My Saturday Night Game Table held a late Thanksgiving dinner / Guy Fawkes celebration (November 5th). ALong the way we played a few games and I got to add another game to the Gamer Goals – New Games list.
Castle Panic / Wizard Tower expansion
Castle Panic is a tower defense board game. Players work together to protect the six sided castle and the towers within from the bag of enemy tokens. With every player turn, the enemies advance and two more are drawn. Wave after wave of creatures hurl themselves at the walls as players play hit cards and special abilities to reduce their enemies to zero first.
Castle Panic is one of those good simple games that has a number of variants (Dead Panic, Star Trek Panic, Munchkin Panic, each with their own special rules) and expansions that add tokens and cards. In the case of the Wizard Tower, more powerful boss enemies and a deck of spell cards that can only be accessed for so long as the Wizard Tower itself stays standing.
Depending on the luck of the deck and the creature bag, this game can quickly escalate into a doom spiral. As with many co-operative games, there is the risk of one or two players dominating the game with their vision of how to save the Castle. Player trades are made with an eye to the current threats and what is supposed to follow next turn. Some enemy tokens mess up that plan with effects like forced discards, creatures shift to another region, or a boulder rolls through taking out a path of creatures and walls.
It’s a pretty quick game (60 – 90 minutes with a good flow) and quick to pick up the rules. A few creatures have additional rules in the reference (flying, special boss abilities, and so on) and victories tend to be down to the wire.
I really enjoy the social game of Dixit, where players take turns presenting a ‘story’ as a clue to a specific card in their hand. The other players submit a card to the current story teller who lays them out for all to see and vote for. The story can be as short as a single word or a whole paragraph but the more specific the clue, the harder it is to score points. If everyone looks at the cards and guesses correctly or they all guess incorrectly, they score points and you score nothing. The goal is to get only a few to guess correctly, giving you and the correct guessers points. Additionally if someone guesses a card put in by a someone who is not the story teller, the person who put in that card gains a point. Play continues until someone gets to 30 points.
This is one of those great games for groups of friends from different circles as the clue can be very niche to a handful of people, thus limiting how many points get awarded in a turn. Think of it like Balderdash or Apples to Apples but without the written words.
Dixit is another game of many many expansion that add to the selection of image cards available. One of the expansions comes with additional player tokens and guessing cards that allow for 7 to 12 players. The others are primarily just adding a greater selection of cards. Also a fairly quick game which is something I always like for a game to recruit more board gamers.
Hanabi (new game at the table)
Another co-operative game, requiring players to communicate information about the cards they can see, namely everyone else’s cards. One your turn, you may do one of three things – you may give a clue to another player about the color or number value of the cards, you may discard a card, or you may play a card in hopes of it being a playable card. The cards must go from 1 to 5 in each color. If you can’t play, a timer token is turned over. When the third token turns, the game ends immediately and you score what you can based on how many cards got successfully played.
Apparently there are many versions of this game that have been released. Some might have stands (or someone grabbed some from another game and added it to this game) to hold up your cards so others can see them but not you. Some have hint tokens so you can track the hints like some sort of logic puzzle. Some have a ‘colorful’ set of fire work cards that Reddit is divided on how they should be used (some say as a wild card, others saying that it is wrong and it should count as it’s own suit), and some have extra token bits. We worked it out as we went along with a few conversations about what was too much table talk (I was very much reminded of the unspoken rules of Bridge).
I liked it, it was simple and relatively quick to play and to pick up. Once you run out of cards, there is one last turn for each player so there are at least three inevitable hard stops to the game – all the fireworks are played correctly from 1 to 5 in the appropriate colors, all three timer tokens have been flipped, or the draw deck runs out.
What I didn’t like as much was how close in color some of the cards and numbers appeared. We’ve got a few vision impaired players at our table and others who have glasses for a reason. More than once the yellow / white and the blue / green were mistakenly called across the table. I kind of wish that the visual for each color was a little different and the festive font of the numbers a bit more distinct. As to the accessories for the game, it was easy enough to make do by using small slips of paper to track the clues given, game boxes and a non slippery table to stand up and display the cards, and to frequently ask the other players what they knew about their cards.
I might pick this up sometime in the future as I’ve seen it collecting dust at a few gaming stores.
Non co-operative chaos. We played with the 5-6 player expansion that includes rules for an eliminated player to still take part with a ‘finger poke of death’ against still players still in the game, dealing 1 point against a player with more than 1 hit point remaining.
The big fun in this game is reading the card text. There are a few easter eggs like with the Minsc & Boo Ranger deck for those fans of the Forgotten Realms. The player aid cards help clarify a few things, but again a quick to pick up and play game.
We didn’t play with the All Monster (Monster Madness) but it is fully compatible though some powers are a bit more swingy in my humble opinion. Still, who doesn’t enjoy playing Bloorp the gelatinous cube or Hoots McGoots – an owlbear raised in a circus?
Current Gamer Goal Counts
13 x New games to me at the table
27 x Games including the new and old, not counting any repeats from 2021 or 2022