active player has the resources that they need to defend the tower. At the end of each player’s turn, the monsters on the board will get closer and two new monsters will show up.
The common monsters take 1-3 hits to destroy. There are also some special monsters that make the game quite a bit tougher. When you’re drawing new monsters, you could end up drawing one of the special effect tokens, which alter the board state in one way or the other.
If the monsters are able to get through the walls and completely destroy the castle, all of the players lose. If the players are able to work together to take down all of the monsters, then everyone wins!
- The theme comes through so well in this game and it’s a theme that just about anyone can get into. You really do feel like you’re in your castle trying to fight off a bunch of nasty monsters.
- Castle Panic is a wonderful co-op board game with its emphasis on that aspect. There is no way to play only for yourself or you will have a very low chance of winning. It does a really great job of creating a truly cooperative set of mechanics.
- Those boss monsters are great. They all have unique and super-powerful abilities, forcing players to come up with ways to work together to take them down.
- They have included one method of play where any time a player kills a monster, they keep the monster’s token. This allows the players to name a Master Slayer at the end of the game, and provides the chance for some competition and a kind of “winner” at the end of a cooperative game. Some players will think that this could be a bad thing in a co-op board game, but others will like having the option.
- We also really appreciated how clearly the Castle Panic rules are laid out in the rulebook. It is a great gateway game and a very easy game to teach.
- There is a pretty high luck factor in Castle Panic. You could get really lucky with your monster pulls, your dice, and your card draws early on, making the rest of the game a breeze, or you could get really unlucky.
- Players who are interested in deeper games or high levels of combat will probably not be very interested in Castle Panic. You really don’t have to put much thought into your turns, especially if you’ve played games like this before. My group is usually four or five adults who have played plenty of board games, so this one is a bit too light to play regularly. However, if we have the kids with us or if we want to play a light and quick co-op, this is an excellent choice.
If you like castle defense and are looking for a great cooperative board game for the family, you will probably get a kick out of Castle Panic. It has a very straightforward design, so it is a great pick for families who want an entertaining cooperative experience. It didn’t quite make it onto my group’s top cooperative board games for kids list, but it is one of our favorite family games!
If you end up liking the base game and want to increase the complexity just a bit, I definitely recommend looking into these Castle Panic expansions:
Update: Check out our Castle Panic expansions review!