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My First Castle Panic

It’s time to defend the castle once again. Only this time, it’s the kids' turn to do so.

A child-friendly version of a classic cooperative game, My First Castle Panic can be enjoyed by as young as four years old.

Gameplay

The board is placed in the center of the table. The castle and the castle wall are placed on one end of the board. There is a path of nine spaces leading up to the castle and castle wall, and each of these spaces shows one of three different shapes in one of three different colors. One monster tile is placed on each of the three spaces farthest from the castle. Each player starts the game with one card.

On your turn you draw a card. You may then either play one card from your hand or ask another player to play a card from their hand. Cards will often show one colored shape, though some will show the three shapes in one color or one shape in the three colors. When you play a card, you capture the monster that is on the space of the board whose shape and color matches that shown on the card you played. When captured, you remove the monster from the board and place it in the game box. The deck also has one card that allows you to place any monster on the board back into the monster draw pile, and one card that allows you to rebuild the castle wall.

Next, you move each monster one space forward on the board. If a monster hits the castle wall, the wall is destroyed and the monster is captured. If a monster hits the castle, the castle is lost and players lose the game.

Finally, you draw a new monster and place it on the board. Most monsters start on the space farthest from the castle. There are three special monsters, however. The shover, when placed, moves all monsters including himself one space forward on the board. The marcher does the same, only you also draw an extra monster tile. Finally the runner, rather than being placed on the start space, is placed in front of the monster that is closest to the castle.

Your turn then ends and it is the next player’s turn. If the players manage to capture all the monsters, they win the game.

My First Castle Panic Components

Review

Castle Panic is a fantastic cooperative game, one which adults can play with their older children, but very young ones will likely be unable to grasp the strategies involved and even slightly older kids might struggle if trying to play without their parents. My First Castle Panic does away with both of these issues.

The game is entirely language-independent. There is no text on the cards or tiles. Players only have to match shapes and colors. Even the rulebook, while certainly too difficult for very young players, is written fairly simply and could be learned independently by older children.

Everything about the game is bright and chipper with cheerful artwork, from the cards with images of kids dressed to defend the castle, to the monsters that are drawn humorously. And while the game is simplified, it is still challenging, and players still need to plan ahead. You are not going to win every game, and the victories will still be satisfying.

If you love the original game, My First Castle Panic is a lovely way to bring the game to your smaller children. True there’s not a lot in the game for parents, but it’s great to have something that children can play for themselves. A solid adaptation all around, and a good introduction to a fabulous line of games.

Pros: Children can play by themselves, some can even learn the rules alone, bright and colorful artwork

Cons: Not much here for adults

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.