Before I begin I as sent a prototype of the game, and may receive a production copy if it funds. This is not a paid preview. If you would like to see a video of this preview, you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
If you are at all like me then there are a few video games from your childhood that have stuck in your memory. For me, one of those is Rampart…which I think was on the Sega Genesis. This game saw you build your castle walls, and if you managed to make enclosed areas you got canons…which you then would shoot at the other players castle to destroy their walls. It was great.
Now I know what you are thinking? “Hold up. Some one made a game out of Rampart?!” No they didn’t, but when you see it on the table it absolutely looks like they did. So it was pretty much impossible for me to say no to previewing it, since it sparked such nostalgia, and then the actual gameplay sounded fascinating. A mix of Deckbuilding and area control is a combo that I have not come across often.
Castlescape is, at its core, a simple deckbuilder. Draw cards, use some cards to buy more cards, then play the other cards to put walls out, or influence on the board. Your goal is to make enclosed areas on the board, which will score points for whomever has the most influence either around it or in it.
Three or four times during the game the kings man will come and inspect the construction, and then you will be penalized for infamy and corruption that you have gained by playing some cards on your turn. You then have to remove influence from the board based on your infamy, and then reset your infamy score to equal your corruption. Finally points are awarded for the players that control each enclosed area. High score at the end wins.
So what do I think?
There is a great toy factor to this game. It is pretty fun messing about with the walls, and putting your influence on them and so on…probably more fun than it should be. Also the way the infamy and corruption work really makes for some fun strategy in the game. On the surface it seems like you should just not play cards that give you infamy/corruption, but then you wind up having all of your influence on the board, often in places that are not helpful to you. Careful management of the infamy and corruption really makes this game work.
The art is fine, though to be fair it was not complete when I saw it. Along with that the core of the deckbuilding and area control is nothing special. If you have played a deck builder, or an area control game…you already understand how it works.
There is huge potential for Kingmaking in this game. Huge. If you are not excited by the way the infamy and corruption work, then this game might not be particularly exciting to you, as the theme is there, but is not particularly exciting.
Bringing it all together
Castlescape is a quick game, that combines basic deckbuilding and basic area control into a quick game with some surprising strategy. The game adds some negative effects to some cards, that with careful planning and strategizing can be turned into positives, very clever. The game has a solid toy factor. There is potential for kingmaking, and if you are not excited by the way the influence management works then this game might not excite you.
Stop reading and starting moving bricks
* Nice bit of toy factor with the walls
* Common place deckbuilding and area control, but has an interesting twist on how the cards effect your influence on the board
* Plays quickly and smoothly
* Definite potential for Kingmaking