Episode 355 – Panic Time! With Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt

Episode 355 - Panic Time! with Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt
Episode 355 - Panic Time! with Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt

Castle Panic has been a part of our lives longer than The Family Gamers has existed, and this week we talk to its creators: Justin & Anne-Marie De Witt!

355 Fact

Hellenic Air Force Squadron 355, which fights wildfires and makes us think of Justin’s game Hotshots!

Sponsored by First Move Financial

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What We’ve Been Playing

Lots of prototypes, but also…
Potion Explosion (our review – but we recommend the newer version with the plastic dispenser)
Skulls of Sedlec
Barenpark with both modules from Bad News Bears
Ra (review coming soon)

SNAP Review – Qawale


Enjoy this new abstract game from Gigamic. It requires more planning on each turn than we were used to!

Watch the video or read the transcript for our Qawale review.

Castle Panic / Fireside with Justin and Anne-Marie

What is the story of Castle Panic?

Justin had been making games since he was a kid, and started thinking about how to fight off something together.

Anne-Marie came up with the triangles for monsters to rotate to indicate hitpoints. Friends started to like it & ask for it!

Then Justin lost his job and it was the right time to try to move this game into something real!

“Realized we had a company… and a brand!” Saved up a bunch of money, then printed the game. It sold out in ten weeks!

How are the other [Whatever] Panic games different?

Dead Panic – zombies. But not just a reskin! They turned the core mechanics inside out – You each control a character, trying to collect radio pieces & weapons, get all characters to escape while zombies approach. (If you die, you come back as a zombie!)

Star Trek Panic was made in partnership with USAopoly (now The Op) for 50th anniversary of original Star Trek. You’re defending the Enterprise, with shields instead of walls. As you take damage, you remove parts of the Enterprise model. You also can rotate the ship to change how you can hit. There are also missions and characters… but it’s out of print now.

What made you decide to do the second edition of Castle Panic?

Distributors asking for a refresh on the game, and fans asking for something deluxe. Led to first-ever Kickstarter.

What about Castle Panic Deluxe Edition?

People wanted minis. “Deluxe” was planned for 10th anniversary, with a total art refresh (carried through to 2nd ed), but everything that was cardboard becomes a mini, even plastic walls and rubbery tar token. Monsters have a spinning bottom that tracks their health so they can stay facing the castle!

But it turned out people wanted this treatment for all the expansions, too! So it wasn’t ready for the 10th anniversary.

And then there is ALSO a mostly-wood version, instead of plastic minis.

Let’s talk about other games Fireside has made.

Here Kitty Kitty – lure cats to your yard! Cute tiny plastic cats

Dastardly Dirigibles – Build an airship of seven pieces. When you play a part out, everyone else has to play that part too (if they can).

Stringamajig – A party game, where you form a loop of string into a “picture” for everyone else to guess. Charade style, movement is important!

Grackles – abstract game with 4 colors of birds.

Bears! – real time dice game. Make pairs of your dice with the common “camp” dice.

My First Castle Panic (more below)

Hotshots – fight a wildfire together. Press your luck with dice. Most requested for a reprint.

What about My First Castle Panic?

My First Castle Panic is such a good fit for little kids! Where did it come from?

Justin and Anne-Marie did LOTS of research playing preschool level games.

Then sent prototypes to daycares/etc. to test out. “Couldn’t ever put it away”

And the kids started teaching each other, almost right away!

Reminder: “Asking for help” is a social-emotional development skill as well!

What’s next?

Ham Helsing (vampire hunting pig, based on graphic novel) KS early 2024

“Fun little card game” coming in the next year or so.

Find Fireside Games Online:


Facebook: @FiresideGames
Instagram: @fireside_games
Threads: @fireside_games
Tiktok: @FiresideGames
Twitter (X): @FiresideGames

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Twitter (X): @familygamersaa
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Or, for the most direct method, email us! andrew@thefamilygamers.com and anitra@thefamilygamers.com.

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