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Fireside Games
1 – 6 Players
Ages 10+
60+ Minutes
COOPERATIVE

Surrounded by a lush and dangerous forest lies your keep.  A castle like no other (since it is yours) is the envy of all.  Especially the besieging armies of Goblins, Trolls and Orcs! Can your Archers, Knights and Swordsmen defend your keep from these warmongering monsters before they destroy it or before you panic?

There was a time when I had all the time in the world to play tabletop roleplaying games.  You know the type, the epic battles between orcs and elves, goblins and raging barbarians whilst sitting around the table drinking Mountain Dew.  Since becoming a parent, those days have been shortened to momentary spurts normally filled with searching for the dice a wandering toddler absconded with.

Board games like AFF[Talisman] or AFF[Mage Knight] fit the bill, but can take hours to play, losing most kids in the process. Of course, you can also check out games like Hero Kids and AFF[Adventure Maximus] but that might be a bit much for a quick game, especially if you don’t feel like being the ever-dreaded Dungeon Master. This is where AFF[Castle Panic!]* slots in!  All the adventure, none of the hassle!

AFF[Castle Panic!]sets up to 6 players in a realm where all sorts of fantasy creatures are attempting to breach their castle. Players then work together to defend the castle from being taken by an army of orcs and trolls and goblins and their leaders.

The board is composed of concentric circles split into three colors, red, green and blue, with 2 60 degree arcs per color, numbered 1-6.  Each ring represents a different type of defender, Archers, Knights and Swordsmen, the outermost ring is the forest (the home of monsters) and the center-most is the castle towers and it’s defensive walls.

What makes AFF[Castle Panic!]a bit different than your normal dungeon crawler is that all of the players represent any and all of the defenders. Each player has a hand of cards (4-6 based on number of players) which represent the varied warriors set to fortify the castle’s defenses. Players can then attack monsters with the cards that match the space the monster occupies.

A turn begins with drawing up to your maximum hand size, optionally discarding a card to draw a new card, and optionally trading 1 or 2 cards (depending on how many players).  After these hand manipulations, you can play as many cards as your hand allows.  Which could result in many monster deaths or injuries, building or fortifying walls or staring frustratedly at a bunch of soldiers you wish you could put in a nice new color of uniform.

As with most co-op games, it’s more complicated than that. At the end of each turn the monsters move closer to the castle in the hopes of breaching the walls and overtaking it.  And each turn the defenders must try to last the next onslaught of malicious beasts they draw without losing their castle.  Add to this mix giant boulders that destroy everything in their path and vicious plagues that infect the castle’s last hopes, and you have some interesting randomizing mechanics that mess with the normally predictable strategy.

It’s easy to strategize in AFF[Castle Panic!] because the linear movement is steady and foreseeable.. that is until you draw a “Move all monsters counter-clockwise” token or have a “boss” urge his minions forward. The good news is, each monster token you draw brings you closer to exhausting the pile, which brings you closer to surviving the siege.  The bad news is, you still have to survive until they are all gone to win.

The primary goal of the game is to outlast the onslaught, but subsequently, the main game calls for declaring a “Master Slayer”.  This title is bestowed on the player with the most points for tokens collected through monster kills, however; playing without this designation allows for fully cooperative play.  The rules feature several cool variations to change the difficulty of the game, which is always welcome in more straightforward games.

AFF[Castle Panic!] is a basic strategy game with some cool mechanics and twists that make it fun to play.  Being cooperative, with very little reading (most of the major cards can be identified by pictures and colors, and there aren’t many “special” cards), makes it a very good game to add to a family library.  Encouraging children to look turns ahead in order to predict what will happen is a great skill to build reasoning and to grasp logical progression.

Also, there is some simple math and calculation involved in the strategy, each hit does 1 damage, but the triangular shaped monster tokens can take up to 3 hits.  Engaging a younger child to turn the token to reflect damage can help solidify subtraction and number recognition skills. Allowing children to count up all of the points for “Master Slayer” at the end can reinforce grouping, higher levels of addition, and multiplication, as each monster type represents a different value.

For older children, being allowed to make decisions based scarcity, can be an invaluable exercise in resource management.  As well, the game being cooperative with a clear winner, allows for the ability to make more complex and weighted strategic plays, since kills only count if you manage to live to count them.

AFF[Castle Panic!] is a great game to play together as a family. While it might not be the adventures of yore that you long for, it will keep your eight year old busy long enough for you to get a goblin-slaying-dice-fix.

*Gazebos not included.

Love cooperative games?  Check out our other reviews here!

 

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This year at the NY Toy Fair there will be a lot to see. Manufacturers showing off the newest innovations in toys and games… We’re excited to see what they have to show us, and one of our favorite publishers, Gamewright, has given a sneak peek!


Check out the new cover art!
Turns out in addition to the publication of Farm Fresh Games’ Super Tooth which we announced earlier, there are some other amazing things coming our way.

First off, Sleeping Queens will be getting a brand new 10th Anniversary Edition! This new edition will come in a tin (like Sushi Go!) and will be complete with never-before-seen queens and kings and exclusive stickers! So, if you are like me and your child has managed to bend every card as the Rose Queen and the Star Queen talk over an imaginary picnic lunch, this is a great way to upgrade.

Rory’s Story Cubes is getting another release of it’s popular Mix expansions which were released around Christmas. So, as you roll your story, you can search your house for clues, or take a stegosaurus on a boat, or have Batman meet his fairy godmother! I’m pretty excited to check out Enchantment, Clues and Prehistoria for myself!

To give you a background, Gamewright is known for its commitment to surprisingly fun family games. We don’t have to suffer through Candy Land and Cootie for the 10,000 time. They take concepts that are fun for children and they mix them with strategy and gameplay that even boring, old adults can be entertained by. So, needless to say, while we’re excited about the games we’ve played before getting some new life, we’re REALLY excited about the new games they have coming out!

Sneaky Cards - Play it Forward
Have you ever thought about doing something silly, like taking a picture with someone you’ve never met, or dancing where EVERYONE can see? Well, Sneaky Cards – Play it forward, is a game that lets you do just that. It’s a scavenger hunt where you pass an activity on to the next person… playing it forward. It’s a very interesting concept game where every move is a social experiment!

Outfoxed! A Cooperative Whodunit Game
So, one thing we know Gamewright excels at is cooperative games, with titles like Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island it’s almost a given that we’d be interested in Outfoxed! Outfoxed! is a cooperative game for players ages 5+ where the players are… chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie (let’s hope it’s vegan), what family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? I know mine can’t!

Go Nuts! The Completely Cracked-Up Dice Game
The only thing that can follow a game full of poultry intrigue, is one about squirrels. Go Nuts! is a dice game where you want to collect as many nuts as you can, while dodging cars, and before your opponents can send the dogs after you! It almost sounds like Zombie Dice for fans of the fluffier game protagonists.

Flashlights & Fireflies - A Game of Shine and Seek
We don’t know too much about Flashlights and Fireflies. According to Gamewright: “Get ready for a backyard dash-through-the-dark in this game of firefly-powered flashlight freeze tag! First, catch fireflies to power up your flashlight. Then shine it on other players before they sneak back to home base. All along, watch out for bats, raccoons, and other nighttime critters that are out to trip up your tracks. Be the first to reach home and you’ve outshined the competition!” I would guess that it is a board game, but I’m not sure – I guess we’ll need to find out once we see it!

Dragonwood - A Game of Dice and Daring
Now here is where I get really excited. Dragonwood is a game that promises to be reminiscent of all of my fantasy-based tabletop roleplaying games. Building a hand of adventurers while fighting goblins and orcs and dragons (Oh my!) with a constantly changing strategy? This game could be amazing! And knowing Gamewright‘s dedication to making games that encourage the whole family to play, I have to say I’m excited to play a roleplaying-like game and to NOT have to be the Dungeon Master!

So, that’s Gamewright‘s line-up for 2015! I’m looking forward to most of these titles from what I’ve learned so far, I can’t wait to get a chance to actually play!

Wondering about other Gamewright games? Check our our reviews here!

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Overall Review

Angry Birds Transformers is a great fusion of the Angry Birds franchise and the golden era of Transformers. It also makes an awesome run and gun game. The game play is very different from the other Angry Birds games in the series and that is a good thing. You control a bizarre Angry Birds themed Transformer as you run at a set pace and tap on the screen to target the standard blocks in the background. The goal is to hit the delicately balanced towers in just the right spot so they will collapse and explode under the pigs.

When I first saw my youngest son play Angry he was excited and yelling at all the action on the iPad and I scratched my head at the unique game play, there is a lot going on with this game. Your robot runs left to right with his blaster gun flashing away trying to topple the familiar block formations. All the while piggies fire back and statues fall while friendly robots drop in to help and blow everything up. Of course as it is a Transformers game you get to transform and roll out past the dangers of the stage.

Family Gaming Assessment

This game is exciting enough that parents won’t mind playing this with their kids. The cartoonish violence is turned up a few notches here as all of the Transformers  are using energy blasters all of the time. If you don’t allow your children to play with toy guns or experience gun violence in your games then you will have to pass on this game. Lasers aside the action is not graphic and nothing even really gets visibly wrecked other than the blocks.

Of all the Angry Birds games this was the only one my son and I worked out a way to play together. After I got a few levels under my belt and called my son over and at first he was cheering me on then he jumped in and then we were both tapping the screen. With no real communication other than just cheering at the excitement we worked out a pretty good team and a lot of robot pigs were brought to justice

Play-ability Assessment

The controls are easy to use and only take a few games to get the hang of. Once you have the basics together none of the levels will be too hard if you can use your powers correctly.

This game may get too difficult for the kindergarten and under crowd very quickly, so keep an eye out for frustrated children.

Conclusion

A stylish and gorgeous mash up of Angry Birds and original Transformers needs to be experienced no doubt. This game is fun and everything I need out of a mobile game short levels simple gameplay.

Angry Birds Transformers is free to download and as far as I’m concerned it deserves a spot on the family tablet. I give it a full recommendation.

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