Every once in a while, we like to look beyond consoles and controllers for cooperative gaming experiences. Board games are a fine alternative to video games in many cases; there are plenty of people, perhaps your own friends and family, who would never sit down for a session of Horde Mode in Gears of War 2, but they might be convinced to check out a new board game. The board game under consideration today, Castle Panic, is ideal for casual gamers, particularly for groups of mixed ages.
The gameplay in Castle Panic is similar to that of the tower defense genre. The object of the game is to work together with other players in order to defend the towers of the castle from a relentless horde of monsters. The board is circular, divided into six sections, two of each color, with concentric rings in each section. Monsters enter the board from the outer ring, representing the forest, and advance inward at the end of each player's turn. Hardy trolls, steadfast orcs, and lowly goblins are most common creature among the various monster counters, but several bosses as well as special events can be drawn as well. A roll of the die determines which sector a freshly drawn monster is placed in, and on most turns, two new monster counters will enter the field. The goal of the invaders is simple: knock down the walls and destroy the castle towers, at all costs.
So what are the poor inhabitants of the castle supposed to do? Luckily, all sorts of adventurers can be called on to defeat the monsters and save the day. Each type of adventurer is represented by a deck of cards players draw from. Archers send a rain of arrows to damage monsters on the outermost ring, knights ride forth to attack those in the middle, and swordsmen are the last line of defense as the foul creatures make their way to the castle walls. Heroes are more rare, and quite valuable, able to hit a monster in any ring save the forest. Each type adventurer is color-coded, so a blue archer, for example, can only hit monsters in section 5 or 6. "Wild", any-color defenders are very useful, too, and the greatest of all is the Barbarian, who can slay any creature, anywhere on the board, with one strike, whereas other adventurer's hits merely remove a single life point.