Castle Panic is a co-operative tower defense board game, in which players have to defend their castle from a horde of monsters. It’s a fantastic game with enough charm and simplicity to appeal to children and enough strategy to appease adults.

I discovered this game when it was featured on an episode of Tabletop, a web series hosted by Wil Wheaton. Since then I picked up the game at Travelling Man and it’s been on my desk at work since. Occasionally I play board games on a lunch break with some colleagues and Castle Panic is a favourite.

How do I play it?

Your castle is positioned at the middle of the board. Four concentric circles span outwards, with the circle being divided into six arcs. Each arc is coloured either red, green or blue. Monsters progressively move towards the castle. Should they reach the centre, they will destroy a wall of your castle, or a tower! The game ends when all the monsters are killed, or when all the castle towers have been demolished.

To ward off the monsters, players have archer, knight and swordsmen cards. These are used to hit enemies within a certain ring. These are also coloured, so they are only effective in that colour. The strategy of the game involves trading cards between players to make sure the monsters can be slain whilst minimising damage to your castle.

The difficulty is increased by boss monsters (which, when summoned, have some devastating effect upon the board), or by the fun giant boulder mechanic. When played, a giant boulder starts in an arc and rolls towards a castle tower, knocking down everything in its way! This can sometimes produce hilarious results, with multiple monsters wiped out and the boulder casually passing through the castle! Not all monster tokens are actually monsters – some will attempt to disrupt your strategy by re-arranging the monster tokens on the board, or even summoning more monsters.

For a game whose rules can be picked up in literally one turn, there’s an excellent mix of luck, depth and sheer panic to make this an excellent family or party game and is truly worth adding to any board game collection. There are several variants of the rules to allow for differing gameplay, so there is plenty of mileage should you get tired with the original rules.

I already have the Wizards’s Tower expansion on order. In equals measures I’m excited and terrified to play it!