+Easy to learn
+Single Player option
-Unsatisfying end game
-Unclear rules on some cards
We’re so attached to our electronics that we should take some time to engage in different forms of entertainment. Juan and I decided to briefly suspend use of all electronic devices at DRULcast HQ and ‘disconnect’ (as Juan would say), to experience a table top game by Momentum Volsk named Castle Assault.
Castle Assault is a battle card game, think of a hybrid between a role-playing game, tower defense, and a deck building game. The goal is simple, destroy your opponent’s castle by taking its health from 10 to 0. To destroy your opponent’s castle, you must navigate your troops through a 3×10 grid gameboard layout. At any point in time you can only place your troops on one of the three squares directly in front of you, and movement is only straight ahead. So your troops are marching in a line directly toward your opponent’s castle. You will have an option to charge your troops to reach your opponent’s castle faster, but this might also result in a lot of battles. Each card has individual values for attack, armor, and health. Once two cards are facing each other that triggers the combat sequence. Castle Assault is unique in the sense that it could be enjoyed solo via a single player campaign, included in the game box, no need to purchase anything extra. There are nine different scenarios to enjoy each with different win conditions. Lastly there are six different types of classes to chose from; Elves, Orcs, Human, Undead, Vampires, and Werewolves. Each of of them with unique abilities from ranged attacks, resurrection, auras, health drains, and so much more.
Juan and I had the privilege of meeting TJ (designer for Momentum Volsk) during PAX East 2016. TJ gladly gave us a demo of Castle Assault, but little did I know, that TJ was going to place Juan and I into battle against each other, right from the start! Before continuing, I want to say that TJ is one of the nicest and kindest teachers ever. Juan and I bombarded TJ with question after question. Despite our bombardment of questions, TJ’s responses were always enthusiastic and passionate. I was able to not only get a sense for the rules, but also the design choices and care that TJ put into Castle Assault. TJ’s passion, care, patience and guidance led me to fall in love with Castle Assault even before finishing one round.
Before facing off against Juan, I was a bit overwhelmed. There were dice, tokens, and cards, many cards – 257 cards to be exact. Luckily to enjoy the game you’re not even going to use all of them. If you’re playing the solo campaign, there are designated cards included in the box which are meant strictly for single player. If you’re playing against someone, then the game becomes much easier. Each of you pick from the six different classes, and you’re ready to battle!
The game board explains how the start of your turn should go;
The first go is to Roll for Momentum.
On the side of the board there are the letters spelling out M-O-M-E-N-T-U-M with a token between ‘E-N’. Rolling for momentum at the start of your turn is to try and gain additional damage during a charge. Once the token reaches your side on either the ‘M-O’ or the ‘U-M’ portion, you gain +1 attack during a charge. A charge occurs when you decide to rush one of your troops against an enemy card, or their castle.
Straight from a deck-building game, once you draw cards and you feel like you won’t be needing them, you toss it down making it unusable for the rest of the game (as a card). But tossing it down results in becoming your resource, or currency in order to play other cards you draw as the game goes on.
Combat is simple too, no need for dice or anything extra as the cards explain everything for you. Simple math let’s you determine the outcome. Only 5 questions needed to figure out the combat phase.
If you dealt enough damage to kill them, congrats! Draw a card. If you survived, congrats! There is still a card protecting your castle, but it took damage, so put a die on it as a marker to indicate how much health they have left. If you didn’t survive, then your opponent also gains a card. Simple!
I had a blast playing this at PAX East with Juan, specially with TJ there to guide us through any questions we had. After getting the game home and playing against my wife a few times, I realized just how easy it was to pick up. There are certain cards which leave you questioning the rules. An example of this is an action called Phase, which states you can only move through other cards. Does that mean that if I place the card down I won’t be able to move unless there is another card ahead of me? We ignored the written rule and played as normal movement. The main gripe we both had when playing this was the endgame. Once you run out of your cards, you’re left with only what is on the board. Sure there is a discard pile but NO, you aren’t allowed to shuffle and re-use those cards. In other words, if you played smart you’ll have enough on the board to protect you for a while. But if your opponent still has cards in their hand, they’ll be able to counter everything on the board and come out with a victory no matter what. It feels unfair and really unsatisfying to win this way.
Despite the issues with the endgame portion of Castle Assault, I still really enjoy the game. The grid on the board allows amazing strategies to be built, and the combination of classes to choose from, you’re never going to have the same game twice. Learning the counters and reading your opponent is what makes the game most fun. The meta game of choosing if you should charge because you have momentum is extremely satisfying to use. With some cards gaining resurrection and seeing the look on your opponent’s face when they forget to factor that into their strategy, priceless! All of these experiences outweigh the cons.
Castle Assault is available now for $60 directly from MomentumVolsk.com
If you’re interested in learning to play prior to buying the full version, there is a Print n’Play version featuring the gameboard, as well as two classes Humans & Orcs. On the same page you’ll find video tutorials and a rule book to follow!