Castle Party

Castle Party

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RRP $24.99
Expected Restock Date 31/07/2024
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Every year the Pumpkin King invites us to his castle to celebrate the autumn ball in his honor. Castle Party is the craziest shindig in town and without a doubt the most not to be missed soiree for any monster worth something in scarebusiness. You can’t miss it for the world! The guests are arriving at the castle of the Pumpkin King. As usual, they gather together in groups.This i…
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • A flip and write with direct player interaction
  • Surprisingly strategic
  • Advanced mode for more spatial scoring

Might Not Like

  • Pens aren’t the best
  • You score the same objectives each time you play
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Description

Every year the Pumpkin King invites us to his castle to celebrate the autumn ball in his honor. Castle Party is the craziest shindig in town and without a doubt the most not to be missed soiree for any monster worth something in scarebusiness. You can’t miss it for the world! The guests are arriving at the castle of the Pumpkin King. As usual, they gather together in groups.

This is a “flip and write” game, meaning we draw cards and then write on a board. The active player turns over a card with a polynomial shape and then everybody places a monster card on the table in the attempt to match the shape on the card. Finally, and in correspondence with their own place around the table and their perspective on the shape, the players draw the monsters on their own personal boards and try to group the monsters into families to obtain the best score.

Castle Party has three scoring phases during which the players get points depending on how they have arranged their guests. When the old cuckoo clock plays for the third and terrifying time. At that moment everyone has to say goodbye until next year and leave the party. However, whoever organized the wildest and most fun Castle Party will win a special place in the Pumpkin King’s heart and shall win the game.

There ain’t no party like a Castle Party! Come on! It’s time to boogie on down at the Pumpkin King’s palatial pad!

If you haven’t been invited to the celebrations yet, Castle Party is a flip and write bingo style game where everybody draws the same symbols each turn. But, unlike many in the pen and paper genre, you have direct impact on your opponents’ boards!

Move, Monster

Designed by Josep Allué and Eugeni Castaño and published by DEVIR, this game was a spooky surprise from the get-go. If you’re first player, you get to flip a shape card which will set the polyomino you’re recreating underneath it for the turn. You can choose which way up or round the shape is going to be drawn, and you get to choose which monster card you want to use from your hand to start completing the shape. But it must be placed where the red X is shown on the card.

Once all the players have laid a monster card, you then transpose the relevant monster symbols onto your Castle board in the shape you have just built together. They can go anywhere and don’t need to be butted up against other shapes (although you’ll want to do this for points!)

Perfect Perspective

Cleverly, because you are sitting in different places around the table, your perspective of that shape is going to be unique. So your “L” shape combination of symbols is always going to look different to someone else’s!

Party People

Throughout the game you can see what other players’ parties look like. And because there are 3 scoring phases during the game (i.e. whenever a clock card is revealed in the shape deck) as well as end-game points, you can start to meddle! And as you can probably guess, having one eye on what others are drawing lets you see how well they are working towards each goal (as well as your own efforts!). There are also three one time powers to use to your advantage – 2 of which will change things up for everyone around the table!

Party Powers

Not only that, however, but you also have 3 special one-time bonus powers during the game. Plus, if you choose to use Lights Out (where you can switch monster positions to better suit your own goal progress) or Change (where you can reorient the shape), that is going to affect everybody! Masked Ball is the third power (where you turn one monster from the shape into a wild), but that won’t cause any changes to anybody else’s plans. Having said that, somebody could use one of their own bonus power on the same turn to flip-reverse your fiddling efforts!

Final Thoughts

We have a lot of flip and write games and we flipping love the genre! Cartographers aside, however, I think this is one of the few we have where we are actively meddling with each other. We have plenty of games where flips or rolls impact everybody, but that’s often down to luck rather than judgment. In Castle Party, you have some higher level of control on your turn. Okay so it can be flip reversed by another player using their special powers. But abilities to reverse your efforts come at a cost to those wanting to pay it.

I also love games that bring in a perspective element (like Akrotiri). They fire up my woefully spatially challenged mind in the best possible way. As such, Castle Party has turned out to be a great choice for us. Not only that but it fits nicely within our daily golden gaming hour (with time to spare for another!).

Granted the pens could be a little better but that is a very minor niggle. Plus you are always going to be scoring for the same 3 objectives each time you play. Luck in terms of what monsters you draft each turn might also be on your side or it might not.

But strategy does come to this party. As well as points during the game, there are symbol majority bonuses (boosted with Kings) and incrementally scoring unicorns to collect. Deciding whether to draw outside the lines is also another consideration.

Less restrictive than many grid based games, you can draw shapes in the moat or on the drawbridge. After all, losing a symbol into the moat might help you orient the remainder of a shape better for a scoring objective. But knowing you’ll get negative points at end game as well as the fact they are discounted in any majority group, definitely gives pause for thought. Likewise, knowing scoring will happen 3 times during the game force some pre-planning. And if that’s not enough for you there’s a more advanced “rave” mode on the flipside of the board with extra points up for grabs if you can throw your shapes on the dancefloor just right!

There’s a fun thinkiness to Castle Party and the perspective and interactive quirks are as refreshing to us as pumpkin party punch!

So you’ve decided to attend the Castle Party! But you don’t yet know how or where to bust a move on the Pumpkin King’s dancefloor. Fear not, my boogie buddies, for I am here to get your pens pumping!

Spooky Set Up

Start by giving everybody a board and a pen. One side of the board is the normal game and the other is the more advanced “Rave” side. If this is your first game, I’d recommend the basic side first.

Then take the shape cards and shuffle them up before dividing them into 4 piles. Take the three clock cards and shuffle one into each pile then stack all 4 piles on top of each other to form a single deck. The pile without a clock card goes on top.

Finally take the monster cards and unicorn cards and shuffle those up before dealing 3 to each player and placing the remaining cards in a draw deck.

Then you’re ready to party like a Pumpkin King!

Turn On The Dancefloor

Each turn of Castle Party, one player flips a shape card from the shape card deck and decides the orientation of that shape by laying it down in the centre of the table facing them. Then they place a monster card from their hand in the spot marked “X” to begin recreating that shape under the shape card itself. After that, every other player adds one monster card from their own hand to the shape until it is complete. As soon as you place a monster card, you draw a new card from the deck.

Then, it’s simultaneous drawing time. Each monster card forming the shape contains a matching symbol (e.g. triangle representing a witch hat, cross for skeleton etc), and on your board you draw the configuration of symbols in the shape as it faces you. You can’t twist, shift or flip reverse it, but you can place your shape anywhere on your board including partially or completely off the dancefloor itself. However, any symbol in the moat will score negative points at end game and will be discounted in majority scoring. Likewise, you can draw symbols over the drawbridge, but they count for nothing at the end too!

This effectively means that instead of everybody drawing the same symbols in the same configuration, you are each drawing the symbols as they appear in the orientation facing you and only you! So the triangle symbol might be at the top of the “L” shape for you, but for somebody else it might be at the bottom!

Once everybody has finished, the shape card and monster cards go into their own discard piles (any monster card with a king symbol or unicorn get removed from the game though).

Clock Strikes 12

Throughout the Castle Party, you can see other player’s boards which is super handy when it comes to symbol selection and shape shifting! And that’s because there are 3 scoring phases during the game as well as end-game points.

As soon as a clock card is revealed in the shape deck, each player has to score something. But they can decide whether they score:

(a) Fireworks – most symbols in front of a window

(b) Conga – most connected symbols of the same type or

(c) Toast – score the number of unique symbols around the Pumpkin King (who you site by drawing a crown on a clear square on your grid).

Note that you can only use each scoring condition once, so you are going to want to prioritise what’s looking good for you at the relevant time!

Power Moves

Not only that, however, but you also have 3 special one-time special action powers during the game. You announce if/when you are going to use one once the shape has been formed and before the simultaneous drawing phase. And if someone doesn’t like the idea of the shift, they can counter it with a special power move right back at you! Dance-off style!

If you choose to use Lights Out, you can switch monster positions to better suit your own goal progress. Change allows you to reorient the shape, and both of these affect everybody! Masked Ball turns one monster from the shape into a wild, but that won’t cause changes to anybody else’s plans.

Points For The Pumpkin Party

When the third clock card has been revealed, the party is over and it’s time to score your end game efforts. You’ll get 1 point per monster for your single largest connected group of identical symbols of each type (and if there is a king symbol on any of them you’ll get an extra point for every monster symbol touching it).

You’ll also get 2 points for any special power you didn’t use as well as incremental points (-5,1,5,10,15) for 1,2,3,4 or 5 orthogonally adjacent unicorns placed on your board. Note a lone unicorn scores -5!

Add these to your 3 mid-game scores and whoever has the most points is the Castle Party Pumpkin Prom King or Queen!

Rave It Up

Once you are busting moves like pro party people, you can flip the board over and play the advanced mode. The same rules of the basic game apply but there are 5 additional symbols which give extra points at end game if you can assemble the matching symbols around them.

I hope this Castle Party guide helps you slide onto the castle dancefloor for the first time with confidence. Just be careful if you wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care; dry-wipe ink on someone’s face won’t go down well! Haha

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • A flip and write with direct player interaction
  • Surprisingly strategic
  • Advanced mode for more spatial scoring

Might not like

  • Pens arent the best
  • You score the same objectives each time you play