Way back before Tabletop Co-Op was a regular feature here at Co-Optimus, we covered boardgames every once in a while in our Casual Fridays column, dedicated to family/kid friendly games. One of the first cooperative board games we discussed was Castle Panic, a great game for adults and kids alike reminiscent of the tower defense genre. Today, we will take a look at a game that shares many characteristics with Castle Panic: the zombie-themed Dead Panic.
Castle Panic was a favorite around our house for quite some time. The premise was simple enough for even young kids to understand, but enjoyable for adults to play as well. It can be hard to find a game that appeals to families like this, but Castle Panic is a solid choice. However, as my kids grew older, the game saw less and less table time. Dead Panic was released last year, replacing orcs and trolls with zombies, and greatly adding to the ruleset. After checking it out, we found it a good fit for our group.
A few mechanics are shared between Castle Panic and Dead Panic, including the pie-slice concentric ring board layout, with enemy placement being determined by a die roll. The rules for enemy movement and tracking the damage dealt to your foes are exactly the same. From a component standpoint, Castle Panic’s castle wall standups have been replaced by those of an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods. But Dead Panic is much more than Castle Panic with a new coat of paint.
The biggest difference between the two games is complexity. Dead Panic adds in a slew of new mechanics and features, adding quite a bit of storyline development and replayability in the process. Attacks in Castle Panic were very simple: play a card corresponding to a region on the board to deal damage. Dead Panic takes a much different, more fulfilling route. Players take on the roles of characters, each with special abilities, who must spend actions in order to search through the cabin for weapons and items then use them against the invading zombie horde.