This is an expansion of a review published back in August after Gen Con. The actual game wasn’t out at that time, so I decided to put out the full review when the game got released. I’ve been reliably informed that is now, so here we go.
In Castle Assault, you play an army . . . wait for it . . . assaulting a castle. It’s referred to as a tower defence game, though I will admit this means nothing to me. The game can be played solo or with two players, and the basic rules can be digested in about ten minutes. That’s kind of like saying poker can be explained it ten minutes – it can, but there is so much more to it than the basic rules.
The armies are composed of unit and command cards, in which the command cards act as kind of “buffs” for the units, giving them special abilities or allowing them to act in special ways. Each of the armies has a specific style, meaning that each requires a different strategy to use and oppose. That makes the game different with every play. The art for each is unique and lends itself. Each army also has a hero card, a kind of player character for the board game.
The board is made up of a grid through which your units move on their way to get to the opposing castle and assault it. Part of the turn order is gaining momentum, which can help your units through special abilities. Discards are used as a kind of currency to purchase units or commands from your hand to use on the board. This currency recharges each round, meaning your purchasing power increases pretty much every round. This is good, because the best cards – including a kind of boss card – are very expensive.
As long as you have units on the field, your army is in motion, and because your resources recharge every round, you’ve always got units on the field. I played the Orcs, which are about swarming, charging, and smashing. I thought that was apt given I didn’t know too much about the game. I played way too conservative for the faction I had chosen, but still had a great time. Given the number of cards for each faction, I would imagine this game would take a long time to master.
The only real complaint I have – and this is like complaining the chocolate ice cream isn’t vanilla – is that it can only accommodate up to two players. I’d prefer a game with four players so that the whole family could get involved. Yes, it is too complex for my daughters right now, but I’m betting in a couple of years, when my older daughter is 10, she’d be up for this. Still, this game is designed for one or two players, so that seems like an unfair criticism.
I give Castle Assault 4.5 rampaging orc battalions out of 5. The game is easy to learn but would likely take a satisfying amount of time to master. The art is great and the variety of cards and armies gives a player lots of different ways to enjoy the game.