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The Wizard’s Tower Expansion to Castle Panic Reviewed

by January 14, 2012

Game NameThe Wizard’s Tower

Publisher: Fireside Games

Designer:

Year: 2011

Players: 1 – 6

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 90 Minutes

Retail Price: $24.95

Category: Family Co-op

Components:

  • 1 Wizard’s Tower with Stand
  • 10 Castle Cards
  • 22 Wizard Cards
  • 43 Monster Tokens
  • 6 Mega-Boss Monster Tokens
  • 12 Flame Tokens
  • 6 Reference Cards
  • A Monster Draw Bag
  • Rulebook

 From Fireside Games:

Your Castle has been rebuilt, and a friendly Wizard has joined your forces. As long as his Tower stands, you and your friends have access to powerful magic spells.

And you’ll need them, for the Monsters have returned stronger, faster, smarter, and with new abilities to threaten the Castle. You’ll ­fight against magical Imps, evasive ‑flying creatures, and more. Make your stand against six new, dangerous Mega Boss Monsters, including the Dragon and Necromancer. Use ­fire to attack the Monsters, but beware, your Walls and Towers can be burned down as well!

The challenge is high but so is the adventure. Can you survive more panic and defend The Wizard’s Tower?

In my review of Castle Panic, which I thought was a lot of fun, I mentioned that it seemed like a great way to introduce the family to the concept of co-op games. Castle Panic is easy to learn and can be quite the challenge. For the full breakdown you can see my review.

Wizard’s Tower is the first expansion to Castle Panic. At the heart of the expansion is of course, the Wizard’s Tower. A wizard has made his home in your castle, and you will be able to gain his assistance in defending the castle while an even more powerful army of monsters begin assaulting your keep.

The tower itself is a cardboard stand up that replaces one of the original ordinary towers from the base game. It is a bit bigger than the others and does have a wizard-y look to it. If you recall, the object of the game is to keep at least one of your towers from being destroyed by the horde of advancing creatures. If you still have a tower standing once the final monster has been destroyed, then the players win. The player who gained the most points in “Monster Trophies” gains the title of Master Slayer. This hasn’t changed in the expansion, so your goals are the same.

Evil has kicked it up a notch, so you will need that wizard’s abilities. There are 43 new monster tokens, and six mega-boss monsters. Instead of just goblins, orcs, and trolls you will also be facing centaurs, climbing trolls, conjurers, cyclops, dopplegangers, gargoyles, goblin cavalry, golem, imps, ogres, and a phoenix or two. The direct attacks from the monsters originally included only the boulder, but now you have to watch out for the flaming boulder and the trebuchet.

The mega-boss monsters are the only tokens that differ from the original triangular shape of the monster tokens. You see, you could tell how many health points a monster token has left before it is destroyed because they are printed in the corners of the tokens. You would just rotate the token as the monster took damage. This gave each monster a range of from 1-3 health points. The mega-bosses can have up to five health points, and so include square and pentagon shaped tokens. There are triangular harbringer tokens that get thrown into the monster bag at the beginning of the game that have the names of the boss monster printed on them. So if you pull one of these harbinger tokens out, you replace it with the actual mega-boss monster token on the board. You can expect to face a dragon, chimera, basilisk, hydra, necromancer, and a warlock. You only use three per game though, to add some variety and to keep the difficulty level from getting out of hand.

Speaking of the monster bag, Yes there is a monster bag included with the expansion! I love when a company adds little component upgrades to a game for no reason than just to make it cooler. The monster bag is black with a drawstring and some monster eyes and teeth printed on it. I loved this and really thought it was a great touch.

Most of the monsters have special powers or effects that are triggered when they come onto the board. There are symbols on the tiles that let you know what these effects are. I feel this may have been overdone a bit, as it did increase the fiddly-ness of the game. The Centaur is killed if damaged in the knight ring; but can’t be hit in the archer ring. The golem is killed if hit in the swordsman ring; but not damaged if hit in the knight ring. The gargoyle is immune to knights and swordsman, but can be hit by archers in those rings, and so on. It took a couple of plays to get the new rules down. There is a reference card that highlights the monsters special abilities, but I did find it slowing the game down. They do add new challenges to the game though, and it makes sense to differentiate the monsters in some way, otherwise they are just the same tokens with different names. I guess there was no way around it, but I just wanted to make you aware that it is not as simplistic as the original. I’m sure that many will find this is just what they wanted.

As in the original, the boss monsters also have special abilities. These I had no problem with, as the original worked the same way. Some can breathe fire that can start your structures on fire using the provided fire tokens that slip onto the buildings. Three fire tokens on a structure and it is destroyed. Some can move differently. Some can summon imps onto the board, which is a special pile of one health point creatures that is never exhausted. If you kill one it just goes back into the pile waiting to be summoned again.

Luckily, the player also has more options to combat this powerful monster horde. Your biggest asset is the deck of wizard cards. During the discard/draw phase you can choose to draw a card from the wizard deck, as long as the wizard’s tower is still standing. These contain a lot of cards that you will really need to keep your defense intact. There are fireballs that can damage and set fire to monsters, cards that can damage multiple creatures, or can damage a creature anywhere on the board, including the forest and the castle ring. If you let the wizard’s tower be destroyed, you can no longer select cards from the wizard’s deck. You will need to prevent this if at all possible, as the game will get much harder if you lose access to these cards. Luckily, there is one wizard card that will allow you to rebuild a single tower that is destroyed. I advise that you hold onto that card in the event of an emergency.

Our first game we squeaked by, winning the game with just the wizard’s tower left standing. The second game we won easily, but we realized that we accidentally cheated. Our wizard’s tower was destroyed, but we forgot to stop drawing cards form the wizard’s deck. After that we would always place the wizard’s tower on top of the deck when it was destroyed to remind us that we couldn’t use it any more. Our third game we were wiped out. I should note that by the third game we were pretty comfortable with the rules and finished in just over an hour. I played a few solo games as well and let me say it was not easy. I was really satisfied when I managed to pull off a win in solo mode.

Overall, I think Wizard’s Tower is a great expansion to Castle Panic. It was nice having all of the additional options, and Fireside did an excellent job taking Castle Panic to the next level. Just keep in mind that it will take you some time to get used to the new monster rules, and the game is not as simplistic as the original. I don’t think I will ever go back to just playing with the original game though, unless it is to teach it to new players.

Where do they go from here? I am sure they can find new monsters and difficulties to add. I would love to see a Lord of the Rings themed version though, say a “Battle at Helm’s Deep” theme. I don’t know how they would do it, possibly a partnership with FFG, but I realize that is a pipe dream. I’d also love to see a zombie apocalypse themed version, either modern or even an “Evil Dead – Army of Darkness” medieval theme. I might even try to figure one out using all of the glowing “Zombiis!” figures I have that are currently collecting dust.

Pros

The game play and difficulty is taken to the next level. There are new monsters, new bosses, a wizard’s tower to let you cast powerful spells, and a monster bag. It will take new strategies to win this one, and cooperation is essential.

Cons

The new monsters have special abilities that will take you some time to get used to implementing. This makes the game not as simplistic as the original. Expect to spend a bit more time playing a game.

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Elliott Miller
Elliott is well versed in all subjects and brings his expertise to bear on strategy, family, and Euro-style gaming.

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