Catacombs And Castles Simplifies Dungeon Flicking In Smart Ways

catacombs-castles-review
Catacombs And Castles takes an abridged look at dungeon crawling, while removing the one-versus-all gameplay of the original. Elzra

I love Catacombs. It’s a weird, unique and incredibly fun game where players take on roles similar to D&D to raid a series of rooms in search of loot, driven by the desire to drive out evil monsters. The twist is that play is done not with dice or cards, but with small wooden pucks. To perform attacks, players must flick these pucks into other pucks to deal damage.

The problem with Catacombs is that games tend to end up on the longer side. A full run-through of Catacombs generally takes an hour and a half (or longer) to finish, which can be off-putting to some. That’s where Catacombs And Castles comes in.

This stand-alone spin-off takes many of the same ideas as Catacombs , but simplifies them and cuts the total play time down to around a half hour for each game. Catacombs And Castles also takes the one-versus-many concept from the original Catacombs and evens the playing field in one of the two included game modes.

The new game mode is a “Team Castle” versus “Team Catacombs” competition. Players break up into two groups, with one playing as the “good” Castles team. The characters on this team are your common fantasy roles like ranger, mage and fighter. The other team consists of the evil Catacombs characters, like a vampire princess and an assassin.

Once players have chosen their characters, the game can start. Just like Catacombs, players flick pucks at each other to deal damage. Unlike Catacombs, damage is shared in a pool between all the fighters. This means once the final blow is dealt, everyone on the losing team takes the L.

To help mix things up, players pick two advanced move cards for each character. This grants powerful special moves if you deal enough damage to the opposing team. Each character has some suggested moves, but players can mix and match to find new approaches to compliment different play styles and strategies.

The second game mode is basically traditional Catacombs, shortened to just the boss fight encounter. This once again puts one player against the rest, with one person controlling the boss and the evil minions and the others each controlling a hero. It’s fun and short, but not too different from what I’ve already played in Catacombs.

Because I had a knowledge of Catacombs, Catacombs And Castles was a breeze to learn. All the same icons and design choices carry over. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll have a game up and running in about 15 minutes. If not, it’s a very easy system to figure out. I mean, you’re just flicking some pucks at each other, after all. There’s also a very helpful set of  clarification pages in the back of the rule book that act as a quick reference guide for when you forget something.

Catacombs And Castles brings two major changes to really set itself apart from the original game. Games are short and fun, condensing the same flicking Catacombs gameplay I love into bite-sized pieces. It also allows for team-versus-team gameplay, meaning I don’t have to play by myself as the Overseer every time. If you’re a hardcore Catacombs player, the shorter play time might not sound that great, but it really helps bring in newer players without the daunting task of sitting down for a game that can last for two hours or more.

If you haven’t played Catacombs before, I recommend starting with Catacombs And Castles. It introduces a number of concepts that are carried over to the more complex game, without putting one player alone to lead the enemy forces. With the included co-op mode, players can also get a taste of what a proper game of Catacombs is like, without having to fight in any of the lead-up battles before the big boss.

Catacombs And Castles is now available on store shelves and online.

So what do you think? Are you excited to try a more competitive Catacombs experience in Catacombs And Castles? What other board games have you been playing lately? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Join the Discussion