SNAP Review – Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests
[Andrew] Since it kicked the doors in on the cooperative board game scene almost 15 years ago, Castle Panic has been a stalwart on board game families’ tables. Trading cards to defend the castle from marauding monsters became a metaphor for banding together as a family to face some kind of external attack.
[Anitra] For some, the game got a little long in the tooth. It’s a seemingly endless line of attacking monsters, bag draw after bag draw. Fireside Games mitigated some of that with expansions like The Wizard’s Tower and Engines of War. But at its core, the game is still Castle Panic.
[Andrew] Now they’ve really changed some things with Crowns and Quests, the latest expansion. Crowns and Quests adds characters, quests to complete, and new requirements to come out as victors for Castle Bravehold.
[Anitra] This is a SNAP review for Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests. Just like the base game, Crowns and Quests supports 1-6 players ages 8 and up, and it’s still published by Fireside Games.
[Andrew] Well Anitra, the first thing we have to talk about in Crowns and Quests is the art.
This is the new art from the second edition of Castle Panic – If you want to learn more about what’s in the second edition, check out the post on TheFamilyGamers.com where we go into depth and compare our copies of the first and second edition.
But since the art in Crowns and Quests is based on the second edition art, it has the advantages of a second revision. That means more representation in the art, clearer iconography, things like that.
[Anitra] None of these new pieces need to be mixed in with pieces from Castle Panic or the other expansions from Castle Panic, so it’s mostly in the specific tokens or mats for the given quests.
[Andrew] But that’s actually great, because it means if you have the first edition of Castle Panic, you can just buy and add this Crowns and Quests expansion. You don’t have to upgrade the entire game to the second edition to enjoy this one.
[Anitra] So let’s talk about the mechanics, and how we play Crowns and Quests.
[Andrew] If you’re playing with Crowns and Quests you’ll start by dealing a numbered token (1-6) and two character cards to each player. Each player picks one of these to keep. In Crowns and Quests, everyone plays as a different character on one of the central towers, represented by those 1-6 tokens.
[Anitra] Then, all the players together will choose a standard quest and an end game quest. Each quest has its own setup rules on its specific quest card.
[Andrew] These quests have players doing all sorts of different things. You might need to destroy specific numbers of monsters or artifacts, you might need to commit specific cards to build something (which is kind of like discarding cards), or maybe you’ll send an ambassador to negotiate with the monsters or something like that!
[Anitra] I love that idea.
Some quests will affect characters and keep them from using their special abilities. But, once you’ve beaten the first quest, you immediately take its reward; and on the next player’s turn, you’ll move on to the endgame quest.
The rest of Castle Panic pretty much plays like normal, although each quest changes the rules in minor ways. Completing the quests becomes the primary way to win Castle Panic at this point, so when the monster bag runs out (which is normally victory), you’ll put everything back in the bag and you keep going.
[Anitra] Of course, if all six towers in the castle get destroyed, you’ll still lose. So don’t forget to keep defending the castle while you complete your quests!
[Andrew] So we’ve got Castle Panic with quests! What did you expect from that, Anitra?
[Anitra] I’ve gotten kind of tired of simply defending the castle until the monsters run out. So I really hoped that the quests would provide us something more interesting to do.
[Andrew] Sure. For me, I think we did have some idea of what to expect. A lot of the kinds of mechanics that went into these quests were similar to what the team at Fireside already did in Dead Panic, or Star Trek Panic. So the quest idea wasn’t entirely brand new. I expected solid, cooperative gameplay. It might not blow my mind (it’s Castle Panic), but also wouldn’t be a dud. Even if sometimes, like the base game, getting to completion could feel a little like a slog.
[Anitra] So let’s talk about some surprises, then.
[Andrew] For me, the biggest surprise was how much the quests actually changed the game, without changing the game. I don’t know if that makes sense.
In Crowns and Quests, the quests are the primary way you win, so every turn was “Quest first, and also, maybe if you can beat off the monsters, do that”. Obviously you can’t completely ignore them, you do have to defend your tower. But I do think it flipped the mechanics of how you think when you play this game.
And because there’s eighteen quests: eleven standard and seven end game quests, there is a lot of variety, too. Castle Panic, like you mentioned, can sometimes feel a little bit same-y, so I think this does a really good job mixing that up, which I really liked.
I honestly think Crowns and Quests is probably the best and most important expansion Fireside has released for this game.
[Anitra] I agree. You’re still obviously playing Castle Panic, but now you have other strategic concerns with the quest. Even when our quest was just “defeat 20 damage points of monsters”, that changed where we focused our efforts – we didn’t want to whittle down a nice three-point troll just to have it end up being killed by a boulder or something else where it wouldn’t count for us!
I was also pleasantly surprised that we were sometimes able to finish both quests before running out of monsters and needing to refill the bag – the right combination of quests (and players) can actually let the game be shorter!
[Anitra] So Andrew, do we recommend the Crowns and Quests expansion?
[Andrew] In a word, absolutely. This is the most important expansion that Fireside Games has ever released for Castle Panic. It adds so much, it changes so much, but it retains the core of what Castle Panic is. For people who felt like it was the same old game over and over again, this adds a ton of variety.
It also benefits from that second edition revision, so all those creature comforts that you get with the second edition, you get here. But you can still play it if you have the first edition of the game! There’s no reason not to pick this expansion up, so we absolutely recommend it.
There’s a few very small things that we could, you know, pick nits if we wanted to, but we really like Crowns and Quests for Castle Panic.
[Anitra] We’re going to give Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests 4½ quests out of 5.
And that’s Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests – in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of the Castle Panic Big Box from Fireside Games that was used in this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests
Number of Players: 1-6
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: around 60 minutes