Three knights face off against an ogre in this castle crawl for four players complete with hidden treasure and some furious card action.
|Ogre Castle||Clever Mojo Games/Game Salute||Board Game|
In The Box
Your friends will describe Ogre Castle as, “That game in the round tube,” without giving enough credit to the reason it fits so nicely into the tube. The game board is a printed cloth mat that makes you wonder why more components aren’t produced this way. It’s the kind of thing that had our resident five year-old perking up his ears and begging to play, even though he’s a ways below the minimum recommended age.
Along with the game mat you’ll find four character tokens printed on paper and folded to fit into plastic stands. Think about upgrading these with some awesome painted miniatures you can get for your regular play sessions with this game. A set of glass markers that match the color of each knight (red, yellow, blue) are also included, plus some small poker chips to represent armor. A set of eight dice and a deck of 54 cards complete the experience.
How It Plays
Since the game mat has a printed labyrinth you might think it would get predictable over multiple replays, but the ogre decides during setup where to scatter the colored treasure tokens throughout his lair. This puts the knights at a disadvantage, but is balanced by the fact that the ogre must wait until a knight grabs treasure before reclaiming it in battle, which helps maintain good balance.
One black die controls movement from room to room in the castle, while seven red dice are used for battle rolls, or when a card specifies you roll more than one die to move. The dice are nice quality and always fun, but cards are the real stars of this show. We had a chance to try two decks with Ogre Castle, a base and a booster. These cards can be played Munchkin-style at any appropriate time to keep life interesting for you and the other players. Cards like Rust affect an opponent’s armor, making them more vulnerable in battle by losing one of the poker chips that represent overall power. Cards like Speed add a die to your movement roll, or you can use Freeze to prevent opponents from moving unless they’re able to play a Negate card in response.
The idea of casting magic brings needed depth to Ogre Castle, which would otherwise just be a game about lucky rolls of the dice. There’s obviously still luck in the cards you draw, but playing them at just the right time can make all the difference. The card art is simple and colorful, making it possible with a little coaching to bring younger players into the game who might not be strong readers. You’ll need all hands around the table since Ogre Castle has a three-player variant but is really designed to be played with four players.
Without the cards, Ogre Castle would only be notable for its attractive cloth mat. The cards make for some really fun and interactive gameplay, especially when you bring the variety of that 54-card booster deck into the mix.
The card pictures are really cool, and playing as the ogre is fun because you can plan how to ambush the knights after they come for your treasure. I like that knights can’t directly attack other knights, but can still make life harder for them with cards.