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Board Game Review: The Wizard’s Tower Expansion to Castle Panic

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Just like ice cream on a brownie, The Wizard’s Tower expansion to Castle Panic takes something good and makes it amazing. Both are from Fireside Games and focus on cooperative play, making players team-up against an onslaught of horrid monsters from the forest. While Castle Panic creates the basic scenario, Wizard’s Tower ups the ante to whole new levels of panic!

The Wizard’s Tower comes with a new tower marked in white that replaces one of the six towers of the original Castle Panic, 10 new Castle cards, 22 Wizard cards featuring new spells, a whopping 49 new monster tokens, more flame tokens (because there will be many more things on fire), and reference cards to keep them all straight.

Each player’s turn stays the same but contains more punch with the new Castle cards that offer powers such as Flaming (combined with a Hit card to catch the enemy on fire), Change Color, or Berserk which requires drawing a card for each Hit made that turn. During the Discard and Draw phase, a player may choose to discard a Castle card to draw a powerful Wizard card from the purple deck, gaining actions such as fireballs, chain lightning, and plenty of repairs. Players’ hands will become very full during the game, but they will be emptied as quickly as a mage throws out every spell in his book to fend off an oncoming horde of foes. It is a good feeling.

While the players are more powerful, the monsters gain a great deal of power themselves, as well as a handy draw-string bag to hold tokens. Weaker monster tokens are removed from the original set and more powerful monsters with special powers join the fracas. Players now must face Centaurs which are invulnerable to Archers, fast-moving Goblin Cavalry, and a Flaming Boulder that is even more powerful than the original Giant Boulder. There are also Harbinger tokens, which are made in the same shape, but when drawn cause a Mega Boss Monster to appear on the board. These MBMs have more hit points and special attacks and make the whole table shriek. The Basilisk and Warlock block spells, the Hydra causes more monsters to appear every time it is hit, and the Dragon sets just about everything on fire.

As with Castle Panic and many of Fireside’s other games, the learning curve is steep. The instruction booklet is 15 pages with 14 steps in setting up a game, but the play is totally worth it. Most of the instructions are definitions of spells and clarifications of the various monsters.  Players will be able to recognize effects quickly after they have been played once.

The Wizard’s Tower expansion is for one to six players and requires Castle Panic to play. Because of the increased complexity, the game is suggested for ages 12 and up and requires about 90 minutes. It is an excellent example of taking a solid game mechanic such as that seen in Castle Panic and adding tweaks that raise the gameplay to a whole new level of awesome.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.
  • Karl

    Steep learning curve???? NOT