The forest is filled with all sorts of Monsters. They watched and waited as you built your Castle and trained your soldiers, but now they’ve gathered their army and are marching out of the woods.

Can you work with your friends to defend your Castle against the horde, or will the Monsters tear down your Walls and destroy the precious Castle Towers? You will all win or lose together, but in the end only one player will be declared the Master Slayer!

Castle Panic box and contents

Castle Panic is a unique, cooperative 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.

Castle Panic monsters Castle Panic Cards
images © Fireside Games

User Reviews (36)

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7
Intermediate Reviewer
Professional Grader
Tomahawk
7
19 of 19 gamers found this helpful
“Fun Co-op Game”

I have written a few reviews about cooperative games and most of the things that appeal to me about them are found in this game. Let me quickly touch on the highlights.

1. Castle Panic is light, easy to learn. This allows a large group of players to enjoy it.

2. Having up to six players is nice, because sometimes you have more than four. I also like the Solo option because I’m an early riser and it gives me something to do while people are still sleeping.

3. I like the theme of protecting your castle from the charging horde. A little different from Scotland Yard where you work together to catch Mr. X or Forbidden Island where you collect the treasure and get off the Island before it sinks.

4. Teamwork is fun, and if played right no one has to feel like a loser because we all are in it together.

5. The game doesn’t take long the advertised hour is an exaggeration.

6. The downside is… co-op games can easily be taken over by a couple of strong personalities. And after you play the game a couple of times the strategies tend to be repetitive.

My family likes this game when we want to work together to solve a problem, when we want a light game, one that can be played in less than an hour and when we just want to have fun, not looking for a huge mental challenge.

 
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9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness
8
224 of 234 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“A Kid-Friendly Bloodbath”

I picked up Castle Panic in order to start building up a library of child-friendly games to have on-hand when my kids hit gaming age. Of course, I’m not patient enough to wait for the aging process to prepare them, so I’ve subjected many adults to playing with me. Through roughly 50 games, here are my thoughts:

Observed Set-Up and Play Time
Panic was quick out of the box, as the 60+ cardboard tokens came pre-punched. A thorough read-through of the rulebook took around 30 minutes and initial board set-up around 5 minutes. Our first game took less than an hour. From game 2 on, set-up takes 3 to 5 minutes, and games never run longer than 40 minutes.

My Learning Curve and Teach Time
There is essentially NO learning curve to this game… and that is its biggest shortcoming. We easily won our first game, and effectively had it mastered by game 2. In fact, we’ve lost only twice (playing the fully cooperative version of the rules) in 50ish games, both times having “Draw 4 Monsters”, “Draw 3 Monsters”, the Goblin King and at least one “advance all monsters” token or Boss come out in the same turn (better stated, 12 of the 49 monster tokens get drawn at once). This will almost never happen, and a 96% success rate is far too high for a cooperative game. As far as teach time, I have had success teaching non-gamers (including my barely-attentive father) by jumping into a game without much discussion of rules. Just “I’ll go first… you take the same steps I do, and can only kill monsters with cards that match their ring and color”.

Group Sizes and Dynamics
90% of my games have been 2-player, with a few 3- and 4-player games sprinkled in. It is slightly more challenging with more players, but not enough so to put a win in doubt. All groups have consisted of adult family members and friends, and literally everybody I’ve played with loved it.

Objectionable Material
The preface of the game is killing monsters… while this obviously counts as “violence”, it is entirely fantasized and cartoonish. Even the implied violence is less objectionable than “Tom & Jerry”… although I’m not sure if children watch that anymore. I will have absolutely no qualms with introducing my son to this game as early as 4 years old. There is very little reading involved… matching colors and pictures should be sufficient to play the game independently.

Comparable Titles
While I’m sure there is a plethora of child-friendly games an adult would enjoy, only two others have crossed my radar: Forbidden Island and River Dragons. Island is completely different in every way save that both it and Panic are cooperative. I have not played Dragons, but being a competitive game, it too is quite different than Panic (they seem to be held in the same esteem).

I love this game. It was purchased to be learned and tucked away for a year or two until my son was ready to play… instead, it has been played twice a week by gaming and non-gaming adults. The game is far too easy, and I love a challenge… but for some reason I have a great time playing this anyway. And I understand the Wizard’s Tower expansion makes it much more challenging, so I will grab that if I tire of nonchalantly mowing down monsters.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter
6
147 of 154 gamers found this helpful
“A great intro game but no lasting appeal”

A castle stands in a forest clearing surrounded by a ring of ancient trees. Greenskins are gathering in immense numbers in the woodland shadows, ready to launch an all-out assault. The players take on the roles of the defenders of the castle who must repel the invading forces at all costs before the keep is completely demolished. Sharpen your arrows and boil some oil – the siege is about to begin!

In this co-op 1-6 players use cards to handle wave after wave of monsters attacking their castle. The board is divided into three color-coded areas and three “ranges”, resulting in nine distinct locations where monsters can be at any given time. The players draw and trade cards that affect monsters in certain areas, while every round existing monsters advance and new ones join the fray. The fun is punctuated by special events like a giant boulder rolling out of the forest smashing everything in its way, or one of four boss monsters who bring up unique effects into the game.

The components are a highlight of the game – monster’s health is denoted by which end of the triangular token is pointing towards the castle at any given time – a great visual solution. Illustrations are good and the stand-ups of castle elements serviceable.

The game is extremely easy to pick up and requires minimal reading, resulting in a very easy introduction of new players (I’d argue that kids as young as 5-6 can grasp this game). The most natural way to play the game is as a straight-up co-op, which makes the game overly easy. The optional variants of competing for who kills most monsters or pitting one player against all others rarely see use.

The game offers a solid base experience, but nothing that will keep you coming back after several play-throughs. The challenge – the main driving force behind the replayability of co-ops; is just not there. It is a great way to introduce new players into the hobby though.

The Wizard’s Tower expansion brings many new and exciting features to the base game and improves the experience and the game’s longevity considerably.

 
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8
Intermediate Reviewer
Copper Supporter
Viscount / Viscountess
8
140 of 150 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Down to the Basics Review”

Disclaimer: The main goal of “Down to the Basics Reviews” is to show what the game is about, getting down to the basics, the bare minimum necessary to captivated the reader.

So, about Castle Panic:

1) What it is?
A Tower Defense Game converted to a boardgame. Several bad monsters are trying to destroy your castle (walls and towers). There are three ways to play the game: The players control the heroes against a horde of bad guys: orcs, goblins and trolls. You can play as Co-op (everyone wins or loses), Master Slayer (everyone loses but only one player wins) and Overlord (one player controls the monsters agains all other players).

2) How do you play?
Draw cards, replace cards, exchange cards, play cards, move monsters and draw monsters tokens. If all walls and towers are destroyed the players lose, If all monster are killed, the players win. In the Master Slayer game, the player that has the most victory points (killed monsters) wins the game.

3) What are the decisions that you make?
Players that control the heroes:
After complete your hand of cards:
– You may discard 1 card and draw another
– Exchange cards with other players.
– Decide which cards to play: kill or disturb monsters, repair walls, etc.

In the Overlord Game, the player that controls the monsters:
– Draw monster tokens and decide which tokens to play. Then, choose one of two options: where to place one token or throw a die to place two tokens.

4) What is good about it?
As a co-op, it is a great game for kids, the decisions are easy and the art is nice. The most challenging way to play the game is with the main rules, the Master Slayer. In the co-op game you must always exchange cards to maximize chances of a victory. In the Master Slayer you must be more careful to not let the players lose but also trying to kill more monster than your adversaries.

5) What is not so good about it?
Without the expansion, there is not much replayability, mainly with the co-op rules. It is not that difficult to learn the best strategies to beat the game. As a side note, the board is not top notch: after only five or six plays marks appear where the board folds.

6) What it feels when you play it?
For the most part it is not a demanding game, so you can play without much worries. And you can have a few laughs too. For instance, a funny fact that happened more than once: a dice is thrown to place the giant boulder token, it starts to roll and, amazingly, it crosses your castle right in the spots where there are no more walls and towers and kills a few monsters in the way. The kids just love such moments.

 
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10
Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
6
250 of 268 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“The Family Friendly Cooperative Game”

As the enemies approach your fortifications, you and your band of gamers work to keep your castle standing (or at least part of it). Up to 6 players trade in the typical adventure game of taking their fight to the enemy, sitting back to keep a watch on the forest to see what emerges. Once the rain of enemies ends, the victory celebration begins!

Game Play

Castle Panic is a straightforward cooperative game, following in the general vein of other coops like Shadows Over Camelot or Pandemic where the players perform actions to help their team (typically fighting back the advancing enemy horde), and then doing things to progress the wave of evil.

The board consists of concentric circles split into six 60 degree regions (2 x red, 2 x blue, and 2 x green). The annular spaces are named for types of fighters (swordsman, knights, and archers), depicting who can typically damage enemies in that zone. At the center stands your castle, made up of 6 walls and 6 towers (1 of each for each region).

On your turn, you will draw and play cards to stem the tide of enemies that are advancing towards your castle. Typically these cards will denote a color and a fighter type, allowing you to do damage to enemies in that section of the board (for instance, Green Swordsman). You can trade cards with your allies to attempt to optimize your defense.

After your play, surviving monsters will move along their trajectory towards the castle, and additional monsters will join the fray. Of course, not all monsters are created the same, and the enemy may have some tricks up their sleeve to help in laying siege to your fortress. If a monster reaches a fortress wall or tower before they are killed, they will destroy that section. If all of your towers are destroyed before all of the monster tokens are killed, you lose. If at least one section of your castle’s towers remain when the enemies attack is ended (all monsters are killed) your team is victorious!

My Thoughts

Castle Panic is a strong entry for a beginner’s cooperative game. The goal is clear, your castle sits in the middle of the board, and you need to protect it. Monsters are generally pretty basic, they appear in the forest and move one space, and have some number of hit points. This allows the players to plan out (for the most part) where enemies will be, and how they can address the problems. Boss monsters add to the tension somewhat, and the extra tactics, such as the rolling boulder, keep the party on their toes.

I don’t see this game as having grand strategy, it’s normally pretty clear what needs to be done, and what is the biggest current threat. Towards the middle and end of the game there tends to be a good deal of tension as you need to start deciding how much of your castle you can stand to lose to the invading forces, and when you need to go all out to prevent an attack.

I would put this as being a small step up from Forbidden Island, but not on the level of Flash Point, or Pandemic. It is a very good first cooperative game for a family gamer, and would work well in both casual and social settings, as it encourages teamwork and cooperation, without needing intense focus.

I wouldn’t put this high on a list for strategy or power gamers, as I don’t think there are enough decisions to keep them satisfied. That said, it works well if you want to help encourage people to try games, or as a stepping stone to more advanced cooperative games.

The game can suffer from the “alpha-bully” problem, where one player starts telling everyone else what to do. There is a buffer to this since cards are typically kept in hand (though discussion and trading is allowed). The alpha-bully thus depends on others telling them what cards they possess, generally leaving them to simply say they need this card or that to do what they want. In the end, I’d give this a “moderate” score for alpha-bully issues, with it not being as bad as a game like Pandemic or Elder Sign.

If you’re into defending the castle scenarios, or want to add some fantasy teamwork to a family or casual game night, Castle Panic could fit the bill. If you’re looking for some meaty decisions, you will likely want to look elsewhere to scratch the teamwork itch.

 
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9
USA
I play blue
Paladin
Master Grader
8
207 of 223 gamers found this helpful
“Castle "Picnic"”

Castle Panic is a simple little co-op that is an outstanding selection for families or a group with young or new gamers.

Castle Panic is one of the first games to get my family into boardgaming so I’m loathe to say anything negative. However, while it can work well with a group of adults of a casual mindset, it just isn’t going to satisfy those who take their gaming seriously. I do hurry to add however that my understanding is that the expansion to the game makes it quite a challenge and a more meaty experience for serious gamers.

The Play:

Simple. Straightforward. Fun. Each player on their turn draws up to the correct number of cards for their hand. You have the opportunity to chuck one and draw another and trade one to a teammate. Then, you utilize all the cards you can and play passes. The goal is to destroy the oncoming monsters before they destroy your castle by running into it. Monsters are in one of three colored parts of the board and at one of three levels. To hit them, you must have a card of the correct color and level. Monsters have up to three hit points. Each turn you also draw two new monster tiles to replenish the board (some of these tiles can chain together to bring out an army of monsters) and all monsters present move forward one level.

As the monsters march inevitably forward legitimate tension is generated as you fear for your castle and laughter frequently follows someone’s inevitable bad draw that puts lots of monsters out to fight just as the team thought they had the situation under control.

Components:

Castle Panic is a fine looking game. The easily built castle in the center is nothing to write home about but serves its function well. Importantly, is does give a sickening feeling when you are seeing it destroyed. The cards are high quality with nice cartoonish drawings appropriate for any age. The monster chips are also of good stock with the same fun artistic style. I do wish they had included a bag in which to draw the tiles but it is a minor quibble (and one is included in the expansion).

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, you win Castle Panic far more than you lose. Winning is fun but is the reason why Castle Panic gets a reputation for being for younger gamers (along with its simplicity of play). Still, Castle Panic provides a very nice entry into the cooperative game genre for young and old alike. The theme is fun and accessible even for folks who don’t like fantasy due to its cartoon approach; the theme also makes sense even for those who come to a game assuming it has to be every man for themselves.

For those steeped in fantasy or cooperative gaming, Castle Panic will be pleasant but will ultimately be considered a regression from other more “serious” fare. Therefore, Castle Panic is a great place to start for those new to the hobby and/or for those with young children but is not probably worth the investment for others.

 
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9
Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
8
155 of 169 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Look! A clearing in the middle of a monster infested forest! Let's build a castle there!”

Welcome to Castle Panic. You are surrounded on all sides by critters who want to suck the marrow from your bones, or, you know, kill you and stuff. It is time to call your troops to arms until the very last foul forest denizen has breathed their last.

The game plays 1-6 players, with sliding rules depending upon the number you use. The ages are advertised as 10 and up, but I know for a fact younger kids can play this just fine.

So, we open the box. We will find 49 cards, 49 cardboard monster tokens,. There are 6 each cardboard walls and towers, 12 plastic stands to hold them up, along with a couple of miscellaneous cardboard playing pieces. The cards seem sturdy, and the cardboard pieces are nice and thick. You will also find your playing board, a rule book, and a six-sided die.

We then get into what we are going to do with all this stuff. First you deal cards to each player. This number varies by number of players. Cards are all face-up throughout the game. Go through your monsters and find 3 goblins, two orcs and a troll. Put the stands on the walls and towers, put one tower on each of the pie-wedges in the middle, and a wall in front of each of those. Now is a good time to take a look at the board and the cards.

The playing area is circular, and it sectioned off into wedges and circles.. You will notice that you have three colored wedges, blue, red and green, and each wedge is split into two slices, each represented by a number, 1-6. Around the board, there are four circles outside the castle, getting larger as they move outward. They are labeled, from inside out, Swordsman, Knight, Archer and Forest.

If you look at the cards, you will notice that most of them depict either a swordsman, knight or archer. Monsters begin in the forest, and move toward the castle one ring at a time (usually) when in the Archer ring, archers can damage a monster, but knights and swordsmen cannot, and so on. You cannot attack a monster in the forest ring, and, if they get into your castle, there are very few cards that can get them out.

You will also notice that there are colored circles on each of the above-mentioned cards. A blue archer can only attack a monster in the archer circle and blue wedge. There are one of each of the three main attack types in the deck that can attack any color. You will also find Hero cards. They are restricted by color, but can attack in any of the three rings.

Alright, that should be enough information for us to be able to move on. You place one of each of the 6 creature tokens we set aside on each numbered slice in the archer circle. At this point, we should look at the monster tokens themselves. These are triangular, each with some numbers on each point representing hit points. Each of your standard attack cards do one damage. You rotate the monster as it becomes damaged without dying to show its remaining life.

So, let’s say we are playing a three player game, and this is the first turn. The first step of every turn is to draw cards to your maximum hand size, which, in our scenario is 5. This does not factor on the first turn. Step two is a discard phase. You MAY, should you choose, discard one, and only one, card and draw a new one. The next step is to trade a card with the other players if you choose to do so. Again, you may only do this with one card on your turn.

We will not discard a card, however, the next player to go has a red archer card, and you have a blue knight. There is nothing in a blue knight wedge, but there will be next turn. There is also something in a red archer wedge right now. So, you trade these cards, and get ready to play your cards.

You now have a red archer, a green archer, a red hero, a green swordsman and a green knight. There is a goblin on each of the red archer wedges, a troll and a goblin on the two green archer wedges and an orc on each of the blue archer wedges. You can use your entire hand if able, so you play your red archer and red hero, which will do one damage to each of the goblins, killing both. You play the green archer, and must decide whether to kill the goblin or wound the troll. You choose to damage the troll, rotating it to the “2” point. You now have no cards to play. The next step is to move each of the surviving monsters one ring closer to the castle. This means the troll, orcs and remaining goblin each move into their respective knight rings, remaining in their slices.

You then draw two monster tiles. You have two new monsters, so you roll the die and place the first one on the forest ring labeled with the result of the die, and then do the same with the next. Monsters in the forest ring cannot be attacked.

The next player has a brick. This normally can be used in conjunction with a mortar card to rebuild a piece of wall that has been destroyed, but, as the wall is currently pristine, the player chooses to discard it and draws a new card, getting a blue swordsman. This does him no good, but the next player has a green knight, and both agree to trade. You have a blue and a green knight, along with some other cards that will not benefit you this turn. You use these to kill the remaining goblin and damage an orc. The survivors continue their advance toward the castle, and new ones join the fray.

Resource management plays a role. For instance, the second player chose to discard his brick in hopes of picking up something to attack with. While that may work to your benefit, just because the wall is fine this turn does not mean it will be next turn. Already, the monsters are knocking on the door the first turn of the third player. The limited deck of cards does get shuffled and reused when exhausted, but do you think you can wait that long for a discarded card to come back around? The castle is not completely defenseless either. Any monster can destroy a wall segment they come up to, they will take one damage for doing so. This will kill some wounded creatures and goblins outright, and even if the monster survives they will remain in the swordsman ring for another turn. The towers also damage monsters, but, once they take out a tower and survive, they then rotate inside the walls each turn until they either die or take out the last remaining tower. While walls that have been destroyed can be replaced, towers cannot. Once all the towers are gone, they are gone.

In addition, there are only two cards in the deck that can even affect a monster inside the walls of the castle. Once can push any monster back into the forest wherever they are, and another, the Barbarian, can kill any monster anywhere but the forest ring. There are special monster tiles and special cards to draw in addition to what I have discussed

This is a very simple game to teach. Everyone will be up to speed by the end of the first player’s turn. I have successfully played this game with a four year old, and she understood enough that I was not playing for her. I will put a tip that explains how that works. What is important here is that this is a great game to play with the family. I suspect it would get old being played over and over by a gaming group, but, it plays in about 30-60 when you have folks who are good a planning ahead, so you are not going to get slogged down for a long time, so it works as a great filler.

If you have kids who are willing to play, I cannot recommend this enough. For a group of adults, I think it would be a shame if at least one person in the group does not have the game to break out once in a while. Sometimes simple mayhem is what the situation calls for, and this game certainly delivers on that end.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
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110 of 120 gamers found this helpful
“Fun hack 'n slash co-op! Great for family!”

Castle Panic is a simple and fast co-op of pure action! It’s a lot lighter and quicker then the likes of Pandemic or Forbidden Island.

The goal of the game is to defend your castle in the middle of the board from the oncoming horde of monsters! Players work together to protect castle by sharing soldiers, archers, knights, heroes, and other special cards. It’s a very simple game, because the board is broken up into colored zones with rings based on the range attack of your troops, and most of your cards are colored coded as well. This means that a “red” soldier card can only fight a monster in the “red” soldier ring on the board, etc. The monsters move closer to the castle each round, and more monsters are drawn from the monster token pile each round. Sometimes those tokens have special effects like boulders that barrel through monsters to smash a wall, or make monsters in a zone move forward another ring. There are also different kinds of monsters of varying strength and ability (those darn trolls!).

Each player gets a certain number of cards based on the number of players. They can draw up to their maximum hand allowance, choose to discard one card and draw, trade one card with another player, then play as many of their cards as they desire, so long as it is playable. The game recommends you go ahead and show your cards, so everyone can plan together (this works great for kids), but if you have a bossy player, you might want to try hiding your hands and discuss trades. The player who gets the most monster points by killing certain monsters (not always the most monsters), they become the “master slayer” of the game.

Even if the game ends with just a single part of your tower still standing, you still win the game. You basically have to survive the onslaught and have one part of your tower intact. Note if one wall is left, and no towers are left, you still lose.

Castle Panic is really a light and fun co-op. It’s not a brain burner of a co-op of the likes of Pandemic. My six year old son absolutely loves this game! It’s not necessarily a kids game, because there is quite a bit of planning involved as you get ready for the next wave of monsters and try to trade cards to the next player to help them do the most damage their turn. Kids will love the artwork indeed. There is an optional official variant where someone can play the monsters, and my daughter likes that part. It’s a great way to past the time with kids besides the likes of Life or Candyland!

Power gamers will tend to gravitate to Pandemic or Defenders of the Realm type co-ops. This game is well suited for family and casual gamers!

 
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8
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Knight-errant
Tinkerer
7
123 of 136 gamers found this helpful
“Not challenging for hardcore gamers, but lots of fun for our family”

Castle Panic was an instant success in our house and has gone on to become a firm family favourite. The theme is fun (assuming you’re OK with killing things), the rules are straightforward, the components are good (having the walls and towers standing up adds so much to the feel) and gameplay is quick and fun.

We have played this mostly as a two-player fully cooperative game, though have played solitaire a few times and got up to six players in one go. Every game has been a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Now to be a little more critical: we lost our first game, just about scraped through the next, and then haven’t lost since (apart from one time when we decided to start with no walls in place). Most of the time it seems that the “Panic” in the title is overstating the case a bit, although once in a while you get a nasty combo happening when you can get close to ten monsters all turning up in one go, which can focus the players a bit. That said, we play as full cooperative, whereas if everyone were seriously out to get the best score, it would be tempting to sail much closer to the wind and not help each other quite so much. The rules also offer ways to toughen up the challenge (like starting without walls, as mentioned before) and gives a play mode where one player controls the monsters.

So we rarely feel that we are in serious danger of losing the game, which is certainly a shortcoming, but if you can live with that, this is a really fun game that has nice social/teamwork aspects (as long as players are allowed to make their own decisions and aren’t bossed about by an alpha gamer) and comes out fairly regularly in our house for lightish family play.

 
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5
BoardGaming.com Beta 2.0 Tester
Went to Gen Con 2012
Amateur Reviewer
8
113 of 125 gamers found this helpful
“Great fun, until you beat the game.”

What You Get:

Castle Panic comes with a well-illustrated game board that is divided into three colored arcs (Green, Red, and Blue). Each arc is then subdivided into four zones (Forest, Archer, Knight, and Swordsmen). The monsters are represented on Monster Tokens that range from the mighty Troll Mage to the pathetic Goblin. The players use the Castle Cards to attack the approaching monsters. Finally, there is the Castle itself, made up of six walls and six towers. All of the components are high quality, built to last, and well designed.

Playing the Game:

What you have here is tower defense game. But unlike most tower defense games, Castle Panic is cooperative. All players will share the victory or anguish in defeat.

In each game round the active player draws cards, can trade a card with another player (thus making each player more effective at defending the castle), and then plays their Castle Cards on the approaching monsters. In this manner the player can deal damage and defeat the monsters. All defeated monsters are removed from the game.

However, any monster left standing after a player’s turn will advance one zone forward and get closer to the castle. At the end of each and every player turn two more monster tokens are added to the board. This causes more panic for the defenders. If the monsters are able to knock down all six of the castle towers, the players loose. If the players manage to defeat all of the monster tokens, then they have beaten the game and reign victorious.

The Good:

Coop – This is my favorite part of the game and the reason why I like it so much, either all the players win or all the players loose. There are few board games that bring the player together to defeat a common foe. Caslte Panic is one of these rare gems and the sensation of defeating the game with your team mates is great.

Real Castle Walls and Towers – This may seem silly but having a real, standing, castle to defend adds a lot to the game. It feels horrible when as you watch your towers fall to the ground and feels great to be able to rebuild walls at critical moments.

Hold the Line! – Because more monsters are added each and every turn there is a real sense of urgency during the game. It certainly seems like the monsters will never stop rushing out of the Forest and there is a consent sense of dread looming over the players. Of course this feeling only makes victory all the greater.

Once More, With Me! – Castle Panic will beat you time and time again. But, because the game is so fast to play and victory always seems possible, you will never want to walk away from this game defeated. After a tough lose you will look around the table at your teammates and decide immediately to reset, retool, and try again. And this time, those **** orcs and trolls will not destroy our home!

More Ways to Play – The rule book includes extra rules for either an easier or more difficult experience. One such rules has the players begin the game with no castle walls (good luck with that one). Also there are rules for Overlord play where one player takes control of the monster horde and faces off against a team of defenders. This tends to heighten the tension, knowing there is a method behind the monster invasion instead of just random waves of enemies.

The Bad:

Limited Replay – This is a big one. Eventhough Castle Panic is a joy to play, once you have tasted victory it is simply not as fun or excited the next time. Each successful defense of the Castle results in a smaller desire to play again. Luckily, the game is difficult, very difficult and it will require many attempts before you achieve the elusive win.

Worth It?

Yes. I rate Castle Panic as Worth It for under $25. The game’s ability to pull you back in for another go is extraordinary. The high quality components ensure the game will last through many sessions and the game’s unique cooperative gameplay allows for the glory of a shared victory.

 
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4
Eminent Domain Fan
Went to GenCon 2011
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8
80 of 89 gamers found this helpful
“Fun Gateway Co-Op Game for the Kids”

I am a lifelong gamer. I have a “Gamer Dad” T-shirt. Sadly, the T-shirt is a lie. Oh, I am a Dad –I have 3 kids. I am a gamer. I have hundreds of games and love to play and think about and talk about games. But a “Gamer Dad”? Not so much. For whatever reason my two oldest kids are not gamers. (My youngest is 3 and is showing some promising signs –including a love for “Snail’s Pace Race.” Note to self: “Must. Not. Smother. Her. Interest. In. Games.”)

But… there is some hope. Games like “Castle Panic” do hit the table in our house. My son loves the monster/battle theme and the mechanics of the game are simple and straight forward. Fighting off Orcs and Goblins makes sense. Plus the Co-op aspect works really well for him as he is a hyper-competitive (gets it from me, I suppose) and can’t handle losing (I have no problem losing in games). My whole family enjoys working together to try to hold off the hordes and the theme works well for us.

Bottom line: A great game for families and kids.

For hard-core gamers? No. This is not a game for 18XX fans or even Puerto Rico fans. There are not many serious choices in the games –the strategy is obvious (in most cases). The fun is in working together to win the battle. Its the theme that makes this one work. If you are the type who demands serious tough choices and complicated strategies, stay away from this one. On the other hand, if you like a lighter fare on occasion to offset the serious gaming you do at other times, and you like group co-op games, this one may work for you. Munchkin fans would find much to like about this game in terms of theme and group fun (no inside jokes on the cards though).

Rating:

Fez says: 8
Hardcore Gamer: 4
Kids who like battles but not games: 10 (my kids)
Families with kids: 9

 
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4
Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
6
104 of 116 gamers found this helpful
“8/10 as a family game”

Note: Don’t review from tablet anymore since it registered the wrong score and we cant change the review score once set. I don’t like that feature of this site, to be honest. This game is an 8 as a family/co-op gateway game, imo. For more hardcore/experienced groups it might not carry as much appeal, but I (and my family) are enjoying it.

This game has gone over extremely well with my daughter (7) and my wife. It plays like a co-op tower defense game with random defensive “draws” but some cooperation/interaction and light strategy in when/what to trade/play. Monsters move in from the “Forrest” towards your castle walls and towers, and you must fight them off using cards appropriate to the “range” / location.

This game can get hectic at times, then seem like things are under control before going into panic again. Maybe that boulder that just came out will roll over an Orc and a Goblin on it’s way to a wall. Or it might miss all the enemies and take out one of your last few towers! You have a red archer that can’t be used until the NEXT player’s turn, but if that player will trade you his/her Blue Knight, you can hit that Troll moving closer to the wall! Maybe you also have 2 other Blue Knights, and can slay the troll after the trade. There is just enough interaction and choices (especially with Master Slayer rules) to make this a wonderful gateway co-op and family game.

We lost the first game to the LAST monster of the game (so close), played again and thought we were toast early on, but ended up winning with 1 wall and all but 1 tower still standing. It gets easier as you start to realize how many of a certain card have been played (like Barbarian or Tar), and once you see more of the possible moves/combos, but still fun. I have ordered The Wizard’s Tower since this game was such a hit for our family game nights, and I hope to introduce it to our local game group once the expansion arrives!

 
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10
Grand Master Grader
Movie Lover
Book Lover
I play blue
7
81 of 91 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“The Easiest Co op for Families”

Castle Panic, along with Forbidden Island, were my first cooperative games. I love the concept of co ops, and it is fun to work together to achieve a goal. Castle Panic is easy enough for kids of seven or eight to grasp, and the theme of defending the castle from monster attacks could not be more clear. The layout of the game board is great with its concentric circles representing levels of proximity to the castle. Monsters move closer to the center at the end of each player’s turn, and their movement creates real tension.

Like the sinking tiles in Forbidden Island, walls and towers of Castle Panic are destroyed by monsters and giant boulders. Players share resources to protect the castle and attack monsters moving toward the it. Again, the objective is wonderfully clear. Each player can see the vulnerable parts of the castle. And they can rebuild and reinforce walls to save the remaining towers. When players survive the last attack, they win the game. As monsters are hit by player attacks, they lose hit points. Monster tokens are very cleverly designed. A monster’s status is maintained by rotating the triangular tokens. The rest of the components are attractive and durable too.

My family and I really enjoyed Castle Panic, and it paved the way for our interest in more complex games. Castle Panic doesn’t get the play time it did when new, but we do play a game every now and then. For co op play with younger kids, families, or adults simply looking for lighter fare, Castle Panic is great.

 
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5
Canada
7
63 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Great introduction to co-op gaming!”

I played this for the first time last weekend and it was my first time playing a co-op game. I’ve always played more competitive games which involve player elimination but this was definitely something different for me.

The first thing I love about this game is the theme. After recently watched all 3 The Hobbit films, this really takes me back to the fantasy world of fighting Orcs, Trolls and Goblins and I really enjoy that about this game.

And of course, the most dynamic part about this game is the co-operative aspect of it. I love that you can trade with other teammates and there is so much discussion in an attempt to survive the evil horde. There were times where we were cheering because we fought off a huge horde of goblins and orcs and then there were truly times where we were panicking because we didn’t have the resources to fight them off and our structures were being destroyed. Whatever the situation is, we were all invested in the game and it was because of that co-operative attitude that the game gets us engaged to.

As for game mechanics, they are simple but effective. It is a game that is very easy to learn and the rules are not too complicated. The gameplay also doesn’t take that long to complete. It is just the right amount of gameplay time to give you a very exciting and satisfying experience. It is also great that it is a game the relies on very little dice rolling and most of the luck comes from drawing cards. However, the strategy aspect of the game is what really gets us pumped.

Anyways, I highly recommend this game and I’m looking forward to trying the expansion.

 
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4
I play red
5
69 of 79 gamers found this helpful
“Panicked twice, then won every time”

Castle Panic was one of the first few games my group picked up, and I was the one who pushed for it…again, due to seeing it on Tabletop. I’m afraid Wil Wheaton and co. might have steered me in the wrong direction this time. While Castle Panic is plenty of cooperative fun for families — our inimitable Gaming Captain has gotten good mileage out of it with his two boys — adult gamers will quickly find themselves bored with it.

The game is simple: attackers come at your castle in three colored arcs that form a large circle, at the center of which rests your keep. You and your fellow players draw cards that attack certain colors and areas of the arcs, using them to hold off goblins, trolls, orcs, and other nasty baddies who are coming to knock down your walls. Once your walls are all down, they invade your castle, and you lose.

The central problem with Castle Panic is that once you know the cards in the (rather small) deck and realize that you can trade with your comrades, it’s just a simple matter of predicting where the monsters will be on what turn and trading appropriately. There’s an aspect of the game where the player with the most kill score is the Master Slayer, but we never really played that way. Our first few games were fun and tense and we lost, but then we won! And won again! And again. And again. And again. The risk and danger were well and truly squeezed out of the game by the fourth or fifth play, and my group (of admittedly pretty hardcore strategy nerds) was bored.

If you’re looking for a fun game to play on family game night that will get your kids involved and teach them a little forethought, then I would recommend Castle Panic. If you’re a grown-up gaming group of strategy gamers and math nerds, then you should look elsewhere for your cooperative kicks.

 
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6
USA
Old Bones
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
7
87 of 105 gamers found this helpful
“Great fast family night kill fest”

Sometimes we don’t have the time or energy for a long cooperative family game. Sometimes we want a good laugh as the boulder mows down our final towers. Sometimes it isn’t about great combinations or well thought out strategy but instead about who can smash the monsters quicker. While we reserve this game for when my 8 y/o daughters friends come visit (or forbidden island since both are simple to teach and play) we enjoy getting our beat down on. Yes the game gets repetitive, and yes it does lose some of its replay value over time but when our moods are right and the monsters stack up because we have rolled the 4th 6 in a row we have a blast. We always get a kick out of this game, we always tease the person who draws the pick x more tiles and we have never spent more than 45 minutes on this game.

It is great for young kids, it can show them how sharing and thinking about others is beneficial for the team. Although to be fair my daughter is hesitant to trade if she thinks you’ll kill the boss and get the points instead of her.

I’d recommend this to families looking to just have fun for a night of gaming, when you aren’t so concerned about lack of strategy or if you can pull out that one card that will let you win but instead just want a good old fashioned beat down game.

 
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3
Zealot
8
145 of 177 gamers found this helpful
“Great for young gamers!”

If you’re looking to play this with your weekly boardgame hobby group, you’re probably not going to be impressed. But if you want a fun, fantasy-themed board game to play with young kids, it’s great! The mechanics are simple enough that even my 4-year old can understand that he needs to match cards to monsters. And because it’s cooperative, you can ask questions and coach the kids through the game play.

At it’s most basic, the game mechanics churn out a series of orcs, trolls and goblins that advance each turn towards your castle walls. Once they bash down the walls and destroy your towers, the game ends.

Players use color-coded cards for each of three fields in front of the castle, and each color has soldiers, knights, and archers that can attack monsters in one of three rings of distance from the castle walls. Additional cards provide some special attacks and rebuild walls, among other options. Players can trade cards each turn, rewarding players who think ahead to future turns.

Highly recommended for family game nights. And a great way to teach your young gamers some basic strategy lessons without the pressure of cooperative play.

 
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8
Watcher
Novice Advisor
Count / Countess
Advanced Reviewer
7
148 of 184 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A Simple Cooperative Game Even Kids Can Play”

Castle Panic is a cooperative game in which they defend a castle against oncoming monsters using knight, swordsmen, and archer cards.

The gameplay of this particular game is significantly better understood when watched rather than read, so if you’d like a good understanding of how the game is played, youtube: “Tabletop: Castle Panic with Wil Wheaton.”

One thing tha makes this game unique is that each player does not have an entity on the board, meaning they don’t each have a character in play who’s actions they are responsible for. This makes the game rather dull for a college group because the players don’t have much control over the game. However, this is ideal for playing with children who are 5 or 7 years old. Say it is the child’s turn. While she does technically have the final say about what actions she takes, the group has nearly as much influence (if not, more) than the player who’s turn it is.

Overall, this is a game where it is obvious what you should do during your turn. That in addition to the fact you have very little control of what happens each turn results in a game that’s pretty uninteresting for adult gamers, especially priced at $30 (I may have said it was worth picking up if it were less than $15). For those planning to introduce a cooperative game to children, it really doesn’t get much better.

 
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7
Football Fan
MERCS fan
Canada
The Gold Heart
8
155 of 194 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Don't Panic... ”

My Thoughts
Castle Panic is a co-operative game, and it’s pretty easy… I’ve never lost. I will say it’s more of a challenge with more people, but it’s still not too hard. That being said it is really easy to teach and is a great gateway game. All that being said, the game is enjoyable and I’ve liked playing it solo as well.

My Story
I saw it for the first time on The Table Top with Wil Wheaton and thought hmm, that looks like an alright game, something I could get my wife to play. Then it left my mind and I moved onto bigger and better things. Then I heard about Dead Panic coming out and I was like awesome, same game with a little bit more to it, and a theme I like marginally better. So I started waiting for Dead Panic’s release date and continued on my merry life. Well then I was on vacation this summer and checked out a FLGS to my dismay they were having a sale… I couldn’t resist. First game was full price, then the next was 20% off and the next was 40% off… and of course after looking through the selection found two games I wanted but couldn’t waste the 40% off my next game and continued looking. The only game left that I remotely wanted/didn’t have was Castle Panic, I did a little research via the smartphone and discovered Dead Panic wasn’t going to be out for another month or two. Well I grabbed it thinking Castle Panic would be a better theme for my wife anyway. I played my first round solo as I like to do to get the piece punched out rules learnt and find it easier to teach others once I have experience. When I was finished winning my first play through, I set it back up and played again. Good sign. I have now played it with others and although nobody is blown out of the water by the game they enjoy it and find it super easy to learn.

Components
• Game board
• Rulebook
• 49 Castle Cards
• 49 Monster Tokens
• 6 Walls
• 6 Towers
• 1 Tar Token
• 2 Fortify Tokens
• 6 Order of Play Cards
• 12 Plastic Stands
• 1 Die

Setup
You fill the center with the 6 towers surrounded by the 6 walls for protection.
You place 3 Goblin, 2 Orcs, and 1 Troll on the outside ring.
Give each player on of the Order of Play cards.
Put all the monster tokens in a bag or cup or even face down on the table as a draw pile.
Shuffle the Castle cards and deal a hand to each player leaving the remaining cards as a draw pile. The hand size depends on the number of players.
1-2 Players – 6 cards
3-5 Players – 5 Cards
6 Players – 4 Cards

Game play
Each turn has up to six phases each labeled on the Order of Play Cards for reference

1. Draw up to a full hand of cards depending on the amount of players

2. Discard and draw 1 card (optional)
Side note, in a 1 player version you can perform twice

3. You may trade one card with one person in this phase (optional)
Side note, in a 6 player game you can trade twice.

4. Play as many cards as you can to defend the castle

5. Move monsters forward one ring

6. Draw 2 new monsters tokens one at a time and put them on the board by rolling the dice.

The game ends when either the last Tower is destroyed by the Monsters (in which case the players lose) or all 49 Monster tokens in the game are played and all the Monsters are slayed (in which case the players win).
In one variant you can keep the monsters you slay during the game to see who was the best monster slayer/the best hero, but you’ll have to gauge your play group beforehand to see if they would like that or not.

Conclusion
This is a simple co-op game that I can bring out and play with just about anyone. There is never really any worry or tension that you are going to lose however you can’t help but feel bad when a monster destroys a tower. This game doesn’t have any player elimination which is nice for a lot of people. However there is a variant where everyone gets a certain tower to defend and if that tower is destroyed so are they, and that makes for a more competitive game.

All in all this game is fun, and worth trying out. Maybe I’ll look into the expansion for more difficulty. Or ******* up and buy Dead Panic when it comes out in a month or so.

 
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4
Intermediate Reviewer
Spread the Word
8
67 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Chaos. It's always CHAOS”

I don’t know how to feel about this game.
I want to love it. But always leave the table loathing it.
You will notice the ease to learn at one whole star. It’s not hard to learn. but impossible to master.
The game is simple enough. Defend your walls. and the player with the most kills at the end is the winner. If you ever get to the end of that game. I have played and played and only ever got the the end twice. With 2 players it’s doable. with 4 it’s madness. You’ll never have the cards you need when you need them and you will squander your game savers due to panic.
But I cant stop playing. I break this one out at lease once a week. Just so me and my roommates can have a good cry together about how close we came this time around.
Totes worth the time and the money. Buy this game. Hate existence with me.

 

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