I’ve got three bits about board games; two reviews and one news item.
We spent New Years with friends in Columbus, OH and on New Years day we ventured out to one of my friend’s favorite gaming/comic shops, Packrat Comics, in Hilliard, OH. Packrat is a great store, well organized and clean, with a wide variety of comics, games, and other geekish toys. They’re light on role playing games, but other than that it’s an excellent store with a friendly and helpful staff. They also have a good stock of games for customers to try out and the staff is happy to set them up and teach people how to play.
I don’t have a friendly local gaming store so I don’t get to play games in stores very often. Not board games, not role playing games. So I was happy to jump in and play one of their demo games with my friend and his two daughters. The game?
Castle Panic: Published in 2009 by Fireside Games (how have I missed out on this game for so long?) Castle Panic is a cooperative board game tower defense game, in the literal sense. The game board consists of a series of circles divided into six zones and three colors. In the center circle are six towers and walls. The first circle is labeled swordsmen, the second for knights, the third for archers, and the farthest is the forest. On each player’s turn several things happen, including drawing monsters and placing them in the forest, advancing creatures towards the towers, and playing cards to fight back against them. Monsters are placed by rolling a D6 and placing the creature in that zone, then advancing them one ring each turn. Players fight back by playing cards. A card of the correct ring name and color will do damage. For example, if a monster is in the Knight ring of the Red zone, a corresponding card can be used to damage the creature. Play continues until all the monsters are killed or all the towers are destroyed.
The game is fast and furious. The rules are elegant, easy to grasp, and are exciting for both children and adults. Our game came down to a nail-biting finale, with us slaying the final creature just before losing our final tower. This is also a game that would be fun to bling out, either by digging out my old lead minis or printing up some paper figs, perhaps giving me an excuse to get more Okumarts sets.
Castle Panic is a fun game that has earned a place high on my wish list. Packrat was sold out, or one would have been coming home with me.
High Noon Saloon: A game that they did have in stock was High Noon Saloon. This game has been on my wish list for a while, so it was coming home with me. Published in 2011 by Slugfest Games (which may be my new favorite company name) High Noon Saloon is a light, fast playing game about bar fights in the old west. The board depicts the titular saloon, divided into several sections where the characters can duck under the bar, take cover behind the piano or an upturned table, or dive off the balcony. Characters have unique special abilities and players hold a hand of items and actions that range from knives and whips to six guns and rifles. Of course there are also chairs that can be smashed over someone’s head.
Ammunition is a precious commodity and each time you put a gun into play you draw a random bullet card to see how many rounds it has. Other cards allow you to “call out” an opponent, putting both of you into the center of the bar to duke it out, a risky maneuver since there is no cover there.
I do have one small complaint in the components. The cards are fine. The tokens are adequate, not great but not bad. However the board is too small. The character tokens are about the size of a nickle, but even at that size the board gets crowded when more than one character is in the same location. The small scale makes it difficult if you want to swap the tokens for figures. The board also feels too light and I wish they’d used a heavier stock.
High Noon Saloon plays fast and fun. Slightly more crunchy than Castle Panic, it’s still quick to learn and easy to play. It’s a delightful game and I am very happy to finally have a copy.
Greater Than Games: Big news from Greater Than Games. Their recent unsuccessful Kickstarter has not slowed them down. Instead they just launched three pre-order campaigns for their superhero games. Villains of the Multiverse is the latest expansion for their amazingly fun cooperative superhero game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. The expansion will pit the players against an all new villain team, using the same team mechanics in the earlier Vengeance expansion.
The other two pre-orders are for expansions to Sentinel Tactics, their superhero miniatures game. Sentinel Tactics: Battle for Broken City can be played either as an expansion or a stand-alone game. Sentinel Tactics: For Profit is an expansion usable with either Battle for Broken City or the original Flame of Freedom game.