Casting Shadows

Casting Shadows

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Explore a dark, enchanting world and battle your opponents in this 2-4 player turn-based competitive strategic board game. Throughout the game, you’ll collect resources, learn new spells, summon a companion, and – if you’re lucky – unlock your Shadow Form, all in the quest to become the ultimate Shadow Caster. The last player standing after this supernatural …
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-TEE6962CSBSG1 Availability 3+ in stock
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Explore a dark, enchanting world and battle your opponents in this 2-4 player turn-based competitive strategic board game.

Throughout the game, you’ll collect resources, learn new spells, summon a companion, and – if you’re lucky – unlock your Shadow Form, all in the quest to become the ultimate Shadow Caster.

The last player standing after this supernatural showdown wins the game!

How to Play
Your turn consists of 3 phases:

Phase 1
Take the 5 Resource dice and roll them in front of you to form your Resource Pool, which contains the Resources you can spend this turn. If you start your turn on a Hex tile that grants you a specific Resource, add the corresponding Resource token to your Resource Pool.

Phase 2
During this phase, you get 4 Action points to spend, and you can use them to perform any of the Actions below in any order. Each Action costs 1 Action point. You can perform the same Action more than once on your turn if you still have Action points tospend. You do not have to spend all 4 Action points each turn, but unused Action points do not roll over to subsequent turns.

Your Actions include:
TRAVEL: Move your Character from your current Hex tile (the Hex tile where your Meeple currently stands) to any adjacent Hex tile.
COLLECT: Move a Spell, Counterspell, or Resource card from next to your current Hex tile to your Spell Book by spending the required Resources shown in the card’s Collection Cost. After you Collect a Spell or Resource card, immediately replace it with the top card from the Main deck. If you Collect a Counterspell card from the Counterspell deck, you do not need to replace it with a card from the Main deck.
REFRESH: Move the card next to your current Hex tile to the discard pile and replace it with the top card from the Main deck. You cannot Refresh a card from an Ancient Rune Hex tile or a Dusty Desert Hex tile.
REROLL: Choose any number of rolled Resource dice and roll them again. You cannot Reroll Cursed Crystals.
PROTECT: Remove 1 Cursed Crystal from your Resource Pool. Heads up: Any Cursed Crystals remaining in front of you will hurt you at the end of your turn!
CAST: Spend Resources to use a Spell card effect from your Spell Book. You can use each Spell card effect only once per turn. In addition to an Action point cost, some Actions (such as COLLECT and CAST) require you to spend Resources. Remove spent Resources from your Resource Pool by returning that Resource to the central area of Resource dice and tokens.
Phase 3
During this phase, you may absorb any remaining Shadow Fragments in your Resource Pool by moving your Shadow Tracker up by that amount. If you’ve absorbed enough Shadow Energy and you are in your Base Form, you may immediately transform into Shadow Form.

How to Win
When the dust settles and the echoes of the last spell fade, there can be only one victor. The last player standing is crowned the champion and wins the game.

Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Cute and thematic artwork across all components. The character designs are adorable and enchanting.
  • Fairly good replayability due to the variation of character abilities and hex tile arrangements each game.
  • Friendly competition – it’s fun to cast spells and build up your powers to attack your opponents!

Might Not Like

  • Doesn’t feel as balanced or as fun with 2 or 3 players.
  • Hex abilities are not printed on the tiles so you have to keep flicking through the guide book.
  • Spell cards feel a little bit samey.
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Description

Explore a dark, enchanting world and battle your opponents in this 2-4 player turn-based competitive strategic board game.

Throughout the game, you'll collect resources, learn new spells, summon a companion, and - if you're lucky - unlock your Shadow Form, all in the quest to become the ultimate Shadow Caster.

The last player standing after this supernatural showdown wins the game!

How to Play
Your turn consists of 3 phases:

Phase 1
Take the 5 Resource dice and roll them in front of you to form your Resource Pool, which contains the Resources you can spend this turn. If you start your turn on a Hex tile that grants you a specific Resource, add the corresponding Resource token to your Resource Pool.

Phase 2
During this phase, you get 4 Action points to spend, and you can use them to perform any of the Actions below in any order. Each Action costs 1 Action point. You can perform the same Action more than once on your turn if you still have Action points tospend. You do not have to spend all 4 Action points each turn, but unused Action points do not roll over to subsequent turns.

Your Actions include:
TRAVEL: Move your Character from your current Hex tile (the Hex tile where your Meeple currently stands) to any adjacent Hex tile.
COLLECT: Move a Spell, Counterspell, or Resource card from next to your current Hex tile to your Spell Book by spending the required Resources shown in the card’s Collection Cost. After you Collect a Spell or Resource card, immediately replace it with the top card from the Main deck. If you Collect a Counterspell card from the Counterspell deck, you do not need to replace it with a card from the Main deck.
REFRESH: Move the card next to your current Hex tile to the discard pile and replace it with the top card from the Main deck. You cannot Refresh a card from an Ancient Rune Hex tile or a Dusty Desert Hex tile.
REROLL: Choose any number of rolled Resource dice and roll them again. You cannot Reroll Cursed Crystals.
PROTECT: Remove 1 Cursed Crystal from your Resource Pool. Heads up: Any Cursed Crystals remaining in front of you will hurt you at the end of your turn!
CAST: Spend Resources to use a Spell card effect from your Spell Book. You can use each Spell card effect only once per turn. In addition to an Action point cost, some Actions (such as COLLECT and CAST) require you to spend Resources. Remove spent Resources from your Resource Pool by returning that Resource to the central area of Resource dice and tokens.
Phase 3
During this phase, you may absorb any remaining Shadow Fragments in your Resource Pool by moving your Shadow Tracker up by that amount. If you’ve absorbed enough Shadow Energy and you are in your Base Form, you may immediately transform into Shadow Form.

How to Win
When the dust settles and the echoes of the last spell fade, there can be only one victor. The last player standing is crowned the champion and wins the game.

In an enchanting world of darkness and power, will you be able to vanquish your enemies and prove yourself as the ultimate shadow caster? Casting shadows is a quick 2-6 player strategic elimination game, from the publishers of Unstable Unicorns and Happy Little Dinosaurs. Casting Shadows is the first board game to come from Unstable Games and as a longtime fan of theirs I jumped at the chance to buy it. It very much fits in with their adorable yet aggressive style and is full of magic, mayhem and friendly competition – what more could you ask for (or want) from Unstable Games?

Gameplay

In Casting shadows, you travel across mysterious and magical locations, collecting resources, casting spells, and unlocking your shadow form, all to battle your opponents and be the last caster standing.

Each player turn involves three phases.

Phase 1 – rolling your dice to see which resources you have to spend this turn. These could be gems, orbs or shadow fragments – but beware of these cursed crystals as they can cause damage to your character if you don’t protect yourself by the end of your turn.

Phase 2 – during this phase players get four action points to spend on a range of different actions. These include travelling across hex tiles, casting spells from your spell book, rerolling dice for more desired resources, protecting yourself from curses, refreshing cards, and collecting spells and resources. Some actions like collecting spells also require you to spend resources to complete them.

Phase 3 – at the end of your turn you can choose to absorb any shadow fragments leftover from your resource dice – providing you with much needed shadow energy to enable you to transform your character later in the game.

Players all begin the game in a cute and seemingly cuddly base form, but after collecting enough shadow fragments, you can spend this energy to transform into an almighty shadow warrior – each with their own special abilities and choice of shadow companions to help you defeat your opponents.

The game board is made up of several hex tiles showing different locations throughout the realm, including the ‘home’ tiles of the chosen characters in play. Each location also offers a unique bonus to characters starting their turn on that tile.

Each time you take damage or regain health this is tracked on your player board alongside your shadow energy. When a player’s health falls to zero they are immediately eliminated. The last player standing will be crowned champion and wins the game.

Components

The artwork for this game is the definition of super cute. As you can expect from these creators, the character designs are completely loveable with elements of fun, destruction and magical charm. The hex tiles fit in perfectly with the theme of the game and the difference in colour palette and design on each one make for an interesting board. The only thing with the hex tiles is that the start-of-turn abilities are not printed on the tiles, meaning that you have to flip through the guide quite a lot during the game – or until you’ve memorised them all by heart!

The components in general are strong and sturdy, with wooden meeples, thick character boards, light weight dice and clearly printed cards. Spell cards also have useful diagrams on them to quickly see and understand the affected area of each spell you cast.

Play time

The game takes about 30 – 60 minutes to play. It definitely feels like a quick game but this comes with both pros and cons.

With less players I find that the game can sometimes be over too quickly. Players can become strong pretty fast and when there are only 1 or 2 other players to target on the battlefield, it can feel like you’re constantly getting knocked down with no reprieve, and then you get eliminated without having much of a chance to play or build up your character – obviously not very fun.

However, with a larger group of people to play, the game feels more balanced as players have more characters to choose from, giving others a chance to heal and build up in between attacks. Although, spells and abilities can be quite powerful meaning that large amounts of damage can be done in one go – potentially knocking players out in a few turns. At least the positive side of this means that games finish quickly and eliminated players don’t have long to wait for another game and another chance at victory!y.

Final thoughts

As a quick battle arena type game, Casting Shadows does the job. I had hoped that there would be a little bit more to this game, but generally it’s fun an enjoyable to play.

The rules are simple meaning that it’s a great warmup for game nights with friends, and the competitiveness of the battle mechanics makes for exciting competition – though I would recommend playing with at least 4 players.

As for replayability, I like that there are a range of characters to choose from, each with their own unique powers – I mean who doesn’t love the chance to suss out each character and decide the best one to win the game with? The hex tiles can also change the board each time, so with that and the characters you choose, there is lots of potential for each game to be different. The different character abilities and hex tile bonuses in play mean that one strategy does not work for all and it’s fun to explore the best tactics to use. It’s also nice to be able to choose from a range of different actions and spend your action points in different ways each turn. I just wish that there was a bigger difference in spell cards as sometimes these feel a little bit same

Game Overview

Casting Shadows takes place in a world filled with powerful magic and inherent power seeped into the land itself. Taking on the role of a journeyman mage seeking to unlock the true secrets of Shadow Casting and maybe obtain the form of their ultimate potential while doing battle with rivals who seek the same secrets as you. Each Mage comes from a lineage of powerful magical creatures and while they may begin the game as a mere stripling, through collecting and harnessing the power of Shadows the may uncover the secrets to unlock the true form of their race. Through this quest they will encounter powerful foes and allies, delve into the depths of arcane knowledge through the collection of spells and artefacts that will pave the way to even greater magics that you will need to survive as you travel far from your home and encounter strange creatures in a contest where only the strongest can prevail.

While Casting Shadows may seem whimsically simple on the surface, don’t let that fool you into thinking it has appeal only for younger players. True, it is a perfect family game but that doesn’t mean it has no appeal to more seasoned players either as strategy, tactical thinking and shrewd plays are the key to success. I can easily see this as the kind of game that could become addictive to competitive players since given it’s quick setup and reset time, it nicely lends itself to the question that transcends all games. Best of three?

Play Style

Casting Shadows is, at its heart, a competitive turn based strategy game. Players will vie for supremacy by gathering Resources, Collecting new Spells or upgrading those already in your Spellbook. Should you wish you can rule the board through offensive power alone, dealing overwhelming damage until you are the last one standing. Or perhaps you might prefer to win through cunning use of defensive magic, frustrating your opponent’s efforts to defeat you until you can strike the decisive blow. Established players of other games may already have a play style they prefer which can easily be transferred to Casting Shadows. Whereas new players may discover the play style best suited to them which they can carry to other games. Regardless of how you play, gathering of resources is key. One piece of advice I offer is to not rush too quickly into battle. Spend your first few turns collecting spells and resources from the board as a varied collection of both will serve you well in the long run.

Setup

The first step in setting up Casting Shadows is to choose your character which comes with a Player Board and corresponding Meeple, a small wooden figure that marks their travels across the map. Regardless of choice, each character begins with 18 Hit Points (referred to as HP from here on in) and 0 Shadow Energy. To start the game each character will begin in their base form which has the HP tracker on the right hand side. Each Player will then place their character on the chosen playing surface, leaving enough space for the five cards that will form your Spellbook along with a Reference Card.

That done, the next step is to set up the Map. The Map will consist of three standard Hex Tiles and one Home Hex Tile for each chosen Character. Since two Characters is the minimum that can be chosen each map will be made of at least 5 Hex Tiles. To start with select the Ancient Ruin Hex Tile as the centre of the Map. Then place the Dusty Dessert Hex Tile on the left hand side of the Ancient Ruin Hex Tile and the Underground Volcano Hex Tile on the right hand side. Then each Player places the Home Hex Tile of their chosen character onto the Map starting from Player 1 who is always the youngest Player. Player 1 will place their Hex Tile at the bottom right of the Map. Player 2 will place their Hex Tile at the bottom left of the Map. Player 3 will place their Hex Tile at the top left of the Map. And finally Player 4 will place their Hex Tile at the top right of the Map.

Once the Map has been created, each Player places their Meeple on their Home Hex Tile. The next step is to shuffle the Counterspell deck and place it face down next to the Dusty Desert Hex Tile. Once that is done shuffle the Main Deck and place 1 card face up from the Main Deck next to each Hex Tile that surrounds the Ancient Ruin Hex Tile apart from the Dusty Desert Hex Tile. Place the remaining Main Deck Cards face down within reach of all Players, leaving room for a Discard Pile.

Next Shuffle the Companion Deck, place it face down in reach of all Players and then flip up the top 3 cards to form the Companion Portal where each Player can summon a Companion. Finally place all Tokens and dice near the play area within reach of all Players and you are good to go.

Objective

The objective of Casting Shadows is as uncomplicated as the game itself, simply defeat your rivals by reducing their Hit Points to zero before they do the same to you. Aiding you in this goal will be both offensive, defensive and disruptive Spells that can quickly turn the tide of battle. Which can be simple enough in a two player game, since it can quickly become a duel between both players as the vie for supremacy and victory. Three or more Players adds an extra level of challenge. Do you join the fray early and seek an early victory or do you hold back, gathering power while others do battle hoping for an easy win over the weakened victor? Beware because as you wait and gather your power, so will other Players.

Resources

Before we get into the Turn Sequence, its important that we cover Resources first since the Turn Sequence will be more relatable with a general knowledge of what these Resources are. Resources are critical in Casting Shadows as they will help you both Collect and Cast Spells. At the start of the game, you will only be able to gather Resources from the Dice Pool generated at the start of the turn. As things progress you will also have the chance to Collect Resource Cards. But we will come onto those later. Also some Hex Tiles provide Resources to Players that begin their turn on them as well, so keep that in mind as you play.

Resources that can be gained include Gems, Orbs, Shadow Fragments and Cursed Crystals. Gems and Orbs come in two base colours; Red and Blue alongside rare Purple Gems and Orbs which can be used as either colour. Shadow Fragments provide energy for powerful spells or they can be saved to increase your Shadow Tracker. Cursed Crystals are tainted artefacts of dangerous magic that will hurt you if the power they contain if any remain at the end of a Players Turn.

Now, let’s look at both the Dice Pool and have a look at the Dice themselves. The Dice Pool consists of the results rolled from the 5 Resource Dice. Each Dice displays on it’s sides the 4 different Resources we mentioned earlier; Gems, Orbs, Shadow Fragments and Cursed Crystals. Out of the 5 Dice available, all of them have one face that shows a Shadow Fragment and one that shows a Cursed Crystal. The remaining four sides are divided equally between Gems and Orbs. Upon closer inspection you will notice that the Dice are also separated by colour of Gems and Orbs, with two Dice that grant Blue Gems and Orbs, two Dice that grant Red Gems and Orbs and one Dice that grants Purple Gems and Orbs.

Given that Purple Gems and Orbs can be used to pay for Spells of any colour, they can often be the most useful Dice to hold onto when deciding to re-roll. If for example you have rolled a Dice Pool that gives you a Purple Gem, two Blue Gems, a Red Orb and a Shadow Fragment it could benefit you to re-roll the two Blue Gems to see if you can find another Orb.

The other way to Collect Gems and Orbs is through the use of Resource Cards that can be Collected from the Main Deck. Throughout Casting Shadows you will find Resource Cards representing Gems and Orbs both Blue and Red. A Resource Card can be added to your Spell Book much like a Spell Card can, the difference being that you only need to Spend 1 Action Point to acquire it. Each Resource Card can be spent to add the Resource it displays to your Resource Pool by Discarding that Card. Like all other Resources once a Resource Card is added to your Pool it will be lost at the end of the turn, so a wise Player will keep Resource Cards in his or her Spell Book until they are needed.

Player Turn Sequence

Player 1 will always go first and will pass to the next Player around the board in a clockwise direction. Players will continue taking turns until they are eliminated from the game. The last Player standing will win the game.

Each Player Turn is broken down into 3 phases; Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3. Each Phase must be done in sequence and can only be done once per Turn. Actions taken in some Phases can affect the results of the Phase that came before but I’ll go into that later.

Phase 1 is where a Player generates the resources by rolling the 5 Resource Dice to form the Resource Pool. The results of these Dice will be the Resources that can be spent during this turn. Additionally some Hex Tiles grant extra Resources that are added to the Pool at this point

Phase 2 is where a Player can make use of 4 Action Points that may be spent to take an Action including Travel, Cast, Reroll, Protect, Refresh and Collect. Each Action costs 1 Action Point and can be performed more than once if you have enough Action Points to spend. Action Points that are not used do not carry over to a Player’s next Turn. You are not required to use all 4 Action Points in a Turn but those that are not used will be lost.

Travel allows a Player to move his or her Character to a Hex Tile adjacent to the one their Meeple is currently standing on. Characters cannot cross more than 1 Hex Tile with one Action although they can cross multiple tiles in one turn providing they have the Action Points.

Cast allows a Player to use a Spell from his or her Spellbook as long as they have the Resources to pay for that Spell including Gems and Orbs of the corresponding Colour and Spells of the required level. This will be covered in more detail when we get to the section on Spells.

Reroll allows a Player to Reroll any number of Resource Dice. Not all Dice have to be Rerolled, allowing a Player to selectively keep certain Resources. This Action cannot be used to Reroll Cursed Crystals.

Protect allows a Player to remove 1 Cursed Crystal from their Resource Pool to limit or prevent the damage done by any remaining Cursed Crystals at the end of the turn.

Refresh allows a Player to discard the card next to the Hex Tile they are currently on and replace it with the top card from the Main Deck. This Action cannot affect the Cards next to the Ancient Rune or Dusty Desert Hex Tiles.

Collect allows a Player to purchase a Spell, Counterspell or Resource Card next to the Hex Tile they are currently on by spending the Collection Cost from your Resource Pool. The purchased Card is then placed in your Spellbook and replaced with the top Card of the Main Deck. In the case of Counterspells collected from the Dusty Desert Hex Tile, replace it with the top card of the Counterspell Deck instead.

Phase 3 is the final Phase of a Players Turn. First the Player may absorb any remaining Shadow Fragments from their Resource Pool to increase their Shadow Tracker by that amount. They then may, if they posses enough Shadow Energy, Transform into Shadow Form; at which point they flip over their Player Board to the other side.

Regardless of the amount of Shadow Fragments absorbed a Player first reduces their Hit Points by the number of Cursed Crystals remaining in their Resource Pool. Then remove all unspent Resources from the Resource Pool before passing Turn to the next Player.

Home Tiles and Hex Tile Benefits

As mentioned earlier, each Character in Casting Shadows has a Home Hex Tile from which they begin the Game. All Hex Tiles offer a unique Bonus to any Player standing on that Hex Tile. Some effects are granted at the start of a Turn while others last for the duration of said Turn. Choosing which tile to end your Turn on can prove vital. Be aware that depending on which Characters are chosen, not all Hex Tiles may be available.

Shadow Forms and Shadow Casting

I could hardly do a review of Casting Shadows without penning a section on the very aspect that gives this game its name. Personally I’ve always found games with a transformation aspect very appealing, something that I rarely see outside of franchise games so seeing it here was a very pleasant surprise. Also, and I’m willing to accept this is just me, but I always get a little bit of a kick playing as ‘Dark’ characters. Darth Vader from Star Wars. BlackWarGreymon from Digimon. Heck, one of the most fun experiences I had in a video game was from Gundam Battle Assault 2 where after unlocking Psycho Gundam I would just smash through the game in a towering all black OTT Robot. But I’m digressing. As mentioned previously, at the end of a Players turn, any remaining Shadow Fragments from the Resource can be absorbed as Shadow Energy.

Once a Player as absorbed 3 Shadow Fragments, those 3 Points of Shadow Energy can be spent to transform into your Characters Shadow Form. These forms represent the ultimate potential of the character’s race and species.

In the case of Haze Greentongue, my favourite, he transforms from a chameleon like lizard into Haze the Devastator, a Dragon of terrible size and power. One possessed of a magical flame that devastates everything around him.

Or take Kit Gale, a wandering mage with the form of a fox, who transforms into Kit the Turbulent, a Kitsune or nine tailed fox whose innate magical potential allows him to strike his enemies from great distances away.

It’s worth noting here that Shadow Energy is spent to transform so after you do so, your Shadow Energy will be returned to zero. Of course you can still collect more at the end of each turn as you would normally. And you would be wise to collect more, as each Character can spend a set amount of Shadow Energy to trigger their unique ability during Phase 2 of a Players turn. Using this ability doesn’t cost an Action either. This ability can be used as often as a Player likes provided they have the required Shadow Energy.

Another bonus of transforming to your Shadow Form is that it allows you to choose a Companion from the 3 Face Up Companion Cards above the board. One of the details of this game that bugs me is that you can only have one Companion per game, so you will have to make this choice very carefully. And from a very limited choice of options. Something that the House Rules I’ll come onto later will fix.

Another interesting point is that spending all of your absorbed Shadow Energy does not transform you back to your base form as you might expect. Certainly that’s what I expected when I first heard about Casting Shadows. Still, that’s really a bonus when you think about it since that means you can spend Shadow Energy freely without worrying about losing your Transformed State. And likely at that stage of the game you won’t want to draw things out anyway.

Spells

Resources of course are only useful if you have something to spend them on. And in the case of Casting Shadows, that something is Spells. Along with Resource Cards, Spell Cards form the other half of the Main Deck. Spell Cards come in 2 different types; Attack Spells and Conversion Spells. Attack Spells are the means by which you will attack your Opponent and come with a variety of Effects, Levels and Ranges. Each Spell will have a Level that dictates its power and it’s Collection Cost. The Level of a Spell is marked by the Level Symbol in the top right corner, that of 3 shooting stars with a number beside it to indicate that Level. In this Core Set 3 is the highest Level of Spell available. Generally the higher the Level of a Spell, the greater the Damage and Range it will possess. And on that point, let’s move onto Range.

In the bottom right hand corner of each Attack Spell Card you will see a diagram of 7 Hexagon Tiles with a Pawn Symbol on the lowest Hexagon. The Pawn Symbol represents the current position of your Character’s Meeple. And Hexagons that are shaded in a deep pink are the number of Hex Tiles that Spell can target. Some may only affect Hex Tiles adjacent to the 1 your Meeple is standing on, while others can affect any Hex Tile up to 2 tiles away from you. Conversely some may only affect the Tile your Meeple is currently on. There can be a lot of variations that you will encounter when you play Casting Shadows.

Spell Cards will also deal their Damage in one of two different ways. They can either target an Enemy in Range of the Spell or a Hex Tile in Range of that Spell. Spells that target an Enemy in Range can only affect one Enemy upon that Hex Tile, no matter how many Enemies might currently stand upon it. Spells that Target a Hex Tile will deal the damage to all Enemies that are currently on that Tile.

Conversion Spells are markedly different from Attack Spells. To start with they do not posses Range as these Spells can only affect Resources you currently have in your Resource Pool. Conversion Spells allow a Player to convert Resources of one Type into another or add extra Resources to the Pool for the duration of the turn only. This can include but is not limited to; turning a Gem of one Colour into an Orb of the same Colour, turning a Orb of one Colour into a Gem of the same Colour or turning 1 Gem in your Pool into two Gems of the same Colour. Some powerful Conversion Spells can even turn detrimental Cursed Crystals into a Gem of your choice.

Of course each Spell Card has a cost, both to Collect it for your Spell Book and to Cast it for its effect. A Spell’s Collection Cost is always shown on the left hand side of the Card as a number of Gems and Orbs, that can either be Red, Blue or Colourless. Colourless Costs are always shown as a Grey Gem or Orb and can be paid for by the matching Resource of any Colour. Some powerful Spells may require a Spell of a certain Level as part of the Collection Cost marked by a Grey Spell Icon with the required Level beside it. In this case along with any Orbs or Gems that must be spent, a Player must discard a Spell from their Spell Book of the required Level. Once a Spell or Resource card has been Collected by a Player, it must then be replaced with the top card of the corresponding Deck next to the Hex Tile the collected card was removed from.

While some Spells can be Cast for free, others will have additional costs required to Cast them which are always listed in the Effect Text at the bottom of the Card. You will also come across Spells that possess effects which allow for scaling of Damage for an increased Cost. Pheonix Flash, as an example, offers increasing Damage for Each Red Gem spent to activate it’s Effect. One Red Gem spent allows it to deal 3 Damage, Two Red Gems for 5 Damage and 3 Red Gems for 6 Damage.

While the only Spell Cards in the Main Deck are the 2 types mentioned above, there is a 3rd type that has its own Deck; Counterspell Cards. Counterspell Cards are powerful Spells that can be used to evade, protect yourself from or retaliate against Spells Cast by your Enemies. A Counterspell may only be Collected from the Dusty Desert Hex Tile. A Counterspell has no cost marked on its Card. Instead a Player may spent 1 Action Point, 1 Gem and 1 Orb regardless of Colour to take one Card from the top of the Counterspell Deck. This Card may be viewed by the Player that owns it at any time but must be kept secret from other Players. Counterspell Cards count towards the maximum Spells a Player can have in their Spellbook. A Counterspell may be played in reaction to any Player’s Attack Spell at the time of Casting.

Health and Victory

The Objective of Casting Shadows is to be the last Mage standing when the dust of battle has cleared. Through the skilful use of Spells, Counterspells, Allies and Shadow Energy, a Player must prevent loss of their HP while doing as much damage as possible to their Enemies. When a Player is reduced to 0 HP they are eliminated from the game. Play will then continue until only one Player is left on the board. At this point that surviving Player becomes the Winner. Sounds simple. Well..what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy and try it for yourself. (Add link here.)

House Rules

As with any game I play, there are always a few rules or aspects of gameplay I find don’t sit right with me; ones that I often adjust with a set of House Rules. For some games those House Rules can be quite extensive. Luckily that isn’t the case with Casting Shadows. Here there is only one Rule that I would change, the limit of 1 Ally Card per Player. It seems a waste to have such a wide Roster of Allies and only have access to 1 of them. So I’m throwing in a House Rule that you are free to add to your game if you wish. Any Player can, during their Turn only, pay 4 Shadow Energy to take a second Ally from the Ally Portal. All other standard Rules for Allies still apply. This Rule can only be used once and no Player can have more than 2 Allies.

Scores

Overall Rating – 4/5

Artwork – 5/5

Complexity – 4/5

Replayability – 5/5

Component Quality – 4/5

Likes

love the whimsical, charming feel of the whole game. Despite being about gathering evil magic, Casting Shadows has managed to not let that overwhelm the flow of the game and turn it into something dark and scary. It has an endearing innocence about it in a way I can quite put my finger on. On a more tangible note, the whole concept sits with the perfect balance of complexity. Not too simple as to be boring but not over complicated either. I would recommend a leisurely read through of the Rule Book before you first play it but no more so than any other game. Also, I love the design of the Characters. Each one is just adorable yet real at the same time. I know as a writer it’s not hard for me to create a backstory for a character but with these it was even easier. The little details on the character boards really give you a feel for who they are.

Dislikes

On the whole, I dislike nothing about this game. As usual, if I’m pressed to find things I would improve, I would have preferred a different design of character marker than the Meeples. Given the love and attention to detail that has gone into artwork and quality of the Player Boards and Cards, these rather simplistic figures feel a bit of a let down when the same detail could have been applied.

Final Thoughts

I had high hopes for this game when I picked it up, already making a space for it in my collection rather than selling it one when my review had been written. And it certainly didn’t disappoint and most certainly earned that place. I’m sure I’ll be picking up, and reviewing, more content from this game series down the line. And I’d highly recommend it to anyone who asks

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Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Cute and thematic artwork across all components. The character designs are adorable and enchanting.
  • Fairly good replayability due to the variation of character abilities and hex tile arrangements each game.
  • Friendly competition its fun to cast spells and build up your powers to attack your opponents!

Might not like

  • Doesnt feel as balanced or as fun with 2 or 3 players.
  • Hex abilities are not printed on the tiles so you have to keep flicking through the guide book.
  • Spell cards feel a little bit samey.