Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#35: Castle Keep

Castle Keep
  • designer: Richard D. Reese
  • publisher: Gamewright
  • date: 2005
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2325/6.07
  • age: 8+
  • # of players: 1-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $8.95 (FairPlay Games)
The age range is wrong - my son was playing this as a five year old & doing reasonably well. As a 7 year old, he razes my castle like a professional siege expert.

And that's the point - this simple card game (yeah, I know they use cool chunky tiles, but it's really a card game) is all about building your castle and/or destroying your opponent. Both paths to victory can work.

Each turn, you draw 2 tiles, play as many as you want to... then discard down to four tiles. You have four kinds of plays you can make:
  • you can play walls - they come in three colors & three shape patterns and must match the tower they are placed next to in shape or color
  • you can play towers - just like walls, they come in three colors & three shape patterns & must match the walls they are placed next to in one of those elements
  • you can play a keep - they come in three colors & must match one other tile present in the castle... these are the center pieces of your castle
  • you can attack one other player with an exact match tile (which destroys the tile & any other wall/tower tiles connected to it that are the same color) or even their keep, though you'll need 2 identical keeps to blow it away

There is, of course, one exception - when your opponent is down to just his keep, 1 identical tile can put him out of his misery.

The first player to destroy another player OR build his full 9-tile castle wins the game. That's it.

Here's why this ends up on the Kid Games 100:

  • it plays quickly & cleanly
  • the components are top-notch & kid-friendly
  • the dual victory conditions teach kids tactical planning & defense
  • there are a variety of variants (including a solitaire variant) included in the rules
  • it's fun

One warning - 3 & 4 player games can drag a bit if players aren't playing quickly. Especially with 4 players, you can end up playing "King of the Mountain" as the other three players work to pull down the leader's castle. However, the game has a built-in way to slow this behavior with the "destroy one castle" victory condition - it doesn't make sense to weaken an opponent too much if another player can then eliminate them & win.


ironcates said...

Is there room for Sorry Sliders in the top 34? :)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Steve's referring to the incredibly positive response that Sorry! Sliders got last night from my son as well as others at our regular game night...

...but I chose to "lock" the Kid Games 100 before I started posting any of it. I do, however, plan to write posts on games that didn't get included once the series is done. And yes, Sorry! Sliders will be there - as will Haba's Wild Vikings.